Alcest
Shelter


4.5
superb

Review

by Adam Thomas STAFF
January 8th, 2014 | 612 replies


Release Date: 01/21/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The sound of springtime's first blossom peaking from beneath the snow.

I honestly think that there is no other band which has had as much of a game changing impact on the underground metal scene over the last decade quite like Alcest. Despite their beginnings as just another European folk metal band with lo-fi recordings and a traditionalist pride in all things medieval, Alcest's greatest achievements can be found in their least “metal” moments. 2007's Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde made it okay for black metal to be anything but. The record went beyond the avid second generation post-rock worship of the blossoming American scene of the time and it introduced heavy music fans to names like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine rather than hearkening back to the goofy goonery and played out mysticism that had followed the genre since its accidental creation by a bunch of piss drunk Englishmen in 1982. For the first time atmosphere was more than just a synonym for the haze of shit quality recordings, it was actual depth. Alcest accomplished this by throwing all of their “metal” guise out the window. Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde was a lush and sprawling record that was completely unique for its time. While its exterior clearly reverberated with the warm fuzz and gentle modulation of many of shoegaze's classic moments, the original European folk influence of the band's early work resided at its core. This experimentation laid the groundwork for not only the current “blackgaze” movement, but was the most visible impetus for the shoegaze revival as a whole.

Alcest continued to build on this, first by adding back in bits of their black metal past on Éscailles de Lune and then again with Les Voyages de l'Âme which saw a further exploration into melancholy traditional folk music. Shelter on the other hand finds its way back to the radiant warmth of Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde, and is the first record where Alcest have finally exorcised what remained of their blackened past. Shelter resounds with a vibrant glow. Where prior Alcest records were at their roots mostly somber affairs, Shelter is awash in a virginal innocence that permeates every note with a rapturous warmth. The distance and longing that has always found its way into the mood of their recordings now brims with hope rather than despair. It's a small but wonderful change in presentation that makes all the difference. Furthermore, the dark folk flourishes are no longer left to ramble across the musical landscape. While still present, the song structures on Shelter take on more pop friendly shapes. It's yet another small shift that helps push the record to such emotive peaks; accentuating both the highs and the lows into a gorgeous spectacle forever pulling on the heartstrings. Shelter lives completely in the moment yet is seemingly detached from the here and now. It exists like a dream. It molds to our deepest and most sincere emotions, bringing up the past, present, and future into one tangible vision. It is the soundtrack to every want and desire, and every wish and memory – but most of all, it is simply beautiful.



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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
January 7th 2014


15969 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I've caught pieces of this. Seems like it could be really good.

Digging: Necropoli - I

DoubtGin
January 7th 2014


6752 Comments


2

Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 7th 2014


17213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Willie, did you ever listen to Takk by Sigur Ros? I think that's the closest analogue to this with the production and the overall feeling of hope that comes from the music.

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

avonbarksdale221
January 7th 2014


8228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really excited to hear this, love Opale and Deliverance.

avonbarksdale221
January 7th 2014


8228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The two songs I've heard so far gave off massive Takk-era Sigur Ros vibes which I can really get around, love that record.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
January 7th 2014


10192 Comments


Damn, nice. Souvenirs is my favorite by these guys thus far, so I'll definitely need to get on this record. Good work Adam!

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
January 7th 2014


19743 Comments


Sweet

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

Futures
January 7th 2014


10612 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Can't wait to hear this.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Rev
January 7th 2014


9422 Comments


Sounds like a big improvement over their last dud

TheBarber
January 7th 2014


1963 Comments


Too pretty to be enjoyed, boring in the end

Digging: Animal Collective - Centipede Hz

Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 7th 2014


17213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I wish I had the skills to deduce an entire album's quality from two pre-release singles. I'd save so much time.

conesmoke
January 7th 2014


5208 Comments


Alcest is a cool project but neige is probably the biggest prawns ever

feanaro
January 7th 2014


828 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oh myyy goddddddddddddddddd

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
January 7th 2014


15979 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9

I tried these guys when I was first getting into indie music and wasn't a fan, but they sound like something I'd absolutely love now

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

fromtheinside
January 7th 2014


18203 Comments


need this

also, woah album cover is completely out of style

Digging: Tragedy - Vengeance

feanaro
January 7th 2014


828 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i would like a lot to listen to this

Inveigh
January 7th 2014


24963 Comments


I don't love this band, but this is a great review

album art implies this is their Sunbather. is that accurate?

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 7th 2014


7041 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Damn, a 4.5 here, a measly 3 from Noctus, I don't want to listen to a 192 rip but I'm going to have to find out for myself.

Classy write-up though, maybe hope is not lost.

BallsToTheWall
January 7th 2014


44323 Comments


You can trust Noctus's musical opinion about as much as a guy with a ponytail.

Digging: Tiamat - Clouds

Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 7th 2014


17213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sunbather is still very much a metal record. This is basically the final shedding of every bit of metal influence the band ever had. The comparison can be made that they're both more upbeat and affirming records when compared to what came before them. I think they both work well in cross-over appeal in bringing metal heads into new styles and indie kids into metal, but really this has much more in common with middle era Sigur Ros and bands like Whirr and Nothing.



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