Sylvaine – “Earthbound” (Stereogum Premiere)

The French band Alcest are largely responsible for the post-rock and shoegaze-inspired take on black metal that so many people have come to love. The style is certainly a softer entry point into what is otherwise a forbidding genre, and this gray incarnation is full of pretty mournful guitars and ethereal vocals. Alcest’s frontman, Neige, has his fingers all over the sound, and has played with Lantlôs and Amesoeurs, two leading practitioners that show heavier and lighter takes, respectively, on what some refer to as “blackgaze.” If you Wikipedia that, you’ll see our very own Michael Nelson cited as historian in chief, detailing the evolution of blackgaze from its birth with Alcest’s 2005 EP Le Secret to the rise of its most popular practitioner, Deafheaven. (Though Deafheaven headed into heavier seas on their last album, New Bermuda.)

The Norwegian artist Sylvaine falls squarely within the blackgaze confines. She self-released her last album, which landed her on a tour with Alcest in South America. Now she’s set to release her sophomore LP on the heavy-hitting Season Of Mist. The new album is fittingly titled Wistful, and — surprise — Neige contributes drums to one of the tracks. Today we’re premiering a track from Wistful called “Earthbound.” It’s a finely balanced song that nails the elements that make the blackgaze formula so great. The upbeat lead-in pairs Sylvaine’s raspy shriek with her light and airy “ahhhs,” backed by lively drumming and despondent guitars. It’s lush and immersive and aims squarely at the parts of the brain and heart concerned with melancholy. It’s a winner. Listen.

Wistful is out 5/13 via Season Of Mist and is available to pre-order now.

Tags: Alcest, Sylvaine