The first album by Russia's mysteriously named Der Gerwelt, 2003's Human Breed is nowhere near as exotic as the group's unusual country of origin -- the Motherland being less than a famous breeding ground for heavy metal talent. Part black metal, part doom/death, a little gothic around the edges, the album is competently executed and pretty unified of vision, but fails to produce that final, unique twist to help it stand out from the rest of the faceless metal hordes. In their slower moments, "Into Mayhem," "Dreaming With the Dead," and particularly "Newborn World as We Know It" dredge up memories of middle-period Paradise Lost and Katatonia. Interestingly, during their faster bits, these songs' very crude production and rather ill-performed blastbeats are actually reminiscent of Brazil's roughneck black metal scene of the late '80s -- groups like Sarcofago and Mutilator, to be exact. Ultimately, Human Breed comes up lacking as a truly original work, but its dreary lyrics and somber tones are still perfectly suited to manic depressives everywhere.
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