Prepare to let your dreams take you by the hand and sweep you away on the crest of a wave as Alcest FINALLY release a debut album entitled 'Souvenirs d'un autre monde'. Its been several years since the release of the bands first demo, way back in 2001 and us fans have been urging Alcest to put all the ideas together and create the masterpiece the metal world has been craving to hear. Its about time that we have the pleasure of being able to stick this record on at any stage we desire during the day.
Souvenirs d'un autre monde is bound to receive mixed reviews. I try not to let my emotions take over me when I read negatives about Alcest because with so much hype before its release, people were bound to be disappointed with the outcome. That's life. Not everything can live up to expectations. The trick is, even if it is incredibly difficult, not to enter into something with expectations. Disappointment can only be achieved if you do. Given the direction 'Le Secret' was heading I suppose its no great surprise that Souvenirs d'un autre monde is completely different to anything Alcest have released prior to this full-length. Shoegaze, a relatively new genre to me, is in the foreground for this record.
Neige has opted for a far more dream like and naturally stunning soundscapes, as oppose to going back to his vicious and raw black metal roots, which many still enjoy to this day. Alcest combines acoustic sections, clean vocals and softer passages to near perfection. Neige's vocals are the most impressive improvement. Back in 2001 they were raspy, fairly ordinary and largely substandard. Neige's clean vocals are beautiful and compliment the music superbly. They stand side by side with one another. If Alcest were a picture, they would be the most beautiful picture you had ever seen. Alcest are beyond boundaries. Never afraid to set new achievements and explore unknown musical realms.
As aforementioned, soundscapes is important to this piece. Its the images and emotions this full-length conjures that makes it so special. Images of beautiful and tranquil landscapes. Emotions of a quiet sorrow ebbing through your veins and taking control of your heart. The celestial atmospheric nature doesn't detract from what is going on. Despite the fact that Souvenirs d'un autre monde has the ability to take control of you and transport you into other world's, the music is always present. You never lose sight of what Alcest is doing. Everything is in its rightful place and nothing is overbearing. its quite common for a listener to get caught up in the music and become unable to fully grasp what's going on and how everything does its job, but not in this instance.
There are several areas people may find with this record, however. Song lengths. Perhaps the fact that there are brief intermissions in songs may be off putting. It detracts from the song overall. It doesn't help the listener get into the right mood when a song cuts out in the middle for no real reason. The vocals may also be a down point. Given Neige's past record with vocals, people may be disappointed by the clean vocals, claiming that they are not true to what Alcest first laid down. Progression is sometimes hard to take. Musically this progression may be too much for some. Alcest are not now what they once were, the initial shock could and probably has caused some outrage. The soothing and relaxed nature is not to everyone's liking. Souvenirs d'un autre monde certainly cannot be drawn into question over its innovation and creativity. Neige is well known for that. As far as notable highlights go, I simply suggest listening to the whole thing in its entirety.
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This is an amazing album, found out about it through reading extreme metal magazines, but this album is closer to the 90's shoegazing bands, but with a prog metal twist. The tracks shimmer with beauty through a narcotic haze. Stand out track is Souvenirs d'un autre monde, with swoonsome female vocals and fuzzed out bliss guitars. This is a must for people who can appreciate heavy metal and have a love of slowdive, Chaperthouse, Swerevdriver ride et al. Enjoy! A stand out album of 2007.
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