text: Jean Relapse
End of Chapter
Les Acteurs de l’ombre Productions
May 19th, 2017
Au-Dessus is the kind of band that comes from nowhere. I discovered them randomly, as they played in my hometown with Wormlust and Mannveira. Sometimes I check bands before seeing them, sometimes I don’t, but this time, I felt like checking them. This was in October 2016 and they didn’t have an album yet. I watched a live video (in Paris) and listened to a couple of songs. For a start, this sounded quite amazing, and the show that followed didn’t disappoint. That’s how they earned their ‘Facebook like‘, the Holy Grail of our days. When I say out of nowhere, I also mean that the musicians don’t necessarily have a black metal background, and no famous band before.
Having followed the release process through social media, I discovered the album bit by bit and obviously I cannot start without mentioning the artwork(s). The cover art features a child whose gender is barely identifiable. I’ll use ‘he‘ by default, so he looks pale, dead. The two coins on his eyes are reminiscent of the Greek tradition that consisted of paying Charon, the ferryman who carries the dead over the Styx. The idea is unsettling, of course, but the way the photograph is taken as well as the bright, pure colours don’t create a morbid aspect. Even though the subject is the same, I wouldn’t compare this artwork with Numenorean’s one, that would be closer to Diapsiquir’s 180°. Diapsiquir tried to highlight Damien’s physical and mental state, which is, for anyone who knows the band, deplorable. The effect it produced was pure shock and violence for Numenorean and disgust, repulsion for Diapsiquir, whereas Au-Dessus’ one aims at (as I receive it, personally) showing humanity and life in its purest form. That’s the End of (his) Chapter, a chapter among other ones, and despite it being undoubtedly sad, it is nothing to be repulsed by. I would compare this artwork with Throane’s Derrière Nous, La Lumière. Both try to capture a natural body, of course not in a happy and ‘positive‘ moment, but still an honest one. I highly recommend you to take time to watch these visuals because, even without having any physical copy of it, it helped me getting into the band, and I think I’m not the only one (it’s been written about a lot these past few weeks).
Musically speaking, the Lithuanians provide something that could be, to keep referring to them, at the crossroads of Throane and Numenorean. It is definitely in line with this new, modern way of playing black metal that is also characteristic of the Icelandic scene. They play oppressive, ‘post-‘black metal (if you assume ‘post‘ means something, otherwise, just understand that it’s nowhere close to trve kvlt). The major difference with Au-Dessus, the one that makes them stand out in my opinion, is their luminous approach. From the first track, VI, they added a clean voice and a lighter riffing to the mix. Should I dare comparing them with the band VI? Yes, they deserved it when they named their songs this way. They also have this very ambivalent style, switching between blast-beats and heavy riffing to melodic flights, never leaving the taciturn voice behind that emphasizes the whole. I might get hate for this one, but I always see these voices, in post-black metal bands as a mix of hardcore and black metal vocals. Adding the clear voices seems to confirm it.
There has to be darkness, but from darkness comes light. Is this album revolutionary? No. Is it modern, well-mastered, mature, emotional? Definitely. From now, I hope Au-Dessus will be supported, because I didn’t mention a major point, but this is a debut album. We rarely hear such top-notch albums from bands that ‘come out of nowhere‘. What’s next for them?