Alcest - _Écailles de Lune_
(Prophecy Productions, 2010)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8.5 out of 10)
_Écailles de Lune_ is the second album created by Neige (Peste Noire, Mortifera) under the Alcest banner, following the debut _Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde_. Despite the different lyrical theme, the fundamental musical concept has stayed the same: instrumentation that would scarcely seem out of place on a somewhat depressive black metal album, but topped with softly sung male vocals instead of standard black metal screams. While I have nothing against black metal vocals, I am quite partial to this mix when well executed: Wolves in the Throne Room did it brilliantly with female vocals on their _Malevolent Grain_ EP. This is different, but an intriguing idea nonetheless.

Those who heard _Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde_ will know what to expect, but the intensity of the black metal instrumentation is occasionally higher and some throat-ripping black vox are introduced as early as the second track. Partially as a result of that, the album seems significantly more dynamic and therefore inspired than its predecessor. The clean vocals remain a very important part of the Alcest sound, however; they are no mere gimmick to differentiate this project, but rather an integral part of its musical purpose. Said vocals will likely make or break this album for a lot of listeners, despite the unusually high quality of everything black metal on the album; still, I doubt they will be an issue unless you are entirely opposed to the idea of using soft clean vocals in what is essentially a black metal album underneath.

_Écailles de Lune_ turns out to be a greater step up from _Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde_ than I had thought reasonable to expect, leaving behind some of the accessibility of its predecessor but not sacrificing its principles. As a result, Alcest has produced one of the best albums I've heard all year.


(article published 10/10/2010)

2/12/2012 J Carbon 7 Alcest - Les Voyages de L'Âme
3/11/2008 P Azevedo 7 Alcest - Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde
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