Back in 2001, a little known solo project from France called Alcest released their 1st demo Tristesse Hivernale. The brain child of Black metal veteran Neige (French for snow), Alcest was initially Black metal but over time has incorporated post-rock and shoegazing structures and melodies. In 2004 Alcest released their first full-length Souvenirs d’Un Autre Monde which showed a major departure from his early demos incorporating much clean singing and post-rock overtones leaving out much of the grim and grittiness of Black metal. With the release of his 2nd full-length Ecailles de Lune in 2010, Neige mixed in much more Black metal riffage and vocals creating a balance between that and post-rock/shoegaze. Come 2012 and now Neige has released Alcest’s third full length: Les Voyagers de l’Âme.
Neige states that his greatest influence for Alcest is dreams of a “fairy tale” that he had when he was a child. This influence is greatly seen in Les Voyagers de l’Âme where out of this world melodies and angelic vocals cascade to the listener’s ears, taking them on a journey through a magical world. The album starts off with Autre Temps where soft guitars create this lush atmosphere that builds up to the chorus. The second song, Là Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles, again continues on Neige’s ability to create atmosphere however an interesting note is the addition of Black metal rasps and blast beats to give the song much more intensity. The title track opens the floodgates of emotions and takes the listener into Neige’s world where the building and unbuilding of intensity is ever present. Nous Sommes L’Emeraude again continues on the journey and is a shorter song than the past two. The next song Beings of Light sounds exactly as the title suggests, there is a strong ethereal quality to this song and again takes the listener in another world. Faiseurs de Monde is probably their most ‘heaviest” song on the album, starting off with a repeated guitar riff where again Neige uses his Black metal rasps. Havens and Summer’s Glory are the last two songs (Havens being a short instrumental) in the album. In Summer’s Glory the listener’s journey in Neige’s world is complete ending on a sort of high.
The lack of “Black metal” in this album will be off-putting to the more traditional fans of the style and yes this album is not true Black metal in any sense. However, Alcest is a band that is not afraid to push the limits and creates a memorable piece of art.
1. Autre Temps *
2. Là Où Naissant Les Couleurs Nouvelles
3. Les Voyagers de l’Âme *
4. Nous Sommes l’Emeraude
5. Beings of Light
6. Faiseurs de Monde *
8. Summer’s Glory
* favourite tracks