Review: Alcest – Kodama

Alcest is returning after a 2-year hiatus with a new album; Kodama. The doomy-shoegaze band fronted by Neige or Stephanie Paut to friends has returned somewhat to their dark metal roots (what else do you want with a band fronted by ‘Neige’) and have made a pretty radical change from their former album Shelter, though to call it full on black/doom is a very far leap. It has some sounds though that are definitely darker than before, yet there is still a lot of shoegaze. All in all it is not as much a commercially viable album as Shelter yet lacks no diversity and is a very nice follow-up.

Alcest being pretty new to me, it is hard to say what the return to their black metal means for die-hard fans. Alcest has never been known for their hard music, I can imagine, and going on Shelter this album has way more guitars, complexer, faster drums and shouts which are legendary. There is even some blastbeats going on in Eclosion, the second track. What I liked most about this album though is the nice variation, which I sometimes miss in shoegaze/post metal. There is no soft start building and building endlessly to a climax and then cutting off only to pretty bluntly say “here’s your delivery” and be done with it. Alcest makes a very nice effort to flow from one climax into the other or just go back from a soundwall to a very small bare-bones sound. It makes it a bit complex to listen to, perhaps, but it pays off to take it all the way through. Sad to say this album only lasts 6 songs and only half are around the 8 minute mark; though in this genre the hiatuses can be longer and the pay-off even less.

Fans of God is an Astronaut and Solstafir will surely find some things on this album they very much like, and all in all it isn’t a bad effort on its own. It will not make Alcest the biggest band in metal but they make a nice corner for themselves to hang out.

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