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Alcest – Écailles de lune

Alcest’s Écailles de lune (Prophecy Productions, 2010) just hits the fucking spot. A layer cake of thick, rich guitars yields heavy, emotional music. Like Jesu, they borrow the burly timbres of doom but without the assault or traditional melodic content of metal. And like Jesu, they showcase not only the chameleon capacities of metal guitars but also their potential gentleness. Soaring vistas of guitar, synth, and vocals give way to melancholy, crystalline arpeggios, then rise back towards the sun for Icarus-like sojourns on waves of yearning riffs.

It’s all of one mind, which is why it shines. Like Ludicra, Alcest’s music is based in black metal. And like Ludicra, they don’t give a fuck about how they’re bastardizing the genre. I think the hater-ati isn’t crying foul too loudly because they’re too busy getting their heartstrings tugged. Everyone’s going apeshit over the album’s two-part, 20-minute opening suite, and it is great, but check out “Percées de lumiere” for a more concise majesty.

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Sometimes the things you love don’t need or don’t benefit from explanation. The singularity of purpose oozes off this album – you just get it. Lead guitarist and compositional lynchpin Neige says Alcest is his way of musically translating an “indescribably beautiful haven” that he first perceived as a child. That seems to be the common thread between the artists Alcest allegedly hybridize, My Bloody Valentine and Burzum: a single-minded longing for alternate realities. Kudos to Alcest for bridging musical worlds by listening to their heart.

— Alee Karim

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