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ALCEST - Écailles de lune cover
4.16 | 52 ratings | 9 reviews
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Album · 2010


1. Écailles de lune, Part I (9:52)
2. Écailles de lune, Part II (9:48)
3. Percées de lumière (6:38)
4. Abysses (1:47)
5. Solar Song (5:24)
6. Sur l'océan couleur de fer (8:18)

Total Time: 41:47


- Neige / All instruments and vocals, composition, lyrics, recording

About this release

Prophecy Productions

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Quietly, and without much fanfare, metal makes its way back into Alcest's sound on Écailles de Lune after taking a little sabbatical on Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde. On the whole I would say the style of the band still leans more towards shoegaze and post-rock than towards metal on this release - I think most listeners will agree that it's more shoegaze with occasional influences from and detours into black metal territory rather than black metal with shoegaze influences - but it's still enough of an advance in the band's sound to be noteworthy and to save the album from being a re-run of Souvenirs.
Conor Fynes
'Ã?cailles De Lune' - Alcest (9/10)

Throughout post-metal circles, the name of Alcest has been one that is chatted back and forth alot lately. A French one man black metal project that incorperates the starkly mellow and ethereal sounds of shoegaze psychedelia, this band has become one of the more highly regarded bands in the genre, even after only two records produced. With frontman Neige's second effort with this solo project, the sound of Alcest becomes more defined, and what we have with 'Ã?cailles De Lune' is a beautiful piece of emotionally stirring music that carries quite a bit more emotion that your typical heavy metal record.

In a sense, it may be unfair to consider this album 'metal,' the energy generally infused with the genre is sacrificed for a much more introspective sound. While there are maybe one or two sections throughout the album that make liberal use of blastbeats and Neige's high pitched shriek, 'Ã?cailles De Lune' relies very heavily on it's mellowness and quiet beauty. The main focus of the music is on the beautiful textures of the guitar work, and Neige's clean vocal work, which may sound a bit too fragile for some, but works with the emotionally vulnerable mood of the music.

The first half of the album is dominated by the two part title track, 'Ã?cailles De Lune.' While the first two songs here share the same name, they can generally be considered separate compositions. They do, however make up the heaviest and darkest component of 'Ã?cailles De Lune,' and maintain a clear distinction from the rest of the album. The best moments on the album are when Neige takes things to their most mellow and beautiful; the latter half of 'Ecailles De Lune II' and the absolutely blissful closer 'Sur L'Ocean Couleur De Fer' make use of both the tastefully spacy guitarwork and the higher-key vocal work. While the lyrics here are in French and cannot be understand merely from listening, the lyrics have a very poetic resonance to them, and carry well with the ethereal nature of the album.

The album keeps a generally dark, melancholic sound throughout. The only exception to this is the uncharacteristically cheerful and upbeat 'Solar Song,' which is really the only moment on the album that feels out of place, despite it being a decent alternative rocker. Barring that, 'Ã?cailles De Lune' is an incredibly moving and beautiful release. The brooding nature of the music can wear thin at times, but there's no doubt that Neige is a talented and distinguished member of the post-metal scene. A perfect album to listen to at night.
A bit schmaltzy

There was quite a lot of hype around that album in metal oriented media, praising it for beautiful atmosphere and enchanting melodies. I'm not that enthusiastic about it though. Écailles De Lune, being the second Alcest release, is indeed a charming yet a little bit shallow piece of post metal.

Now, production is great. As the record is often referred to as a black metal album(I don't get it, is it because of these 3 minutes of hellish shrieking in the second track?), I must say the sound is polished and clean. It kept enough of its natural state to be called organic though. Most of all, the producer did everything she/he could to enhance dreamy atmosphere of songs that Neige plies us with.

