Archive for blackgaze

Concert: Anathema/Alcest/Mamiffer (9/22, Mill City Nights, Minneapolis, MN)

Posted in blackgaze, concerts, doom, doom metal, england, france, mill city nights, minneapolis, minneapolis/st. paul, post-black metal, united states with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

As I mentioned last time, Alcest had to hurry out of the store so they could make it to the venue in time to do sound checks, etc. I got to Mill City nights a little bit before the show started and browsed merch for a while- Mamiffer had an amazing tank top with a cat on it. Also, Anathema and Alcest had some pretty cool shirts and merch. The crowd for this show was varied; I saw people I had never seen before, and lots of people brought their significant other (metal is not usually romantic. But if it was, it’d sound like Alcest).

Mamiffer was a really excellent opening act. Eerie and atmospheric, they provided the perfect intro to a band like Alcest. They consistent of a female vocalist/keyboardist and a guy guitarist, and it reminded me somewhat of a post-rock set in that they would use feedback between songs to give the illusion of no downtime. I really enjoyed their set, and I look forward to hearing more from them.

Alcest was the next band on this shortened bill, and they were absolutely incredible. The highlight of the night for me, Alcest played a lot of songs off their latest album, Les Voyages de L’Âme (incidentally, that was the first ever review to appear on Blackmetallurgy). They also briefly touched on the older albums, and debuted some new material for the upcoming record. I will admit, I was in tears; it’s been a rough year for me, and Alcest has gotten me through a lot of it as Alcest plays the happiest songs I know. It was incredible to see them live, and an absolute honor to meet Neige.

Anathema finished up the night as co-headliners. Their set was very impressive- I can tell that the members of Anathema are all very talented and natural musicians. However, the music was really not my style at all. Anathema used to be big into doom, but their newer material has moved to a poppier sound, barely even metal at all. At one point they said they’d play an old song, but alas, it wasn’t old enough. Those of us who hoped that Anathema would cater to fans of the older material left feeling dissatisfied with the Englishmen’s set.

I didn’t buy a t-shirt this time. The only shirt that Alcest had that I was somewhat interested in was only available in L and XL by the time I got up to the booth to buy something. I ended up getting a record, as I absolutely love Écailles de Lune and didn’t own a physical copy of it, and I knew how hard it would be to track down an Alcest record (Into the Void, for instance, doesn’t have any). I am really, really glad I got the record. I saw Neige standing by the merch tables after I bought my record and borrowed a pen from a security guard so I could see if he’d sign it too. He did, of course, and I got to thank him for the music and tell him that it helps my mental state a lot when times are bad.

:D

😀

The vinyl itself is beautiful too. Like pale blue marble.

The vinyl itself is beautiful too. Like pale blue marble.

Although Anathema was a bit disappointing (for me, anyway), I thoroughly enjoyed Mamiffer, and Alcest made an absolute mess of me. I had wondered how well they’d do on Mill City Nights’ big stage, but the turnout was really excellent. Great night, great show, great company, great band/guys. Three weeks later I’m still trying to shake the daze.

**

Upcoming things- I saw Saint Vitus last week, so I’ll talk about that soon, and also I am going to be reviewing a couple of albums that my buddy over at Ars Magna Recordings sent me. Then, of course, there are reviews of the new Watain and Woe, and I am planning on snagging the new Inquisition as soon as it drops and work on tracking myself down a copy of Gris’ new one. I might be doing a review of the new Ensiferum as well. I’ve also got some other things in the works, and Watain on Wednesday (!!!). Still incredibly busy, but I’m going to make it my goal to work on the blog at least 30 minutes every day so I can hopefully stay on top of things.

 -Hagalaz

Advertisements

Alcest In-Store Appearance at Into the Void Records! (St. Paul, MN)

Posted in france, local, minneapolis/st. paul, post-black metal with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

Last week I got to be a part of something REALLY cool- a special in-store appearance at Into the Void Records with Alcest! They played a short acoustic set (just a couple of songs; they had to get on over to the venue) and then hung out for 15-20 minutes for a meet and greet and to sign people’s stuff.

It was an awesome experience to get to meet Neige and get my own stuff signed as well. He was also kind enough to sign a CD booklet for my friend Jamie, who recently moved back to Georgia (and who needs to blog more now that he has time). The event was also really good for the store- it’s a good thing we were stocked up on Alcest albums. I counted 40 people there before the set, and I think a few more wandered in during the performance. Before the band left for the venue they signed a poster that a friend had made for the store. It was a really lovely time, and Into the Void is going to try to host a band each month, at least for signings/meet and greets if not actual sets. (Right now I am pushing for Exhumed in October.)

Pics/vid are below.

The stage is set

The stage is set

Alcest playing their acoustic set.

Alcest playing their acoustic set

Me and Neige

Me and Neige

Neige signing the banner

Neige signing the banner

Tofu forever!

Tofu forever!

:D

😀

[Yeah, so I guess I have a YouTube now. I can’t imagine I’ll use it much, ‘cept for maybe stuff like this.]

Review of the actual Alcest concert coming as soon as I can get it typed.

-H

An Observation

Posted in black metal, france, musings with tags , , , , , , on February 3, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

No one seems to think Alcest is trve, and a lot of people seem to think they haven’t a smidgen of black metal any more. Ladies and gentlemen, I offer irrefutable proof that this is an incorrect assumption.

Neige was, at some point in his young life, obviously listening to Mütiilation. And, obviously, Mütiilation is like, the trvest of the trve. So there. (Also, the French black metal sound obviously draws its roots from interesting places).

Alcest is still black metal, sort of.

-Hagalaz

Écailles de Lune: Post-Black/Black-gaze Metal (The French Black Metal Underground)

Posted in black metal, france, post-black metal with tags , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

So last time, I talked about French black metal and politics. I touched on Peste Noire as well as Gris, who is actually a French-Canadian band, but who sometimes incorporates French folk themes in their DSBM. Since certain kinds of DSBM seem largely based in post-rock, that discussion provides me with a nice segue into French post-black metal, or black-gaze metal. This stuff is only partly metal, but completely awesome, and France is particularly good at it.

Écailles de Lune: French Post-Black/Black-gaze Metal (Alcest, Les Discrets)

Neige, which means “snow” in French, started Alcest as a solo project in 1999. Although Alcest is most widely known for their current output of ethereal post-black metal, they started off playing the raw black metal that the French scene seems to like so much. Alcest’s early stuff is impressive, especially if you take into account that Neige was about 15 when he recorded it. In traditional black metal fashion, the early work strives for a cold sound. Following in the vein of bands like Immortal, Alcest’s early work is more inspired by the winter and the natural world than Satanism.

[From the 2001 demo Tristesse Hivernale]

By the time that Alcest’s first EP, “Le Secret,” was released in 2005, they had changed their sound drastically to one more inspired by post-rock and shoegaze. This is the Alcest that most of us are familiar with, and the sound differs sharply from anything that resembles traditional black metal. Of course, Neige still occasionally uses shrieked vocals, and every once in a while you can hear some black metal sounding chords break through.

[From the debut full-length Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde (2007)]

Lest you think that my commentary on Alcest so shortly after the political French black metal post is out of place (I already explained the shared post-rock influence between this music and Gris’ brand of DSBM, of course), Neige was actually a member of Peste Noire for a bit. He played drums and bass from 2001-2005, and the split seems to be less than amicable, at least on behalf of Famine, who has been pretty outspoken about his opinions about Neige. Of course, that may also be in response to the Alcest fans who have stumbled onto Peste Noire as well. Who knows. It is an interesting fact, nonetheless.

[Sorry Famine. I think this is rad]

Though Winterhalter has played drums for the band since 2009, Alcest is really a one man project. According to Encyclopedia Metallum, as a child Neige had dreams of a “Fairy Land,”  “a place with colours, forms and sounds that do not exist here.” It’s not hard to believe that many of Alcest’s songs are based on this fairy land. The music has a whimsical, otherworldly feel to it (and also the feel of the sun breaking through the trees in the late afternoon). Neige has said that Alcest’s music is supposed to be positive and that he wants his music to make people happy, and I’d say he pretty much succeeds. It’s damn near impossible to not be happy when you are listening to this:

[The song bookmarked on my browser as “pick me up”]

Alcest has a new album out this year called Les Voyages de L’Ȃme. You can read my review of it here, if you’d like (it’s one of the first posts I did!). It’s a great album.

[The title track is my favorite on this album. I love the different feels to this song]

Committing very involved bandcest with Alcest is Les Discrets, started in 2003 by Fursy Teyssier. Teyssier is a visual artist and illustrator who designed several of Alcest’s album covers, actually, and he started the band as a way to create a musical component for his artwork. You can view some of his work on his/the band’s website, and preview a book of his album art here. Like the artwork Teyssier creates, Les Discrets’ music has an ethereal feel.

[From Les Discrets’ 2009 split with Alcest. I wasn’t kidding about the band-cest]

Like Alcest, Les Discrets uses French lyrics. However, their lyrical content centers around nature, love, and death, and “feelings, fears, sensations related to our life and world” (lesdiscrets.com). Unlike Alcest, then, Les Discrets’ music and lyrics are more confined to this world than a fairy-land, and I think this comes through in the music. Les Discrets, while still lovely and light, has a much darker overall feel to them than their black-gaze counterparts. The songs are also heavier and less free-flowing than Neige’s work.

[This song is amazing. From 2010’s Septembre et Ses Dernièrs Pensées]

I mentioned earlier that this band has a lot of ties with Alcest in terms of membership as well. Winterhalter, Alcest’s drummer, is also a member of Les Discrets, and Teyssier played with Alcest in live performances until 2010. Incidentally, Neige has also played in the live version of Les Discrets. Though there are links that bind them together, both bands stand on their own and their musical and lyrical approaches are very different, even while they both play the same generic music. The cool thing about it is that they seem to be good friends and not in any serious competition with each other, instead supporting one another in live performance.

[See? I’m posting all the “Part I”s of these because now you should go listen to Part II]

Les Discrets, although they are still relatively new on the scene in terms of releases, have been really well received from what I can tell. They have a new album, Ariettes Oubliées, which I just learned came out this year (I have listened to it quite a bit on Spotify but didn’t realize it was so new). I highly encourage that you check them out if you are a fan of Alcest or even if you’re not- as I said, they are generally a lot darker in feel (at least I think so).

[From the newest album Ariettes Oubliées (2012)]

***

So. There is that. I think I only have a couple of these left that I have planned. I will work on them, but I also have lots of other ideas floating around in the ether. I also now officially have Maryland Deathfest tickets (woo!). Expect a live report about Napalm Death/Municipal Waste/ Exhumed soon as well- I’m going to see them on Sunday.

Until then,

Hagalaz