Ecailles de Lune AUS-Import
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2010 album from the French Black Metal band. Alcest play a totally unique form of Metal inspired by Post Rock featuring serene soundscapes and mellow vocals wrapped in a deeply melancholic sound. Ecailles de Lune is like a dream, a manifesto of transience and human inferiority. For all the changes, band leader Neige has kept all of his trademarks: calm passages, massive slabs of guitars, catchy melodies, and hook-lines going straight to the heart. Close your eyes and dream along. This time, melancholy shall propel and unite us. We immerse ourselves once more in fairyland.
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Track 1, 'Ecailles de lune - Part 1', is a mid-tempo melancholic journey with layered harmonizing clean vocals. It very much reminded me of some of Ulver's older material which utilized clean vocals.
Track 2, 'Ecailles de lune - Part 1', starts out deceptively dreamy and mellow, with a simple acoustic guitar passage set to the sound of ocean waves, but seconds later all hell breaks loose as the song transitions into a blistering snare-blast driven black metal song, with harsh vocals and very melodic and catchy guitar work. Good stuff.
Track 3, my favorite track of the album, is titled 'Percées de lumière' and features such a catchy melody throughout the song that every time I listen to it the damn thing is stuck in my head for hours on end. It's slow to mid paced with shrieking black metal style lyrics and a touch of clean female vocals.
Track 4, 'Abysses', is just a minute and a half of dreamy ambient noise to bridge tracks 3 and 5. Nothing special, though it does lead nicely into..
Track 5, 'Solar Song', is a mesmerizing, hypnotic song with layered male clean vocals and a mix of electric and acoustic guitars that swirl around behind the soothing and rich sound of the vocals. A very mellow contrast to the harsh black metal style of tracks 2 and 3.
Finally, the album ends with a very somber 'Sur L'Océan Couleur De Fer', yet another very mellow and hypnotic song. There are no drums here, just acoustic guitars and melancholy clean singing.
This album is so interesting because it's so diverse. It starts somewhat calm, goes into a frenzy during tracks 2 and 3, then winds down into a soothing, dreamy sleep. The album demonstrates a distinct flow from one song to the next, despite them all being so different. One of the best albums I've heard in a long time, and certainly refreshing to the ears of a typical fan of black metal music, as I am.
The highlights of the album are the first three tracks. All of them have a very triumphant feel to them in the more metal inspired parts, yet a dreamlike feel in the softer parts. In fact, during the quieter passages, Alcest reminds me of the occult-inspired Goth Rock band Fields of the Nephilim on their seminal "Elizium" album. The end result obtained are foggy visions of a vast meadow in spring. Not the normal feeling one expects from something people refer to as "black" metal.
All in all, this is a beautiful album that I can listen to in almost any situation and feel inspired. The musicianship is top-notch, the melodies stay with you, and the images they evoke in the minds eye are incredible.