Les Voyages De L'Âme

Written by: MST on 01/02/2012 18:18:27

French shoegaze black metal band Alcest returns in 2012 with "Les Voyages De L'Âme". Having released the two critically acclaimed records "Souvenirs d'un autre monde" and "Écailles de lune" in 2007 and 2010 respectively, the expectations for this third installment by the creative main man Neige have been enormous. Tons of reviews have already been posted since its European release on January 9th, some positive, some very negative.

The negativity is mainly caused by a slight shift in musical expression. On the first two albums, the music was clearly black metal, but with very, very slow drums compared to most other black metal bands, and almost without screams. This new album is a lot more varied and accessible, but from where I'm standing it doesn't sound any less black metal, or any less Alcest for that matter. At first it may seem that way though, because especially opening track and video single "Autre Temps" is almost extreme in its accessibility. The somber and subdued nature of the music, the catchy verses sung with Neige's gentle voice and the "aaaaaaaah-aaaaaaaah" chanting in the choruses sound radically different from anything Neige has done before, and I think that's what has put some fans off this album.

Personally though, I think it's a fantastic track, but it's even better considering what comes next. You see, "Les Voyages De L'Âme" is a journey, and should be treated as such. Each part of the journey serves its own purpose, whether we're talking about the accessible opening track, the second track "Là Òu Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles" in which the drums pick up the pace and some black metal screams see the light of day, the beautiful "Beings Of Light" with its celestial chanting, entrancing guitar feedback and pounding drums, or the majestically epic "Faiseurs De Mondes" which has conquered the position as my favorite Alcest track.

"Faiseurs De Mondes" is perhaps the most black metal-esque track they've ever done; the first half of the song contains no clean vocals, only screams, feedback emphasizing the beautiful riffs when appropriate and some mid-tempo drums. Then a middle section comes in with some acoustic guitars followed by the usual Alcest characterised by slow drums and beautiful clean vocals, only to be completely blown away by one of the best endings to a long epic song that I have ever heard - double pedals, blast beats and tremolo riffs washes away all that ever was as the song, or perhaps the album, reaches its ultimate climax. If that ending doesn't bring forth special emotions when listening intensely to this song, Alcest is probably not for you.

So, in conclusion: while all of Alcest's releases have been excellent, "Les Voyages De L'Âme" exceeds them by being the most accessible, simple yet also the most complex and varied of them all. It sounds so complete, yet it's not quite perfect and it still leaves room for innovation for the next album. If you think this album is a treat, think about what would happen if Neige outdoes himself again next time. That would be the stuff of legends.


Download: Autre Temps, Beings Of Light, Faiseurs De Mondes
For The Fans Of: Les Discrets, Amesoeurs, Agalloch
Listen: Myspace

Release date 09.01.11
Prophecy Productions

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