Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde

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The relationship between heavy metal and the so-called "shoegazer" movement of the early '90s might not be apparent in writing, but with Justin Broaderick's amazing transmutation of his grinding industrial metal in Napalm Death and Godflesh into the dark, sonic bliss of his current incarnation as Jesu, it doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore. Immediately upon first listen the connection between one-man band Neige's French "black metal" roots and his current neo-psychedelic explorations under the Alcest moniker doesn't seem so far-fetched, natural even. Playing all the instruments on Alcest's debut full-length Souvenirs d'Un Autre Monde ("Memories of a Future World") Neige builds layers upon layers of ecstatically distorted guitars that evoke obvious comparisons to My Bloody Valentine's sonic extravaganzas and less obvious nods to the brooding minor-key post-metal of Jesu, only perhaps a bit sunnier. There are only six songs on Souvenirs, and the formula deviates only slightly, but the mission statement is evident from the opening crunch of the first track "Printemps Emeraude," as the foundation of majestic guitar swells and stately minimalist drums is laid and the journey begins, and the listener is seemingly transported over great distances and through lifetimes via hypnotic repetition and a series of dynamic shifts which are probably more important than the actual songs themselves. The feelings elicited are those of yearning, nostalgia, triumph and blissful peace, all without a single lyric in (discernible) English. And really, the best factor arising from the meeting of metal and shoegaze is that this is a guitar album -- a monstrous, churning, epic guitar album -- without a single guitar solo!

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