Alcest a Retrospective 2005 to 2010

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I recall a while ago that an old friend of mine introduced me to a band called Alcest out of France. He let me borrow a CD with beautiful artwork of a mermaid, sleeping man, and the full moon in glowing blue hues. I come to find out that this album is “Écailles de Lune” when I first put the CD into my car stereo and drove home the music absolutely floored me. I never heard anything like Alcest before and I have yet to hear any band like Alcest even now. This was the first moment in time that I was enraptured by Neige’s genius, and as the years passed, Alcest became part of my top five bands of all time. I wanted to take this time to do some mini reviews of Alcest’s discography. They have developed a really interesting and eclectic series of albums that are all different in their own unique ways. With the impending release of their new album “Spiritual Instinct”, this is a perfect time than ever to introduce you to the hidden, beautiful metallic world of Alcest.

I am going to split my reviews into two distinctive eras of Alcest. To begin Alcest began its journey with an EP simply called “Le Secret” followed by “Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde” and then capped off with the seminal album “Écailles de Lune”. This era of Alcest was very diverse; there was a lot of experimentation happening earlier in Neige’s career and I think the first half of his discography had so many different and unique dynamics happening.

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Le Secret 10/10

When Neige first described his experiences as a child visiting the “Otherworld” “Le Secret” was the album where we see Neige’s at his rawest and most vulnerable. This two song EP effectively invoked images of dreamlike worlds where the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred. The music had a hypnotic and serene type of energy through every note and vocal choice. There is a strong feeling of nostalgia and memory with the musical arrangements and it really puts your mind into an otherworldly atmosphere. When I first heard this album, I was floored at how good it was for an EP, especially with it being Neige’s first album running with the shoegaze and black metal formula. Even to this day I give “Le Secret” a spin and I am still blown away at how simply gorgeous the album is. Best Songs: All of Them!

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Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde 7/10

When “Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde” was released, I never heard any metal album like it before. I would even say it is not a pure metal album at all. There were some riffs and blast beats that are sprinkled throughout the album, but the bulk of the music was driven by shoegazing music. I was hearing more My Bloody Valentine or Cocteau Twins compared to Darkthrone or Burzum. This is what really intrigued me when I first heard “Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde” it’s a unique, fresh and very a different take on metal. The thing with this is album is it starts very strong then it loses my interest. The first four to five tracks put me into such a blissful mood because of how beautiful/evocative the music was. Then as the album progresses the tracks got weaker. The one thing to keep in mind is Neige had to write this album in order to build this metal/shoegaze hybrid into some amazing future records, while building a new genre of metal called “blackgaze” along the way. Best Songs: Printemps émeraude, Souvenirs d’un autre monde, and Les Iris

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Écailles de Lune 9/10

“Écailles de lune” was the first album that introduced me to Alcest. Still in my eyes, this is the best album out of their discography. The beauty in this album is beyond words and the images and feelings conveyed in this album have always resonated so deeply with me. I spent many nights driving around during full moon nights and have “Écailles de lune” blasting from my car speakers. It puts so many images in my head and really brings out a lot of clarity. When my mind is foggy or I am, feeling down I would listen to this album to help me get out of my funk. Every time I hear “Écailles de lune” it helped with my mental health, and gave me a new perspective of my existence in this world. Regardless of the lyrics being in French you know exactly what Neige is trying to convey in this album. The musicianship is warm, introspective, and very dreamlike. The vocals are more ethereal compared to punchy/upfront, and the screams/rasps heard in Neige’s vocals chills you to the bone. It is the perfect album of moods and emotions. There is no room in this album for dry technical work; the album purely thrives on the nostalgic thoughts and feelings we all experience as human beings. Best Songs: Ecailles de lune I, Ecailles de Lune II and Sur l’océan couleur de fer

Here concludes my reviews of the first half of Alcest’s discography from 2007 to 2010 there was a beautiful monster stirring in France at this time. In addition, as this monster rose from the depths a genuine tidal wave of blackgaze bands emerged and yet still Neige and company were way ahead of the pack for quality and consistency from 2012 until 2016.

