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Alcest - Écailles de lune CD (album) cover

ÉCAILLES DE LUNE

Alcest

Experimental/Post Metal


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4 stars Alcest is moving forward, while looking behind.

Alcest's new album sounds different than the previous album. It almost seems to me that Neige has so many ideas that he could create 5 albums a year. So what is new on this album? Neige progressed on the dreamy way of music but blends more Black Metal in the music this time. Therefore, you should be tolerant when it comes to Black Metal vocals. In almost every secound song, there is the very harsh way of singing. Not the Opeth style and also not the Agalloch, not even the Darkthrone style. So you should get used to it or you miss an outstanding album. The album starts with "Ecailles de lune". It is a mellow song with the typical high vocals by Neige. At the end of the songs the drumming gets faster, sounding like the Black Metal style. All in all, this song is such a great opener for this album. The next song "Ecailles de lune Part2" follows this scheme, adding the Black Metal vocals. "Percees de Lumiere" is the outstanding track on this album. I knew that song from the Split Ep with Les Discrets. It has the best mix of Black Metal and the dreamy shoegaze, starting with a melodic Metal part and then going over in a mellow part with high vocals. Great track. "Abysses" is only an interlude track, nothing special. You can only hear some kind of wind. Not my cup of tea. "Solar song" reminds me a bit of a Smashing Pumpkins' track. Starting with some kind of onomatopoei style of singing and then accompanied by nice guitar leads. I had to get used to it because it sounds very different to the other songs but then I started to like it though. The last song "Sur l' Ocean Couleur de Fer" has a nice intro with a guitar picking riff. It feels like being near the ocean. Definitely a riff you have to listen to. The song flows along till a guitar strumming part is added with a nice lead playing along. Maybe the most beautiful part of the album. Maybe even the most beautfil part Neige has written so far, which means a lot by this artist.

This is an album with almost no weak points. Ok, "Abysses" is kind of useless but such an ambient track is not that a disaster. I almost can't believe that Neige wrote this album in about 1 year, whereas it took him several years to create "Souveniers d'un autre mond". The drumming, by the way, it better than on the previous album because a drummer played the parts. On "Souveniers" Neige played them by himself which sounded a bit amateurish. You should check this album when you liked Neige's previous works but also when you look for music you can dream to. But be warned of the vocals, which can prevent you from this music.

Report this review (#274610)
Posted Saturday, March 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is incredible, and I'm saying it as someone who doesn't like black metal that much, so give it a shot even if you are afraid of the vocals - most of the album is actually clean vocals. the music through all of the album is just beautiful, at times very soft (such as the last song) and at times more gritty and harsh (the third song Percées De Lumière) but always maintaining that special atmosphere and poweful, surreal feeling.

The first two songs are meant to be 1 song and are also the longest songs on the album, each of them almost 10 minutes, and they have their quite and more heavy sections, both exellent songs.

The third song Percées De Lumière showcases the more Black Metal influences in Alcest's music, and surprisingly for me, it might be my favorite song on the album, this is the heaviest song on the album and it is very powerful and beautiful (yup), especially the part that comes in around 4 and a half minutes. incredible.

Abysses, the forth song, is more like an interlude, some kind of moody ambient piece to let us relax from the previous song and enter the next one.

Solar Song, the fifth song, is what would have been the "single" of the album if Alcest was to be in a more mainstream label. The shortest song on the album (not counting Abysses), about 5 minutes long, this piece is the more Shoegaze one on the album, containing clean vocals only and a lot of use of backing vocals, another exellent song although for me less prominent then the others.

The Last song, Sur L'Océan Couleur De Fer, is just amazing and magical. very touching and soothing post-rock, with amazing vocals and music, ending the album exactly how it needs to.

I must also give a shot to the album cover which is, as the music, beautiful, and sets the mood for the album perfectly. So far this is my favorite album of 2010, highly recommended.

Report this review (#278384)
Posted Sunday, April 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars Combining elements of Post Metal, Death Metal, Ambient parts (low quantity) and Melodic background, this album is currently number one in ProgArchives 2010 chart. These are things that I considered when I began to be interested in this record. Let's forget formal ways of reviewing and let's get devoured by feelings this brings.

Relatively short, just 41 minutes (like in times of vinyl), beautiful artwork (I can't personally imagine anyone who won't like this one). Given that I'm not that devoted Metal fan, I suppose that I will probably like this album less than Metalhead. Fine enough, this hopefully doesn't cripple me (much).

As someone with love/hate Black Metal relationship, I have to say that sometimes this element is too prominent (too much), but of course, those who love this will be pleased. I'm not, but at the same time I'm awed so much as I expected. Last song is beautiful, somehow "soft", don't expect thunderds and lightings, but rather some kind of Post Rock ballad in vein of the best P/ R artists.

3(+), solid mix of connected elements

EDIT June 2010 - After a while, it's getting a little bit dull. Atmospheric, but not so rich in what it offers. Music meant to feel, not just listen.

Report this review (#280153)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Where is the melody?

While there are several points throughout this album that sound absolutely beautiful, the album as a whole is ruined by the lack of an essential musical feature called melody. Sure, there are times when it's best to leave out a lead line so we can focus on some great developing harmonies or rhythmic brilliance, but for an entire album? That's a bit much. Not to mention the fact that there aren't any really great rhythms to focus on here.

The album consists mostly of two textures: overly repeated distorted guitar chords and softer acoustic guitar chords a bit more acoustic in flavor. This gets tiresome, especially the former, but I must say the harmonies in some places are really quite excellent. The screaming vocals are annoying and get in the way of the beauty of the album. At least they don't happen very often.

