I’ve been waiting for this album!!! Alcest has become one of my favorite bands. What’s interesting is that the last album actually took a year before I became completely CONSUMED by it. “Shelter” was a bit of a departure for Alcest. It was sunny and dreamy, lacking the edge and darkness of previous albums. But once you get it, it’s gorgeous. But I digress.
“Kodama” finds Alcest circling back to their more “standard” blackgaze sound but still incorporating the brighter sound of the last album. The title track starts the album off with one of the catchiest wordless melodic vocals this side of Steven Wilson. You will be singing along, trust me.
Musically, the song balances those beautiful moments with a more powerful rhythmic attack courtesy of drummer extraordinaire Winterhalter who tends to get overshadowed by Neige. The song serves notice that this is album packs a punch. The album rocks out possibly more than any of their albums which says a lot. While it does revisit their blackgaze roots, it never sounds like a copy of their previous works. This feels more like a culmination than a rehash.
For those who missed Neige’s black metal vocals, they are BACK! “Eclosion” is classic Alcest, powerful shoegaze with Neige’s gut-wrenching harsh vocals in the chorus. Each of the songs have a peaceful section which adds even more dynamics to everything that is going on. “Je suis d’ailleurs” is another track that harkens back to the Alcest of old. Blast beats from Winterhalter coupled with a black metal howl from Neige make this song one that could have been on any album prior to “Shelter.”
“Untouched” features some pulsating drums from Winterhalter and a beautiful melody from Neige. The song is one that could have been on “Shelter,” albeit if it was toned down slightly. The song really underscores the importance of that album to the evolution of Alcest. How many times can I praise Winterhalter in this review? Add another one with “Oiseaux de proie” which he DRIVES forward. Neige wanted punch and this album has it thanks to his talented drummer.
The album finishes with “Onyx” which is a fuzzed out solo guitar piece which, while not my favorite track, does close the album out nicely just the same. And what an album at that! “Kodama” proves that Alcest are constantly moving forward yet keenly aware of the style that THEY INVENTED! “Kodama” is easily one of my favorite albums of 2016!
3. Je Suis D’ailleurs
5. Oiseaux De Proie