By Kyle Harcott
I knew next-to-nothing about Dragged Into Sunlight or this record going in. My vague understanding was that Hatred For Mankind had received a limited release on Mordgrimm in 2009, and that the Liverpool band’s recent signing to Prosthetic had prompted this re-release. I knew it was the downright-disturbing album art by Justin Bartlett that intrigued me into checking it out in the first place. The identities of the band members were vague, that they only used their initials on credits, and promo pics revealed little other than that they performed masked in balaclavas. Other than that I had no expectations whatsoever.
What I received in return for my listening effort is fifty minutes of sonic hell, audio poison of the highest order. Hatred For Mankind is relentless, battering the listener with the blackest sludge possible – sonically akin to having someone bludgeon you half to death and then toss you into a tar pit ears-first. The Billy-Anderson-helmed production is the first thing that gets you: if it’s not the thick, clotted guitars ripsawing their way into your guts, it’s the horrible/wonderful thunder of the immense, redlined tom-heavy drums hammering your skull. The vocals exist solely to vomit black spew and brimstone smoke into you, leaving you choking, with nowhere to escape the blunt-force trauma that is Dragged Into Sunlight. This is NOT a record for the casual observer, the faint of heart, the uninitiated – it’s some of the ugliest music I’ve heard in a very long time. Saturated in malevolence, every song includes vicious samples of human monsters – Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and Richard Kuklinski were some I recognized, there were loads more I didn’t; needless to say, all of the samples are downright fucking creepy and lend the album further hellish atmosphere.
While every track is a standout, I found myself especially awed by the frightening, ten-minute creepy-crawl of “Lashed to the Grinder and Stoned to Death”. Opener “Boiled Angel/Buried With Leeches” (the title a nod to the infamous Mike Diana comic) is another standout, an excellent introduction to the band’s total-negative aesthetic. “I, Aurora” lurches along like some C’thulhian behemoth, inserting knockout, out-of-left-field choral vocals in the midsection, something unheard of on the rest of the album’s unstoppable overkill. Closer “Totem of Skulls” is a sick, corrupt nightmare of a song, a stomach-churning synth-wave loop with a sample of a smug, smirking Ted Bundy pontificating away about his varied horrors overtop.
Hatred for Mankind is a special flavor of ugly, reveling in nightmares and revealing in its horror. Predatory and visceral, Hatred for Mankind is a knife-in-the-gut of an album, one that begs to be listened to in its entirety – if only to see what’s around the next corner. There’s a pattern to the sequencing that demands the listener endure the whole thing in one sitting. It’s about as ‘uneasy listening’ as it gets, but perhaps that’s what makes it so damn rewarding in the end. What’s the scariest and/or most disturbing film you ever saw? Think about how you felt when it ended: that exhilaration, that sense of relief. Listening to all of Hatred For Mankind is not a dissimilar experience. The band’s name evokes their sound perfectly. This music is absolute negation of light and hope. Hail horror.