Album: Les Voyages de l’Âme
There is a strong case to be argued that Alcest should be one of the earth’s biggest metal acts. This isn’t down to their perfection of the genre, but the places they bring it to. Since their 2006 studio debut, this French project have produced highly accessible, otherworldly sounds more suited to shoegazing than headbanging that should appeal to all who love their music with a bit of melancholic grace. The tracks here are consonant, emotive post-metal passages, preferring to deal in dynamic shifts than continued brutality.
From dreamy opening number ‘Autre Temps’, one would even think that they’ve cut aside their heavier influences altogether. Only moments such as ‘Beings of Light’ and ‘Là Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles’ show them exercising their black metal roots, and even these are gently polished and highly melodic. The majority of what’s on display here are soaring, reverberant riffs and frontman Neige’s clean, fragile vocals, combined to brilliant effect. Particularly noticeable is the high quality of each track, a consistency lacking on previous efforts. If a fault had to be found, it is that the tracks do feel rigidly bound to a template. But when that template is this good, that’s more than allowable.
In a nutshell: Heavy metal with a gentle heart, essential listening.