LIVE REPORT: Dragged Into Sunlight
, June 15th, 2012 11:07
Brad Sanders catches the Brits unleash a pummelling upon the good people of Indianapolis
Plenty of metal bands appear to gleefully await the impending apocalypse, but few seem as complicit in its perpetration as Dragged Into Sunlight. Clad not in SunnO)))'s hooded cloaks or My Dying Bride's black Victorian garb but in baggy jeans and band t-shirts, the Liverpool foursome onstage appears in many ways to be the logical extreme for darkness in heavy music. Their wardrobe seems to say 'Fuck corpse paint, we let our 10-minute hellscapes do the talking.' Witness even a little of their live set and it's hard to fault them for it.
Dragged Into Sunlight round out a bill at Indianapolis' gloriously seedy Melody Inn that includes North Carolina Neur-Isis worshipers Make, Profound Lore-signed locals Coffinworm, and scene newcomers Black Goat of the Woods. It's a rare metal show lineup – let alone one with four bands – that is consistently excellent from top to bottom, but each act is up to the task of spreading evil and feedback to the 50-odd fans in attendance. Coffinworm are especially impressive, very nearly stealing the night from Dragged Into Sunlight with a pummeling blend of sludge, doom and black metal tailor-made for their fellow miserable Indiana natives.
With the alcohol (and a bit of blood) flowing by the time Dragged Into Sunlight come on, though, it is quickly evident who the story of the evening would be. The changeover after Make's set involves less tuning of guitars and testing of mics and more killing of lights and installing of a massive candelabra with a goat skull at its center. Only when all seven votives are lit does it become truly dark.
Death metal has received doom transfusions before, often to great success. Slowing things to a crawl and taking away the tongue-in-cheek fun that genre godfathers like Cannibal Corpse and Carcass instilled has created a splinter genre every bit as bleak as the most harrowing black metal. Dragged Into Sunlight arguably lead today's incarnation of this movement behind the strength of their lone LP, 2009's crushing, funereal Hatred for Mankind. The band's four members, each identified only by an initial, translate that music to the stage effortlessly.
The goat skull at the front of the stage draws more attention than it ought to for the first few minutes of Dragged Into Sunlight's set, but when frontman T starts to tear into his vocal cords, back turned to the audience, the crowd shifts its glance. T seems to be reaching deep within his soul to conjure up some intensely personal demons that just happen to relate to the audience. He's not performing so much as he's exorcising. We're all witnesses, but that's incidental; he truly doesn't care that we're there.
The rest of the band, meanwhile, plods ahead with thousand-yard stares, sometimes glacially, sometimes a bit more quickly, but always viciously and without remorse. Like much of the best extreme metal today, their take on the stuff moves from subgenre to subgenre so fluidly that it's a bit irresponsible to put a single tag on it. Death/doom comes closest – if Japan's Coffins come to mind, you're right on the money – but there are elements of black metal, sludge, and even noise that all come through in the band's live set.
The crowd's response to the set is as one would expect. The frenzied moshing that characterize Black Goat of the Woods and Coffinworm's sets and the trancelike nodding that goes on during Make's is replaced with neck-wrecking headbanging and general awe at the ritual taking place on stage. Like all great sets, it ends far too soon, and despite members of opening acts clamoring for "one more song," Dragged Into Sunlight leaves the stage around midnight, leaving all of us to drag our own bodies into sunlight on a Monday morning, spent but satisfied.