New From Les Acteurs de l’ombre Productions


Despite consistently putting out high quality black metal, French label Les Acteurs de l’ombre Productions doesn’t always seem to get the attention it deserves. Let’s work on that by checking out two of their recent releases from Time Lurker and Au-Dessus.

Time Lurker is a one-man black metal project from Strasbourg, France. I’m not particularly sharp in my French geography, but judging by Time Lurker’s sound, I picture Strasbourg having a lot of wispy fog floating over dismal lakes, gray cityscapes, and only pockets of withering trees. This isn’t black metal for people escaping humanity to linger in the resplendent isolation of nature. No, sad traveler, this is black metal for people fully immersed in the disease that is humankind, and the album is an anthem for the utter despondency that comes with reflecting on our worst traits. Borrowing ideas from post-black metal, DSBM, and atmospheric black metal, Time Lurker creates a sound that reflects the anguish of existence as well as the urgency of progress.

I’m not sure what sole member Mick’s primary instrument is, but I want to guess that he started as a drummer. His guitar work conjures a mournful, tragic atmosphere to great effect, but it all seems tied to the ever-changing monster of rhythmic energy provided by the drums. “Ethereal Hands” is a twisting, writhing burner of a track with said rhythmic energy on full display, and the wailing, unhinged vocals in the second half make no doubt of Time Lurker’s utter despair at humanity. And, if that song doesn’t have you convinced, the aptly named “No Way Out From Mankind” seems bent on positively wrecking any glimmer of hope held by the audience. It blasts feverishly out of the gate and scrambles through a maze of harrowing shrieks, frenzied drumming, and violent guitar work that all seems ready to explode at any point. Top to bottom, the album is an excellent offering for anyone ready to take a blackened road to the very brink of despair.

Follow Time Lurker on Facebook and buy the album on Bandcamp

Lithuania’s Au-Dessus, however, takes a different path to desolation. They are very fitting label mates for Déluge, a band I very positively reviewed back in 2015, though I must admit there’s only a slight stylistic connection. The common thread I hear is that, like Déluge’s Æther, Au-Dessus’ End of Chapter sounds like a relentlessly bleak downpour of rain. Sometimes it drizzles, sometimes it’s a steady wall, and quite often it’s an absolute monsoon. The band’s overall sound exists somewhere in the vast, indefinable landscape of post-black metal, where blast beats still reign supreme but a dark, catchy sense of melodicism is there is hefty doses. Full-bodied guitar and bass tones and big, natural drum sounds create a satisfyingly thick atmosphere, while the desperately passionate vocals tie everything together perfectly. I can’t help but picture a steady, oppressive rainfall obscuring my vision while ghostly figures move through the haze, sometimes dancing languidly and sometimes twisting violently.

Despite the consistent feeling of rainfall, I found a healthy diversity in the album. For every prolonged wall of sound there was a heavy, vicious stomping section that took notes from other subgenres. For every spacious and atmospheric tangent there was a more technical-minded interruption that kept each song moving forward. Tracks “VI” and “IX” (the seven songs are titled by Roman numerals, but go VI-XII, continuing from songs I-V on their 2015 self-titled EP) are brilliant examples of this, both of which pour a variety of volatile flavors into a cauldron, add positively manic-sounding vocals, and stir everything violently. The result, as it is across the whole album, is a highly engaging brand of energetic yet absolutely despondent black metal. Do not sleep on this one.

Follow Au-Dessus on Facebook and buy the album on Bandcamp

Keep up with the great albums Les Acteurs de l’ombre is releasing on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Did you dig this? Take a second to support Toilet ov Hell on Patreon!
  • Eliza
    • Stockhausen

      That looks delightful, and not at all like Time Lurker sounds!

    • themaleshoegaze

      Strasbourg is an absolutely great town, that has most of what you could wish for: surrounded by the docile wine and agrarian region of the Alsace, and not too far from the wilder but immensely beautiful Vosges mountains that literally scream out “do your nature-fixated Black metal album cover shoot right here!” at every corner, it is one of those not too small towns that connect modern urbanity and tons of old town charm. (No I am not paid by the Strasbourg tourist council, yet they might as well do it, because I wouldn’t lack enthusiasm for the job…) Last time I was there was 2014, lodged in a hotel near the train station which (the station) is worth getting out of the train alone, wandering through the inner city, past underground clubs where Time Lurker could well have been billed next BM Wednesday and small almost museal cinemas presenting some depressive Belgian auteur’s retrospective (I actually watched Dallas Buyer’s Club in one of those, tbh, but that doesn’t suit the mood here…), feeling right at home in big square non-chain coffee shops with arrogant hipster staff snide-ly serving your café crème, it was a joy.
      Also, although it might lower my chances with the tourist council, Strasbourg also has fairly metal-adjacent subject matter to boot, as there are huge social problems in the city and the whole Alsace region, which some years ago led to Strasbourg being the town with the most burning cars in France on New Year’s Eve (it’s a kind of tradition of the anti-social there).
      And with the stomach-churning history of Alsace as a regional plaything between France and Germany, bands like In Memoriam would have enough material for several albums if they only focused on the horrors of WW I in that particular place.

      Tl;dr: I really like Strasbourg. Sorry for going on a rant, but: see before.

  • AU-DESSUS (does the name come with caps lock?) is being played to my pleb co-workers in attempts to get them into gud music.

  • Joaquin Stick

    Both of these are right in my wheelhouse. Wheelhouse? Wtf is a wheelhouse anyway? I have wheels, but they are all in use and don’t need a whole house.

  • Lacertilian

    I dig this label quite a bit, but yeah they do tend to fly under the radar for the most part.