I'm a big fen of Fan (Fen of fen...? right, fan of Fen!), a British post black metal band, so I hoped Alcest would sound somewhat similar. While both bands can be described as a combination of black metal, shoegaze and post rock, proportions are completely different. Alcest's Écailles De Lune is, first of all, a shoegaze/post-rock album with some black metal leanings. Vocals are mostly clean, treated with strong reverb and somewhat hidden in the mix. And they are shoegaze vocals which I don't like that much. The biggest problem is the music though. Don't get me wrong, there are moments of bliss while listening to ÉCAILLES DE LUNE but some schmaltzy parts just spoil it for me. I think restrained songwriting is the thing Neige should work on, because his songs just miss some of the imagination you can hear in Agalloch's or Fen's music. Still, there's enough of great passages and skillfuly written compositions to consider it a solid album.

For fans of post-rock and shoegaze this is a real treat. Écailles De Lune is a successful combination of shoegazing melodies and post rock atmosphere - all seasoned with a pinch of black metal rawness. Despite the fact it somewhat lacks in depth, I can still recommend it for its well constructed songs and originality in terms of style. And... wait, lyrics are in french! Awww, I take back all negative things I've just said!!

Now a days, I tend to find less and less truly 5 star albums. I've widdled my rating process from 5 stars if it's "great" to 5 stars if it's genius. I need to be wowed first time through, and continue to be wowed each other time true. Écalles de Lune, Alcest's sophomore effort, is no doubt one of these cases. Encompassed by breathtaking melody and dazzling aggression, the album shows the side of "black metal" that caters to those who don't particularly care for ice-cold ferocity and never ending riffs and blast beats. The album contains a tender innocence known to very few albums. Now, to fuse black metal and virtually any other genre is a risky business, often ending in an awkward and noise abusing experience. Alcest, however, has deftly maneuvered around this daunting prospect and pulled off by far my favorite black metal album yet to be released.

The title track (translated as Moon Scales, or something like that) blasts forth with a somber shoegaze riff not of this realm. I have never really been a huge fan of shoegaze or post-rock, but this is certainly one exception, along with Sigur Rós's Ágætis Byrjun. The 18 minute epic is an exciting journey, expertly fusing in divine transitions mellow guitar passages with thrusting black metal riffing, skipping any of the uncertainties of black fusion. Both parts contain a truly celestial aura, feeding any who thirst for that perfect blend of..... well a perfect blend of pretty much everything. As I found on maudlin of the Well's Part the Second, the music is so perfectly crafted it seems that very little could ever surpass it in it's unprecedented grandeur. Not lacking metal in any sense, this amazing two part track is, well, perfect, in virtually every way.

Percées de Lumière continues this incredible string of pure music, although with a more popularly leaning guitar melodies and shoegaze feels. However, the track still encompasses the essential things that I love about music.... all of them. The song, which has a much harder rocking feel than the previous two (or one, whatever floats your boat). It keeps a constant rockability to it with less spacing out (which isn't a bad thing at all). Overall, the track is again a masterpiece of black fusion.

Abysses is a somber atmospheric ambient piece, making a very mellow and haunting transition to the next track.

Solar Song is again much more popularly leaning, or as far popularly leaning a genre such as this could possible lean. It has very accessible melodies while at the same time retaining the amazing sense of experimentation and shoegaze mastery put into the album. Overall, this tracks is yet another fantastic track on this masterpiece of an album.

Sur l'Océan Couleur de Fer is another very somber and mellow track, with much less rockable black riffing and more melodic guitar work and great vocal melodies also. The track functions as a beautiful guitar solo by Neige. It ends the album on an uplifting and symphonic note, slowly graduating through boughs of ecstasy and bursts of joy. Overall, this is another one of the greats on the album, ending one of my new favorite albums of all time and a pure masterpiece.

