Dawn Ray’d make a black-metal soundtrack for punching fascists | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Dawn Ray’d make a black-metal soundtrack for punching fascists


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Black metal has long been contaminated with bands that embrace fascist politics, but the genre has a left-wing tradition as well, which includes the antiwar themes of 2001’s The Haunted House by South Korea’s Pyha, the pro-union slant of Panopticon’s bluegrass-laced 2012 album Kentucky, and the radical environmentalism of Botanist. To that list you can add anarchist, anti-fascist UK trio Dawn Ray’d. On their 2017 album, The Unlawful Assembly (Prosthetic), the band imagine revolution in the first track, “Fire Sermon,” and spit bile at those who seek control through scapegoating and fearmongering (which implicitly includes Trump and Brexit proponents) in the wonderfully named “A Litany to Cowards.” On that song, vocalist Simon B indulges in clean vocals to ensure his message will be intelligible: “The lies, they might be different / The sentiment’s the same / You chose the weakest / To shoulder all the blame,” he sings, before launching into a Renaissance Faire-esque violin solo. Celtic touches run throughout the album, but most are buried beneath a satisfyingly fierce black-metal buzz. Folk influences in black metal are hardly new, but where some bands deploy retro melodies to suggest a pure, implicitly xenophobic ethnic volk, Dawn Ray’d are more in line with Woody Guthrie or Sinéad O'Connor—using folk styles to evoke community and provide a springboard for resistance. If fascism in politics—or in black metal—fills you with raw, enormous rage, you'll want to get to this show.   v

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