I’m hesitant to write this review because I don’t know if words can do justice to Alcest, the solo project by French musician Neige. In fact, I’m certain I can’t, but I will try anyway, because if even one person reads this and decides to look up the music, I’ll have made that person’s life that much better.
Imagine a natural paradise. The kind you see in fantasy movies, with dramatic lighting that makes everything sparkle. The kind where, just seeing it, your heart feels an urge to be there. To belong to something that beautiful.
Imagine the soundtrack that must accompany this vision. If you can, you’re part of the way to imagining Alcest.
There are three major releases so far: “Le Secret,” or “The Secret.” “Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde,” or “Memories of Another World.” Lastly, there’s the most recent record, “Ecailles de Lune,” which translates to “Scales of the Moon.
Each album is a blend of post-rock and shoegaze elements with dashes of black metal thrown in on the first and latest releases. “Souvenirs” remains completely free of black metal vocals, featuring only the sheer beauty that characterizes the sound.
Distorted, fuzzy guitars play some of most serene melodies ever, backed by the rhythms of Winterhalter, a renowned drummer within the French metal scene. At the forefront of it all are the vocals of Neige, who plays all the instruments besides drums on the albums. His voice can soar high and low, and he is the source of the screams when they do appear. Contrary to most black metal though, with its messages of sorrow and hatred, Alcest’s vocals are an expression of pure joy and ecstasy. It can just be hard to tell.
I know this whole thing is lacking in words. But as I said, it almost has to. Alcest’s music is something that needs to be experienced, not described. I first discovered it after a bad breakup, at the referral of a musician whom I respect. I expected to find some casually listenable band.
What I found was life-changing. This music and poetry brought me comfort when nothing else could. And I wouldn’t be surprised to find others with a similar testimony.
I’ve simply provided a brief description. It now remains up to you to go on and try and discover for yourself. I hope this band will mean as much to you as it does to me.