Reviews Alcest Les Voyages de l'Âme

Alcest

Les Voyages de l'Âme

What I love most about French metaller Alcest's newest release Les Voyages de l'Âme (roughly, The Journeys of the Soul) is how it invites your impressions to shift and change as you listen to it. At first, I picked out mostly the folk elements, comparing it to Opeth, except much more melodic in nature. Then I started hearing the ever-so-slight black metal influence, comparing it to the stylized black metal tendencies of Horseback. Then I started hearing the shoegaze and post-metal elements, reminding me of the later works from Isis. It really speaks to the power of the music that it has such an evolutionary quality without sacrificing musical merit or enjoyability.

It would actually be hard for this album to be unenjoyable, given how powerfully melodic it is. It approaches an intense level of sublimity with its well written, moving pieces and strong, repetitive phrases, building itself up and becoming more and more affecting with each reiteration. There's absolutely nothing harsh about the music to break that build, unless you count the barely audible, mostly atmospheric, and unfortunately infrequent black metal vocals. The entire album is one, unending forcible aurgasm from end to end. It's also clear there's a lot more depth to the music than frontman Neige initially wants to let on--especially when you realize that he's earnestly trying to communicate his long-held childhood memories of a far-off, questionably fantastical place. It gives the otherwise indulgent and excessive melodicism some clear grounding, as well as bestowing it a sense of naïveté almost melancholic in nature, an interesting twist to the otherwise straightforward composition.

Though the melodicism may also be the album's drawback, as it unfortunately can be a bit tiring after a while. Granted, he does break up the monotony with a change of styles every once in a while, but it's still not an album I can listen to more than once in a long while without getting burned out. I need some harshness once in a while, otherwise it feels like it's just getting too much of a good thing. It's just like eating fudge--it starts out good, but by the time you've finished the whole brick, your family begins to yell at you for eating your uncle's birthday gift. I'm pretty sure that's how that metaphor goes.

In sum, Les Voyages de l'Âme is a pleasurable listen from end to end. If vaguely folk-inspired shoegazey melanoid metal sounds like your thing (and why wouldn't it?), definitely give this album a listen.

8.5 / 10Sarah
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8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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