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Intensely brutal doom/death debut - 80%

drengskap, February 21st, 2010

Erupting out of Liverpool like a purulent sore bursting open with a sickening torrent of pus and maggots, Dragged Into Sunlight command attention with what is clearly an above-average debut release. Mordgrimm Records is an über-kvlt label which selects its roster of artists with great precision – previous Mordgrimm alumni include Anaal Nathrakh, Covenant and Worms of Sabnock. DIS also benefit from the kudos of working with legendary producer Billy Anderson (Eyehategod, Neurosis, Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine, Noxagt, Weedeater, Om, High On Fire, Orange Goblin etc), whose leave-well-alone treatment leaves plenty of rough edges in the mix whilst bringing out the music’s massive aggression.

Opener ‘Boiled Angel’ combines slower, blackened sludge sections with blastbeat-driven brutal death metal à la Obituary or Desecration, barbaric riffs ramming home the music’s intense, corrosive misanthropy, with vocalist T (the five-piece band prefer to remain anonymous, wearing terrorist-style balaclavas in publicity shots and playing gigs in near-total darkness with their backs to the audience) deploying a truly horrific arsenal of throat-shredding roars and snarls. DIS don’t win any originality contests, though, for using vocal samples of Charles Manson – they’ll be dragging out poor old Aleister Crowley next. ‘Buried With Leeches’ and ‘Volcanic Birth’ maintain an incredible level of brutality, with ‘Buried With Leeches’ even finding time for a brief guitar solo in between the bludgeoning riffs and convulsive screams. DIS don’t fit neatly into a death metal pigeonhole. There are elements of black metal, doom and sludge in here, combining to impressively grim effect, though the overall pacing and attack are rooted in death metal and grind, despite the band themselves describing their sound as ‘terminally slow and loud as fuck’. Loud? Oh, yes, this is certainly loud, no doubt about that. Slow? Well, only some of the time. Perhaps the closest touchstone for comparison would be the Glaswegian death-squad Black Sun, who share DIS’s scathing savagery and obliterating nihilism.

The promo CD I was sent only includes the first three tracks of Hatred For Mankind, but I heard the rest of the album via an internet link that the band sent. Overall, the first half of the album is more convincing than the second half. The near-11-minute ‘Lashed To The Grinder And Stoned To Death’ and the 11-and-a-half-minute ‘I, Aurora’ I, Aurora’ both seem excessively and exhaustingly long for the frenetic speed they whip along at, and the vitriolic, hate-filled speech samples get to be a bit too much as well – DIS actually have a band member, A, who devotes himself exclusively to samples, and he needs keeping on a tighter leash. The final track, ‘Totem Of Skulls’, is a quietly unsettling ambient dronescape adorned with sonorously chiming metal percussion and vocal samples about violent atrocities.

Dragged Into Sunlight score bonus points, though, in the visual presentation department. The Mordgrimm edition of Hatred For Mankind features artwork by Justin Bartlett, noted for his work for Sunn O))), Gravetemple, Gorgoroth and Moss among many others, and Mike Diana, the notorious underground cartoonist whose Boiled Angel zine of the early 90s (presumably the source for Dragged Into Sunlight’s song title) resulted in the first-ever obscenity conviction of an American artist, and a court order to stop drawing! Mike Diana has worked for various other bands, including Iron Monkey and Autopsy. There’s also a promo poster for the album by Glyn Scrawled, who’s worked for bands including Earth, Unearthly Trance, High On Fire, Mayhem and Wolves In The Throne Room. Using any one of these artists would have been a very cool move by Dragged Into Sunlight – using all three just seems kinda greedy, though clearly the band has impeccable taste in visuals.

Dragged Into Sunlight recently became the first British band to sign with leading American metal label Prosthetic Records, home to such notable acts as All That Remains, Gojira, Kylesa, Lamb Of God and Testament. Prosthetic plan to re-release Hatred For Mankind in the spring of 2010, a move which should see Dragged Into Sunlight being dragged from cult status into the sunlight of major media exposure, and a 7” EP on Mordgrimm entitled Widowmaker is also imminent. Expect to be hearing more about this band soon.

This review was originally written for Judas Kiss webzine: