Archive for the Experimental Category

Dragged Into Sunlight – Widowmaker

Posted in Black Metal, Death Metal, Doom, Experimental with tags , on November 19, 2012 by Badass and Grim


Dragged Into Sunlight first came to my attention when they were described to me as ‘a mix between Anaal Nathrakh and Eyehategod’. This ludicrously disparate comparison had me scratching my world-weary head and before I knew it, I had a copy of ‘Hatred for Mankind’ in my sweaty, calloused hands. It was entirely justified: they combine the attempts of Louisiana’s finest to kill their own audiences with feedback and raw power, and ‘Nathrakh’s undiluted, misanthropic rage swirling in a seething cauldron of overblown hate. As a listening experience, ‘Hatred for Mankind’ is somewhere between Black Metal and autoerotic asphyxiation: both are uncomfortable, cathartic and end with your decomposing body being found by concerned family members in a pool of your own semen, figurative or otherwise. The band are sponsored & supplied by the Huddersfield’s legendary Matamp, presumably in an appeasement bid to stop them burning Yorkshire, and with this unholy partnership have taken the MAXIMUM VOLUME YIELDS MAXIMUM RESULTS ethos to its devastating logical conclusion with the invisible suffix ‘and fuck the listener.’ Consequently, ‘Hatred for Mankind’ sounds like it was mixed by a 5 year old. This is an interesting take on the True Norwegian lo-fi approach: instead of trying to make it difficult to listen to by being cold & tinny, ‘Hatred..’ is warm and overdriven in all aspects, stopping just short of white noise. Saturated with serial killer quotes, it’s a punishing experience that will leave you desperate to murder prostitutes.

Their live rituals follow this pattern: the crowd is doused liberally with smoke and white noise for a good 15 minutes or so until nausea and ear-drum ruptures occur. While the crowd vomits out their inner-ears, the band sneak onstage and unceremoniously produce a tornado of screaming noise. A chugging, wailing battering wall of noise buries you alive punctuated only by strobe lights designed to add an extra boot to the assault on your senses. And it doesn’t stop. It’s as distressing as watching a hooker being knifed at a school nativity play. The final ‘fuck you’ is the fact that the band face away from the crowd for their entire set: everyone could have fucked off to the hospital for all the difference it makes to them.

This standoffishness has fuelled the hype around the band no end: They wear balaclavas for promo shoots and don’t divulge their names at any point (again, contrast this with TNBM’s corpsepaint & demonic personas. Or don’t, just fuck off and stop leaving dog faeces smeared on my front door.) They aren’t on social media or Twitter so you can’t follow them to see what they had for breakfast or how good their last dump was. A bit of furtiveness goes a long way though: just by not saying much, they have become zen masters of anti-promotion in the buildup to the release of ‘Widowmaker.’ If Dragged were used car salesmen, far from using sexy mental pictures of you in their car, spinning tall tales of great life would be with the Widowmakermobile at your favourite dogging spots, they’d just drive past you in it every day on your tedious trudge to work, playing your favourite songs at stupid volumes out the window. They’d also splash you a few times if it was raining, because this isn’t fucking Disneyland.

Widowmaker then. The album is roughly split into 3 seamless hate-slabs, sensibly titled I, II & III. A study in managing your expectations, if you’re prepared to have your face smashed in with riff-fists as it begins, sit back down and put the lump-hammer back on the shelf. ‘I’ is a gloomy mood piece that would be the perfect background music next time you happen to play chess with Death or bury your dog. Sombre, clean (ish, by Dragged standards) strummed guitar chords build inexorably to… nothing. It builds you up to expect a furious climax then subsides back to black silence and void. Naysayers will proclaim that all this demonstrates is that they found the volume knobs on their Matamps, but it’s haunting: more Isis than Ildjarn. There’s even piano and violin on I, surely a swift kick to the testicles of anyone who had written them off as noise-merchants rather than bona fide musicians. It’s thoughtful, deliberate, premeditated and unsettling in the best way possible. It demands patience and solitude.

A sample regarding murder as a fundamental aspect of the human condition paves the way for a track transition, and II begins with what could easily be the riff of the year. Not in a Black Sabbath riff worship kind of way, but in a devastating satisfying sense, harking back to those overwhelming heaviest of the heavy moments on ‘Hatred for Mankind’. It’s glorious. They could have ridden it out for another twenty minutes no sweat and listeners would have devoured it feverishly then bagged up the remaining lumps with the limbs in their freezers. But no. Messing with the listener’s expectations again, it slides into feedback accompanied by a fresh Charlie Manson quote discussing his favourite coloured dogs or somesuch and an almost happy riff kicks in at around 3 mins. II is the metal track on this album – It’s Dragged, but it’s slower and grinds deliberately along at a solid pace. The violins return briefly to add some tone to the blackened granite monolith, adding greater depth to the grim audio equivalent of scalding a hooker with an iron. A little clean guitar here and there adds more flavour, and there’s even a wah pedal at around 11 mins. Doesn’t sound like much to all you Dream Theater fans out there, but let’s keep it in context: this album is a little like finding out that Otis Toole is actually an accomplished Shakespearian actor.

Finally, III takes the pace right down, slowing further and further into sweet screamy feedback that then devolves still further into a moody, plodding bass riff that recalls every cellar burial. A firestorm of hate kicks back in as everything else comes in built on the foundations of this bass murder basement. There’s more clean sections, then more unrepentant pummelling, building, peaking and cutting repeatedly to mess with you. Then it’s over, swirling to a close amongst fading feedback.

I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a departure from their earlier stuff but it’s still obviously Dragged; they’ve simply refined their methods and begun elaborating upon their pattern in exactly the same way as their oft sampled murder heroes. It should be a hell of an experience live, should they decide to perform it. Widowmaker is a grim listen, and it’s an experience you don’t come back from the same. It’s a different ocean. It’s a different world.