Alcest finally played London once more after several years of teasing yearning fans with their absence. Their appearance in the grimy bowels Camden Town excited the city to the point of selling out the Purple Turtle and cramming the small venue with hungry ears. Unfortunately it seemed more like support band Soror Dolorosa had chosen to play the wrong venue and their artificial attempts at a lackadaisical emulation of The Sisters of Mercy were lost on a disinterested audience who were instead hypnotised by the impossibly thin heroin chic the ageing singer was exhibiting. Badly made leather jackets aside, Soror Dolorosa don’t do a bad job of copying an already copied to death sound but were not particularly suited to the mood of the evening.
Les Discrets are quite possibly better than Alcest, they share band members and stylistic traits which rendered both sets stunningly beautiful and created an ethereal atmosphere that encouraged meditative thoughts and contemplation which you don’t often get at a metal gig. The black metal elements of Alcest and Les Discrets would cause fluffy moments to plummet into the gurning bowels of the most distorted of hells and back up again into scintillating forests of harmony and screaming oceans of vocal rage or velvet whispering. It is impossible to separate the two bands completely due to their similarity and equal beauty. Alcest have a greater reputation in the black metal scene due to their raw first two albums but their sound did little justice to their more recent songs. The vocals and bass were slightly lost in the raging guitars but the band played a gorgeous set nonetheless.
If you are a fan of black metal, especially the underground stuff then I strongly recommend listening to Alcest. They are taking Europe by storm and cracking minds wide open along the way. Their repertoire contains shogaze, ambient doom and a lot of unclassifiable non-black metal that completes the band in a way that sticking to one style cannot. Alcest are truly visionaries that belong to no genre, yet fit into many.