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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 'Écailles 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, 'Écailles 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, 'Écailles 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 'Écailles 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, 'Écailles De Lune' is quite a consistent and enjoyable 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.