Review: Dawn Ray’dTo Know the Light

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Building on the mournful reflection of The Unlawful Assembly and the furious sorrow of Behold Sedition Plainsong, the latest full-length from Dawn Ray’d is both more grounded and expansive. Drawing from an ever-increasing pool of inspiration, To Know The Light is a deftly woven sweater against the biting chill of isolation endemic to late-stage capitalism, with threads drawn equally from the spirit of working class folksong, the scrappy snarl of punk and dyed with the overlapping tones and patterns of black metal. Branching ever outward, stylistic nods to this wider variety coupled with a growing maturity in focus creates stronger and more distinct sonic impressions and greater personal impact.

To me the album feels like a rich ecosystem of interconnectedness, my feet wet with the ever-flowing stream of pummeling black metal melody and mindful violin as I hop from a stone of spoken word to one of grindcore brevity and back again.

But never content to simply put thoughts to a tune, Dawn Ray’d seek to project, enact and embody that of which they speak, the precepts of anarchism permeating the sonic landscape like a hearty soil from which the great diversity of livelihoods may spring.

For the anarchist A is much more than an old buzzword of bygone boomer boogeymans, and much more than the commodified mall symbol of adolescent angst, but shorthand for the inescapable reality in which we are all connected. At its core, anarchism is simply about the willingness too see the world As It Is; to see the cruelties, contradictions and fantasy of our systems, as well as the idiosyncracies, aspirations and doubts in ourselves. It is the Awareness of the interconnected world between people, ideas, emotion and substance, it is a raw Acceptance of that which we see and experience regardless of what we may believe or wish, and with those as spiritual guides, it is a willingness to take Action within the limitations of our all too brief lives.

With words like “a spiteful pull at a thread of wool, that would see the shirt now spoiled” they honor the deep history of sabotage¹ ² in industrial labor. With songs like “Go as Free Companions” they celebrate the diversity and power of people, and with videos like “The Battle of Sudden Flame” they acknowledge the nature of preciousness of opportunity, connection, and responsibility in communication.

For it is exactly the type of action above which is truly available to us; one that is simultanesouly both miniscule in cosmic proportion but also immeasurably immense in personhood. That something as simple as both the practical and symbolic empowerment of making a simple household glue, a substance of adhesion and connection which may yield a simple poster or two, but at the same time may also be a long overdue reclamation of space from corporations and other business interests whom we never consented to dominate our personal environment in the first place.

And it is that collision of introspection, honesty, courage, aspiration, hope and resignation all at once which is truly dangerous, for it is the truth of our inescapable reality, with music held up as a fragmented mirror before the shards of our face. These thoughts of liberation, songs of spite and deeds of hope are all at once as full of beauty as they are of ugliness and discomfort, for it is painfully honest for the spirit to reside so openly and so vulnerably in a world predicated on exploitation and degradation.

Fuck every copper that ever took a wage

Every blue bastard with his baton raised

A beast that even his master hates

Only a coward fights for the state

4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

To Know the Light will be publicly available via Prosthetic Records on March 24, 2023. Say hi to the band on Zuccbook!

1 https://archive.iww.org/history/library/WCSmith/sabotage/

2 https://www.iheart.com/podcast/1119-it-could-happen-here-30717896/episode/the-black-cat-named-sabotage-spooky-103761646/

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