The music is not the best I've heard, but I was very impressed to find that this was written, performed, and recorded entirely by one person. And there was nothing at all wrong with the performance or production, so he got about 2.5 out of 3. Unfortunately, I'm strongly biased toward composition, and the music was only written half-well, so a solid 3 stars it is. Not something to go out of your way for.

Report this review (#281276)
Posted Tuesday, May 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars While the "shoegaze" and "death metal" labels are understandable with regards to "Écailles de lune," there is a lot more to this music. There is a "freshness" to the styles Neige has combined in this album. While neither song structures nor instrumental variety and virtuosity are very special here--and the songs do sometimes get a bit . . . monotonous--there is still enough here to keep me smiling (growl vocals en francais!), and keep me pushing "replay" again and again. Good but not essential. Four stars because it keeps me coming back and because the album is consistently good, start to finish. Try it: You might like it!
Report this review (#284725)
Posted Thursday, June 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A V. good and oft times even relaxing fusion of Post/Math, Death and Atmospheric (not an expert on either one - - just a gut take of the pigeon holing) - - should even caresses the inner ear of some alleged elders amongst us who may have accumulated some creativity walls or biases over the years regarding the prog worthiness of some of the more recent tentacles of the brand. Noteworthy are the gripping vocal shifts and passionate ethereal/harmonic passages and arrangements. A nice surprise as I do have a tendency to abhor overly aggressive vocals, yet, in this work, I can appreciate the artistic and emotional vocal transitions (which are of course enhanced by the musical brilliance as well).
Report this review (#285166)
Posted Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Alcest combines UK shoegazer pop with atmospheric Black Metal. That may sound like the most unlikely marriage ever, but actually it's not the first time it was tried. Ulver made the same combination on their debut 15 years ago. And the result was equally successful.

Black Metal has an inherent tendency for developing thick atmospheres; it's one of the things that sets it apart from Death Metal which concentrates more on musical technicality. Plenty of Black Metal bands can be named that combine their harsh aggression with ambient dreamy music, next to Ulver, Agalloch must sure be mentioned as an outstanding example of that combination. In case of Alcest the atmospheric mix is pervaded with a Floydian spacey-ness.

So, the people allergic to Brit-pop are warned, but still shouldn't discard this album completely. The pop and emo factor is non-existing here. This is very lush and magical music, just like My Bloody Valentine, Pale Saints and Lush used to be. Both clean vocals and Black Metal shrieks are used and both are a perfect fit for the eerie atmosphere created here.

Ecailles De Lune is a very good album that may appeal to goth, shoegazer and atmospheric metal fans alike.

Report this review (#285477)
Posted Monday, June 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 7/10

"Ecailles De Lune" is a dreamy, blurry album that could be easily one of the best of 2010.

French Black Metal band Alcest releases in 2010 their second album, most definitely one of the best of the year. Sublime, intriguing, and beautiful, a certainly a great black metal album , quite original and unusual, and with an enigmatic and dreamy touch, which sometimes incarnates shoegaze.

There aren't too many Black metal growls, in fact only two of these six songs present them, so Experimental Metal seems like the perfect subgenre for Ecailles De Lune. Like I previously said, all the songs are full of enigmatic atmospheres, thanks to the dreamy guitar that gently plays, a perfect nocturnal atmosphere. We also in some moments can find many shoegazing, maybe not as strong and noisy as traditional bands of the genre, but still present.

The title track is divided into two parts, the first one more dreamy and melodic, the second more violent, so it presents growl vocals, even though there is still a big sense of haziness. Percees de Lumiere is my least favorite, kind of strong, even though still the style is the same. after the beautiful interlude, Solar Song kicks in. this is most definitely the song with most shoegazing influences. The melodies is catchy and haunting, the vocals are clean and beautiful, the guitars enigmatic. Fabulous song.

The last track is another wonderful masterpiece. There are no drums in this piece, so you can imagine how calm and relaxing, but at the same time haunting the atmosphere is.

In conclusion, an album that really moved me, a must listen for anyone who is interested in black metal or Experimental metal.

Report this review (#285844)
Posted Thursday, June 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 'Ã?cailles De Lune' - Alcest (9/10)

Throughout post-metal circles, the name of Alcest has been one that is chatted back and forth alot lately. A French one man black metal project that incorperates the starkly mellow and ethereal sounds of shoegaze psychedelia, this band has become one of the more highly regarded bands in the genre, even after only two records produced. With frontman Neige's second effort with this solo project, the sound of Alcest becomes more defined, and what we have with 'Ã?cailles De Lune' is a beautiful piece of emotionally stirring music that carries quite a bit more emotion that your typical heavy metal record.

In a sense, it may be unfair to consider this album 'metal,' the energy generally infused with the genre is sacrificed for a much more introspective sound. While there are maybe one or two sections throughout the album that make liberal use of blastbeats and Neige's high pitched shriek, 'Ã?cailles De Lune' relies very heavily on it's mellowness and quiet beauty. The main focus of the music is on the beautiful textures of the guitar work, and Neige's clean vocal work, which may sound a bit too fragile for some, but works with the emotionally vulnerable mood of the music.

