Les Voyages De L’Âme
It’s been a wondrous couple of years for French multi-instrumentalist Neige, whose seen his work spread out globally, all to widespread critical acclaim and wanderlust. His main concern, Alcest, took off spectacularly with ‘Écailles de Lune‘, an album that unquestionably made waves within the black metal scene. Neige also provided lead vocals on ‘Agape‘ by German atmospheric black metallers released Lantlôs, further broadening his spectrum and reducing hardened metallers to their knees in awe.
I’m not saying this as a superfan, because I’m not. In actual fact, while I enjoyed the previous Alcest album, it took a while to grow on me. That’s not to fault the album, just it didn’t have that effect on me that it certainly had on a lot of other people. With that said, its pleasing to report that ‘Les Voyages de L’Âme‘ (translating to English as ‘Voyages of the Soul’) is every bit the success that meets the lofty (if quiet) expectations now expected of Alcest.
It begins with ‘Autre Temps’ which begins softly with some solitary guitar, which builds up a little into the opening verse which re-introduces us to Neige’s soulful croon. The gentle opening does eventually open up into slightly heavier waters, the first signs of which occur during ‘Là où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles’. Even the blast sections don’t encourage headbanging, even when Neige is letting out a rare roar over them, so awashed in shoegaze elements they are. They do turn up at welcome moments that provide that little bit of variety to keep it interesting all the way through, driving ‘Beings of Light’ despite the caress of some higher pitched vocals. But your most likely to find yourself applauding them, or even finding some ethereal beauty in them as you might during ‘Faiseurs des Mondes’, one of ‘Les Voyages‘ many highlights. A credit to the only other member of Alcest, drummer Winterhalter, whose performance here might well be understated in the shadow of Neige’s large contribution.
But to try and point out every high point of the record is a fruitless task. To pick out a low point is impossible, cos there simply aren’t any. We are seventeen days into January as this post goes live, and already we have an album of the year contender. It’s rare you get metal albums of this ilk that won’t just capture the imagination for the moment, but will echo throughout time. ‘Les Voyages de L’Âme‘ is all that and so much more.