BEHOLD… THE ARCTOPUS guitarist Mike Lerner apparently has some crazy creative juices going as he’s just released a mind-bogglingly technical album under the name DIREWOLF. He handles everything here, guitar, bass, keyboards, drum programming, and vocals. It’s quite a frantic mix, always technical, sure to please fans of BEHOLD… THE ARCTOPUS but different enough to potentially appeal to their detractors.
For a culture as obsessed with fantasy as Metal, it’s surprising that we don’t have more futuristic Sci-Fi epics. There’s LOST HORIZON and that LUCA TURILLI album, but for the most part we’re consigned to sword and sorcery. DIREWOLF is one of the few bands that tries to take us into the future with a story of celestial scope. To this end, Lerner has taken to emulating some of the pomp and spectacle one would expect from a BAL-SAGOTH album. This particular influence is made most obvious by the dramatic narration he often affects (don’t worry, the majority of the vocals are growled), more subtle by a narrative structure to the songs that is familiar to the SAGOTH fan.
Had I to describe “Beyond The Lands Of Human Existence” in but a single adjective, it would be “histrionic.” Everything about it is over the top, from the story and song titles to the narration to the constant shredding and technical wizardry, to “all aboard the Hell express,” to the narration. There’s so much cheese, lyrically and musically, that I am obligated to mention Wisconsin, even if I can’t think of a proper comparison.
Now that I’ve lost the non-American readers, let’s bring it back on topic. At the end of the day, what matters is that the album is fun. The guitar playing is technically incredible, of course, but here Lerner structures that technicality with narrative intent, so it should make more sense to people who were turned off by BEHOLD… THE ARCTOPUS’s technical-for-the-sake-of-technicality style. At the same time, “Beyond The Lands Of Human Existence” is not a great album, just a moderately enjoyable one, so it’s a mild recommendation at best.
(Online July 24, 2007)