Ever since their formation, Liverpool three-piece Dawn Ray’d have pushed boundaries in the black metal world.
Now following the release of their new record Behold Sedition Plainsong, the trio are using their larger platform to make sure alt-right views continue to be challenged in the world of metal.
We spoke to the band on their tour marking the records release last year.
DAWN Ray’d has become a band which has been making waves in the black-metal scene since the trio decided to write music under this name.
However, even before Dawn Ray’d was born, Simon Barr, Fabian Devlin and Matt Alexander had been writing music together for many years.
It is this familiarity and connection between the three-piece which led to a focused vision for their critically acclaimed second record Behold Sedition Plainsong, a record which has true black metal references at its heart, as well as Dawn Ray’d putting their own spin on the genre with their heavily politicised content.
Drummer Alexander explains: “I think the sound just came quite naturally and we are always pushing each other to make the best sound possible.
“A lot of this record for me it is kind of standard black metal in the drumming but I will throw in d-beats and things to make it a bit more exciting, whilst keeping it more traditional.
“We have all come from a very punk background and we carry that into this project, along with playing together for years we all know what each other is going to do when we are writing and this time around things just fell together really smoothly.”
It is this sense of growing up together, not just as a band but as people, which has helped to shaped what the trio has become.
It is also a drive and determination to succeed that has seen the band travel across the UK, Europe and the US.
And it was a bold move from the band to go state side earlier in their career which, in hindsight, has paid off and seen them build an even bigger audience.
“We decided to go to America after releasing just one EP, which was a bold move and we decided that we just wanted to tour as much as possible and we covered a lot of ground with that first EP,” explains guitarist Devlin.
“We kept pushing and touring as much as we could and accepting any festivals that we were offered no matter where they were.”
Barr added: “Being on the inside of things it’s quite difficult to gauge any sense of success.
“Where we are doing it every day we just see these little small increments of change, but when we have a chance to step back you can really see the impact we have had.”
And that impact is none clearer than the one they have had on the political discussions being had, especially within the world of music.
The band has always been outspoken about animal liberation, oppression and anti-fascism, but it was a concept which was not really spoken about in the blackmetal / death metal world that they were now stepping into when Dawn Ray’d first formed.
Barr explains that even though the term anti-fascist black-metal band is a tag that is now thrown around to describe the band, being a strong political voice was always the plan.
He told An Insight: “We always wanted to be a controversial band, and to my knowledge we were the first openly anti-fascist black metal band, and some people disagreed with that at first, but it has worked in our favour as people seem to have a lot more of an appetite for politics now.
“I think there were people who weren’t listening to black metal before, who we have carried over from the old punk DIY scene which we used to be a part of.
“When we first started out and we were playing some of the militant anti-fascist squats in mainland Europe, they wouldn’t even put that we were a black metal band on the poster , because it was so associated with the alt-right in these places, which is fair enough.
“But I think because we have been so vocal about it I think a lot of people know about our politics before they know our music.
“There will be times at shows where people will come up and talk to us about our political views and say how our music has opened them up to a lot of things, but we will also get the people that have come to shows that just want to talk to use about anti-fascism, which is great as well.”
Even with the work put in by Dawn Ray’d and other bands like False and Underdark who are bucking the trend in black metal, there is still an inherent sense of ‘being on the wrong side of society’ within that world, and that is something Devlin believes they need to challenge as a band.
He concludes: “There are a lot of people who grew up listening to black metal that aren’t necessarily confronted with these ideas, and what was crucial to us was that we continued to talk about.
“There is an idea that we should not be conceding any ground to alt-right views. If we leave that ground to them, it is not acceptable in my opinion.
“We should be making the space much smaller rather than letting them have these platforms.”