Sound: Alcest is a solo project by a French man named Neige, and "Écailles De Lune" is a 2010 full-length effort from the band. The album features a kind of shoegaze sound mixed with some black metal and post-rock elements. Often, the album has a very sweet, yet mysterious feel to it. The general openness of the sound leads the listener into thinking that there is a lot to be discovered, and it in a way keeps the record feeling unfamiliar, even after many listens.
The album opens with part one of the title track, which almost invokes an image of a wet, dark cave at first. Everything seems tranquil, open, and new. Then, towards the end of the song, the band breaks out in a furious tantrum of quick drumming and tremelo picking. It makes it seem like someone was walking through the cave, and then they encountered a pitfall. A calm section proceeds with the second part of the title track, which then quickly morphs like a "Starcraft 2" baneling into a straight-up, atmospheric black metal piece. This is essentially what can be found throughout the album. Intense black metal pieces woven through beautiful, huge shoegaze passages. The end of the record is even more relaxing, with acoustic instruments being added into the mix.
"Ecailles De Lune" translates to "Scales of Moon" in English, and I feel that the very open and spread out sound in the album echos what image is shown through the title, like someone out at night, where there are not many people out and about. This obviously would be similar to being in a cave, so my previous interpretation would also make sense.
01. cailles De Lune - Part 1
02. cailles De Lune - Part 2
03. Perces De Lumire
05. Solar Song
06. Sur L'Ocan Couleur De Fer // 9
Lyrics: The singing on this record, is, as expected, entirely in French. Seeing as this band is not the most popular around, I am not really able to find any good translations of the lyrics.
I can, however, speak about the quality of the way the lyrics are put out. Neige has a very nice voice during the clean parts and can be completely devastating with his inhale screams during the heavier parts. There is a great variation of vocal style and tone to go along with the broad range of sounds on the record. Neige also knows to not overly use the vocals, so they are a more surprising and impacting element on the album.
One of the most moving parts on the album is the first part in which the vocals come in during the song "Perces De Lumire". Neige pulls off some of the most fantastic inhale screams I have ever heard. They slowly disappear in the music, but each new line of lyrics brings the sound back as mighty as ever. Other highlights include the almost whispered singing style going on in the last track with some acoustic guitar, "Sur L'Ocan Couleur De Fer", and the curious sounding opening vocals in the first part of the title track. // 8
Overall Impression: "Ecailles De Lune" is a great shoegaze-y album with some black metal influence put out by the one-man powered French band Alcest. Along with this album and ones put out by Les Discrets, the French are doing a fine job of showing how more unfamiliar elements can be incorporated into the great shoegaze genre. This album invokes many feelings and has an incredible amount of gorgeous sounds throughout the whole record. // 9