By Dr. Abner Mality

Dragged Into Sunlight is not content to stay locked in a comfortable groove. Nothing about this mysterious English band is comfortable. Their last effort "Hatred for Mankind" was a volcanic eruption of ferociously extreme music merging death, black and doom metal into a musical holocaust. It was going to be very tough to surpass that record in terms of  rage, so "Widowmaker" doesn't really try.

This is one of the bleakest and most challenging albums that's ever crossed my path. The amount of despair that this inflicts is pretty much beyond words and a good deal of the album doesn't even fall under the "metal" banner at all. I cannot say that it is leaves more of a mark on me than "Hatred For Mankind"...but it does leave a mark. A sullen bruise instead of a bleeding gash, let's say.

The 40 minute effort is divided into three nameless movements. The biggest challenge almost every listener will have is making it past the first 15 minutes. That movement is downbeat and suicidally depressing more than anything I've heard. It's not metal at all, but a somber, gloomy funeral march built upon a piano foundation that keeps increasing in decrepitude. It reached a point where I finally started getting bored and then another point beyond that where it was almost too much to take. I understand the process of tension in music, but this pushes it past the breaking point, as you keep waiting for the ferocious monster we heard on "Hatred for Mankind" to emerge. It does, but you have to force yourself past this wall of gloom to reach it.

It's almost a relief when filthy, roaring guitar explodes in the second movement. But here also there's a change. "Widowmaker" is much more of a pure sludge record in this second part, with only occasional bursts of high speed. It is punishing filth in the vein of Eyehategod and Iron Monkey. Lots of brutal riffs here, but some are quite catchy and there's none of the total cacophony the band has indulged in previously. The second movement is the most "orthodox" part of the record, but still very suffocating and oppressive.

That feeling continues in the third and final movement, with monolithic doom riffing, hate-filled screams and roars and some fast thrashing. But then it becomes more angular and spiky and unorthodox. There's a drop down in a more melodic but still bleak soundscape until the album builds back up to its final movement, where I can compare the music to a rusted iron tower collapsing slowly into rubble. The end.

Not too many will be able to endure this colossus of crushing despair. The opening movement will really test your will. But for those who can take the journey, "Widowmaker" offers brutality of a more emotional kind. This is a very intriguing second release from Dragged Into Sunlight.