Niege has once again metamorphosed into a new sound by creating the third Alcest album and almost completely shed his black metal roots. Les voyages de l'âme – roughly translating to the Voyage of the Soul – is a stunning piece of work that is almost nothing like the raw black metal beginnings of a band which has captured the attention of many fans over the past few years.
Niege has created an otherworldly and deeply atmospheric journey of an album. Acoustic touches and myriad tiny embellishments add unique details that begin to form a strangely intricate web. A delicate and effeminate summery sound is often punctured by harsh storms of blastbeats and distortion. Neige’s soft French vocals float mysteriously and occasionally turn into his trademark screams but do little to detract from the stunning, fragile beauty of the album.
There is little downtuned despair, just yearning and the occasional minor melancholy in a mainly major key work. This isn’t the usual grimness and despair, there is a sense of loss and meditative introspection that accumulates into a sunny and sometimes fiery flurry of movement and evolution. Many will criticise this for being a bit too un-grim and Enya for their tastes but stick with it. This album is definitely more than just a pretty face, it has depths which don’t reveal themselves at first listen and may very well be a benchmark for future progression within a genre that is famed for strict views on what does and doesn’t belong in its scene.