The first half of the album is dominated by the two part title track, 'Ã?cailles De Lune.' While the first two songs here share the same name, they can generally be considered separate compositions. They do, however make up the heaviest and darkest component of 'Ã?cailles De Lune,' and maintain a clear distinction from the rest of the album. The best moments on the album are when Neige takes things to their most mellow and beautiful; the latter half of 'Ecailles De Lune II' and the absolutely blissful closer 'Sur L'Ocean Couleur De Fer' make use of both the tastefully spacy guitarwork and the higher-key vocal work. While the lyrics here are in French and cannot be understand merely from listening, the lyrics have a very poetic resonance to them, and carry well with the ethereal nature of the album.

The album keeps a generally dark, melancholic sound throughout. The only exception to this is the uncharacteristically cheerful and upbeat 'Solar Song,' which is really the only moment on the album that feels out of place, despite it being a decent alternative rocker. Barring that, 'Ã?cailles De Lune' is an incredibly moving and beautiful release. The brooding nature of the music can wear thin at times, but there's no doubt that Neige is a talented and distinguished member of the post-metal scene. A perfect album to listen to at night.

Report this review (#326656)
Posted Friday, November 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars When it comes to shoegaze, I only like limited bits of it from what I've heard. The same goes to black metal. Both genre's are very hit or miss to me. In many cases shoegaze can become very dull to me if not executed well. When it comes to black metal, albums like Negura Bunget's Om and elements of Agalloch's Marrow of the Spirit stand out to me, but that's really the extent of my like for black metal.

Which is why I was surprised I would like this album so much. It's incredibly catchy and atmospheric, immediately hooking me in with the very first song and holding me to the last. Surprisingly, the black metal does not at all seem out of place when contrasted with the shoegaze metal. Although I don't understand French, the voice complement the music perfectly. This album is certainly one of my greatest finds of 2010.

Report this review (#332897)
Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Écailles de lune" continues the development of visions presented in Alcest's earlier records, and now in my own opinion reaches the total climax in success. The record has thematic references to melodies from previous album "Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde", and when compared to that and other earlier records I have heard, there are little lesser musical content implemented to the compositions and arrangements. This observation enhances in my opinion the end result, as there is more space to focus on mood creation and reaching most solid conceptual entity, at least from the view point of personal taste. Most shamelessly romantic and sinister heavy metal sequences are united with intelligence, logic and fine aesthetical insight. The ethereal calmness and more dynamic adventuring in the spheres of the dreams require tolerance for black metal sounds, which are introduced only after longer prolific studies of softer sounds on the title suite. This heavier side is emphasized then longer, until later soothing to very calm sequences. I was lucky to get myself a neat vinyl copy of this album, and B-side starts with a track which fusions more tamer hardrock-chord driven melodics to more aggressive screaming lyrics in an interesting way, creating convincing fusion of contrasts. The different singing styles brought to me associations of different characters telling these dreamy tales in French language, which I admit i fail to comprehend. The music rolls then again back to softer territories and contains some very powerful melody theme sequences, later dissolving to abstract landscapes of sounds. Heavier riffs are then implemented to slow rhythm tempos and euphoric tender lyrical themes. The end of the album is coronized with one of the most romantic melodic songs, having minimal instrumental and compositional elements, balancing slightly between minor and major chords, and successfully emphasizing the end dramatics of this album. The sound quality on the album was really fine, and from the instruments I noted paying attention to the bass guitar, which has soft tones and is mixed on front in several occasions, driving forth both rhythm and melody progression in pleasant manner. I would recommend this compact piece of art for candlelit moody nights, preferably spent with your most precious companion. I had also an opportunity to see the band on stage here in Finland, as part of a tour for this lovely album.
Report this review (#384697)
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Post Metal with Heart- Post Metal With Soul

I have never come across a band like Alcest- when I was trying to describe this band to a friend I said "Soothing Black Metal" Is that an Oxymoron or what? I think those that have heard this album would agree with that statement.

This album is seamless in its transitions from dark, crushing metal moments to soothing vocal harmonic moments- leaving you with a wide variety of sound- with stunning atmosphere all throughout. The musicianship is nothing special- but somehow that doesn't matter. This is a band that is going after everything but technicality.

I would recommend fans of Opeth check this band out FOR SURE. This may be my number 1 release of 2010.

Report this review (#408413)
Posted Saturday, February 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Retired Admin
5 stars Intoxicating.

Now a days, I tend to find less and less truly 5 star albums. I've widdled my rating process from 5 stars if it's "great" to 5 stars if it's genius. I need to be wowed first time through, and continue to be wowed each other time true. Écalles de Lune, Alcest's sophomore effort, is no doubt one of these cases. Encompassed by breathtaking melody and dazzling aggression, the album shows the side of "black metal" that caters to those who don't particularly care for ice-cold ferocity and never ending riffs and blast beats. The album contains a tender innocence known to very few albums. Now, to fuse black metal and virtually any other genre is a risky business, often ending in an awkward and noise abusing experience. Alcest, however, has deftly maneuvered around this daunting prospect and pulled off by far my favorite black metal album yet to be released.

The title track (translated as Moon Scales, or something like that) blasts forth with a somber shoegaze riff not of this realm. I have never really been a huge fan of shoegaze or post-rock, but this is certainly one exception, along with Sigur Rós's Ágætis Byrjun. The 18 minute epic is an exciting journey, expertly fusing in divine transitions mellow guitar passages with thrusting black metal riffing, skipping any of the uncertainties of black fusion. Both parts contain a truly celestial aura, feeding any who thirst for that perfect blend of..... well a perfect blend of pretty much everything. As I found on maudlin of the Well's Part the Second, the music is so perfectly crafted it seems that very little could ever surpass it in it's unprecedented grandeur. Not lacking metal in any sense, this amazing two part track is, well, perfect, in virtually every way.

