DAWN RAY’D return with To Know The Light - as a reinvigorated version of themselves, and presenting a reimagining of exactly what black metal is and can be in the future.
To Know The Light is a departure from their previous missives in more ways than one. Although still overtly political, the lyrics take on a more personal slant than before. Lyrically, To Know The Light traces the band’s own journey through anarcho-nihilism; from anger, to despair, to a radical acceptance of the darkness all around us, settling on a new understanding of liberation and joy. Whilst much of the thematic content is rooted in rage and resistance, there are also elements of positivity to be found throughout.
Musically, they deliberately rejected their previous way of working and consciously reinterpreted the band in a new way. With half the album written, an honest reflection on their work so far saw the trio return to the drawing board and rip up their pre-conceptions of black metal and of the band itself. Having previously poured much of their collective energies into touring, they pushed each other further than before to refine their writing.
Nothing was off the table in terms of approach or embellishment, granting them freedom to explore in new directions. With no interest in adhering to what is commonly accepted as black metal, they made a record that encompasses much of what is great about the genre - whilst incorporating components that set them comfortably on the peripheries of a scene mired by its own self imposed rules.
The results of these writing sessions were recorded at the Station House in Leeds (in what can arguably be described as an appropriate repurposing of an old police house) and Mynetaur Studios with production by Mark Mynett (Rotting Christ, My Dying Bride) and additional engineering by James Atkinson. With clean vocals, rich layering and many melodic passages, DAWN RAY’D have crafted an album that is high on production values and big on tight songwriting, all without compromising intensity. Album closer, Go As Free Companions, conjures up majestic theatricality (aided by the bombastic pipe organ recorded at St Paul’s church in Huddersfield) coupled with sincere positivity.
DAWN RAY’D define folk music as a way to document the injuries, abuses and real-life stories of working class people; a way to disseminate information that would otherwise not be accessible. Sonically speaking, too, they incorporate elements of traditional folk music into their music - notably within the harmonies and layers on tracks such as Requital and Freedom in Retrograde.
Citing influences as genre-diverse as Chumbawumba, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Propagandhi, Lankum, and Crass, it is evident that the message is still as important as the music. The thread that runs through all these bands - and many others - is one that allows for creative expression around common themes of class struggle, freedom and resistance. Much of the lyrical content is poetic in structure and delivery, but never at the expense of straightforward language when necessary. The album’s cover continues this theme of directness, featuring a photograph taken in France by Remi Moon, with additional artwork and layout by Ethan McCarthy. The image features a silhouetted figure in front of a fire at a protest.
Consider this an invitation to disregard preconceptions about DAWN RAY’D and the genre(s) within which they reside. Consider To Know The Light as not just a rallying cry but a sincere offering of a new way of looking at the world.
Tracklist: 01. The Battle of Sudden Flame 02. Ancient Light 03. Inferno 04. Requital 05. Sepulchre (Don’t Vote) 06. Cruel Optimisms 07. In the Shadow of the Past 08. Freedom in Retrograde 09. Wild Fire 10. Go As Free Companions
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