Published on Friday, 07 October 2016 20:01
Album title: Kodama
Release date: 30 September 2016
Label: Prophecy Productions
03. Je Suis D'ailleurs
05. Oiseaux De Proie
Alcest are back, two years after their latest masterpiece, Shelter, a record which divided their fans into two poles, lovers and haters, by leaving behind their metal past and going deeply into dream-pop/shoegaze waters. I'm one of those who loved it and was eagerly awaiting what comes next, and of course, when it comes to one of the most influential bands of the recent era, a band which invented the genre called blackgaze, thus having houndreds of followers, but still remaining unique in every possible way, there's almost no questioning if they can or can't make another stunning sonic adventure. And indeed, Kodama is that, it's a sonic adventure for every lover of atmospheric yet very artistic and highly elaborated music. This is Alcest, and if many claimed that with this new offering the band returns to their origins I'm not so sure, of course it has more heavy elements than its predecessor, it's has much more organic sound and at certain points it sounds very similar to their ultimate masterpiece Écailles De Lune, or even more to the beautiful Les Voyages De L'âme, but still I find it more or less a logical continuation of Shelter.
If the band exlored almost every possible element of atmospheric metal and rock, going deep into dreamy pop gaze and before that seeking the evil essence in the most ambiental side of black metal, now everything is staggering, perfectly put together into this musical amalgam of stylistic maximalism that finds its drawing substantial inspiration from Japanese art and culture, more precisely in Hayao Miyazaki's anime film Princess Mononoke. So, it's not strange that some said this is Alcest's Japanese album, but fear not. Musically Kodama is a broad album and the one who gives it a carefull listen will find in there elements that have its origin in sound of The Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, Cocteau Twins and The Cure to name a few. There's also a lot of typical post-rock, shoegaze, some prog rock and even a necessary dose of blackgaze to be found, but everything put into one emotionally well flowing soundscape which surprisingly offers a highly dynamic sound with many twists, but yeah, even that's nothing new in the case of Alcest.
The fans of Alcest's earlier albums will most probably cry tears of blood when those massive melodic organic guitar riffs and shrieking vocals takes place in "Eclosion", or when the pounding technical drums dominate the structure in otherwise dreamy post-anything-black-gaze of "Je Suis D'ailleurs". But in its essence Kodama is a dreamy and meditative album, every single song is full of parts that simply urges you to close your eyes and take you away from the reality into the most subversive forms of fantasy world. Kodama is a cinematic coalesce of melancholy and airy elements, it breaths smoothness and fascinates with immersive ethereal depth, best heard in the masterpiece where everything converges into one otherwordly soundscape called "Oiseaux De Proie", or in the immense moody ambiental droneing darkness of instrumental "Onyx".
With all that said, you know, it's nothing really new when the talk is about Alcest. I still think that Kodama is just another step in Alcest's never ceasing creative force, it's an album that needs a lot of consequent listens before being completely discovered in all its corners; it boasts with many dramatic subtleties, hidden layers, and to reach that state of mind, when this albums grabs you with its flow, you must be in certain mood, ready to enter this cultural, stylistic and compositional narrative thing that not only upholds the band's trailblazing legacy but actually makes you want to see where they go next. Rare are bands and artists out there that can keep their sound throughout the years so very unique and appealing, yet magical, serene, somehow nostalgic and above all mesmerizing, Alcest are most certainly one of them.
Review written by: T.V.