Dragged Into Sunlight’s Widowmaker Will Definitely Clog Your Heart
I absolutely love when albums unfold as if they are following some kind of underlying narrative, and Widowmaker, the latest collection of horrific doom metal from UK quartet Dragged Into Sunlight, seems to be entwined with a story of the most perverse variety. The fact that the album is divided into three tracks simply titled “Part I,” “Part II,” and “Part III” is no accident. There is no simpler way to weave any kind of tale than to move through a beginning, middle, and end, and Dragged Into Sunlight has never been a band to overcomplicate their message.
“Part I” begins by setting the stage with some minimal neofolk-inspired instrumentation that appears to be harmless enough, but nevertheless sets the malicious and primal tone that will accompany the entire record. The track builds slowly in intensity as the band begins to delicately place sharply haunting chords into the mix, and by the time the oddly melodic violin section starts to become the focal point of the song, it feels like the tension could snap at any second. Amazingly, the band manages to hold this state of instability intact for nearly fifteen minutes, which makes for a ridiculously engaging introductory number.
I should mention quickly, though, that near the end of “Part I,” the band introduces the first of many poorly-chosen samples that plague an otherwise fantastic album. It’s not that the band’s sound doesn’t lend itself well to voice samples; it’s just that the cheesy subject matter about murdering kids and whatnot undermines the complexity and sophistication of the songwriting. This might not be a big deal to some people, but the sample in “Part I” was the first time the band allowed me to snap out of my trance long enough to blink. Unfortunately, several similar lapses occur before the album’s conclusion.
The story continues with “Part II” and “Part III”; these tracks are where fans of the band’s vicious first full-length, Hatred for Mankind, can come to be satisfied. This is also where the major plot twist in the unravelling story reveals itself: the disastrous event in “Part I” was foreshadowing that nonetheless does not allow the listener any chance to prepare. In a single moment, Widowmaker takes you straight from hearing the warning siren to lying broken on the ground, and then proceeds to steamroll you with the band’s trademark crunchy guitars and heavily distorted, maniacal vocals for twenty minutes straight. The sustained intensity is truly remarkable. The listener gets a very brief respite midway through “Part III” with a section that harkens back to the relative calm of “Part I”; however, Dragged Into Sunlight makes sure to finish the act with some bombastic final minutes of beautiful unadulterated sludge, a fitting finale to an absolute beast of an album.