Alcest: Shelter

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Alcest: Shelter
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Alcest: Shelter
Post-Black Metal, Shoegaze
Prophecy Productions
January 21st, 2014
Release length: 45:37
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When Alcest first stormed onto the Black Metal world with their 2005 EP Le Secret, they were quickly embraced by the underground society. As time went on, the band continued to evolve, moving further from the standard sound of the genre to include a stronger Shoegaze foundation, even some Post-Metal ideas. After a slew of smaller releases, a live recording and three full-length albums, the duo return once more with their most diverse effort yet. Shelter finds the band opting for sunny days and bright colored sunsets this time around. But does it make for a beautiful enough effort to keep their fan base satisfied, or is this an attempt designed simply to alienate?

The album’s single “Opale” sets the stage of what’s to come. It’s one of the richer tracks of the release, building off the ascending tribal introduction “Wings” perfectly. The music is incredibly upbeat, taking you back to that perfect sunny summer day as a child that you wish you could go back in time and relive. There are notes that sound like they were performed on a xylophone, or a similar effect from a keyboard around two minutes that are simply overkill, especially when the guitars fade and allow it to get louder. It’s like chewing a block of sugar that’s topped with another block of sugar for lack of a better comparison. “Voix Sereines” has a little more edge to the guitars as well, but that’s later on. Things start with an acoustic performance and some singing, building towards some keyboards and deeper distortions that work behind the clean leads, making an odd mixture of daylight and depression, but in the sense of looking back at someone who passed, then looking forward as if the start of a new life and not just the end.

“La Nuit Marche Avec Moi” is an airy mid-tempo performance that relies heavily on the hooks from the cleaner sounding guitars. This one actually sounds more like a lighter Gothic Rock offering with simpler chords that allow the slight echo on the drums to come through. The patterns here aren’t too complex either, though during the chorus the cymbals help fill the gaps a bit, as does the buzzing on the right near the very end. This seems to be the start of where some darker material comes into play. “L’Eveil Des Muses” is a catchy performance with deeper guitars and the rhythmic chiming of bells, as if something you might see on the ankle of a native american during a ceremonial dance. While far from depressive, it’s as if the sun is finally setting, something carried over to the title track “Shelter,” which seems perfectly suited to sitting by the campfire and having fun with friends before heading off to college. In fact the early Alcest ways don’t seem to crop up until the extensive “Deliverance.” This starts with a hint of Sinamore at the start, but just becomes a beautiful performance full of rich guitars, keyboards, and matching female background vocal harmonies.

Shelter is the furthest thing from what any fan of previous Alcest albums would expect. Instead of being somewhat dark and artistic, this outing finds the bands going with the basics to create the soundtrack to your misspent youth on the clearest twenty four hours of summer. There’s no denying a lot of the band’s Black Metal roots don’t really come into play here, giving way to more Shoegaze with some Gothic touches at times, but when given a chance this easy listening release still ends up as moving as any other Alcest album, even if it doesn’t wear it’s emotions right on its sleeves.

01. Wings – 1:32
02. Opale – 4:56
03. La Nuit Marche Avec Moi – 4:58
04. Voix Sereines – 6:43
05. L’Eveil Des Muses – 6:49
06. Shelter – 5:29
07. Away – 5:02
08. Deliverance – 10:05
Initial Pressing Score: 8.5/10

Alcest
Alcest

Digital review copy of this release provided by Prophecy Productions.