Alcest
Les Voyages De L Ame


3.5
great

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
January 21st, 2012 | 484 replies | 28,484 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Neige displays a certain je ne sais quoi that makes him succeed where others fail

If Écailles de Lune was anything to go by, Neige and his band Alcest were ready to hit the ground running when it came time to record the follow up to what was easily the most appealing combination of black metal and shoegaze to grace the ears of listeners in what seemed like ages. It’s not like Alcest to release the same album twice, though, so it comes as no surprise that Les Voyages De L'Âme differs as much from Écailles de Lune as that album had from Neige’s debut Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde. If anything, Neige has become bolder in his style, not so much concerned with pleasing fans and swaying naysayers as he is writing what he feels – an attitude that has a direct impact on how different Les Voyages De L'Âme turned out to be. If Écailles de Lune showed the harsher side of Alcest and Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde was more whimsical, Les Voyages De L'Âme ends up leaning toward the latter, but unlike the 2007 debut the album does not remain so one-sided.

If black metal and shoegaze weren’t a volatile enough combination, Alcest incorporate a healthy helping of the “post” realm into Les Voyages De L'Âme to have its effects heard. The compositions are winding, dissonant affairs that aren’t as intent on structure as they are on atmosphere. Whereas the more orthodox opener “Autre Temps” provides us with a layout that is easy to swallow, tracks like “Summer’s Glory” are open-ended and go wherever they please. This isn’t necessarily something to complain about, especially when it is clear that Neige knows what he wants to do, but unfortunately for him that isn’t always the case. Things sometimes drag mercilessly, especially in the latter half of the record, and the stylistic changes are so minute that things become as dull as a multitude of bright paints smeared into a gray paste on the same swath of canvas – there simply isn’t any vibrancy to it. It is relieving, then, to note that the entire album doesn’t suffer this same fate. “La Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles”, while being the longest song on the album also displays in full force what Neige is out to do: craft music that incorporates the best of several worlds as it straddles the boundaries of multiple genres. High-pitched shrieks and airy, flowing French singing clash over clean and distortion guitar in a way that invokes a kind of beauty of opposites as each shade collides with another.

The clean guitar that opens the album in “Autre Temps” sets the stage for perhaps the best song Alcest has ever made, despite its distinct lack of any mood approaching intense. It is one-dimensional, yes, but doesn’t fall into the trap of monotony that its contemporaries later in the record become ensnared in because of the fact that the songwriting has focus. It becomes apparent that Neige is at his best when he has his target lined up and isn’t being quite as ambitious. There are crosscurrents of brilliance sapped by banality, but what is worth staying for is enough to bring you back time and again. The atmosphere is so palpable and real that it makes you wonder why other bands who play this style fail so miserably. Les Voyages De L'Âme is worth listening to for its soothing quality alone; a deep and easy listen that reeks pretense but simply couldn’t function without it. Instrumentation is not technical in the least bit because doing so would be so out of place that it would break the spell the album places you under.

Les Voyages De L'Âme is simple instrumentally, layered atmospherically, and radiant aesthetically. Neige does what he wants to do with this record, and as such it turned out to be something that didn’t aim to please any specific crowd. It is more diverse than Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde yet not as contrasting as Écailles de Lune. It is shoegaze, post-rock, and black metal only in name – in substance it is something that cannot be called any of the above. It is far from perfect yet could never possibly get there. Les Voyages De L'Âme is Alcest through and through, and from here Neige could logically go in many directions, and it is likely that he will pursue other sounds. No two Alcest records are exactly the same, and because of this it is easy to gauge whether or not Neige still has a penchant for songwriting. As the sound becomes repetitive, it is a clue that maybe it’s time to move on to bigger and better things, but for now Alcest can keep going right along.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2012



16025 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Finally got around to writing this. Hopefully my near-constant essay writing for classes hasn't ruined the quality of this review.

Digging: Katatonia - Kocytean

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2012



17372 Comments


nice, although i disagree than there is anything remotely resembling black metal on this album its way better than the other circlejerk reviews

Digging: Steve Moore - Zero-Point Field

Gyromania
January 20th 2012



14653 Comments


Awesome summary/review. I quite like this, and a 3.5 seems about right.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2012



16025 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hyperion bringing the 1, right on

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2012



17372 Comments


its more like a 2 but the people who like this suck so lol

feanaro
January 20th 2012



795 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Good stuff. I pretty much agree with everything except that I don't really think this drags at all, and I personally find the concept behind it a lot more engaging.

also no way is autre temps his best song

bloozclooz
January 20th 2012



1770 Comments


is that a peacock

i love those things

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2012



17372 Comments


its a beaked cock

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2012



16025 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

no way is autre temps his best song


perhaps it is

feanaro
January 20th 2012



795 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

a glorious shaft of magnificent phallic transcendence

feanaro
January 20th 2012



795 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I mean, I love the song, but it doesn't have the emotional depth or varied composition of the best ones. still the riffs and chord selections are spot on.

Gyromania
January 20th 2012



14653 Comments


I really like the direction Alcest decided to go in after Souvenirs d'un autre Monde. I know I'm in the minority, but that album was boring as fuck.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2012



16025 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

that album was boring as fuck.

I agree with you there.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2012



17372 Comments


this feels like a regression to the boring style that was souvenirs

ecailles is the best by far

TheSpirit
January 20th 2012



16666 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

and even that is boring as hell

Digging: Sexdrome - Grown Younger

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2012



17372 Comments


exactly

Gyromania
January 20th 2012



14653 Comments


You two are so wrong

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2012



17372 Comments


yea

TheSpirit
January 20th 2012



16666 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nah that album is zzzzz

feanaro
January 21st 2012



795 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

ecailles wasn't as good as souvenirs. and they were both awesome.



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