Percées de Lumière continues this incredible string of pure music, although with a more popularly leaning guitar melodies and shoegaze feels. However, the track still encompasses the essential things that I love about music.... all of them. The song, which has a much harder rocking feel than the previous two (or one, whatever floats your boat). It keeps a constant rockability to it with less spacing out (which isn't a bad thing at all). Overall, the track is again a masterpiece of black fusion.

Abysses is a somber atmospheric ambient piece, making a very mellow and haunting transition to the next track.

Solar Song is again much more popularly leaning, or as far popularly leaning a genre such as this could possible lean. It has very accessible melodies while at the same time retaining the amazing sense of experimentation and shoegaze mastery put into the album. Overall, this tracks is yet another fantastic track on this masterpiece of an album.

Sur l'Océan Couleur de Fer is another very somber and mellow track, with much less rockable black riffing and more melodic guitar work and great vocal melodies also. The track functions as a beautiful guitar solo by Neige. It ends the album on an uplifting and symphonic note, slowly graduating through boughs of ecstasy and bursts of joy. Overall, this is another one of the greats on the album, ending one of my new favorite albums of all time and a pure masterpiece.

ALBUM OVERALL: I don't think I can really say very much more. I've looked. I can find nothing wrong with this album, perhaps maybe popularly leaning melodies in some songs, which can easily be seen as good. The album is as some people call an "eargasm;" the first time I listened to it's pearly sounds my ears did nearly hum in a joyous celebration that another life form has in fact made a great masterpiece of modern art -- celebration to the minds of humanity! Truly, this album touches my heart and my mind in a most divine way, making this an instant classic in my log of insta-classics. 5+ stars.

Report this review (#411294)
Posted Friday, March 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Fans of Starting Line and Yellowcard may like this, but fans of true prog-artists like Mars Volta, Oceansize, Yes, Marillion, Anglagard, Tool, and etc... will not...

I am a fan of every Progressive subgenre from Zeuhl to Cross-Over to Metal, you name it. However, I do not understand why this album is regarded so high. I didn't want to review this for a couple of reasons, but seeing as this is in the top 10 I felt obliged to ask these so called "progressive" fans why this album is here? There is no new material on this album, no originality, no surprises... I'm not saying this is a bad album. I'm just so disappointed that albums from new comers like Sky Architect and Tea Club (ambitous artists) are overlooked by artists that are just another copy of something else.

Report this review (#418247)
Posted Saturday, March 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
The Truth
COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars This is a treat to the ears, it really is.

Very rarely do I hear albums that have a particular sound to them that make me really want to replay them over and over again just wanting to delve deeper into that sound that I hear. That's what this album does, it's a multi-layered, textural, and groundbreaking post metal masterpiece.

It contains that certain quality that I love about post rock and post metal recordings, an atmospherically dark and epic sound, and that makes me love it as much as I do. I have replayed it numerous times since first listening and each listen seemingly has more reward for me.

A truly great album that has a certain sound that I've found hard to come accross anymore. I love every second of it.

Report this review (#423371)
Posted Sunday, March 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Alcest ' 'cailles de Lune

Finally, we are shown what Alcest are capable. This album is rich in melancholic beauty that is as captivatingly addictive and it is haunting. Though written entirely in French, it should not be difficult for the non-speaker to still be moved by the emotion carried directly to the soul by this album.

A brief search on google reveals that we are in some sense correct in the mood shot through our hearts by the music here ' a translation of the lyrics shows that the first two tracks, parts one and two of an overall title track, are a tragic story of a thirst for self-destruction, and peace sought in the final annihilation of consciousness and the self. The narrator ends the song fading to a rest in the blackness of the ocean depths.

The rest of the album is no more cheerful, either in tone or tale, seeming almost to continue the story, with the rise of the narrator's spirit into the fires of the sky, before being lost to blackened death-silence, in a telling of a poem by Paul-Jean Toulet.

This album, then, is a moving experience, when one takes the time to allow oneself to swim through the mind of the narrator and be carried in one's heart with the music. But it doesn't have to be felt so intensely. There is enough sheer musical beauty here to make this simply a very pretty forty minutes of auditory seduction. As successful in the background as the foreground, despite still holing on to some shreds (no pun intended!) of the heaviness from Alcest's earlier years (yes, the distorted guitars are still there!)

A successful album on many levels, then. Beautiful, haunting musicianship, poetically moving lyrics, varied and progressive sounds. A truly vital addition to the collection of anyone who has really even the faintest interest in any sort of music that bears the tiniest resemblance to this.

5/5

Report this review (#434209)
Posted Friday, April 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I often find that sometimes, when I'm lost in the dream-like state of my own conscience, when I'm drowning my mind in musical melodies, that it's hard to think of a single world to explain the feelings I may rouse within myself. However, it is with "Écailles de Lune" that I am no longer searching for the right vocabulary, as it comes natural.

Astonishing.

Yes, astonishing is this album, and for good reason; for the 42 minutes it spins, Alcest takes the listener on a trip through space and time, through cohesion and sheer entropy, a musical tour de force that seems more like a spiritual journey rather than a listening exercise.

The opening two-parter, Écailles de Lune, starts with a smooth, brooding guitar rhythm that slowly expands into a post-metal dream - reverb-laden instruments, with solid percussion, and quaint French singing, a truly stunning creation. From there, the second part switches gears, beginning with the previously acquainted clean, dazzling guitar and drum work until the powerful growls of lead singer Neige cruise through the sonic landscape set forth. As the song progresses, the subtle exchanges between anger and serenity are gracefully dealt with as Alcest perfects the transition.

