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My eyes my fare - 75%

autothrall, May 19th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions (Digipak)

Au-Dessus is a Lithuanian band which is branded as post-black metal but only encapsulates such a sound in vaguely atmospheric terms, due to the bright, powerful emotions its chord patterns tend to evoke alongside the streaks of more conventional savagery that it often fires off into. The layout and packaging certainly seem to be left of center for the medium, with gorgeous imagery and 'class' in the vein of many recordings from the French label Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions; but they don't perform too heavily into either the shoegaze or post-rock styles, and keep the material routed very much in the parent genre, which might not feel hip or fresh enough to some listeners, but personally I found that they offered up just enough individuality and spin on the sound to really hit home.

It does take a couple tracks to really win me over, and with the songs labeled as Roman numerals, you can tell they were going for a sum experience rather than picking out individual highlights. But straight from the start of "VI" (the enumeration continues from a prior EP release), and its slower, biting rhythm and an ominous low choir tone rolling out in an almost meditative manner, you can tell that they're going for a little more of a fulfilling, dynamic range than your garden variety necrotic European black metal entity. This is really brought through in the production, which is huge and clear and bright without sacrificing the aggression the group is capable of ripping into when they explode into a blast beat sequence. The vocals, a familiar, enormous and often sustained rasp, might seem a little more traditional to the style than some of the riffing selections, but I loved how they anchored both the faster and slower progressions with this level of sickening angst that smoothly transitions the two. I think it's the rhythm guitar tone on End of Chapter, however, which exemplifies the record's balance of the jarring and fluid, with a slightly post-hardcore motif embedded in the dissonance of various chord selections.

First couple tunes are solid, no doubt, but once you get into that opening groove of "IX" you're starting to encounter the album's finer moments, where the riffs just cling to your memory with a bit more rock & roll charm. "XI" is also a favorite for its modest but driving, creepy potency. The production and moving nature of their songwriting also has the power to overcome track lengths that I might otherwise find too swollen, especially on the songs near the middle of the order. As with their labelmates Deluge, these guys are extremely consistent, but I find this record a lot catchier and more emotionally resonant. If you're looking for the next Deafheaven or Ghost Bath, you'd be better to seek them elsewhere; likewise, Au-Dessus doesn't get as spastic or grating as modern NYBM like Krallice, but if you'd be interested in what Blut Aus Nord's post-industrial material might have sounded like if it were more vocal-driven and packed a harder punch, track this down.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com