Alcest - Shelter
9 songs (52:06)
Release year: 2014
Alcest, Prophecy
Reviewed by Neill
Album of the month

I'm sure most people are familiar with Alcest but in case you are not, they are a French shoegazing black metal band that put more emphasis on the melody and shoegaze than black metal. Alcest have long been a favorite band of mine, and their last album Les Voyages de L'Ame was one of my top picks for 2011, and a top album for me in general in the last couple of years. I was dying to get my hands on Shelter as soon as I heard it was being recorded. With such hype from myself, can the album ever live up to the prior records? The answer is an easy YES from me.

First thing to keep in mind, is that the metal from the last two records is gone. We get a straight shoegazing album, with all clean vocals similar to Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde, and it is slightly disappointing at first, but after a few listens, he lack of harsh vocals is not missed at all. The album has some incredible melodic guitar lines, infectious choruses, and some beautiful vocal work from frontman Neige. A perfect example of this is the first song released from the album Opale which really features all the aforementioned attributes. I don't know if that main guitar line will ever leave my memory.

The one-two punch of tracks La Nuit Marche Avec Moi and Voix Sereines is just incredible. The former features a little more upbeat style, and the latter is a more subdued track, with some incredible vocal work from Neige. Sereines does pick up and gets very distorted during the last third or so of the track, and the melodic instrumentation underneath it is just wonderful. These two tracks have quickly become my favorites, and worth checking out for sure.

Like the prior Alcest albums, there are some flaws, however, like the prior albums, the flaws are fairly minimal. track 7, Away, stands out for a few reasons. The track itself is not bad by any means. However, the vocals on the track, sung by Slowdive vocalist Neil Halstead are of a deeper range than Neige and it does sound out of place on the record, and interrupts the flow a bit to me. On it's own, the song is very strong, but in context of this album and Alcest in general, I feel it could have been left as a bonus track or digital download. Also, the "final" track Deliverance leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth due to its runtime. at 10 minutes, this is the longest track on the record by about 3 minutes. However, the song really ends at around the 7 minute mark. The last 3 minutes are instrumentation, and come off as an extended outro than anything else. Again, this kills the flow of the record to me, and goes on for to long. The song itself is good, but also not quite up to the standard set by the rest of the album. It is a bit of a letdown as a final track, and I feel it misses the big climax a final song should have.

There is a special edition of this album available with a bonus track entitled Into The Waves. It begins with great drumming, and a really pleasant guitar line before the vocals kick in. Vocals are provided by Billie Lindahl from Promise and the Monster and actually fit in with the album better than Away does. The vocals are beautiful, and the song itself is very strong. I feel this should have been on the album proper as a final track, or at least traded for Away or even Deliverance and had one of those track as a bonus.

Despite a few small flaws, this is an incredible addition to the Alcest Discography and easily one of their best albums along with Les Voyages. The flaws are very small and do not really play much part in overall enjoyment of this record. It is still a great way to start the year, and despite being early January, this album will most likely end up on my top list of 2014. Everyone should check this out as soon as possible. The Prophecy record label has the album available on their YouTube Page, (Please check out Marche Avec Moi and Vox Serenies) but to get a great example of this album's beauty, musically and visually, check out the Opale video here.

Killing Songs :
Opale, La Nuit Marche Avec Moi, Vox Sereines, Shelter, Into The Waves
Neill quoted 95 / 100
Goat quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Alcest that we have reviewed:
Alcest - Kodama reviewed by Andy and quoted 86 / 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 - Souvenirs dun Autre Monde reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Alcest - Le Secret reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
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