Alcest - Les voyages de l'âme (2012)

Alcest - Les voyages de l'âme (2012) Cover
shadowdoom9 (Andi) shadowdoom9 (Andi) / March 17, 2021 / Comments 0 / 0

I wanna make this really clear from the start that this IS post-metal/blackgaze. Really! I dare you listen to this album and see if you can't find any metal. Result? You definitely can and will! This is what Alcest is for this album. Black metal has its controversial rep of dark Satanism, and even though Alcest is part of that genre, they do the opposite of what most other black metal bands do; evoke hope and tranquil beauty. In Les Voyages de l'Âme, the songs have calm melodies and powerful riffs guided by ethereal vocals of Neige. It's definitely not like doom bands (except maybe My Threnody) because the atmosphere consists of uplifting melody, unlike the haunting darkness of those other bands. With every melancholic touch comes a hopeful aura. Instead of reminiscing the past of pain and suffering, I can let the beauty embrace my life energy.

So what's the album's problem then? Well without the beauty it already has, the album would be left with not a lot to enjoy. The ethereal soundscape is what keeps the music in shape, formed from Neige's imagination of the Fairyland (not to be confused with symphonic power metal band Fairyland, also from France). This seems both complete and incomplete. You have to put a lot heart, soul, and mind into your music, but it's the mind element that this album is missing. With that, this album is more based on mood. The ethereal soundscape will certainly teleport you into the Fairyland...

The starting track "Autre Temps" (Another Time) slowly grabs your attention as you experience the acoustic progression that you send you through a thousand winter fields beneath the blackened sky of Neige's vocals and guitars. "Là Où Naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles" (Where the New Colors are Born) has more black metal aggression in the guitar distortion and grim vocals. The riffs are so memorable that this can very well be the last thing to remember before you die, no matter what. Besides the dreamy vibe, the heaviness of this song is the main reason why I decided to review this album in protest against it being non-metal, and it was all thanks to a Spotify recommendation when assembling my own private-but-will-be-public-someday playlists.

We can notice more of the grim visions caused by guitar distortion in the title track (in which the title means "The Journeys of the Soul"). The tremolos are some of the best parts of the album and they use it well in this song in a different direction but the same effects. "Nous Sommes L'Emeraude" (We are the Emerald) adds more mist to the guitar riffing, along with great drumming. "Beings of Light" is, however, a filler 6-minute track with overused writing and unintelligible vocals. The otherwise killer bass and drums don't help the song get any better.

"Faiseurs de Mondes" (Makers of Worlds) has abrasive black metal screaming in the first half that reminds me of early Woods of Ypres. "Havens" is another filler track, this time being a useless generic interlude. Finally, the last track "Summer's Glory" is more triumphant in some parts, but in other parts, it has a commercial part that makes you think you heard it before in other albums from North bands or maybe in the mainstream. Not really a good thing...

Despite most of the second half being weak, I can't deny the music performed by Neige that gives most of the songs here absolute beauty and serenity. There might not be any progressive riffing or technical complexity, not even brutal destruction, but the album is so d*mn beautiful....

Favorites: "Autre Temps", "Là Où Naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles", "Les Voyages de l'Âme", "Faiseurs de Mondes"


Release info

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Les voyages de l'âme