It wasn't long ago that the words "American" and "Black Metal" in the same sentence would produce laughter and scorn from many staunch supporters of deep Satanic art. Nowadays it would seem that some of the most interesting and violent Black Metal comes from the states. It's difficult to peruse the pages of the metal mags and miss all the accolades thrust upon bands like Xasthur, and Leviathan. Los Angeles' Ashdautas may not get the attention of the aforementioned hordes, but their 2005 album Shadow Plays Of Grief And Pain is so harsh and so mephitic that it demands to be heard. Most noticeable are the tortured vocals of Naeth. The guy seems torn apart from within, and combined with the fumbling, discordant chaos of the band, Shadow Plays is a noxious cocktail of pure, unabashed agony. Ashdautas received a bit of attention some time back for their hardline stance against "MySpace bands" and their threats of violence to other bands and individuals in "the scene." This all makes for interesting threads on the interweb forums, but also serves as a distraction from Ashdautas's real appeal, their brutally stark and manic cacophony. Ashdautas belong to a devout sub-sect of Black Metal bands calling themselves The Black Twilight Circle. Other bands in this rigid group include Volahn, Aresmenda, and Kallathon. Ashdautas is no joke. If your interest in Black Metal is only an ironic gawking concern to be tittered at between rides on your fixed gear and lines of coke at Pop's then turn back right now. This is the genuine article, you are not.