Percees de Lumiere, by all means, is a great track - it just feels too standard for me. However, since Alcest are so good at crafting beautiful melodies and hooks in true post- metal style, the lack of an original flare matters little. The relatively short song covers all of Alcest's preying grounds, from anger-enraged growling, to melancholic singing. The album's weakest song is Solar Song, a chillingly powerful song that starts with a strong riff and clean vocals, but just feels too repetitive over the course of listening to truly stand out with previous tracks.

The magnum opus of Alcest's career lies within the closing track, Sur L'Ocean Couleur De Fer, a slow, moving piece sung with sheer sorrow. As the song crescendos, and Neige provides us his best vocal performance yet, the album comes to a standstill, ending on a subtle yet provocative tone. Even though most listeners will not understand Neige's singing due to the language barrier, the emotion and feeling is conveyed wonderfully through the band's entire performance.

I owe very few metal albums the pleasure of a late-night listen. It is "Écailles de Lune" that became the first album to owe me the gesture of a lonely night turned into a thoughtful one, with a soundtrack suiting the most melancholy of eves. Looming and potent, Alcest has truly conveyed sorrow and beauty in 2010's most depressing record.

Report this review (#454987)
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The Dark Slice of the Moon...

The second release from black metal turned post-metal project Alcest.

The Good: On this outing Neige is supported by the drumming talents of Winterhalter, but remains the primary instrumentalist, lyricist and composer, and so much like it's predecessor, Ecailles de Lune culminates in a solitary musical vision. And what a vision it is! The sound has been described as blackened shoegaze, and contains a blend of hypnotic post-metal with some truly haunting vocals. It does however have some lighter moments, such as the aptly named Solar Song, which is for me the standout track of the whole album.

The Bad: Whilst I believe it's a stronger release overall, the music isn't quite as diverse as Souvenirs d'un autre monde.

The Verdict: Just as beautiful as its cover art.

Report this review (#466631)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Sets the Scene but Tells No Story

Alcest's ECAILLES DE LUNE sits in the atmospheric black metal / shoegaze / post-rock genre intersection that seems to be gaining a following recently. As a fan of goth rock, a sound that shares the dark melancholic ethic with this style, I should be a good audience. Instead, this music leaves me pretty bored. It's well done for what it is. Production is solid, performances professional. The singing ranges from soft crooning to a reasonably palatable black goblinvoice. Guitars are mostly clean with some moderately distorted tremolo strumming. There's really little "metal" other than the harsh vocals. The music does evoke some variety of depressive moods, but it's as if we're reading a book that establishes a chilly fall setting along a rocky coast, and then the characters just wander along the water bemoaning some lost love. Call me old fashioned, but I need something to happen.

Every time I listen to this album, the opening guitars grab my attention and then my mind wanders until "Solar Song" hits. At this point, there's actually some melody and just a hint of sweetness in the mood. The multiple layers interweave (a little) and my musician's ear starts to play with the threads of sound for a short time. It's not a brilliant piece, but it's the closest thing to a song rather than a soundscape on the album. The final track, while extremely pretty, reverts to the rather indistinct mist-wandering.

Finally, I'd like to mention that in no way do I consider this prog. While genre hopping certainly is a component of some progressive music, not every artist who brings in a musical element from one genre to one where it wasn't before is prog. Here that element is a small bit of goblinvoice. Other than that it's competently rendered atmospheric, depressive rock. 2.5/5 rounded down because it's not prog and I'm grouchy.

Report this review (#478727)
Posted Friday, July 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars - a clear masterpiece from the french mastermind Neige.

Before listening to this record, i've decided to give it a different focus, and go by what Neige went when recording this: a collection of his memories and fantasy landscapes of his childhood.

So i plugged in my headphones into my mp3 player, and pushed play. What came afterward was a mixture of textures, sceneries, feelings...

Ecailles de Lune, pt 1: a strong and powerful beginner, that catched my attention from the first chord. 8/10

Ecailles de Lune, pt 2: i deeply fell in love with this track. the soothing and dreamy intro, the intense black metal verses, the epic and inspiring middle section, and the melancholic and fantasy ending, all compelled and brought together to form utter musical beauty. 10/10

Percees de Lumiere: a motivational, attractive song, with almost catchy melodies. the middle part is astonishing, the wall of sound created is amazing. 9/10

Abysses: a profound and dark bridge, that blends perfectly with the other tracks. 8/10

Solar song: its hard to find an adjective for this song. nostalgic? mellow? full of light? sunday afternoon? i dont know, its simply beautiful, happy and sad at the same time, joyful and tragic. 9/10

Sur L'Océan Couleur de Fer: a rather mellow and calm track, with a nice ending, but still not my favourite alcest. yet creates an outstanding atmosphere. 9/10

All in all, i found this album an essential to all fans of MUSIC, not only metal, or post orck or whatever sub genre you'd want.

Report this review (#488037)
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars What do you get when you crossbreed post rock with black metal ? Well, what about this album ?

This French band has got a well deserved good reputation over the last years for their numerous EPs and two album. This is their most recent album.

Alcest is using a lot of the black metal trade tools in their music. They lay down a mood and a sound from their first tone and then expands the horizons from the opening salvos. You can therefore regard this as a one piece of music album. Or a symphony, if you like. And this is this day and age's form of symphonies. It captures the mood of today's youth almost perfectly. Not the happy generation doped down on celebrities and fashion. More the youth who ask themselves if this is all life has to offer. There is no answer to that question. Just post rock and post metal.

