Alcest – Écailles de Lune

Alcest are among the leaders in this wave of post-black metal/shoegaze bands and their sophomore album, Écailles de Lune, is definitely a classic album in this growing sub-genre. Alcest’s first full-length album, Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde, did not have much, if any, metal on it; however, that is not the case with Écailles de Lune. This second album offers a great balance between dreamy soundscapes and elements more commonly associated with black metal. The concept behind Écailles de Lune deals around a very un-metal fairy dream world imagined by vocalist/guitarist/composer Neige. Although this album has moments of seemingly musical darkness, the overall tone is quite hopeful and optimistic. The album opens with Écailles de Lune (Part I), which introduces the dreamy soundscape that will be heard the rest of the way. The song progresses with shoegaze elements and slow, introspective guitars, later introducing some blast beats to diversify the sound. Écailles de Lune (Part II) continues with the same sound as the first song, but introduces Neige’s very intense screamed vocals. His shrieks and screams take this fairy tale into an entirely different realm. This song, and much of the album, fluctuates between heavier and dreamier passages. The album cover is the perfect image to describe the dreamier parts. Percées de Lumière showcases more of Neige’s intense growled vocals, but also has a poppier bounce in parts, as do other tracks on this album. This album is not confined to the rigid confines of black metal, but utilizes black metal to accentuate other styles into this artistic piece of work. The album closes with Sur l’Océan Couleur de fer, which is a dreamy slower song that builds up to a very optimistic climax before the album ebbs towards its conclusion. I find Écailles de Lune to be Alcest’s best work. It has the perfect balance between dreamy atmosphere and more artistic aspects of black metal to form a new sound that is sure to be emulated by others.

Genre: Post-Black Metal, Atmospheric Black Metal, Shoegaze
Country: France
Label: Prophecy Records
Release: March 29, 2010

1. Écailles de Lune (Part I)
2. Écailles de Lune (Part II)
3. Percées de Lumière
4. Abysses
5. Solar Song
6. Sur l’Océan Couleur de Fer

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