Dawn Ray’d – To Know The Light (Prosthetic Records)

“I’m really excited about this record. It just feels like a thorough revamp of this band… almost starting from scratch.”

When Rushonrock spoke to Simon Barr in July 2022, he was looking forward to opening a new chapter. Dawn Ray’d’s third album had been written over 18 months. We met Barr when it was still being mixed.

And now it’s here.

So have the Liverpool act reinvented themselves, as the vocalist/violinist teased last year?

Is To Know The Light “glossy”, as he suggested.

Not quite.

And that might be a relief for those who have flocked to Dawn Ray’d’s anarchist banner since 2015’s A Thorn, A Blight, was released.

Their trademark firestorm dynamics and anti-fascist, anti-capitalist spirit still provide the foundation. The trio’s ferocious, folk-tinged take on black metal remains at the core of their sound.

Inferno? It does what it says on the tin. The song crackles with revolutionary fervour.

“What atrocity would it take for you to finally condemn the state,” roars Barr on on Sepulchre (Don’t Vote).

The messages are loud and clear.

But spread their wings they most certainly have.

Dawn Ray’d are exploring new ways to convey their rage. The band’s passionate polemics aren’t always wrapped up in blastbeats and searing fretwork. Close harmonies swirl around the stunning Requital, and Barr delivers a deeply stirring performance on Freedom In Retrograde, an acoustic piece which talks of the “darkness closing in”… yet still raises a middle finger in defiance.

Indeed, the clean vocals on this opus are a revelation, whether they stand on their own, or are used to add greater depth to blackened works such as Ancient Light. And by employing richer textures (there’s even a pipe organ on the record) Dawn Ray’d create spellbinding passages which linger long in the memory.

Dawn Ray’d light the way

To Know The Light blazes with Dawn Ray’d’s ambition.

They make music on their own terms.

And by the time you reach Go As Free Companions, which weaves folk and black metal together under a leaden English sky, you’ll have realised just how far this band have come – and where they could be going.  

To Know The Light