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In late 2009, Prosthetic Records made its first signing of a UK band -- a mysterious foursome called Dragged Into Sunlight -- and the label has now reissued the band's debut album, "Hatred For Mankind", which was originally released in more limited distribution more than a year ago by Mordgrimm Records (Anaal Nathrakh, Covenant). The album, was produced byTom Dring and Billy Anderson -- who has also produced groundbreaking albums by Eyehategod, Neurosis, Melvins, Weedeater and many more -- and it features the striking cover art of Justin Bartlett.
Now, even if you have a taste for extremity in your metal, "Hatred For Mankind" may be pushing the envelope. Listening to it is a harrowing but remarkable experience. It's a cataclysmic, corrosive, chaotic, cathartic, crushing cavalcade of cacophony. It's one of the most disturbingly brilliant albums I've ever heard. The seven tracks on the album range in length from 2:47 to 11:36, with a collective running time of over 50 minutes. Getting from the beginning to the end unscathed is an impossibility, and yet "Hatred For Mankind" is an album that seems designed to be heard in one sitting. The songs move from one to the next almost seamlessly, and the cumulative effect is decimating.
Billy Anderson's involvement in the production provides a clue to the music. It does indeed share DNA with bands like Eyehategod and Neurosis. It also reminded me of "Streetcleaner"-era Godflesh, but Dragged Into Sunlight have served up their dish of sludge and doom with less of an industrial flavor and instead have heavily spiced it with the rushing acidity of black metal.
Vocal samples appear in almost every song (including a passage on the opening track from John Moran's opera, "The Manson Family", but the vocals actually recorded for the album are terse and vicious and submerged in the mix. A combination of disturbing shrieks, near-pig-squeal explosions, blood-coughing hacks, and razor-edged whispers, the vocals enhance the scorching atmosphere of the music, but in the main, this is an instrumental album.
Guitar-wise, the band employ rancid, down-tuned, fuzzed-out chainsaw riffing reminiscent of early Swedish death metal, but they throw in walls of fuse-blowing tremolo picking, rhythmically moving from feedback-laced doom-metal crawls to accelerated blasts of up-tempo mayhem, with electrical arcs of exploding transformers firing in the darkness. Walls of guitar noise whine and churn, they claw and tear, they grind like gears about to lock up for lack of lubricant, and they hit you in waves. Squalling solos erupt without warning and spit fire like a circus geek with a belly full of kerosene. But although the music at times veers into avant-garde, experimental territory (particularly on the closing track, "Totem of Skulls"), there are plenty of headbanging riffs and rhythms to keep your attention hooked.
And speaking of rhythms, the brilliant drumming on this album is absolutely key to its success. Heavy use of the toms and bass drums enhance the bleak, booming, destructive tone of the music, and changes in the drumming techniques and rhythms both keep you off-balance and pull you deep into the blackness: There are moments in every song when the double-bass kicks in at an insane pace, pushed forward in the mix, and it creates a dull, whumping sound like the rotors of a rapidly approaching attack helicopter about to rain death from the sky.
Whether droning and discordant or voracious and seething, the songs are inventively designed to create an atmosphere of soul-rending despair and to generate the kind of adrenaline surge brought on by the threat of imminent destruction. Listening is like being caught in the roaring squall of a hurricane, realizing too late that you can't ride it out like you stupidly thought you could: It's the end of your world, in a maelstrom of overwhelming sound. Listening may leave you with your eyes rolled back in your head and flecks of foam at the corners of your mouth, and it may leave you smiling, too.
(This is an edited version of a review that originally appeared at: