When you think about Liverpool, there are usually three things that come to mind: the football, the accent and the music. As a football fan myself, I would probably enjoy the Reds more than the Toffees from Everton (the two stadiums are just a few minutes away from each other at less than a mile).
As a clueless foreigner, I find the Scouse accent truly endearing. And as a music lover, I particularly enjoy knowing about the rich history of this town that gave birth to so many legendary acts like Anathema, Echo & The Bunnymen and Carcass, on top of all the cheesy classics such as Dead or Alive, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Atomic Kitten. Yup, don’t act like you’ve never belted Whole Again on a drunken night out, we all did! Jokes aside, there is also another band from the Merseyside that is also growing in popularity, especially within the extreme metal scene: Dawn Ray’d.
Formed in 2015, Simon Barr (vocals, violin), Fabian Devlin (guitar) and Matthew Broadley (drums) are the Terrific Threes of RABM (Red and Anarchist Black Metal, as in ostensibly antifascist and anarchist black metal). Their unique sound and ethics have garnered over the years a steady following and massive respect from bands and listeners alike, without compromising anything in their music, which is why their newest release, To Know The Light, is one of the most anticipated records of the year. I know I was particularly impatient to listen to it, as I was lucky enough to have heard a couple of new songs in the latter half of 2022.
My first impression after I finished listening to it is that there are more folky elements on this album than in their previous releases, but then again, it completely fits the spirit of the album as it channels the collective anger everyday working class folk can relate to when it comes to the social, economic and political issues of our day. No need to turn on the BBC to know that the Brits are pissed off, nevertheless it’s good to hear from activists on what we can do, even on a small scale, to make radical and necessary changes to our society, but I digress.
If you like traditional English protest songs, Irish folk influences and some big, fast, blazing black metal riffs, then this album will be a staple of your playlists…
Back to the folky elements, you can find them a lot in songs like Requital (a folky a cappella interlude, very reminiscent of traditional English protest songs) or in the quiet-yet-impactful Freedom In Retrograde, an anti-prison anthem with hopeful aspirations (‘I just believe in freedom for every living thing’). That being said, you can still hear a lot of black metal, but it is equally interesting to see Dawn Ray’d channel both folk and black metal harmonies just like on Cruel Optimisms, a short track starting as a call-to-arms like spoken word and ends abruptly with a good fifteen seconds of chaotic grindcore-like blast beats and blackened cries and growls.
But don’t fear, there are still plenty of really good black metal tracks on this album like The Battle Of Sudden Flame, Ancient Light, Sepulchre (Don’t Vote) or the wonderful album closer, Go As Free Companions, which will definitely get people going at future gigs – I can confirm it as I saw them debut this track at Restart The Heart in London last September.
To Know The Light is a brilliant record, through and through, I cannot think of any track that could be skipped, it is THAT good. Their message will touch many metalheads and anarchists and the harmonies that accompany this album are stunning. If you like traditional English protest songs, Irish folk influences and some big, fast, blazing black metal riffs, then this album will be a staple of your playlists and vinyl collections for years to come.
No need to be a friend of the Church of Satan to enjoy black metal and thanks to bands like Dawn Ray’d, you can be your authentic antiracist, antifascist selves and enjoy the genre for what it is: a nihilistic outlet to denounce oppressive institutions. See, you can write an article about Liverpool music without mentioning the Beatles…
Scribed by: Nessie Spencer