Les Voyages De L'Ame
posted on 1/2012 By:
Yes, the new Alcest is here, and at the rate of pissing off just about everyone (for the album either being scored too high or too low), I have placed Les Voyages De L'Ame directly in the better-than-average-but-still-not-memorable category. Since the band's inception, Alcest has strangely become one of the most polarizing bands in metal today. By now, most people probably have very strong opinions about the band -- opinions that are probably more necessary to address at this point rather than reiterate past words that writers have used to describe just what Alcest is all about.
First order of business: all you overprotective parents of black metal, could you kindly stop whining about this band? Never in my life would I have ever imagined such a large group of crybabies to come from a subculture as controversial as black metal. On the contrary, perhaps I just don't have very good hindsight. Traditional black metal fans, with their internal disdain for society aside, are nowhere near as problematic or dangerous to society as many of them appear or wish to be. "Shut the fuck up already and talk about the music, you stupid hipster" is something people are probably saying to themselves at this point in the review. That's fine, but you guys are the ones who sound like a bunch of pampered pussies for complaining so damn much, not me.
In short, Les Voyages De L'Ame, or Travels of the Soul for those who can't pronounce French and would like to prevent people from using the word lame in the same sentence as this album, sounds as characteristically "Alcest" as fans could ever hope for. All of the album's eight tracks are as etherial as Neige's past works, and contain production that is absolutely marvelous. Although most of Voyages is on the softer side, the album contains a small share of heavier moments as well, and falls directly between Écailles de Lune and Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde as far as extreme moments are concerned. Unlike the former full-lengths, this year's release lacks both the brevity and individuality needed to stand out among other efforts in Alcest's catalog.
The main problem with Voyages is that the songs mostly sound like they could be filler for Alcest's past works. That description is not meant to be all-inclusive, but merely a general observation that Neige hasn't really attempted to expand the sound of his most prized project this go-around. And perhaps he doesn't need to. After all, the man does have a habit of starting new bands and side-projects all the time. (Insert 5,000 Neige side-projects here.) But that doesn't change the fact that 50 minutes of black metal-infused shoegaze can be pretty fuckin' boring, to put it eloquently.
To me, Alcest has always been about telling a story. Just like a good story does when given the chance, the music will take any listener into Neige's awe-inspiring fantasy world filled with colors, warm feelings, confidence and even a few accents of melancholy. This years tale, although a tad bit redundant, is no less heartfelt than any of the others. All in all, Voyages contains some alluring tunes that are both introspectively soothing and emotionally captivating.
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Le Secret (Reissue)
Écailles De Lune
Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde