The French band Alcest more or less pioneered the sound of atmospheric black metal, combining those misanthropic Scandinavian rumblings of the ’90s with sweeping, triumphant shoegaze and creating something entirely new. In the process, Alcest helped lay the groundwork for bands like Deafheaven. (For more on Alcest’s spot in the metal pantheon, check out this great Michael Nelson piece from 2014.) And Alcest have never stopped working or pushing their sound.
Today, Alcest follow up their 2016 album Kodama with a stunning new one called Spiritual Instinct. The new LP is just gorgeous, full of huge melodic swirls and deeply satisfying metal thunder. If you play it loud enough to feel the heavy parts in your gut, the pretty parts might make you see stars. And since the heavy parts and the pretty parts are often one and the same, the album makes for one hell of a combination.
It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a metal album that feels as warm and welcoming and restorative as Spiritual Instinct — especially one that doesn’t skimp on the metal part of being a metal album. We’ve already posted the early tracks “Protection” and “Sapphire,” but now you can stream the whole album below.
Spiritual Instinct is out now on Nuclear Blast.