Alcest

Bandcamp: https://alcest.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alcest.official

Official Page: http://www.alcest-music.com/

Five Reasons Why Big Metal Bands Should Tour New Hampshire

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New Hampshire is one of those states that is typically looked over for bigger heavy metal acts. The last time any major band played live in New Hampshire was many moons ago in Bedford, NH where Enslaved, Immortal and Rotting Christ actually played live. There are many local metal shows to be found but what about the big acts? Why do they not include New Hampshire as a destination for planning tours? I argue that New Hampshire would be a great spot to stop in if you are in a death, black, doom, or any other kind of underground metal band. Here are my top five reasons why bigger metal bands should consider New Hampshire over Massachusetts (typical destination spot).

The population is growing…

New Hampshire used to be small New England state, many years ago not many people moved here. The typical population at the time were families and older people. As of late there is a younger population congregating towards the Granite State. There are many colleges/universities to be found throughout the state and as of late the population seems to be getting younger. Manchester, New Hampshire is now considered one of the fastest growing cities in New England. I think if more metal bands knew this the more apt they would be to tour here.

There are staunch metalheads who live here…

From the local shows I have been to in New Hampshire there is always a fervent fan base that appreciates heavy metal in all ways, shapes and forms. There are many well regarded local acts who live in and around New Hampshire two of the bigger names is Malacath and Cold Northern Vengeance. These acts have incredible talent and have a real good grasp of the black metal genre. When I am driving far away to go to shows the bulk of the people who I run into or drive down with are from New Hampshire. The unfortunate thing is metalheads in New Hampshire don’t really go out much (I don’t see a lot of shirts), but when the good metal shows happen they come out in droves.

There are a lot of great venues to experience shows at…

New Hampshire is filled with great music venues but the issue is these venues typically play incredibly horrible music that you would more likely find in a Hot Topic store.There is so much untapped potential that true metal bands could find a home in New Hampshire. Though there are a few venues that appreciate metal and of those is The Wreck Room in Peterborough, NH.The owner of this venue has a great sense of good music and is a breath of fresh air to the other venues that are filled with bad jam bands, and emo music. Also there are some venues up north in the White Mountains as well as by the Seacoast that would give some great natural imagery to live bands who want to play in those locales.

The history of New Hampshire is old and haunting…

New Hampshire is one of the original 13 colonies and by and large it has an incredible haunted history to be experienced and even written about. There are scores of old, Victorian homes built in the 1700s and there are many old and worn graveyards with some of the most ancient of stones to be looked at. There are numerous back, dirt roads that lead to thick and dark woods where ghosts would live. The spirit of Halloween is very much alive in New Hampshire and the numerous cobblestone walkways throughout the old towns harken back to a time of old. The history alone could draw any metal band to New Hampshire it just has that type of effect..

The Nature alone is a draw…

New Hampshire is one of those states with amazing natural beauty all around. There are hundreds of mountains, hills, forests, lakes through the entirety of the state. The Autumns are astoundingly beautiful, the Winters are long but have a haunting, introspective feeling, Spring and Summer are filled with colors and are incredibly green and verdant. The one thing about New Hampshire that makes me not want to leave is that the Nature surrounds me all the time, and I can find a way to escape the craziness of life to find peace in myself again. With the stunning natural beauty all around I am surprised that metal bands haven’t thought about New Hampshire as a stop to play a show on tour. To me the nature here is like its own entity and it breathes, grows and sings all the time.

Conclusion…

I think I was able to argue that New Hampshire should be a destination spot for big metal bands, I know the state would enjoy it and I know the bands would love their stay in return. As you booking agents plan your band’s tours, consider New Hampshire as a place to visit. I know they would have a warm welcome and there is no sales tax to worry about. Live Free or Die!