Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Review: Alcest - Les Voyages De L'Âme

Band: Alcest
Album: Les Voyages De L'Âme
Year: 2012
Country: France
Genre: Black Metal/Shoegaze

I have been sitting on this Alcest album for quite some time. I wasn't even sure it was metal when I first got it, having only heard of the band and never their actual music. So Les Voyages De L'Âme does have metal elements to it, but there is also so much more. Alcest seem to actually create a world of their own with this album and it's both beautiful and dark at once.

It would be remiss to not mention that this is a two man project with Neige contributing the majority of the material by covering the guitars, vocals, keyboards, and bass. With Neige is drummer Winterhalter. Now, Neige is obviously the creative force behind the band and he is quite talented. A lot of the riffs fit into the post rock/shoegaze genres yet at certain times metal creeps in. The riffing is quite uplifting if not a tad bit gloomy. This feeling permeates the album and they get across the ideas of these emotions of wonder and amazement very well.

The drumming by Winterhalter is nothing to write home about, mostly being rock like for the most part. But I won't say I didn't enjoy the hell out of the blasting done throughout Beings of Light, and Faiseurs De Mondes, which happens to also be my favorite song. Overall the drums were meant more to add atmosphere than to be technically difficult and in that respect they succeed. It is unfortunately that I don't remember much if any of the bass play.

I especially love the vocal performance by Neige and it's second only to his guitar parts. All the lyrics are sung in French and the manner in which he sings they do not come out sounding jumbled as some languages can. His voice echos the melancholy/joyful strange mix of the music. He often sings in a soft voice which is almost like translucent, there but not and like many post rock bands it seems to play no bigger part than the instruments. The cherry on top of it all were the black metal shrieks included on Faiseurs De Mondes and Là Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles. They were executed perfectly, never showing up the music and like the cleans meant more so for the atmosphere and bigger picture than to steal the show.

Honestly there are so many great moments on Les Voyages De L'Âme. There is the triumphant explosion that builds up around the middle of Summer's Glory, aggressive beauty of Faiseurs De Mondes, and melancholic rocking of Autre Temps. Neige shows he has mountains of talent when it comes to creating atmosphere and composing interesting, emotional music and I am always kind of sad when the album is over, like the end of a journey. With Les Voyages De L'Âme I have been turned into an instant fan and will be looking up their previous releases in hopes of finding what I found here.

Score: 9/10
Standout Tracks: Faiseurs De Mondes, Beings of Light, Summer's Glory

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