Black Twilight Circle
Desert Dances and Serpent Sermons
(Iron Bonehead / The Ajna Offensive)

This split EP featuring four artists from the Black Twilight Circle actually seems rather strong from the first bite. You’re actually getting the Volahn piece first, which is “Chamalcan” a brilliant display of blackened death metal and ritual mysticism. What begins as a rather calm and melodic piece, soon envelops into a pounding rendition of the genre done right. The riff melodies seem to really provide a strong sense for the track, as well as what I’d consider to be a progressive approach during the mid-section that really works with the furious vocals. There’s a lot of atmosphere to this one, particularly making me think of Agalloch or Wolves In The Throne Room with a little more attention to detail. Perhaps it sails on a bit too long, but the secondary portion of the track really seems to build what I’d consider a passionate conviction amidst a bleak, sorrowful melody. Then the whole thing goes John Wayne. I’m not kidding, and yes – it’s refreshing. None of us saw the “Rawhide” influence, but damn are we ever glad for it. What we have here is a vein of atmospheric melodic black/death merging in with the old west, which is something I can’t say I’ve ever heard before. Let’s hope that future efforts will be even more of a pleasant surprise.

Now as for Shataan, they seem to roll close to the same territory which I’d definitely consider that of black metal. While I think they’re musically capable, I don’t particularly like the frontman’s clean approach during “Caminando Del Destino…” regardless of the fact that I really enjoy the almost Shamanic approach to the lengthy cut’s introduction. Thankfully, the flute work really makes the piece take off, as it even continues through the frantic blasts and tremolo riffs. Arizmenda is up next with “Ropeburn Mutilation on the Outskirts Of Life” and it’s additionally creepy intro, which of course rolls into slightly more comfortable black metal. Arizmenda have a much rawer vibe than the past two acts, but I think that gives their identity. These guys could utilize a better production value if they wanted to, but they don’t need to. It’s obvious what kind of minimalism they’re going for and I love it. The leads go great with that section of blasts right before the track ends as well. It’s something you’d have to hear yourself, but you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s just good black metal.

Kallathon are the last act here and they’ve got a much higher level of production, as is soon noticed. They also seem to have a sort of stripped down, yet western style of black metal that sort of goes back to the John Wayne and Clint Eastwood references I mentioned earlier. The vocals aren’t as menacing, but they work for what they are and I suppose the drumming is suitable enough. The tremolos only seem to get better as they fade. But I have to have some kind of respect for any band trying a new completely new idea and I’d say that this “wild west black metal” thing is just that. It offsets the Norwegian frost with the dusty American desert, which certainly seems promising enough. I’m definitely curious as to where all of these bands will go in the future. While it’s obvious as to which band I prefer here, I strongly recommend that you listen to all of them. Go pick it up and support western black metal! (Eric May)

Purchase Desert Dances and Serpent Sermons here.

4-stars

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