Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Productions is an experimental black metal label based in France, which has a very keen and attuned sense for black metal acts that offer a more adventurous ride. What they are probably most known for is the releases of The Great Old Ones. So, it is always interesting to see what else they can discover and pass on to us. In this case, we have Lithuanian post-black metal group Au-Dessus, releasing their debut album End of Chapter following their self-titled EP.
The post-black metal scene is difficult to pinpoint, considering that you have acts as diverge as Alcest and Altar of Plagues under the same big tent. Au-Dessus follows a cohesive and holistic narrative to their post-black metal doctrine, attempting a fusion of the ethereal post-metal sound, and the venomous black metal idiosyncrasies. The black metal approach remains the focal point, and it is obvious to see how adept Au-Dessus is when it comes to unleashing punishing assaults. In their most brutal, they traverse back to the traditional aspect of the genre, the long, repetitive riffing and the howling vocals, echoing through the darkened space.
The result of using this destructive methodology is deeply felt, but it would not make for a great approach if it was not enriched by further additions. Staying within the boundaries of black metal, the band enacts a strong atmospheric scenery, implemented in a non-extravagant manner in using synths or keys, but by applying elements of post-metal. The elusive, dreamlike manifestations appear in the form of huge riffs, with the pace dropping down, and opening up the music, creating epic sequences of sound moulding. The cycloid nature that it holds, aided by the wall of sound approach that the production takes in these parts, compliments the switches from the eerie leads, granting an asphyxiating effect following the dissonant renditions.
Where black metal enacts a chaotic disorder, the band balances it out with a sludge-y manifestation. It has become a common practice for post-metal bands to acquire sludge characteristics, giving the common aspects of the approaches that the two follow: heavy riffs, big soundscapes, feedback and the rest. Au-Dessus indulge in this application, offering straight up doomlike riffs, moving slowly in these parts and even absorbing quasi-hardcore outbreaks when it comes to the attitude that comes with the music.
For most part, Au-Dessus feel comfortable within the house they have built, moving from black metal to post and sludge, but there are times when this endeavors offers more blurry settings. Even with the sludge factor prominent in the mix, the band rarely moves into a doom setting, apart from the start of “IX,” offering a brilliant moment of doom psychedelia, with a nice touch of stoner infused ’70s haze. It shows something different, an additional level beneath the bulk of End of Chapter, as do the clean vocal parts in the ending of “XII (End of Chapter).” These parts leave you with a taste of what can follow, and considering how well structured and impressive End of Chapter is, it makes you want to see what Au-Dessus will do next.