[November 5th, 2012]
01. Part I
02. Part II
03. Part III
English extreme metal band Dragged Into Sunlight are a band that relishes their anonymity. Even after releasing their incredibly well-received debut Hatred for Mankind in 2009, the band members still perform under single initials: Vocalist T, guitarist A, bassist C, and drummer J. While such anonymity is certainly nothing to hold against the band, Dragged Into Sunlight should start preparing for a bit more of a struggle in keeping their identities under wraps, because their second album Widowmaker is the type of album that makes people stand up and take note of a band. The album’s three tracks move with the fluidity of a traditional three act story through lows of blissfully tranquil quiet and highs of hellacious malice and agony.
On their second album, Dragged Into Sunlight start off a little differently than they did on Hatred For Mankind. Actually, that’s a lie, because Widowmaker starts off completely different. The screaming guitars and guttural vocals are replaced on ‘Part I‘ by sparse, minimalist guitar chords that evoke the bell tolls of a medieval church. These chords are soon joined by some low end distortion and a cryptic voice-over, before the acoustic guitar settles into a melody of chords reminiscent of an Agalloch-esque fever dream. Dragged Into Sunlight build ‘Part I‘ on this melody, creating a sense of anticipation, foreboding, and especially and most importantly, melancholy. As the song continues and a tinkling piano and mournful violin weave in and out of the space left in the wake of the guitar notes, the atmosphere of fearful sadness intensifies exponentially, until just when you think you can’t take it anymore, another voice-over pops up to inform you about human beings’ propensity for killing one another. After that, the anticipation releases and the really fun stuff starts.
‘Part II‘ and ‘Part III‘ are much more akin to the sound Dragged Into Sunlight put forth on Hatred For Mankind, as the blistering guitars and drums complement the tortured despair that permeates vocalist T’s shrieked lyrics. Musicians C, J, and A are definitely talented at their respective instruments, and have shown a real growth from the music on Hatred For Mankind, moving from extreme black metal to a sludgier, doom sound and back again. Surprisingly, ‘Part II‘ even has a bit of a groove you’d expect to find in some stoner metal, but it doesn’t feel out of place. The music does an incredible job of creating a tangible atmosphere of sadness and misanthropy, as hatred and misery seem to pour forth from the speakers; that it does so while implementing elements from a multitude of genres is one of the most impressive feats Widowmaker achieves.
There are some minor caveats with the album, primarily that ‘Part I‘ manages to upstage the subsequent two tracks. It could just be its shocking difference from the other two-thirds of the album, but after repeated listens, ‘Part I‘ manages to stick to memory, where ‘Part II‘ and ‘Part III‘ kind of blur together in a swirling amalgamation of vitriol. There are also a few lulls in each track that suggest the band could have cut two minutes or so from all three and still achieved the sonic reckoning they were aiming for. They aren’t terrible lulls, mind you; just enough to slightly pull you out of the despondent bitterness of the album before the band cranks it back up to completely reinvest you in the music.
With Widowmaker, Dragged Into Sunlight have made an album that shows a huge growth from their debut. Even with its flaws, Widowmaker is an absolute abomination of an album, in the best possible way. It’s definitely not feel good music, but it’s superbly well done and beautiful in its own twisted way. Despite its tendency to become a little ponderous at times, it is a rewarding listen for fans of extreme metal looking for a distinct change of pace, or anyone adventurous enough to gaze into the abyss.