Using the black metal tools of the trade, Alcest lays down a sound which has some Burzum in it, but mostly post rock. The music is symphonic and disfynctional at the same time. This type of music reminds me a lot about the direction Bathory took after the first four albums. That is; without the viking connotations. But ambience is still the same.

The music here is great throughout though and a joy...... sorry, make that a grief to behold. The themes are bit too tedious at times, but there is still plenty of variations throughout this album. Those who cannot stand black metal vocals should not bother with this album though. But for those of us who can see behind them, this is a great album and highly recommended.

4 stars

Report this review (#506233)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars 5/10

What could have been a good album but that was marred by awful vocals.

Écailles de Lune was a totally new experience for me. Until then I never had any contact with Neige, this French multi-instrumentalist. But he is rated as one of the best in 2010, so I decided to give it a few taps.

Well, I can not say it was a pleasant experience.

Do not misunderstand me, this is a good album. But just as he surprised me on several occasions, I also bring disgust in others. And this is due to the damned, the dark vocals deblack metal.

Not that Neige has a great voice, but by God, why he invests his time - and makes me lose my - with these growls? If the vocals were just as are the opening track (which is my favorite album and one of the best in years), I would not hesitate to give a higher rating. But no, he makes a point of screaming growl, which makes my heart ache and my ears bleed.

But that's not all. many times the album is dull, and this is obvious in songs such as Écailles de lune (Part II), Percées de Lumière and Solar Song. As for Abysses, it's just an interlude which is not worth comment. The other two songs, Écailles de lune(Part I) and Sur L'Océan Couleur de Fer are the lifeline of the album.

3 stars, only because of the opening and closing tracks and because of the cover, one of the most beautiful in recent times.

Report this review (#543562)
Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Keystone three star album; it's no worse than good, but not a must-have.

Yes, it is very post-metal that does its job well, but the way I feel about this Alcest project is this; it follows every ''proper'' protocol of the post-metal genre in the metal, post-rock and shoegazing qualities, but it does not stand out because simply put, it's just good. There are some parts of the album that blow me away, nothing makes me cringe, but a lot of the stuff here is what I would call ''relatively vacuous''.

I still love the second part of that ninteen minute title track and especially ''Solar Song'', and they're two of the main reasons why I give three stars in the first place. And I really enjoy the overall tone of the album; melancholically dark. But I honestly feel that ECAILLES DE LUNE is nothing special, so I won't say much more. If you're a fan of the genre, you could use this in your collection; if not, no harm done. I hope Neige releases more albums in the future to prove me wrong or get me excited, but right now I am not fully enveloped by this.

Report this review (#561854)
Posted Thursday, November 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
jammun
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Funny how differently we hear these albums, isn't it?

I'm old. Frankly, on a good day I don't know much about metal, except that the last Metallica album sucked (whichever one it was) when it was released and will continue to do so well into the next decade. I don't even know if metal still exists. I don't even know what metal is, but here is Alcest, for me anyway out of the blue. There is that Tool, and that Mars Volta, both of whom seem to know a thing or two about the metal genres, though as said I am old and am living on fumes. And then there is Alcest again, which I suppose wIth this album can be mentioned in at least my same breath with those bands, because they seem to understand a thing or two about music and power chords and emotion to be derived from said chords. There's times of hide the women and children, and times of sleep little baby don't you cry, sometimes within the same song.

Understand, I am a sucker for songs of massive guitars and lyrics, even when I have no hope of comprehending the language, provided I knew it in the first place. If it makes a horrible and beautiful noise, and if it is melodic, I can usually find a place for it in my heart. Thus Ecailles De Lune. The beast rocks and caresses.

I know, I am supposed to tell you why this is good, but it's a hard road. The production sucks. The drums and bass are usually buried in the mix, when it could have been so much better. Granted, the walls of guitars and vocals are right up there, and during quiet passages there is almost an equitable balance. And yet. And yet.

And yet. The noise is so loud. The melodicism is so good. The guitars chime fine. The vocals ride over it all gently or, ahem, with assertion, as fits each song. I loved this album on first listen. Take that as you will, either pap for the masses or a near classic.

It's too bad Sur L'Ocean Couleur De Fer Never takes off...it would have been a remarkable parting show. But that title tune (Part 1 and 2) will rattled my balls seriously.

Report this review (#579593)
Posted Friday, December 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars A bit schmaltzy

There was quite a lot of hype around that album in metal oriented media, praising it for beautiful atmosphere and enchanting melodies. I'm not that enthusiastic about it though. ÉCAILLES DE LUNE, being the second Alcest release, is indeed a charming yet a little bit shallow piece of post metal.

Now, production is great. As the record is often referred to as a black metal album(I don't get it, is it because of these 3 minutes of hellish shrieking in the second track?), I must say the sound is polished and clean. It kept enough of its natural state to be called organic though. Most of all, the producer did everything she/he could to enhance dreamy atmosphere of songs that Neige plies us with.

I'm a big fen of Fan (Fen of fen...? right, fan of Fen!), a British post black metal band, so I hoped Alcest would sound somewhat similar. While both bands can be described as a combination of black metal, shoegaze and post rock, proportions are completely different. Alcest's ÉCAILLES DE LUNE is, first of all, a shoegaze/post-rock album with some black metal leanings. Vocals are mostly clean, treated with strong reverb and somewhat hidden in the mix. And they are shoegaze vocals which I don't like that much. The biggest problem is the music though. Don't get me wrong, there are moments of bliss while listening to ÉCAILLES DE LUNE but some schmaltzy parts just spoil it for me. I think restrained songwriting is the thing Neige should work on, because his songs just miss some of the imagination you can hear in Agalloch's or Fen's music. Still, there's enough of great passages and skillfuly written compositions to consider it a solid album.

