Opale review by Alcest

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  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.7 Good
  • Users' score: 7.4 (9 votes)
Alcest: Opale

Sound — 8
Alcest is a French blackgaze (black metal + shoegaze) band. In the studio, the band is comprised of only a single man, who has the stage name Neige. The band has steadily progressed since its inception in 2001 from black metal to shoegaze. Now, I can't believe that this band was ever even remotely related to black metal or metal in general for that matter. With "Opale," a single preceding the release of the album "Shelter" in January 2014, Alcest has become a full on shoegaze band with a sound lighter than that of My Bloody Valentine, for comparison.

The sound on "Opale" is almost like pop in the way that it is instantly agreeable to the ear. Alcest doesn't attempt to construct an impenetrable wall of sound like a My Bloody Valentine and they do include comprehendible lyrics, unlike My Bloody Valentine. However, the guitars play the same, clear chord for most of the song and the vocals act to caress this chord, thus creating an experience that is in line with shoegaze.

The drums are well thought out and the mixing of them is excellent. For example, at the beginning of the song, what sounds like a crash cymbal is mercilessly hit. While this would surely be an annoyance in a live environment, well, studio magic exists for a reason. The cymbal, in the studio setting, sounds like it is creating a soft cloud for the vocals and guitars to lie upon. In fact, the whole song gives the feeling of lying on a cloud, being light as a feather. While one could rightfully argue that the song goes on too long since it is virtually just one repeating phrase, I believe that the cloud is so pleasant that it is worth sitting on and keeping around for the whole five minutes before it evaporates (or condensates if you want to be scientifically correct).

Lyrics — 7
The vocals are kind of in line with the shoegaze genre. They're light and harmless. They have the same impact on the music as a guitar chord. They are usually concise, preferring to hold out one syllable for a couple of measures instead of rushing out as many lyrics as possible.

Still, the lyrics are easily comprehendible, something I have not often seen in shoegaze. By the way, the vocals are in French, so they may not be comprehendible to many of you (including myself). If anyone wants to translate the lyrics and give their opinion of the lyrics' quality and meaning, the comment section is open and waiting.

Overall, the vocals do a good job of gracefully filling the sonic space in "Opale" left available by the instruments.

Overall Impression — 8
I've enjoyed Alcest's progression from black metal to shoegaze, even though I haven't followed them for most of it. Whether or not you enjoyed Alcest as a black metal/blackgaze band, you should like their new incarnation as the players of a lighter, more pleasant (in my mind), form of shoegaze. The silky smooth guitars and vocals, all expertly mixed with the drums and bass, fill the sonic landscape to provide an experience that is distinctly high like shoegaze, yet is a bit more accessible to a mainstream audience.

In conclusion, this single has me real excited about Alcest's upcoming album, "Shelter," to be released on January 17th.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Despite the fact that I prefer Alcest's earlier, darker sound, this track is not so bad. I can't say that I liked it, but in terms of music it's quite good quality. Sound is pleasing to the ears, but, in my opinion, this track lacks depth and real emotions. In any case, the movement is good, so good luck to the band - and I'm curious to hear the new album.
    Yeah, I agree. It lacks depth. Their work on "Les Voyages de l'Âme" had a lot of dark passion that this lacks.
    Actually, Opale is only "pop" song on Shelter. Other songs are more dark and melancholic (listen to Délivrance). When I heard it for the first time, I wasn't sure what I should thing about that, because I love "depresive" dark music. But now after 4x listening to Shelter, it really grows and it's actually one of the highlights.
    For those that are new to Alcest, Opale isn't a very good representation of what their sound is like.
    A very pleasing sound, a bit too pleasing if that makes sense. Doesn't do much for me but get why others might dig this.
    I have never even heard of something called dream pop, but I guess the name fits the music. On the music itself, it honestly did nothing for me. Liked Alcest better when they had more of a pseudo-dark atmosphere.
    I've really grown to like Alcest over the past few years... I can't wait to listen to this (when I'm not at work aka surrounded by jerks).
    It's ok I guess, I love shoegazing, dream pop, noise rock and similar genres but I found nothing special in that song.
    So much this. Alcest's previous albums are awesome because of the unique blend of genres. "Ecailles de Lune" in particular is one of my favourite albums ever. But "Shelter" is just another shoegaze album, just a couple of songs are somewhat remarkable, and in such an oversaturated genre that's not enough. If they want to go full on shoegaze, then good for them, but they'll have to step up their game A LOT if they want to stay relevant, because as of now, the new album is pretty sub-par. I just wish they kept doing what they were good at, not this...
    I love the previous albums and I also think Opale sounds great. I can't speak for the rest of the album, since it isn't released yet and I haven't heard it yet. As for them staying relevant, I'm not quite sure what you mean ? Have they ever been that ? They're pretty well known in the metal community, but that's it. I doubt they care about that. You're basically suggesting that they should've kept their old sound just because you liked it better, when I'm sure there are a lot of people who enjoy this just as much as the rest of their discography. Every band should do the kind of music they feel like making, not the kind people want to hear.
    Absolutely, I said that if this is what they want to play from now on then good for them, that's what they should do. But that doesn't change the fact that with doing so they're losing what made them interesting in my opinion. It's not that this is bad, it's just that if I want to listen to shoegaze I'd rather listen to other bands who are better at it, while on the other hand I don't know many bands doing the "blackgaze" thing as well as Alcest did. I got to listen to a review copy of Shelter from a friend (which was also disappointed), and I found it incredibly monotonous and unoriginal, which are words I had never thought I'd say about Alcest. There are 2 tracks I liked, but that's not enough to save the album for me.
    I really love this band. I study to them and it makes me so peaceful it's great!!
    (or condensates if you want to be scientifically correct) You mean "condenses"? Anyway this was definitely lighter than I expected. I only have Les Voyages De L'Ame and I really enjoyed it. I'll have to listen to this whole album before I decide whether or not to buy it. It certainly wasn't bad, but I need a little bit more dissonance than that.