Album Review – Alcest – Les Voyages de L’Âme
Posted by RiffRaff
Alcest seems to be a bit of an anomaly in the metal realm. Through my meanderings through various metal sites/blogs I kept seeing the band name pop up with the tag of Post-metal. Well, I consider myself to be a fan of Post-metal and Les Voyages de L’Âme seemed to sound like something I would be into. Upon my first spin I was expecting to hear something along the lines of Isis with a good helping of Black Metal akin to something along the lines of Wolves in the Throne Room or Krallice, what I did not expect is for the album to be so mellow and melodic and really, not a very ‘metal’ album at all. So, why is this band making waves in the land of metal? The album title, Les Voyages de L’Âme, translates to The Voyages of the Soul, and while the voyage may not be very ‘metal’ the soul of the trip is, and I think that what all the metal fans are feeling in the music and connecting with.
There are hints of metal strewn throughout this record and there are some very interesting uses of the Black Metal style but you will not find anything crushing or brutal. Even when the raspy Black Metal vocals kick in they don’t service to create something visceral, but more transcribe a certain beauty. Think ocean waves crashing upon the jetty on a windy day. The same can be said about the classic tremolo picking and blast snare drum beats of Black Metal used here too; more the sound of rain pulsing on the ground than machine guns firing off.
While there are a good handful of moments where the Black Metal style accentuates the music, the melodies and moods are what makes up the majority of the album and make it stand out. Dreamy guitar tones, lines, and rhythms add ever-changing shapes to the music and great ambient synthesizer work fleshes out thick and ethereal atmospheres. Also adding to the astral soundscapes of the music is the great vocal work. The somber and misty voice of vocalist (and everything non-percussion related) Neige adds a very transcendent aura to each track.
Les Voyages de L’Âme is a very worthwhile listen if just to hear how the Black Metal style can be taken out of its raw and visceral roots and maintain the otherworldly and mystical soul of the style. A few tracks on the album serve as bridges to the following song, and when listened to on their own, don’t hold much weight. But when Les Voyages de L’Âme is taken in as a whole everything fits into place and your voyage through the music will be a very relaxing and enjoyable one. In the end, I highly recommend this album, especially if you’re looking for some great music to zone out and relax to.