For fans of post-rock and shoegaze this is a real treat. ÉCAILLES DE LUNE is a successful combination of shoegazing melodies and post rock atmosphere - all seasoned with a pinch of black metal rawness. Despite the fact it somewhat lacks in depth, I can still recommend it for its well constructed songs and originality in terms of style. And... wait, lyrics are in french! Awww, I take back all negative things I've just said!!

TRACKS BY RATINGS: 8/10[great]: Percées de lumière || 7/10[very good]: Écailles de lune, Part II|| 6/10[good]: Solar Song; Sur l'océan couleur de fer || 5/10[not bad]: Écailles de lune, Part I ||

-- Originally posted on METALMUSICARCHIVES.com --

Report this review (#628277)
Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Quietly, and without much fanfare, metal makes its way back into Alcest's sound on Écailles de Lune after taking a little sabbatical on Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde. On the whole I would say the style of the band still leans more towards shoegaze and post-rock than towards metal on this release - I think most listeners will agree that it's more shoegaze with occasional influences from and detours into black metal territory rather than black metal with shoegaze influences - but it's still enough of an advance in the band's sound to be noteworthy and to save the album from being a re-run of Souvenirs.
Report this review (#790080)
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Alcest's "Écailles de lune" got one of the most beautiful cover arts I've ever seen. Probably the most beautiful one. So lovely view of dreamy romanticist underwater world... simply a feast of imagination.

So what's hiding beneath the surface of this handsome cover? Well, the music here mostly is very similar to cover's image. It's a pretty slow and immersive shoegazer mixed with post-black-metal. A very strange mix, isn't it? So here we go, drowning in the water of melancholy and sorrow, and floating away into the heartbreaking world of Alcest...

The first track here, "Écailles de lune - part 1", is almost 100% shoegaze with some metal influences placed at the end. Vocals here are only clean, but it's still a very good representation of Alcest's music.

Second part of this song is more black metal-tinged though. Some rough screaming vocals here in the beginning, but clean voice finally is still present as well. Nevertheless of the presence of extreme side, this song is still very melodic.

Both first and second halves of title track are 9+ minutes long, so altogether they're creating an almost 20 minutes long epic. A very impressive start for this album!

The next track here is "Percées de lumière", which continues the black metal side of previous track (but still with very prominent shoegaze sounds). It is followed by "Abysses", a short atmospheric instrumental.

"Solar Song' drives us back onto the song side, and it's again more of a shoegaze thing, with no rough vocals present. Album closes with "Sur l'océan couleur de fer", which is, despite of its minimalism, one of the highlights here. Performed almost strictly with guitar played in acoustic way, with clean vocals only, it provides us some perfect melodies, which reminds me a bit of Opeth's "The Night and the Silent Water"'s acoustic breaks.

Strangely enough, but I'd recommend this album for those who are keen on shoegaze and dream pop but not for any fans of black metal. As any other good shoegaze record, "Écailles de lune" provides some really wonderful slow and detached passages, it immerses us into its melancholic atmosphere, and so the atmosphere is really a worthwile here.

If you love slow and sad music, don't miss it! 10/10

Report this review (#857653)
Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ALCEST is a band from France or more accurately the project of one guy called Neige. He plays all the instruments except for the drums. Apparently the music he makes has developed over the years eventually becoming a vehicle for him to express his most personal feeling that often can't be put into words. Man this is a gorgeous album, and if your like me and can really appreciate the beauty in melancholic music then chances are you will love this one.

"Ecailles De Lune(Part One)" opens with strummed guitar then it kicks in with a very gothic feel to it. Vocals a minute in are in French and this is all so moving, especially a minute later when the music seems to rise another level in a Post- Rock style. A calm after 3 minutes as the contrasts continue. Simply breath-taking. It's hard to express but it's like I was familiar with the music here before I even heard it. By the way parts one and two of this title track make up almost 20 minutes and almost half of this record. "Ecailles De Lune(Part Two)" opens with the sounds of waves and picked guitar. It kicks in hard before a minute. Raspy vocals before 2 minutes as he screams out from his very soul. A calm before 5 minutes with picked guitar as reserved vocals join in. It picks up some. Man this sounds so good. Another calm 7 minutes in as it stays laid back to the end.

"Percees De Lumiere" sounds great with the grinding guitars and steady beat. Raspy vocals join in as they continue to rip it up. Clean vocals before 3 minutes then it all settles back a minute later without vocals. Not for long though as the song kicks back in like before. "Abysses" is just over 1 1/2 minutes of dark atmosphere. Quite creepy actually. "Solar Song" is pure bliss with the clean vocals cascading over top of the riffing guitars. One of my favourite tracks right here. It all settles back before 4 minutes but not for long. "Sur L'Ocean Couleur De Fer" opens with a gently picked guitar as almost spoken vocals join in. Beautiful stuff. It becomes even more uplifting 5 minutes in. Vocal melodies also will join in.

Just an atmospheric and beautifully dark Post-Metal release that weeps emotion.

Report this review (#1086729)
Posted Saturday, December 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars (As seen on MetalMusicArchives) 4.5 out of 5.

