Album review: Dawn Ray’d – To Know The Light

More fire from Northern blazing squad Dawn Ray’d on illuminating third album To Know The Light…

Album review: Dawn Ray’d – To Know The Light
Olly Thomas

If Liverpool is most famous for The Beatles, it has another proud history: one of resistance, one that understands that to give peace a chance, you first have to fight. It is this lineage of strikes, riots and boycotts from which Dawn Ray’d draw on an album that adds wider textures and elements to black metal tradition.

The tremolo-picked guitar and keening violin that define the trio’s signature sound still spark flames on The Battle Of Sudden Flame and Ancient Light, while Inferno and Sepulchre (Don’t Vote) leave no doubt in their ability to forge blazing sonic assaults. These expected ingredients are balanced by a capella piece Requital, its unadorned voices raised in a tradition of English rebel songs that goes back centuries, and the acoustic-led Freedom In Retrograde, reminiscent of folk-aware post-punks New Model Army. Cruel Optimisms sets spoken word to graceful music before concluding with a grindcore blast, before album highlight In The Shadow Of The Past incorporates unsettling sludge vibes into its early verses.

Whether delivered in blackened cries or plainly sung, frontman Simon Barr’s lyrics are bracingly direct. Few songs here fail to reference the elemental nature of fire as a metaphor for rebellion, revenge or what Wild Fire calls ‘the noble flame of integrity’. This is black metal as call to arms for the community against oppression, and thus more urgent and real than the genre’s usual subject matter; worshipping Satan doesn’t exactly gel with the No Gods No Masters ideology of Dawn Ray’d’s proudly-proclaimed anarchy.

To Know The Light deploys spite and intelligence against the power structures of the ruling class, doing so with an uncanny beauty that locates joy and hope amidst the struggle. This flame won’t be extinguished any time soon.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Underdark, Fen, Neurosis

To Know The Light is released on March 24 via Prosthetic

Read this: Dawn Ray’d: “You don’t have to ask for permission to make things better”

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