Alcest – Shelter – 8.75/10

– Alcest has been one of my favorite bands of the recent years, and their first three albums are all classics in my mind. This album has polarized a lot of fans because it does not contain the black metal like elements in the guitar and drum playing that the first three had. Similarly, this album does not contain the shrieks that the last two albums had. What this does is create an album that relies much more on psychedelic elements and even a twinge of 80s gothic bands. The shoegaze is still there, Neige’s incredible singing voice and songwriting are still there, and the incredible atmosphere and emotion that Alcest has always delivered is still there. Great guitar tones, both clean and distorted. “Opale” is a great opener and one of my favorite songs of the year and “Délivrance” is probably the best album closer of the year (and is one of the best concert closers ever as demonstrated when they debuted it on their tour with Anathema before the album was released).  “La Nuit Marhe Avec Moi” has a really interesting blend of the psychedelic and 80s music that I was talking about earlier, as the simple guitar lines remind me of something that you would hear from The Cure, as are the vocal harmonies. However, it is a great example of the droning guitar tones in the background. “Voix Sereines” starts off as a ballad, before a wonderful buildup that leads to an epic climax with a typical and memorable Alcest vocal melody. “L’éveil Des Muses” is an interesting track because the riffs and overall sound feel like they would perfectly fit in a Western movie such as 3:10 to Yuma and builds up in the same fashion that a Russian Circles or Caspian song would. “Shelter” is my other favorite song on the album besides “Opale” and “Délivrance”, sounding very much like “Ciel Errant” from their debut album. The album also contains “Away”, the first Alcest song with English lyrics and a very psychedelic ballad that reminds me of alternative rock from the 1990s. The album goes by very quickly, even though it is 45 minutes long Sometimes I listen to it and feel like I would have liked a little bit more from it, but I can never quite figure out exactly what else it would need. Aside from that, I have no actual complaints about the music on the album itself and I look forward to seeing how Alcest will continue with this sound in the future.