Dragged Into Sunlight: WidowMaker

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Dragged Into Sunlight: WidowMaker
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Dragged Into Sunlight: WidowMaker
Death Metal, Doom Metal, Sludge Metal
Prosthetic Records
November 6th, 2012
Release length: 39:59
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Dragged Into Sunlight, the Liverpool. United Kingdom Blackened Death and Doom Metal group, stunned audiences across the board with their debut full-length effort Hatred for Mankind. Originally released through Mordgrimm Records, it was picked up for release through Prosthetic Records, who has become the home for this unique new entity. It’s been about three years, and the group finally present a new offering outside their 2011 live album, OCCII, Amsterdam, which was strictly limited to fifty copies from what research indicates. WidowMaker introduces a new take on the band’s sound, though all the key elements still remain. But, does this new direction work in the band’s favor, or have they answered the wide anticipation with a rather mundane recording?

WidowMaker sounds about what you would expect from the group, though it is a little deceptive at first. Once you clear “Part I,” the music goes from empty and cleaner to heavier and aggressive. The production is a bit on the crisp side, but the distortions show a band trying to weave a rawer sound similar to something Wolves in the Throne Room would be proud of. The guitars have a mid-range distortion to them that sound thick and burdening, while the loud bass guitar presents a somewhat deeper sound that reverberates through your speakers without remorse. The screaming to guttural vocals are pushed further in the background, much like the audio samples, and find a great deal of static on them as well. The drumming is crisp and right in your face thanks to the levels most of the kit happens to be at. The cymbals clash loudly when used, though a bit washed out, and the bass kicks carry a strong click that tears through the mix. However, the snares are what stand out the most, often podded up loudly with a hollow boom that ends up putting the bass guitar to shame.

But, you seriously wouldn’t know this at first. WidowMaker is seperated into three long tracks, none under the ten minute mark. “Part I” is a cleaner, though ominous performance centered around simpler guitar chords, if not one note strung over a gap of seconds with silence between them. Eventually, the acoustics are aided with some subtle noise in the background, accompanied by samples of dialogue as the volume, as well as the input from other instruments slowly increases. Additional chords become layered over the initial ones, and eventually switch to distorted electric riffs accompanied by violins. However, the speed and general sound never really change. While a performance like this can grow dull after a while, there’s just enough activity added and subtracted to the the music to keep you engaged for the nearly fifteen minutes of its existence, or at least make some fantastic background music for whatever you’re doing.

Once you make it to “Part II,” things do start to pick up. The music mixes crushing Death Metal with a Doom Metal pace and an energetic performance, though never shifting to a full blown crawl. The combination of gutturals with the higher pitched screams really add an inhuman tone to the release, especially the latter of the two that really sound sinister and demonic given the right musical atmosphere. About seven and a half minutes in, things do clear up slightly to shift into a catchier section of richer music that seems to act as a guitar solo, but with some drumming that is slightly off beat with the rest, though still perfectly suiting. More dialogue samples kick back in as well, leaving the rest of the song to jump between the sound of that bridge to the thicker, harder performance that followed, but with a stronger focus on the bass that shows more twang in its performance before slamming right into “Part III.”

Introduced with held chords and screaming with a pitch like that of a crow due to the distortion, the music shifts to more of a funeral procession environment. Given the title, one can assume this release is a metaphor for something as simple as a heart attack, going from peace to pain, and concluding on “Part III” with the conclusion of your life. While the pace remains consistant through much of the track, the music continues to get richer. About half way through, the impact can grow as sinister as the vocals in “Part II,” giving a hellish, nightmarish tone before it all suddenly stops and gives way to simpler, light guitar chords similar to what you heard on “Part I,” but not from an acoustic guitar. The pace eventually does increase once more, but it all eventually succumbs to a quick fade out as the material slows down equally as fast.

WidowMaker may not be as strong an album as their debut, but it’s still a kick ass recording. In what seems to be an obvious musical metaphor for something that may differ from the above interpretation, the band weaves together three different atmospheres, as well as musical approaches, all linked together through sudden shifts and samples of dialogue in the background. From calm and serene to foreboding and nightmarish, this is an album that is truly hard to convey, and ends up something you simply must hear to understand. If you enjoy Death, Doom, Sludge, or even Stoner Metal, then there’s something here for you. Those opposed or still on the fence about this band may not be won over with this recording, but fans of Dragged Into Sunlight will be treated to an impressive album that only makes the anticipation for more all the harder to bare. If you haven’t heard WidowMaker already, then you simply need to, as its deserving of being one of your next musical purchases.

01. Part I – 14:51
02. Part II – 11:48
03. Part III – 13:11
Initial Pressing Score: 9/10

Dragged Into Sunlight (band)
Dragged Into Sunlight

Digital review copy of this release provided by Prosthetic Records.