First released back in November of 2012, 'Widowmaker' formed the second full-length commercial release for British Black Metal outfit Dragged Into Sunlight.
Following on from 2009's 'Hatred For Mankind', this second offering bore more resemblance to the band's slightly earlier release - the one-track-EP 'Terminal Aggressor' which in just one track ran for a full nineteen minutes. Nineteen minutes of brain-crushing, barbaric Black Metal laced with soul-devouring doom undertones, morbid-as-you-like samples, and a strong experimental/progressive backbone.
And in essence that's what we have once again here with 'Widowmaker'. However, drag that son-of-the-devil on for a full forty-minutes-and-fifty-seconds, and you've got yourself one apocalyptical abomination that takes you on a monumental soul-corrupting journey.
Okay, so the one-track-album is in fact split into three distinct parts (themselves broken up as individual tracks). However, this should not be confused with thinking that the album contains three independent tracks. Far from it my fine horn-waving friends. The three parts are decidedly different, but they don't stand on their own two feet. They need to be played together. As one. To set the atmosphere. To sink the listener into that abominable pit of despair. And then rip them limb from decaying limb. Nice analogy eh?
And so, as I listen to the CD for probably the umpteenth time now - I'm going to write this review in the hope that in some amateurish way, I will somehow describe the journey that DIS are going to unleash upon me. The obvious way of constructing the review is to split it into the three parts. So here it is:
PART I - Running Time 14:51
Okay so the entirety of this first part, which is just shy of a quarter-of-an-hour, is quite frankly an atmosphere-setting introduction. It sets the reader on his or her way, down the spiralling pathway of depressive eternity into a dark chasm of the band's own making. It's very 'God Speed You Black Emperor!'...in a good way mind you! I'd love to say that as I listen to this I'm chewing on a putrefying house-spider whilst I sup at a vial filled with a small child's tears- just to properly set the mood. But alas I'm not. I'm just here, sitting at the computer, tippy-tapping away on the keyboard writing this review as the repetitive guitar strokes play over and over again, in an almost hypnotic march of the damned that plods on and on. But not for one second could it be said as being even remotely dull or mundane. No. The subtle changes, the introduction of an array of carefully selected backing instruments, the chilling tones and layers, the constant drone and downbeaten pulse. It's one hell of a pathway that leads downwards and downwards until...
PART II - Running Time 11:48
...the all-out assault of Part II rams its fist down the listener's throat, pulling out your vital organs in an oppressive onslaught of pure unadulterated hatred. The guitar sound is thick and heavy and straight from the sewer. The rasping guttural vocals are as hellishly foul and corrosive as they come. A mish-mash of samples accompanies the thumping Black Metal charge that continues to pound away at your skull. Chug-chug-chug, the guitars are an assault unto themselves. Let alone the doom-ish drum work and the bone-jarring bass. And in amongst it all there's those scary-as-a-possessed-toddler organ-cum-synthesiser effects, adding another layer of evil at just the right moments. Armageddon is here my friends.
Don't go thinking that DIS are just going to string out one riff for twenty-odd-minutes, simply to create a monster of a one-track-album. Far far from it. All through Part II this beast is changing, morphing and transforming. It barely stays on one pathway for more than thirty-seconds before it's off again down a different and equally unexplored route. The variation and inspired progression in this one section of the whole track is simply breath-taking. That's not to say that it's disjointed or all over the shop - as maybe the likes of 'Deathspell Omega' can go at times (although I have to say that's not necessarily a bad thing!). But instead there's always a theme, a link, an untouchable thread keeping the whole thing together. And it's this that perhaps makes Widowmaker work so horrifyingly well.
PART III - Running Time 13:11
And then what's this? Doom doom doom. Oh yes, we're falling down further into DIS's self-made abyss. The pounding drumming have left us for a short time and we've slooooowed down to a droning, dragging pace. We're walking through a swampy quagmire of intestinal sludge. And then 'crunch' - DIS are back again with a pounding punch and a bone-crunching march ever onwards once again.
Another atmospheric backdrop accompanies some delicate guitar work, like something good-old Enslaved might knock together as they sit around a coffee table in another one of their progressive moods. In fact, it's beginning to sound like it would be perfectly at home on a '28 Days Later' soundtrack...and then a sledgehammer hits you square in the face again as DIS are back to open hell's crematorium door, and a wave of Black Metal mayhem smashes the listener in the face.
The end is now in sight, and yet DIS are pounding away with a thick wall of crushing metal. Vocals join in again...it's a monstrous onslaught as we come crashing through the Gates of Hades to see that all we're left with is falling guitars and fading squeals of feedback.
Headphones off...wife at the study door wondering what the hell I've been doing here for the last forty minutes with my headphones on whilst endlessly typing away at the keyboard. Ooohhh my neck aches. Widowmaker is one loooong track. But hell was it worth it!
Tell you what, I think I'll just press play and start the journey all over again...