Alcest – Shelter

I imagine most of the people who find their way onto my blog would remember Alcest from their post-black metal early albums.  Over the last few years however, much like a growing number of their contemporaries, Alcest have found themselves leaning closer and closer to the post part of their sound and in turn leaving the black metal far behind.  So if you are reading this due to your interest in black metal it might be better to look away now.  As in it’s wake they have become a shoe gazing post rock band, the likes of whom generate an aura of cool that I’ve never quite understood. The first thing to note is that these songs are in the main sung in French.  An effect that actually, as a non-French speaking person, adds to the effect.  Because of this the lyrics are absorbed into the music meaning that rather than drawing you out of the atmosphere, as the spoken word often can, they very much become rooted to it.  You get swept up in the emotion of what is being sung rather than attempting to decipher the meaning.  A perfect example of this is first track proper “Opale”, which is a track that flows over you like waves and had me sitting rocking in my seat along to it’s gentle tones.

This entire albums play like a dream, it’s atmospheric and carries you along with it.  There isn’t any tracks you might describe as a single, with the only track I would even consider playing by itself being the bonus track “Into the Waves”, while the rest of the album must be sat down and appreciated as a whole.  Tracks like the ten minute long closer “Delivrance” build up and become sprawling musical masterpieces, with there being no chance to deny that these two men know how to craft a song.  You get the impression that you are probably not getting everything out of these songs when you listen to them and whether it’s your first or twentieth listen you are going to find something new.

To be perfectly honest this is not my kind of music.  However, I can’t help but enjoy this album.  Is it the kind of thing that I would listen to everyday?  No it’s not.  However for the right mood and the right occasion this work could well be considered a masterpiece.  It is so easy to get swept up in it’s genius and suddenly realise that an entire hour has passed and it’s felt like minutes.

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