There’s something off about Dragged into Sunlight’s Hatred for Mankind (released in 2009 and reissued last month on Prosthetic). And not SERIOUSLY off, but just enough to be unique and unnerving. Take the album cover: upon first look, it just appears to be a primitive-looking drawing of some druids standing around a thing and… generally being druids. But closer inspection will reveal what it actually is: a naked pregnant woman vomiting what appears to be flies, rocks, or shards of something into the air while crying tears of blood with a baby being either torn out of her or violently springing forth, with the aforementioned druids ornamented with Satanic symbols. Now while this is pretty low on the shocking scale in terms of death metal album covers–a hilarious example of the desensitization death metal has provided us– it takes what could be a ho-hum image and makes it disturbing. There’s a deceptively simple, bare bones way about it that doesn’t focus on life-like detail but still captures a mood. The album follows suit: barely polished but incredibly effective sludgy blackened death/doom reigns supreme. But while there are tons of throwback bands who do the same, Dragged into Sunlight just sound evil and mean as fuck. And angry. So, so angry. Evil, angry, and mean aren’t new in metal, but the tweaks DiS provide a fresh — or in this case, rotten — new perspective.

Truth be told, I’m fairly sure Hatred for Mankind gave me tetanus. From the album’s endless procession sludgy death/doom riffs–occasionally broken up by crusty grind parts and crossover thrash sections for good measure– to the gruff, barely audible shouting and gurgling vocals to the mud-caked production, this is a band that has no use for modern metal’s hard-on for crass studio sheen (or at least one hopes they won’t be tempted by it in the future). It’s a great pleasure to hear a band so deeply embedded in the muck that manages to transcend it to kick some ass every now and again. And they often do: there’s a remarkable forcefulness here that would sound good in any context, let alone one so dismissive of basic hygiene. The only thing more alarming than a man caked in dirt and general grime is if he’s charging at you with the intent of taking you down. Dragged into Sunlight’s sludgy nihilism and brutality work brilliantly in tandem.

Though as is its nature, the production often gets a little TOO filthy. The guitars — so, so gloriously crunchy and massive — occasionally get buried under loud, incoherent drums. When the guitars have so much to say, it’s a mistake to have them hidden behind a wall of audible chaos. And for the most part, the songs aren’t really there yet, either: it’s mostly a series of awesome riffs sewn together by some noise (of course, there are exceptions, particularly the epic “I, Aurora,” which shifts moods and genres several times before getting lifted from a drone-doom crawl to a strangely-and-wonderfully Eighteen Visions-like finale). But while Hatred for Mankind is occasionally too messy for its own good, that comes with the territory of what Dragged into Sunlight are trying to do. Grisly, uncompromising heaviness that literally hurts one ears by the end of your time with them: I’m pressed to find a better mission statement than that. They ain’t perfect, but then they would be interesting if they were.

(3 out of 5 horns)


Download Dragged Into Sunlight’s Hatred for Mankind here.

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