Title: Spiritual Instinct
Genre: Black Metal / Shoegaze / Blackgaze
Release Date: 25th October 2019
Label: Nuclear Blast
ALCEST are an interesting band! They come from France and were formed in 2000 by Stephane “Neige” Paut as an outlet for “memories” from a far-off land that he used to be in contact with as a child. ALCEST is the conduit that the listener uses to go on a journey to this otherworld. If you are wondering what ALCEST actually means all I can tell you is that it might mean “perfection” so it’s not incest’s distant cousin. In the twenty years of their existence they’ve released six albums, ‘Spiritual Instinct’ being the most recent.
‘Spiritual Instinct’ is six tracks of sludgy blackness which is mostly instrumental suffused with vocalised hope, tortured screams and screeches. Taken as a whole this album is a head bobbing, hair flicking lump of goodness and texture. The dark underpinnings are countered with some satisfyingly good guitars which depict a mind consumed by distant thought! At times the atmosphere is punchy, urgent and introspective. The track ‘Sapphire’ is a gem. It’s like being taken on a trip into blackness and then being launched up into the murky heights towards a pin prick of light. This is where you can get a good body groove going accompanied by some absorbed hypnotic head bobbing! The album has a lot going for it, I mean it gives me goose-bumps in places, not all, but in places. And that goose-bump effect justifies the money spent.
‘L’lle Des Morte’ is one of those goose-bump inducing tracks. Simple pumping bass, sharp triplet guitars pull the track forward in an ever-ascending arc whilst in the background the double pedalled drums do the pushing! The other thing about the album I like also is the fact that it is only six tracks long. Track lengths are between five and seven minutes so there’s enough atmosphere and texture to get your canines into without going overboard and boring you to death. There’s a less is more, blunt and straight to the point feel which I like. But still, the album is around 40 minutes in length. The thing about ALCEST is that you can’t mistake them. They have an instantly recognisable sound that has their mark firmly branded into it. It’s dark and vividly dreamy and psychological. It’s Victorian and Fin de siecle also and a bit filigree.
This is definitely worth a listen if you are looking for something new to stimulate your mind and I’d recommend it if you are unfamiliar with ALCEST. On reflection I like this album as much as 2016s ‘Kodama’. I recommend having a flick through that as well!
01. Les Jardins De Minuit
04. L’lle Des Morts
05. Le Miroir
06. Spiritual Instinct
Stephane “Neige” Paut - Lead Vocals, Guitars and Keyboards
Jean “Winterhalter” Deflandre - Drums and Percussion
Pierre “Zero” Corson - Guitar and Backing Vocals
Indria Saray - Bass
Total: 7 / 10