Reviews Alcest Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde

Alcest

Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde

To listen to “Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde” (which translates into Memories Of Another World) is to experience a world free of pain, darkness, and despair, and to enter a world of beauty and harmony. The scenario that such an album paints is one where pure joy and happiness triumph through the overbearing cascading light, where innocence prevails, and where the longing for nostalgia reigns supreme. The best way to describe ‘Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde’ is simply overwhelming.

The preceding quote was taken from the press package included with the promo copy of this album. Now, its standard practice to embellish a band’s strengths in this manner. The label releasing the album or the band themselves will usually write these notes in the hopes that the description will make such an impression on the reviewer it is sent to, he will forego all other promo albums sitting atop his desk and immediately place THIS album in his music listening device and immediately write lauds after praise after exaltations about the glorious music now entering his orifice.

What I don’t think the intent of these press notes is for, is making the prospective reviewer to roll their eyes while muttering Sweet Jesus… under their breath, but fair is fair. If they’re going to take the time to send the promo out, I’m going to at least do them the courtesy of reviewing the album with as little bias as possible. So without further ado…

Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde is not a very good album. Not at all. It is what could almost be considered merde, in the parlance. Alcest has created an album in the genre of “folk-metal” - a term I loathe to use, as it’s a complete dichotomy in its verbiage, but nonetheless also completely apt in its description. I have no idea where the term was first coined, but I’m willing to bet it had something to do with Jethro Tull winning the Grammy for best metal album back in the early 90’s.

When it comes to music, I consider myself to be an open minded-bordering-on-enlightened individual. There is not a whole lot of music that is completely pointless. I sense that Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde has a point - I’m just struggling to find out what it is aside from inducing fleeting thoughts of unicorns inside the listener’s head.

When you listen to tracks like “Sur Lautre Rive Je Tattendrai”, you are given a hint - a shimmering hope, a faint glimpse that all is not lost - a heavy-ish guitar and a drone that sounds promising, but then sole-member Stéphane Paut, aka Neige starts singing like Jon Anderson with a reverb pedal, it all goes to france-in-a-handcart. There’s a distinct hippie-ish taint that covers this album like a patchouli béarnaise, leaving quite a bitter aftertaste.

Neige and his then-band Peste Noire was quite well regarded a few years back for helping to kick-start the French black metal movement that we see perfected in the likes of Deathspell Omega but there’s just none less black to be found on this album. The fact that he’s just joined up with Norwegian black metal band Forgotten Woods as their new vocalist is all the more confusing. Nothing wrong with a well-rounded singer I suppose, but if he turns this good but hardly great band into a mandolin-lute fest, I’m going to be pissed.

Mandolin can be nice, sure. There’s also pretty acoustic guitar and non-obtrusive effeminate vocals, but when put together with the quiet-loud-quiet-loud-fade formula of heavier bands, you’re stuck with an album that has no idea what it wants to be when it grows up.

3.4 / 10Kevin Fitzpatrick
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3.4 / 10

3.4 / 10

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