2015’s In Case You Missed: Dawn Ray’d – A Thorn, A Blight

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“Cauldron of Rebirth”

Pernambuco, 1624. A few moons have passed, perhaps more. The feeling of fabric against your back is still unbearable, and so is the Sun. How long has it been since Summer started? You have no idea. It burns so hot that it is almost as if time itself is melting. It burns as hot as the flames inside of the mill, it turns days into a thick tar as the cauldron turns cane into melaço. The cane field is endless, but at least your hands don’t ache anymore.

“I swear I am getting weaker,
I swear I am slowing down.” 

You wallow.

††††

“At The Still Point”

Bjørgvin, 1350. A generous amount of brew warms up your spirit. “It will be romantic, there is beauty in the cold!”, you say to your wife. The mind drifts elsewhere, to a much darker place. Nothing grew last year. The ground was sterile, fruitless. There is only enough grain for the plague struck last year, taking away both of your boys. The nights will only get longer. Beauty… in the cold?

There is not,
And it will try kill us.
That is a truth that all the trees know.

††††

It had been so long I almost forgot my favorite method of finding new music: the late night Bandcamp cruise. Much like a trip to the refrigerator in the wee small hours, you see something that looks appetizing and dive right in with careless enthusiasm. In this case, however, indulgence paid off, as my sleepiness and my migraine the day after was well worth spinning this record several times.

The appetizing artwork for A Thorn, A Blight

The “appetizing” and somewhat impressionist artwork of A Thorn, A Blight

In about 23 spellbinding minutes, the British men in Dawn Ray’d display a maturity unfound in most bands’ first release. Listed as “atmospheric black metal” in Metallum, there is not much ambience and certainly no spare time here. Instead, the atmosphere is derived from the raw emotion in these pieces.

At most times melancholic, at other times downright choleric, the mood their music creates is highly enhanced by the lyrics, which you can actually hear despite the vocalist’s harrowed shrieks. I recommend listening while following along with the words provided at their Bandcamp page. From radical political stances to the woes of harsh climates, the EP comes from a place of disillusionment and/or grinding poverty. In this context, “Strident Voices” is a remarkable surprise for dealing with the feeling of inferiority and being undeserving of someone’s love. It was very interesting, to see that on a black metal record.

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Simon Barr, the vocalist and violinist for Dawn Ray’d. Photo by Michael Sangster.

The production in A ThornA Blight is adequate, with the vocals and drums in the forefront most of the time. Because of this, the loud/quite dynamics in the songs are heightened to a point where the listener is fully immersed in the experience – guided by the pounding rhythm and feeling the passion each wail carries. The volume of the guitars is a bit lower than most modern records, but they still provide plenty of the sorrowful atmosphere previously discussed. As usual, plenty of tremolo in every song, but I find the chord progressions here more inventive than the norm.

There is one element that steals the scene on the whole EP: Simon Barr’s violin. Words fail me as I try to express how much this classic instrument adds to the stories of Dawn Ray’d. In “Cauldron of Rebirth”, my favorite song in this release, all of the aforementioned elements complement each other perfectly. If a single song is all you’ll listen to, make it that one.

Released in September 10th of 2015 through Moment Of Collapse RecordsA Thorn, A Blight is an experience of beauty and hopelessness, however contradicting that may sound. Buy a copy of the EP in digital or 12” record format over at Bandcamp. Be sure to stab the like button for Dawn Ray’d on Facebook.

††††

We stray too far from the sun,
The Earth strains at its tether.

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