Look, under normal circumstances, new music from Alcest would be my cue to write a 5,000-word essay, but I’m crunched for time at this particular moment (have to finish an unrelated 5,000-word essay tout suite) so you’re gonna have to settle for this placeholder gibberish. My apologies. Both you and Alcest deserve more.
Anyway, Alcest are French. They’re the seminal “blackgaze” band. Their main guy — Stéphane Paut, dba Neige — is just about solely responsible for two of my favorite albums ever (Alcest’s 2007 LP, Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde, and the 2009 self-titled/sole full-length from Amesoeurs) and he’s directly influenced probably five or six others. (This one and this one most prominent along them.) Alcest’s last album, 2014’s Shelter, was very good if you could ignore the fact that it had abandoned all ties to anything resembling “metal” and sounded exactly like Slowdive. (Here’s my 5,000-word essay on that one.)
Alcest have a new one called Kodama out in September and for whatever reason, Neige has made a slight return to metal. This is still basically a shoegaze record but it’s dirtier, rawer, and rips about 250 times harder than the last one. For me, it lands in exactly the right place. It’s pretty close to perfect. It is so, so great.
Long story short, if you like Alcest, you’ll like this. If you don’t know Alcest but like the atmospheric black metal stuff I write about sometimes on Stereogum — Deafheaven obviously, but also Agalloch, Astronoid, Woods Of Desolation, Harakiri For The Sky, Myrkur, Numenorean, etc. — you’ll like this. If you don’t go in for that stuff but can rock with, I dunno, Envy or EITS or even My Bloody Valentine, you’ll like this.
Kodama’s first single, “Oiseaux De Proie,” is out today via Noisey (avec interview conducted by my pal Kim Kelly), and you can, and must, spin it right here, right now. I’m hesitant to call this particular track “my favorite” song on the album, because there are six songs on the album and they’re all my favorite, but this one is really my favorite. Those guitars … holy shit, those guitars. You don’t need an essay from me, you just need to put on a pair of decent headphones, turn the volume up to a million, and hear those motherfucking guitars. They explain everything so much better than I ever could. Listen.
Kodama is out 9/30 via Prophecy.