ALBUM OVERALL: I don't think I can really say very much more. I've looked. I can find nothing wrong with this album, perhaps maybe popularly leaning melodies in some songs, which can easily be seen as good. The album is as some people call an "eargasm;" the first time I listened to it's pearly sounds my ears did nearly hum in a joyous celebration that another life form has in fact made a great masterpiece of modern art -- celebration to the minds of humanity! Truly, this album touches my heart and my mind in a most divine way, making this an instant classic in my log of insta-classics. 5+ stars.
Alcest combines UK shoegazer pop with atmospheric Black Metal. That may sound like the most unlikely marriage ever, but actually it's not the first time it was tried. Ulver made the same combination on their debut 15 years ago. And the result was equally successful.

Black Metal has an inherent tendency for developing thick atmospheres; it's one of the things that sets it apart from Death Metal which concentrates more on musical technicality. Plenty of Black Metal bands can be named that combine their harsh aggression with ambient dreamy music, next to Ulver, Agalloch must sure be mentioned as an outstanding example of that combination. In case of Alcest the atmospheric mix is pervaded with a Floydian spacey-ness.

So, the people allergic to Brit-pop are warned, but still they shouldn’t discard this album completely. The pop and emo factor is non-existing here. This is very lush and magical music, just like My Bloody Valentine, Pale Saints and Lush used to be. Both clean vocals and Black Metal shrieks are used and both are a perfect fit for the eerie atmosphere created here.

The album flows with a natural grace but never hits me the way Agalloch, Ulver or early Katatonia do. The reason is the songwriting, which is very adequate but never outstanding. There’s also too much focus on shoegazer and too few original elements. A track like Solar Song could have come right out of any 1990 UK indie album. But in comparison to some of those albums, Alcest is just a tad less accomplished. To give just two examples, I find The Comforts of Madness from The Pale Saints or Ferment from Catherine Wheel much more adventurous and diverse albums.

Ecailles De Lune is a very good album that may appeal to goth, shoegazer and atmospheric metal fans alike. It misses an element of surprise and a songwriting eminence to reach true excellence but it comes close. 3.5 stars
Phonebook Eater

"Ecailles De Lune" is a dreamy, blurry album that could be easily one of the best of 2010.

French Black Metal band Alcest releases in 2010 their second album, most definitely one of the best of the year. Sublime, intriguing, and beautiful, a certainly a great black metal album , quite original and unusual, and with an enigmatic and dreamy touch, which sometimes incarnates shoegaze.

There aren't too many Black metal growls, in fact only two of these six songs present them, so Experimental Metal seems like the perfect subgenre for Ecailles De Lune. Like I previously said, all the songs are full of enigmatic atmospheres, thanks to the dreamy guitar that gently plays, a perfect nocturnal atmosphere. We also in some moments can find many shoegazing, maybe not as strong and noisy as traditional bands of the genre, but still present.

The title track is divided into two parts, the first one more dreamy and melodic, the second more violent, so it presents growl vocals, even though there is still a big sense of haziness. Percees de Lumiere is my least favorite, kind of strong, even though still the style is the same. after the beautiful interlude, Solar Song kicks in. this is most definitely the song with most shoegazing influences. The melodies is catchy and haunting, the vocals are clean and beautiful, the guitars enigmatic. Fabulous song.

The last track is another wonderful masterpiece. There are no drums in this piece, so you can imagine how calm and relaxing, but at the same time haunting the atmosphere is.

In conclusion, an album that really moved me, a must listen for anyone who is interested in black metal or Experimental metal.
Personally, I think that Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde is one of the most beautiful albums ever released. The summer-like nostalgia was something beyond everything, so my expectations were really high when Écailles de lune was released. Luckily I didn’t have to disappoint, even if this new album doesn’t quite reach as far - of which I'm not entirely sure yet.

But how could it reach, and does it even need to? It’s better not to always compare a new work to an earlier one, especially in this case where Écailles de lune is both thematically and musically slightly (but just slightly) different. In a way, Écailles de lune is more aggressive in that it includes quite a lot of blast beats and back are also Neige’s harsh screams (which are, by the way, one of the best sounding ones in that area). That doesn’t, however, mean that Écailles de lune sounds downright angry, because from the inside Alcest sounds still as beautiful as in 2007. Not frost-bitten or enraged, just sweet drifting on a shore next to a deep blue sea at night. From this perspective I could say that Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde is a summer morning while Écailles de lune is the beginning night of that same day.

