The Black Twilight Circle is a name that many familiar with underground black metal hold in high regard, and for good reason. Both the sheer amount of releases and the quality of these releases from the insular Los Angeles based acts brings acclaim from around the world, and to be able to live close enough to catch these various acts often is one of the best things about living in Southern California for me. So when I found out that two of the Circle’s best acts were opening for Ash Borer, an all time favorite of mine, there was no way I could miss out on that experience. Hosted once again at the Complex in Glendale, CA, this night would hold three memorable performances from some of the best black metal bands around.
The first band on that night was Shataan. While the band has been active as a member of the Black Twilight Circle group since 2011, they have always appeared to me to get the least recognition of the various artists, which is a shame because their “War Cry Lement” demo is one of the more unique offerings of the Circle has put out. Things are picking up of late for Shataan, however: in addition to being included in the “Desert Dances and Serpent Sermons” four-way split in 2015, the band released their first full length album “Weigh of the Wolf” last year, both on tape through Crepusculo Negro and also on vinyl through European label Iron Bonehead. This was my first chance to catch the band live, and they alone were well worth the trip out. Shataan brought a singular vibe to the night, offsetting their reverb-drenched, twangy black metal with interludes of harmonica, flute, and jaw harp. An eclectic mix, but one that undeniably works for Shataan, and definitely one that kept the whole venue entranced.
The second band of the night was Volahn, the flagship band of the Black Twilight Circle collective, and a local favorite for those who follow the local extreme metal scene. Volahn are not shy about sharing the bill with many different genres of extreme metal; this was my third time seeing this act, having caught them previously opening for Wolves in the Throne Room and for Lycus. This bill, however, was by far the most suited to their style out of any show I have seen them at, and they were clearly thriving off that energy. Volahn tore through their set with wild abandon, bringing a fury and rancor to the small venue that was invigorating. If you live in the Southern California area and somehow still have not caught this act live, I would urge you to rectify that.
Finally, Ash Borer took the stage, and the moment I had been waiting for had finally arrived. Ash Borer were one of the first black metal acts I remember latching onto as a favorite, and the constant evolution of their sound has kept me interested for years; to finally be able to see the band live was something I had been hoping for for quite some time. Hot off the release of the incredible “The Irrepassable Gate”, Ash Borer’s new songs translated beautifully live, both preserving and expanding upon the energy and mysticism of the recording. Shrouded in deep fog, the band both visually and aurally enveloped the audience and drew everyone into the otherworldly experience. It was a breathtaking experience that far and away exceeded my hopes.
Ash Borer’s tour along the west coast is concluded now, so if you had the chance, I hope you made it out for one of these shows. Almost every one of these shows had openers that were equally worthy of attention, but the Los Angeles show was special to me for highlighting the regional scene that I and others revere so much, and I was very glad to be able to make it out.
Be good to each other,