Black metal often causes listeners to feel as if they are being intruded upon, as if they were being constantly punched in the gut from an uncomfortably close range. Some listeners find thrill in this, while others are deterred. In contrast, what can be called metal in Alcest's catalogue can be said to have a certain distance to it. This album isn't there to brutally force your submission, however thrilling that may be. From dreamy, moonlit guitars and sirenian crooning to hazy distorted guitars and reverb-soaked screams, Ecailles De Lune calls you from far away, like another world.

And a far off realm is exactly what the band aims to communicate. Alcest was inspired by experiences had by frontman/guitarist Stephane "Neige" Paut of what he referred to as "Fairy Land." "I think reality is always subjective," Neige explained in an interview with Metalblast. "We don't know what's real apart from the fact that we see it with our eyes, we smell it, we touch it, but we don't know more." This hazy, impressionistic take on reality was likely inherited from the shoegaze scene. In fact, although Ecailles De Lune is labelled a black metal record, it listens like a shoegaze record and it acheives nothing short of that shoegaze-y bliss that celebrates itself. Of course, this record takes a more fantastical approach to reality than even most shoegaze and some listeners may understandably find it less believable, but those who beckon to the call of that far off world will find themselves more and more in love with it.

The two part title track is the centerpiece of Ecailles. After an intro with cold, shimmering guitars, Part I kicks in with a longing riff that dangles over a mid-tempo drum beat as soft, honest vocals intermingle with the guitars. The song continues to cycle through a series of riffs, each a treat to experience, before reverting to its dreamier state and abruptly returning with the first hint of metal on the album, a lunar riff that is stranglely the brightest moment in the song.

Part II starts in a similar fashion to Part I; however, this time, the band enters with shreiks that are almost overwhelmed in space, as if they were recorded a valley when no one was around. Acoustic guitars enter as the screams subside, and the song continues in the silvery fashion that one grew to love in Part I.

While human longing, compassion, and ecstasy are certainly present on the album, Ecailles is more of an ethereal experience than an emotional one, utilising both the sanguine and the phlegmatic sides of dream pop and shoegaze to communicate Neige's feeling response to a distant place. But however far away that world is, it seems to live and to breathe, and with the feeling that Neige conveys this place, one starts to wonder if his experiences with "Fairy Land" might not have been so far-fetched after all.

Report this review (#1114461)
Posted Tuesday, January 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review n° 209

Alcest - Écailles de lune

Just sweet.

The best album written by the french musician Neige, who works in a lot of black metal and post-punk/rock/shoegaze projects, as Old Silver Key, Amoeseurs, Peste Noire, etc... Since I am very disappointed with Shelter (2014, too minimalist, non-catchy rhythmns, skippable tracks) and didn't found anything original as Écailles de Lune while listening to Les Voyages de Lame (2012, fine album, though), I came back to this one.

The shoegaze scene is currently very influential in some metal circles. The post rock/metal tag is growing like seaweed inside an abandoned bathroom. If you can't imagine a guy wearing corpse painting with a flying v in the middle of a bosk listening to My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, you don't know nothing about the modern rock. A large amount of this bands are just hipster bullshet, in my honest opinion. But there are great musicians too, and a lot of them. The sound of Alcest is very next to Les Discrets, Soliness and Agalloch.

Écailles de Lune riffs are creative and fully inspired. Deep, it can make your soul feel the crying. The theme song is a suite divided into two pieces, almost crossing the line of 20 minutes. A progressive masterpiece. The first act feels like the sadness hands holding your heart. The use of chords are very melodic, and I found interesting the modal & harmonic beauty hidden behind it. The beautiful painting covering the album reflects exactly what I see in the music. The second part of Écailles de Lune uses the same shoegaze oriented chord progression, catchy and emanating feeling, but this time the drums achieves the faster level, making an unique experience of "floating" while listening to the track. The vocals now are harsh but not that aggressive monster growls, it's something like a dying goblin, which penetrates your soul and leaves you thinking about your own bleeding.

About the other four tracks. Percées de lumière is an alternative/post/shoegaze metal with black metal vocals, and believe me, those vocals increases the despair and deception mood of this track. Some clean melodic lines too. Abysses, the fourth track, is a short, and the only one written by Neige's single bandmate Fursy Teyssier. Solar Song is a trippy, melancholic shoegaze. And lasting 8 minutes, the last track: Sur l'océan couleur de fer, featuring the lyrics by Paul-Jean Toulet. This track starts slowly. And it ends in the same way. There's no flaw in this album. All great tracks. The last track is not so interesting as the others, but it's just the calm soundtrack to the ending credits, and it fits perfect when I heard the album as a whole.

Report this review (#1134852)
Posted Friday, February 21, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars The main word that comes to mind for this album: Gorgeous. A few others: Ethereal, dreamy, lush, soothing. Maybe sometimes also intense or somber. It's a succinct and heavily atmospheric album that knows its sound and knows what it wants to do with it, and thus ends up being quite a joy to listen to. I like the unpredictability of the songs.The harsh vocals bring a whole new level to Alcest's music. Far from being depressing, this album is beautiful, tinged with nostalgia as always. ALCEST combines several elements from shoegaze, black metal, ambient, and progressive all into one album. which is extremely impressive and something not a lot of bands can pull off and sound GREAT doing it. For fans of atmosphere and relatively pleasant-sounding, Écailles de lune is one of the most interesting and fascinating albums you will ever hear.
Report this review (#1824752)
Posted Sunday, November 19, 2017 | Review Permalink

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