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The proof of Alcest’s impact isn’t in their legion of imitators, any great band has those, but in the breadth of their influence. The Alcest style of bridging the sunny-side of shoegaze to black metal introduced a new color pallet to metal. They obviously didn’t invent being wistful or melancholic, but the way they depicted those emotions has become popular even outside of the hipper end of black metal. It’s even found its way to progressive metal on Asira’s gorgeous debut, Efference.

Let me clarify what I mean by progressive metal, because that term can give you the wrong idea. Although there’s a hint of Petrucci in the band’s clean guitar tone and note choices, this is not a record defined by the showiness and dexterity often assumed of progressive metal bands. What makes Asira prog is their sense of scale, and their ability to reach high for grand gestures. In this way, Asira resemble a daytime counterpart to Opeth’s dusky take on the genre. They share Opeth’s love of vocal harmonies, bluesy guitar solos, and writing songs that seem to sweep across a landscape like a dolly shot. The key difference is that the decrepit mansions and leafless trees that Opeth focus on have been replaced by warm sunlight and open fields. The shimmering elven glade vibe might scare off the more self-consciously cool, but will be a huge selling point to the prog/power crowd. Which is probably fine with Asira, since they’re still the type of band whose drummer uses two snare drums and who end their record by going full Devin Townsend.

More importantly, they write thrilling music that borrows bits and pieces of other genres, a dab of goth or a pinch of mandolin, without ever sounding like a composite or a playlist on shuffle. Asira do have a single throughline that ties together all of their influences, from folk to black metal and back again: group singing. I won’t pretend that the solo clean singing on Efference is for everyone, but the band’s use of harmony and wordless melody is the gorilla glue of their music. Even when they turn up the heat on a song like “Phosphorus”, the light and airy harmonies make them unmistakably part of the same record as the softer & proggier material. Having a signature like this proves that Asira are more than just replicators, they are creators of their own sound and identity.

Efference will be self-released on 4/7/17. Stream it below. You can follow Asira on Facebook.

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