Direwolf - Beyond the Lands of Human Existence
Blastard Entertainment
Blackened Experimental Metal
9 songs (49'22")
Release year: 2007
Direwolf, Blastard Entertainment
Reviewed by Adam
Surprise of the month
Nestled somewhere in the darkest corners of Mike Lerner’s mind lies his alter-ego, Direwolf, which he describes as “the sum of all beheaded beasts. The embrace of mountains within. The fuel of curses. The acceptance of loss. The tragedy of life and the promise of death. In extreme circumstances the cosmos will unite to form a beast that when summoned will come to conquer all - the circumstances are indeed now very extreme.” Yes, Direwolf has come to slay all in his path with his debut release Beyond the Lands of Human Existence.

To date, Lerner is undoubtedly best known for his work as the guitarist of Behold… the Arctopus, an instrumental progressive metal act from New York. While he does incorporate some aspects of his other band, namely the insanely technical and wide ranging guitar lines, Direwolf is an entirely different animal. The opening track, World War IV, wastes little time in showing off all the weapons in Direwolf’s arsenal. In addition to the guitars, he incorporates bits of black metal drum programming and vocals, as well as keyboards and effects which give the sound an overall science fiction feel. This may sound strange, as these are elements that generally are not used in conjunction with one another, but the final product is distinctly unique and deserves to be heard. The vocals range from black metal rasps to robotic sounding spoken and clean vocals. The vocals are surprisingly well done, especially considering the fact that he opts not to use them in his other band. The keyboards and various other effects sound at times expansive and futuristic, and at others like the soundtrack to a psychotic carnival show. The drums, while never quite standing out, sound entirely more organic than you would think. Lerner put a significant amount of time and effort into this recording, about 6 years to be exact, and it shows. Atmospheres change quickly, from the beautiful trance at the end of the title track to the blackened tidal wave at the outset of 1,000,000 Enemies (Mercury’s Disaster).

Though the guitar work is amazing, there are times when it is almost too technical for its own good. The opening riff of Final Flight is the hardest edged guitar sound on the album, and while it repeats itself a few times throughout the song, the inclusion of the spaced out, technical guitars present on almost every song gives off a disjointed feeling. That was and is the biggest detracting factor for me. The constant barrage of extremely technical guitars has an almost numbing effect on me. However, having said that, in small doses, this album is amazing. Witness the three part epic, The Prophet Failed. I am particularly fond of part 3, which manages to successfully combine a deep, death metal sounding riff with harmonized progressive guitars and distant whispering black metal vocals.

I would suspect that listeners will have strong opinions for Beyond the Lands of Human Existence one way or the other. Some will be immediately put off by the guitar work, which a friend of mine declared as “technical masturbation” upon his initial listen. Others, like me, will appreciate all of the different aspects of metal Lerner has pulled from to create his entirely unique sound. As I said before, this album works best for me in small doses, as it may you, but it is surely one of the first albums I turn to when I am for a change from the typical metal fare.
Killing Songs :
World War IV, Beyond the Lands of Human Existence, The Prophet Failed Pt. 3: Departure
Adam quoted 75 / 100
1 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 4 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:10 am
View and Post comments