Review Summary: Neige boldly takes away any black metal influences and the results are surprisingly powerful and typically beautiful.Shelter
does nothing but capitalize on the aspect of change in a beloved band's music. Whenever a band changes their sound or strives to try something different it usually is a win-lose scenario. Alcest is bound to lose some fans over this change, but then again, they also will gain some new ones. As for what type of new fans they will gain, those fans will be lovers of evocative, inspiring, and beautiful atmospheric shoegaze music. Neige, Alcest's talented frontman, has completely stripped this album of any type of black metal or standard metal influences in an attempt to try something more inspiring and purely shoegaze. Make no mistake that fans who love the black metal aspect of Alcest may be disappointed, but all music listeners who dislike black metal can rejoice and enjoy the influences of post rock, dream pop and layers upon layers of guitar textures. Though this doesn't exactly have the staying power of Écailles de Lune
, Neige's latest still manages to thrill, inspire and present itself as a worth addition into his discography.
The record kicks off with the intriguing vocalizing in "Wings" which builds and builds until it explodes into "Opale." This song foreshadows what Alcest has in store for the listener and typically exceptional guitar work is to be expected from Neige. As the genius riffs and textures of "Opale" progresses, the inspiring mood of Shelter
is fully realized. The record as a whole continuously builds upon everything you hear in the beginning of each song just like traditional post rock does. "La Nuit Marche Avec Moi" demonstrates this same aspect, but this soothing piece is where Niege's somber vocals begin to shine through. His french singing never strives to achieve any sort of heaviness or aggression. They are simply there to be used as another instrument in conveying Shelter's
need to inspire us and create a story in our mind's. Not knowing what Neige is saying adds to the effect of the album because it creates an element of imagination.
"Voix Sereine," one of the beautiful highlights of the record, is best listened to with the snow falling and covering the ground. The song is perfect combination of layered instrumentation and awe inspiring vocals add to the mood of what is happening around you. It once again builds upon its fantastic guitar riff and when the crescendo happens, you will be floored. However, the best song on Shelter
is without a doubt "L'eveil Des Muses." While the song utilizes the same general concept, it's dealt with in a more dream pop-like manner. Neige's textured guitar work shines through the most in this song and the shoegazing aspects of the album are the most evident here. It's engrossing, evocative, and you will be taken away. While almost every song on Shelter
excels in all of these aspects, "Away" is the one blemish of the album. It's disappointing that the song is in English, has boring vocals and showcases nothing truly interesting in its instrumentation.
shows us that it is often more than a bunch of sound waves that are put together one by one. The lack of shrieked vocals also works surprisingly well and almost never becomes mundane as a result of this. The album's closer, "Delivrance," demonstrates the aspects of truly making us feel while listening with its cinematic post rock nature and powerful vocalizing. If anyone is in a bad place in their life, this album is just for you. It boasts imaginative musicianship, an inspiring mood, and amazing shoegazing soundscapes.