Alcest - Souvenirs dun Autre Monde
6 songs (41'20")
Release year: 2007
Alcest, Prophecy
Reviewed by Alex

Many into underground metal art have eagerly anticipated the first Alcest full-length. The bar has been set rather high with Le Secret EP, not to mention that a label of genius has been levied onto Neige, a lone Frenchman behind Alcest. Having moved on from his black metal days (at least with his two solo projects), Neige has split his post-black days between Alcest and Amesoeurs. Two projects also represent completely different settings and sets of emotions. If Amesoeurs invoked the vision of lone lost soul among dirty urban slums, Alcest has been reaching for more peaceful pastoral scenery. However, if Le Secret was still largely melancholic, Souvenirs d'un autre monde is downright euphoric in its practically joyous approach.

Technically, Souvenirs d'un autre monde combines texturized fuzzed out tremolo guitars and clean acoustic moments inseparably interwoven into one oversized shoegaze envelope. The texture provided by the tremolo is often so thick, one could almost feel it by his/her fingertips. Surprisingly, and even despite some blastbeats (Printemps emeraude, Les Iris) and shrill moments (intro to Printemps emeraude, mid-point of Sur l’autre rive je t’attendrai) thrown in, the feel of this textured surface is suede soft and soothing. Acoustics, on the other hand, help to provide for some quiet self-reflection and a slight touch of pang.

Most importantly, the album serves as hymn to life, its main melodic progressions basking in major keys, something little used in today’s extreme music. There is no doubt that composition like Printemps emeraude (with its children voices) or title track brighten up the mood, finishing on almost statement life-affirmative leads. If not heartwarming and uplifting, then music pieces on Souvenirs d'un autre monde are peaceful, like piano raindrops and tribal beat in rainforest atmosphere Tir Nan Og or quietly wash into in the sea as in Sur l’autre rive je t’attendrai. Waltzing along or sped up rhythm, the core sensation one gets when listening to the album is the delight felt when stepping out into the sunlit virgin meadow nobody knows exists in the middle of the forest. Clean soothing Neige’s croon or female vocals by Audrey Sylvain (Amesoeurs) only reinforce the point.

As much as Alcest is one-man creation you would never tell without looking at the booklet, so much thoughtfulness is given to tracks laid one atop of another, yet everything bears a very personal touch. There certainly should not be any complaints about the album’s production or execution.

The more difficult and downright philosophical question lies in Souvenirs d'un autre monde believability, the feeling AFTER the album stops playing. After being overtaken by euphoria for 40+ min, the crashdown, the comprehension of reality is quite difficult to take. As much as Neige tried whisking us away, the world left behind for 40+ min didn’t begin to suck any less. Where does this Land of Joy depicted in Souvenirs d'un autre monde exist? No map on how to get there is provided.

Nergal of Behemoth, not the world’s authority on metal but a capable composer nonetheless, once said that metal music cannot be composed by happy people. Souvenirs d'un autre monde is as far away from metal as possible, and it is unattainable for me to know Neige’s mindset when it was composed. Yet, I feel that the album’s bliss is almost artificial and assumed, hiding the real emotions inside his soul away from the public eye.

Killing Songs :
Printemps emeraude, Souvenirs d'un autre monde
Alex quoted 85 / 100
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Alcest that we have reviewed:
Alcest - Kodama reviewed by Andy and quoted 86 / 100
Alcest - Shelter reviewed by Neill and quoted 95 / 100
Alcest - Les Voyages De LAme reviewed by Alex and quoted 80 / 100
Alcest - Écailles De Lune reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Alcest - Le Secret reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
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