Lithuania’s Au-Dessus promise to “push the post black metal borders out” with this album. What I heard in the initial stages was something akin to Novembre, building up in ferocity and intensity. In fact “VI” – “I” to “V” are contained on the band’s debut ep of 2015 – had the refreshing feel of a very dark track with no limitations or boundaries.
The dark authority continues on “VII”. The bass provides presence and depth, as the structure of this menacing track paradoxically sets about deconstructing our world. This is powerful, but no less so than “VIII”, which starts out explosively. Heaviness abounds, and is of such intensity that it’s like sinking into a noisy pit of vipers. The vocalist screams manically, and gives way to the lofty and epic tones of the post-metal sound. That bass is worked effectively – all in all, another powerful and impressive track. By “IX” the world has become a violent place. Four minutes in, there is a defining break, and the threat level heightens, as the rampant chaos subsides to make way for the music to progress steadily, but as ever heavily and darkly, in post metal style. The atmosphere is electric. A patient threat now hangs over us as the nine minute “X” develops its course towards drilling depths of epically blackened darkness. For me, the slower and measured sections have more dramatic impact and create more anticipation and expanse than the all-out violent passages, and here we have such a section. The last four minutes of “X” are tense, exciting and spine-chilling. Creepiness dominates the riff of “XI”. The drum pattern accelerates, and from post metal patience we enter a black, chaotic world. The riff remains strong and adds power and even colour. Strangely, I didn’t feel so connected to “XII: End of Chapter”, which although a compendium in some ways of what had gone before it, contains the chaotic violence but not the shape. What seems to be a wind-down is disturbed by an outburst, which is too violent to be a climax, so the track winds down again to bring us to the end of the chapter.
“End of Chapter” is carefully constructed and for much of it even slick, as atmospheres build up and linger. It is as impressive as it is intense. I look forward to hearing more of Au-Dessus in the future.
(8/10 Andrew Doherty)