progressive community always gets to me. When a band doesn't change from album
to album, they're called stale. However, when they evolve and enter new eras,
their fans denounce them for progressing. What?! This makes no sense at all.
This is the case with the new Alcest album "Shelter". Alcest was known for their
mixture of black metal and beautiful ambiance, but the band has decided to
explore other musical territory.
Alcest does sound different. Gone is the blackened palette, and in comes a style
of shoegaze rock somewhere between Nosound and Anathema.
It has a bit
more clarity and structure then the former, but less variation of sound and
emotion than the latter. So, yes, the band has abandoned their signature style,
but this is not the first time a band has done this. I just hope fans calm down
and give this gorgeous album a chance.
is definitely a beautiful work. The towering guitars are front and center here,
with such melody and such expression of light and joy. Stephane Paut is the
pillar of the album, as he performs almost every instrument and also the vocals.
Jean Deflandre is on drums here, and does an admirable job of driving the
melodies higher and higher. Yes, this album is definitely all in the upper
range. Some may find this strange, but I enjoy it as it seems to hit all the
right emotional notes. I do feel that it does hit some of the same notes over
and over again, though. This album, while excellent, is surely lacking in
does have highs and lows, though. After an amazing opening in "Wings", I feel
the album dips a bit, though it is still enjoyable. However, when "Voix Sereines"
begins, the album reaches an all-new level. This track is the best on the album
in my opinion, as its melody climbs and climbs until it reaches a guitar-fueled
climax of intense proportions. After this, the album doesn't let up at all.
Every song is as wonderful as the last, and when we reach "Away" (the only
English-language track) and "Délivrance", we meet the next two best tracks.
Light and ambiance, emotion and smooth vocals: This is what "Shelter" is all
about from beginning to end.
So, is it
as textured and darkly beautiful as Alcest's previous works? No. Is it a worse
album because of it? Not at all. I appreciate evolution of sound, and I respect
when musicians feel they are ready to move on to something new. Alcest has done
that, and has managed to craft an excellent outing.