Friday, September 30, 2016
Alcest : "Kodama"
It seems the French purveyors of what was once hailed as black gaze have decided to at least try to be a rock band. The title track has more of a Pink Floyd like jangling drone to it. While this is far from black metal it is a more suitable extension of growth than their previous album which had little in the way of balls to it. They do flirt with blast beats on the second song, but it smoothes out into the more fey touched indie rock. In some ways this is closer to what they once did than the title track, however my initial impression is that the title track is better even though harshly screamed vocals re-surface. I respect this since between Opeth and the Used, this seems to be something many singers are unwilling to re-visit, which I think is as much of a cop out as only relying on screaming.
There are some pretty awesome guitar tones on this album. While there is little by way of soloing, I think the tones are impeccable. They do have plenty of the older shoe gazey epic guitar lines soaring over the fairy forests for you. I don't need Alcest to re-make their first two albums. I just want to hear that they are still the band that I used to love and not abandon their metal roots altogether, along with writing good songs. This album tends to fall within those bounds. They do eventually revert back to almost full blown black metal, the only thing keeping them from it is the guitar sticks to dreamier sonic scope. "Untouched" finds them in a more introspective mode for the opening verse. Neige's voice sounds really good here. It builds into a more shimmering vision of post-rock. It does have a moodier ebb and flow that works for me. It's brooding in a surreal way and it goes to show there are many versions of this band I'll accept and they don't all have to be black metal.
"Oiseaux de proie" is not a bad song by any means, it even gets heavy around the mid way point, but it also fails to grab me and begins fading into the background. I would almost say the are trying too hard to get back to where they came from. "Onyx" is an interlude of My Bloody Valentine like ambient noise. The album closes with " Notre sang et pensees". It begins as a more fragile form of indie jangle that swells up rather gracefully.The tension lingers so much until you are wondering is this an actual song? I am still unsure if this one had enough meat on it's bones to justify it being an instrumental. I'll around this up to a 9. It finds the band trying really hard and makes you think about how they reconsidered the direction they took on "Shelter"