Review: Alcest – “Les Voyages De L’Âme” (2012)

Alcest has obviously gotten a lot of attention for helping to popularize the “blackgaze” sound that has become increasingly prevalent recently. Each of their past albums had its moments, but their newest offering Les Voyages De L’Âme is probably the first that I’ve actually truly enjoyed from start to finish. The songwriting is both more mature and more subdued, but the understated compositions help to bring the sound on this album back into the realm of traditional metal songwriting, which gives it a much more universal appeal. For me this is easily Alcest’s finest work to date.

Past Alcest releases placed a heavy emphasis on the post-rock and shoegaze elements of the band’s sound. Both Souvenirs d’un autre monde and Écailles de Lune were pretty heavy on the shoegaze and post-rock, and Écailles… in particular seemed much more experimental. On this latest album Alcest have dialed a lot of that down, and instead chosen to rely on acoustic guitar passages and Neige’s voice to create the usual ethereal atmosphere. The dreamy post-rock and shoegaze passages that sometimes dominated earlier releases are used more judiciously on Les Voyages De L’Âme, still contributing to the band’s overall sound but no longer being synonymous with it. This allows Alcest’s songwriting ability to really shine. The band’s penchant for stirring, guitar-driven melody is as strong as ever, and songs like ‘Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles’ feature some of the strongest and most memorable riffing the band has ever produced.

I’m guessing that Alcest fans will be more than happy with this release, but it’s more stripped-down sound should help draw in more conservative fans that were turned off by the band’s earlier material. Songs like the powerful, guitar-driven ‘Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles’ and the mellow opener ‘Autre Temps’ are accessible enough that any metal fan that can appreciate the lighter side of the genre should enjoy them, and the rest of the album helps to bridge the gap to some of Alcest’s more adventurous older work. “Les Voyages De L’Âme” is another great release from one of modern metal’s more intriguing bands.


» Buy Les Voyages de l’Âme from Amazon.com

April 28, 2012 in Album Reviews

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