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Alcest - Shelter CD (album) cover

SHELTER

Alcest

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.35 | 100 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Second Life Syndrome
4 stars The 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.

Indeed, 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.

"Shelter" 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 variety somewhat.

The album 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.

Second Life Syndrome | 4/5 |

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