‘The greatest power the capitalist class have over our lives, is convincing us that betraying each other is the only way to survive’ (Inferno, Dawn Ray’d).
I’ll be honest black metal generally does little to stir my soul. For me, it too often lacks the hardcore-inspired velocity of the 1990s’ death metal that spawned it, and too often seems to be mired in the grip of decidedly dubious politics. There are of course honourable exceptions – the most notable of which, perhaps, have been Liverpool anarchists, Dawn Ray’d.
‘The men who stole our lives, can not be allowed to enjoy their prize’ (Requital, Dawn Ray’d).
Now I must confess, I have always been something of a fan. Even before, I suppose, they actually existed in their current form, having first discovered their then-maelstrom of folk-infused black metal as We Came Out Like Tigers. And yet I can say without hesitation that, as much as I have hugely enjoyed their previous releases, the band has set new heights with the release of their fourth full-length ‘To Know the Light’ (Prosthetic Records).
‘There is grief in seeing yourself hardened, your younger smiling self pummelled’ (In the Shadows of the Past, Dawn Ray’d).
It is not that they have reinvented themselves, but rather that they have heightened what they already did in every sense, taking it to a new level of intensity. Musically, they continue to forge an expertly constructed blend of blast-beat driven black metal and haunting violin-driven folk, not just juxta positioning them, but deftly intertwining them, so that they become a single, organic entity. One would mean nothing without the other. This is an album that sweeps seamlessly from brutal rage to mournful melancholy.
‘I can’t help but smile, at the fascists curious insistence, of demanding to have a master, and daring to call that resistance’ (Wild Fire, Dawn Ray’d).
Yet this is not the melancholy of defeat, nor the yearning of misplaced nostalgia, but a defiant rage at what we have allowed the UK to become. It is a fierce recognition that alternative futures can be realised. Lyrically, the album is perhaps best engaged with as a political polemic, not that the band would necessarily see it as such. Not every prescription or solution may be wholly agreed with, but the challenge to society’s rampantly engrained socio-economic inequality and the cartel politics that have hollowed out our democracy, is an essential one.
Now, unfortunately, I have not been able to source any copies (as yet!), but I encourage you to seek this album out wherever you can – it will reward your engagement.