One thing that I am a bit disappointed with is the length. The third track ”Percées de Lumière” was released on a split a few months before this album, which means that in a way Écailles de lune provides only three new songs - if the two-part title-track is considered as one song and the short ambient humming of "Abysses" is excluded. Short running time is not a terrible thing and it’s always a bless that an album is not prolonged, but Écailles de lune does leave me a bit too hungry.

Anyhow, Écailles de lune provides an incredible journey from the furious speeds of ”Écailles de lune (Part II)” to the calm yet epic semi-acoustic album ending of ”Sur l'océan couleur de fer”. A funny thing is that I already know that this album will sound even better in a month or two when summer (again I seem to repeat that) kicks in. Only time will tell if Écailles de lune reaches the level of the debut full-length, but even if not, it is one hell of a beautiful album anyways.

Members reviews

Black metal often causes listeners to feel as if they are being intruded upon, as if they were being constantly punched in the gut from an uncomfortably close range. Some listeners find thrill in this, while others are deterred. In contrast, what can be called metal in Alcest’s catalogue can be said to have a certain distance to it. This album isn’t there to brutally force your submission, however thrilling that may be. From dreamy, moonlit guitars and sirenian crooning to hazy distorted guitars and reverb-soaked screams, Ecailles De Lune calls you from far away, like another world.

And a far off realm is exactly what the band aims to communicate. Alcest was inspired by experiences had by frontman/guitarist Stephane “Neige” Paut of what he referred to as “Fairy Land.” “I think reality is always subjective,” Neige explained in an interview with Metalblast. “We don’t know what’s real apart from the fact that we see it with our eyes, we smell it, we touch it, but we don’t know more.” This hazy, impressionistic take on reality was likely inherited from the shoegaze scene. In fact, although Ecailles De Lune is labelled a black metal record, it listens like a shoegaze record and it acheives nothing short of that shoegaze-y bliss that celebrates itself. Of course, this record takes a more fantastical approach to reality than even most shoegaze and some listeners may understandably find it less believable, but those who beckon to the call of that far off world will find themselves more and more in love with it.

The two part title track is the centerpiece of Ecailles. After an intro with cold, shimmering guitars, Part I kicks in with a longing riff that dangles over a mid-tempo drum beat as soft, honest vocals intermingle with the guitars. The song continues to cycle through a series of riffs, each a treat to experience, before reverting to its dreamier state and abruptly returning with the first hint of metal on the album, a lunar riff that is stranglely the brightest moment in the song.

Part II starts in a similar fashion to Part I; however, this time, the band enters with shreiks that are almost overwhelmed in space, as if they were recorded a valley when no one was around. Acoustic guitars enter as the screams subside, and the song continues in the silvery fashion that one grew to love in Part I.

While human longing, compassion, and ecstasy are certainly present on the album, Ecailles is more of an ethereal experience than an emotional one, utilising both the sanguine and the phlegmatic sides of dream pop and shoegaze to communicate Neige’s feeling response to a distant place. But however far away that world is, it seems to live and to breathe, and with the feeling that Neige conveys this place, one starts to wonder if his experiences with “Fairy Land” might not have been so far-fetched after all.
The Truth
Originally posted by yours truly on ProgArchives:

This is a treat to the ears, it really is.

Very rarely do I hear albums that have a particular sound to them that make me really want to replay them over and over again just wanting to delve deeper into that sound that I hear. That's what this album does, it's a multi-layered, textural, and groundbreaking post metal masterpiece.

It contains that certain quality that I love about post rock and post metal recordings, an atmospherically dark and epic sound, and that makes me love it as much as I do. I have replayed it numerous times since first listening and each listen seemingly has more reward for me.

A truly great album that has a certain sound that I've found hard to come accross anymore. I love every second of it.

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