Alcest - _Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde_
(Prophecy, 2007)
by: Pedro Azevedo (7 out of 10)
Neige -- better known for his black metal with Peste Noire and Mortifera -- is the sole member behind Alcest's full-length debut _Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde_. Described by the label as an "application of Slowdive and Yann Tiersen to Burzum", and with ties to the shoegaze genre having been denied by Neige himself, Alcest promise to be a challenging listen even before you can decide how the little girl that occupies the front cover can give way to music somehow connected to Burzum.

As it turns out, if you forget about the cover art and the clean vocals accompanying the music, what remains does have a certain tinge of Burzum -- partially due to the guitar sound and simple percussion. However, the very first emotional melody that hits you just after the first minute also makes it quite clear that darkness and evil are not necessarily the theme here; more a longing for long lost days spent in a world you cannot return to. The very softly sung male vocals and the understated female backing vox help the melody fight through an often dense layer of guitar distortion, and together with the laid back pace of the songs, place _Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde_ firmly outside the black metal genre. It is not an album that sounds happy to me though, and some of the guitar work may well appeal to fans of the doomier strains of black metal -- even if some other passages (e.g., the start of "Ciel Errant" and especially the final track) would not sound out of place on a friendly radio station.

_Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde_ has the merit of being different from the norm without sounding like it's trying to be different for the sake of it. It is an interesting mix of sounds and styles that doesn't sound incoherent, and on certain passages it hints at what might be a really bright future for this project, even if a significant part of the material is only average. Overall, this debut full-length does a decent job of presenting Alcest to a wider audience and should provide a good stepping stone for a more remarkable and consistent follow-up.

Contact: http://www.prophecyproductions.de

(article published 3/11/2008)


ALBUMS
2/12/2012 J Carbon 7 Alcest - Les Voyages de L'Âme
10/10/2010 P Azevedo 8.5 Alcest - Écailles de Lune
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