Release Date: 6/11/2012
The year's best metal showcases the genre at it's most absolutely spine chilling
Mysticism and darkness have always been cornerstone foundations of Heavy Metal, but it doesn’t often feel as real and as indicative and sobering as that of Liverpudlian quartet Dragged Into Sunlight. The fact that these guys are a four piece Doom/ Death metal band from Merseyside is just about all anybody really knows about them. They refuse to tell their names to interviewers, play live very rarely and only appear in the public eye dressed in balaclavas. It’s the kind of thing which certainly seems gimmicky, but at its base idea is actually quite reasonable. “We don’t feel like this band needs another identity. We’re just Dragged into Sunlight,” they recently told The Quietus. Furthermore, the band work up such a memorable collective identity with their music that it seems wrong to think of them in any other way.
Like a lot of Metal bands, Dragged into Sunlight look to negativity as the main emotive inspiration behind the bulk of their work. They certainly aren’t the first band to write songs based on serial killers either, the main thematic narrative (if you will) behind their second recorded album “Widowmaker.”
However it’s not all that often anymore that a band manages to conjure up feelings and emotions simply through the art of writing the most incredibly spine chilling of music. Whether Dragged into Sunlight had this in mind when writing this album (a single 45 minute song broken down into 3 parts) or not, that’s exactly what they’ve done.
“Widowmaker” is thematically primarily concerned with some of the most despicable acts and notions of human morality, but it doesn’t necessarily act as a moral compass. Interspersed with nerve wracking clips from documentaries about serial killers throughout, you sense it’s the atmosphere created that the band put most emphasis on here, rather than a critical stand point.
On paper, “Part I”, a 15 minute instrumental without drums, sets itself out as the calm before the storm, but there’s nothing calm about it. It’s intensely bleak. It feels like someone has a video recorder and is walking around now empty cells on Death Row, those which once belonged to murderers long taken to the execution chamber. The eerie intertwining guitar melody gets more and more prominent as it goes on and a melancholy Violin joins the foray 5 minutes before the end, adding both an increased sense of morbidity and grandiosity to the proceedings. The low- level hum and crackle in the backdrop is thick and daunting. It’s a piece of music solely designed to send shivers down your spine.
“Part II” is the storm, and my god, what a storm it is. Unfathomably heavy chords, inconceivable layers of distortion and distant, violent howls start this track off explosively, before it transforms into an old- school Death metal chug fest. Throughout the track the band also weave in that destructively epic sense of melody that they are obviously adept in, and they end on a similar crunching high point too, a strangely catchy chord progression shining through the apparently impenetrable wall of fuzz.
“Part III” begins via continuance of the 10- tonne oil tanker approach, only this feels less like the 100mph collision and more like the aftermath. At the 6 minute mark the song turns its trajectory into a shimmering bout of tranquillity, with ghostly and reflective synths murmuring behind the almost optimistic guitar notes.
They save the most sinister moment on the album for last though. 2 minutes before the end a clip rings out thus: “I’m gonna do everything I can to try and escape, I’ll kill police officers if necessary, and then I’ll go right back to doing what I did before… Killing kids.” Enter another soaring melodic strong arm and you’ve got the most impacting ending to an album you could have hoped for.
Everything on “Widowmaker” protrudes effectively, but this isn’t the finest metal album of the year because of its musicianship. There hasn’t been another Metal album this year that has had the ability to both make us think and feel so fundamentally through the combination of atmosphere and few intelligible words. Whether it means to or not, “Widowmaker” provokes emotions and thoughts, but leaves everything up to the listener’s own mind at the same time. How many other albums this year have been such riveting talking points? Truly, this is the power of music righteously explored.