Some reviewers have labelled these guys 'shoegaze black metal' which perhaps misses the point slightly - there's passages on here that remind me of the more romantic end of shoegaze, à la The House of Love or perhaps more poignantly Terry Bickers' post-HOL offshoot Levitation (check out their lost gem 'Nadine' here) but this has more in common with Justin Broadrick's Jesu project or, dare I say it, post-hardcore stormbringers Cult of Luna. If Jesu is essentially Justin distilled into album form (melacholy and sensitive but still coming from the same guy that recorded 'Streetcleaner'), Alcest is frontman Neige's soul laid bare - heavy-hearted and romantic, free of spite and more focussed on redemption and lucid headspace. I've rattled on about Jesu and Cult of Luna to plenty of people but ultimately they're never going to be entirely palatable to folks who get put off by the harsher elements of metal and punk - I wouldn't anticipate any such problems with Alcest though, this is mellow at the front end and only scathing in glints below the lush surface. One to listen to whilst coming round from a weird dream about someone you fell in love with back in school if you like, laced with regret but ultimately a warming experience. I started out lost on planet headfuck when I put this on for the first time and by the end of epic finale 'Summer's Glory' I was ready to take on the universe. Go forth and bag this one without further ado.
Check out : 'Summer's Glory', eight minutes of King Kong gorgeous.