At first glance, black metal is a shade paler than it used to be. While bands like Watain enjoy success and perpetuate the masses into swallowing their watered-logged piss, true practitioners of the genre have been confined to the shadows. But here’s the thing – real black metal and its followers have always thrived in obscurity. Like the genre itself, the parameters of black metal culture aren’t as rigid as they first appear.
Almost completely separate from the mainstream is a huge black metal population who still holds true to the ideology that spawned the genre’s infamous second-wave of the early 90’s. The age of the internet has created a secret society of blogs, labels, and artists the otherwise uninitiated remain unaware of. Not only is this thanks to less accessible music, but also to the zero-tolerance attitude of these basement-dwelling fanatics, who have essentially re-defined the standards of what constitutes as high-quality black metal. Popular underground sites like the now defunct Funeral Stench and Tales ov Dryden shed a beam of light on a burgeoning scene of raw black metal/punk/noise artists, slowly starting a revolution in the process; a few years later, this wave of lo-fi acts continues to flourish, one by one drawing listeners away from the high-production values of commercial acts, their noses now raised to the air. Elitism has always permeated black metal culture – its second wave was a direct response to the growing commercialization of death metal – but through this intolerance of the mediocre, the elevated bar has created an overlooked scene that these “kvlt kommandos” are able to truly appreciate. Spearheading this movement since the release of their Worship Black Twilight compilation in 2009, is the Black Twilight Circle; the true torchbearers of this modern underground renaissance.
Evoking the camaraderie of black metal collectives like France’s Les Legions Noires and Russia’s Blazebirth Hall, The Black Twilight Circle is a faction of like-minded individuals located in Southern California who practice black metal ethos with a proud emphasis on their Hispanic culture. Instead of focusing on Nordic traditions, their inspiration stems from a deep connection to their native Mexican and Aztec roots, pulling the genre away from frostbitten stereotypes, and generating their own form of esotericism far removed from the fjords of Europe and into sweltering heat of South America jungles. Early albums from the BTC, like Ashdautas’ Where The Sun Is Silent and Volahn’s Dimensiónes del Trance Kósmico, constructed an altar of eerie grandeur specific to the Black Twlight Circle; one that was noticeably “latino” as it was black metal. Excellent debut records by Arizmenda and Axeman amongst others continued to build upon these blueprints, earning more recognition for the enigmatic group of musicians in the process. By 2011, the Black Twilight Circle had established notoriety in the black metal underground, a reputation gained by both a purveying air of mystery and a growing catalog of exceptional records.
Translating to “Black Twilight”, Tliltic Tlapoyauak was designed to debut the Black Twilight Circle’s newest bands, and reveal the current state of its veteran groups. In a recent interview with Noisey, BTC founder Eduardo “Volahn” Ramirez stated, “Tliltic Tlapoyauak took a long time to record, we put immense time into all aspects of the release. I consider Tliltic Tlapoyauak to be our greatest accomplishment to date.” Without a doubt, he is correct; the compilation is easily the Black Twilight Circle’s most ambitious piece of work yet. Like its predecessor, Worship Black Twilight, the record features one track by every band currently active within the BTC’s ranks, culminating in a two-hour long journey through the many perverted minds that make up this enigmatic entity.