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Alcest - Les Voyages de l'Âme Award winner

Les Voyages de l'Âme
by Phillip Lawless at 16 February 2012, 10:25 PM

My God, the music on this album is beautiful. Like the sun delicately shining through a tree on a cool spring day. Like the mischievous smile on the face of a beautiful woman. Like the first swig of whiskey on a long, carefree night of carousing.

At times dense and chaotic, at times light and ethereal, the eight tracks on “Les Voyages de l'Âme” are always uplifting and always graceful. And this is honestly the last thing I expected going into my first listen. Online, I kept seeing the term Black Metal used in the same sentence as ALCEST, and frankly I just don’t hear it. I know the Black Metal designation is partly based on the band’s earliest demo, but to classify this as even partly Black Metal is completely misleading.

Mainly, the songs are layered and lush. Delicate riffs over tight drumming with sung vocals and interesting melodies. Sometimes synths will take over and move the songs even closer to heaven. Still, there are occasional passages of snarling vocals and death-ish drumming. But these harsh passages are few and far between, and, like a dimly-remembered nightmare, their impact is soon swept away by shifting and soothing soundscapes.

Also, ALCEST beautifully addresses one of my metal reviewing pet peeves. Over my last few reviews, I’ve noticed how unnatural and tiresome English lyrics can be for many bands. It appears that most lyricists would rather write clunky and embarrassing lyrics in English than in their native tongues. I’ve often wondered why a band wouldn’t stick to writing in the language that they know best. Here, all of the ALCEST’s lyrics are French. The fluid feel of the language accentuates the flow of the music and perfectly adds to the almost alien atmospherics of the tunes. Instead of worrying about the vocalist’s pronunciation and phrasing, I can concentrate on the full merits of the music and melody.

Honestly, to pick apart this album and address the tracks individually would be pretty counterproductive. “Les Voyages de l'Âme” is best heard, best experienced, as a complete album. All eight tracks are obviously the work of a serious and skilled artist, and ignoring any part of this musical triumph would only serve to lessen its full impact.

4 Star Rating

1. Autre Temps
2. Là où Naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles
3. Les Voyages de l'Âme
4. Nous Sommes l'Émeraude
5. Beings of Light
6. Faiseurs De Mondes
7. Havens
8. Summer’s Glory
Neige – Guitars/Bass, Synths and Vocals
Winterhalter – Drums
Record Label: Prophecy Productions


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