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Alcest - Kodama CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.63 | 88 ratings

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3 stars Great blackgaze, but that's all it is: 6.5/10

Blackgaze. Such a beautiful, aesthetic name for a genre. It combines shoegaze's immersion with black metal's heavy and bleak riffages, creating an atmosphere that feels simultaneously warm and melancholic; like a dismal cloudy day, whose dreariness is depressing but, strangely, comfortable. Alcest. Since their first EP, LE SECRET, they solidified their position as forerunners of the genre; however, in their 2014 album (SHELTER), apparently the band changed their directions to pure dream pop/shoegaze. Kodama. A beautiful, nocturnal, cryptic cover (one of my favorite covers ever! The only reason I tried this album, to be honest), with a strange concept (related to the movie Princess Mononoke), and ALCEST's return to their acclaimed blackgaze style.

I can't say as a knowledgeable authority this is ALCEST at the top of their game, but the production, songwriting, and musicianship seem to indicate that, at the very least, they're doing pretty well. Blackgaze's peculiar style is enticing and unique, and through KODAMA's forty minutes, my ears were engulfed in ALCEST's fogginess. While my experience was good, I found the sameness to be KODAMA's biggest issue. Offering little variation, repetitive riffs, annoyingly unintelligible screams (sound awesome but are absolutely impossible to decipher or accompany; additionally, the clean vocals are much better), there's honestly no effort to make the tracks feel different from each other. Perhaps intentionally, perhaps not, KODAMA is shaped, sonically, as a huge, forty-minutes-long song. But who is to blame? Not black metal nor shoegaze are known for eclecticism. ALCEST would naturally suffer from that hereditary dysfunction.

KODAMA (and ALCEST) didn't disappoint but neither did they astound me. While this will undoubtedly be a treat for shoegaze/atmospheric black metal fans, personally, I found it enjoyable but unmemorable.

Oh, let me add nuance to that last word: while I do remember my experience with KODAMA, literally any moment of it that pops in my mind sounds virtually the same.

Luqueasaur | 3/5 |


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