Hands Of Orlac/The Wandering Midget
Cruz Del Sur
Originally an Italian, but now Swedish doom metal act; Hands Of Orlac are the first band up for observation on this little split. The disc starts out with a whopper called “Curse Of The Human Skull” where we are greeted by the melodic harmonies of The Sorceress. She serves up a memorable set of pipes as well, and I kind of mean literally – as she also plays a flute! The flute actually works well for the band, because it adds a slight folk touch to the performance that feels alien in a good way. This isn’t a “folk doom” sort of band, rather they are a traditional doom band with a little something extra. The seventies influences are also very thick on this one, showing that Hands Of Orlac are a definite blast from the past. On the opening cut, we’re also given a rather sorrowful take to the flute which definitely sticks with you. This doesn’t feel happy or joyful, it’s kind of dark and melancholy; which I feel goes perfectly with the music. As the tempos drastically transform to enter a supreme level of creep factor, I find that the performance here is unmistakably horrifying. Other than the tufts of heat and smoke that we get with several doom bands, I wouldn’t consider Hands Of Orlac to be your run of the mill jam band. Even the slight bits of jam here have a purpose, leading right up into the frightening keys that bring us into the next exhibit. “Per Aspem” a slight node of atmosphere. “From Beyond The Stars” feels a little less creepy and more like a seventies jam. That’s a bit disappointing, but I guess not every track should sound like a horror film. I will say that the vocalizing offered by The Sorceress here (in lamens terms, the “ahh, ahh, ahh, ahh’s”) definitely sticks out, so there’s definite promise here. “Ad Astra” ends their side of the disc with creepy keyboards, not unlike that of Gothic organs. I’m looking to see if Dracula himself might be behind me.
The next act I have here is The Wandering Midget, a Finnish doom act that have been around since ’05. They seem to have rebranded themselves this year after going on a temporary hiatus in ’13 with what Metal Archives seems to consider a strong offering (93%) in ’12’s From The Meadows Of Opium Dreams. As the track begins, we are treated to some trippy effects and a horrific scowl, which are more than likely products from band mastermind Samuel Wormius (Battlegoat, Outlaw, Rautavaris). Thomas Grenier performs the bass and some backing vocals as well, though his boulder-like bass riffs cannot be mistaken and are literally as heavy as hell. Doubling that with the drum efforts of Jonathan Sprenger (Outlaw) we’ve got a rather strong act here. Wormius unleashes his guitar in more than a few areas, as he really belts it out (vocally) on this nearly twenty-minute cut. As you might expect, this is also the only cut on the split from The Wandering Midget and I’m perfectly fine with that. It delivers everything that we need to know about The Wandering Midget, like how amazing they are – for starters. Obviously, this is more towards the level of Candlemass or Cathedral than the seventies influences of the previous act, but these influences are done justice. The cut features gothic organs as well, though it manages to let loose so much firepower that the end result is uncanny – it’s just good doom, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist nor two or three detailed paragraphs to spell that out for you. Do you like doom? Do you especially like doom when it sounds like good old traditional doom, free of nuances? Then you’ll love this band. It’s as simple as that.
(5 Tracks 40:00)
Hands Of Orlac 7/10
The Wandering Midget 7/10
Total Score: 7/10