Black Metal, Post-Black Metal, Post-Rock, Shoegaze

Alcest – Spiritual Instinct (Review)

Artist: Alcest
Album: Spiritual Instinct
Genre: Blackgaze, Post-Rock, Post-Black Metal
Country: France
Release Date: 25th of October, 2019
Released via Nuclear Blast
Cover Artwork © Nuclear Blast 2019

With their sixth album, Alcest once again showcase why they are seen as one of the bands that receive a lot of positive resonance about their music and live performances at festivals and gigs. At the end of 2018, they announced a new studio album after having finished their album-titled Kodama Tour in the end of 2018. After having signed at Nuclear Blast in 2019, the work of the duo was now on the finishing line and released in October. A lot of people were curious what kind of an album the release would turn out to be this time. Alcest is a band that always tries to discover new sounds for their recognisable music. The release of Kodama in 2016 received mixed reviews – a lot of people liked it because it was very catchy within the genre, but on the other hand there were many people who considered this album to be too soft. To me, it was a very great album – this was the reason why I was pleased by the release of Spiritual Instinct: How will it be this time?

With “Les jardins de minuit” they begin more powerful and with more pressure on the ears. The typical Alcest sound that you continously encounter on this album joins more aggressive, but also playful riffs combined with diversified sounds that accelerate more drastically than on Kodama. “Protection” continues this style, but faster. No playful beginning, straight to the sound of the song, higher, faster, further. But in contrast to the first track, the second song includes a more meditative spirit – it invites me to close my eyes and solely listen. The third song “Sapphire” is calmer and offers a kind of break from the two previous songs. It’s more melodic, it reminds me a lot of the Kodama sound – it takes some time but progressively gets heavier. A very pleasant song. My favourite song is “L’Île des Morts”, which is the longest one on this album. A very multilayered song that builds up steadily but patiently. On this song the band shows their talent and skills in their entirety. Hard riffs, soft riffs, fast drums or just a steady beat in the calmer parts, a manifold combination of finely-produced music with an awesome final. I missed this kind of music at some points this year. Hard drums open up the song “Le Miroir” but eventually end up in a calmer and more melancholic song. The grim drums and riffs, however, add a special atmosphere. I think this song could be a perfect song on festivals, in the middle of the night or in a gloomy club. The last song “Spirtual Instinct” sounds like a typical final song of an album, it connects a lot of the sounds from the past five songs and tries to culminate in a big finale. To me, though, it doesn’t work well. In the end, it’s a mixture of the hard and calm elements of the album with a bigger focus on the calm parts.

Eventually, Alcest again show why they are a well-reviewed and a cherished band. They know how to evolve their sounds and try to discover new ways to present their music to the listener. Spiritual Instinct is harder and more aggressive than Kodama, which is nice. There are a lot of allusions at their last albums and I think that’s not a bad way to connect your works – I am mostly more confused if some bands sound the same for three albums or set for a hard cut, which I always don’t understand unless there is a special reason. Nevertheless, I must confess, sometimes it was on the edge to be too many citations from their past work. The album is a stronger mix of their core elements of Shoegaze and Post-Metal with their well memorable sound, but “crispier” and more direct. It’s definitely one of the best albums in these genres of the year.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

9/10

As usual, we added the favorite track(s) to our Transcended Review Playlist.

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