[ALBUM REVIEW] Alcest: Shelter
Alcest – ‘Shelter’
[Released January 2014]
A wild stab in the dark here, but do you like black metal? No? Well I guess that might excuse you from knowing most of Alcest’s previous work up until the release of their latest album Shelter. What has been the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist/writer Neige, Alcest has evolved from a heavy, raw black metal project to something that lies somewhere amongst the genres of dream pop, shoegaze and post-rock. Shelter is an album exploring Neige’s love affair with the ocean, which can really be heard in the large atmospheric spaces that he creates through out the album. Every track genuinely feels at home overlooking the water, listening to the waves crash in the late summer sun.
While the majority (all except one) tracks are sung in Neige’s native French, this does not distract from the depth of the music, instead adding to the already rich, layered production. His soaring melodies and lush guitars resemble a sound not dissimilar to Sigur Rós, however the deeper, softer vocals may make it more accessible to the uninitiated. The similarities in sound are also partially due to the recording of the album in the same Icelandic studios with producer Birgir Jón Birgisson.
Highlights include the upbeat, almost indie, first single "Opale", "Voix Sereines" (Serene Voices), a slow paced trek into nothingness; and the truly epic finale "Délivrance" that crescendos to soaring heights for a goose bump inducing finish. "Away" is the only track sung in English by guest vocalist Neil Halstead of Slowdive, and while initially the language transition is enough to wake you from the shoegaze induced coma, the track is a refreshing change and good lead into the slow building finale.
Shelter is an amazing release that will hopefully define Alcest’s next few albums and introduce a new generation of fans to the wonders that black metal can bring.
Favourite Track: "Délivrance"
Serving suggestion: Sunset on the beach.