Posts Tagged ‘shoegaze’

Steve at SixSixSix Music is a good guy. So good in fact, that he’s agreed to help me out with reviewing here at The Killchain. Which is nice because I’m so laden down with promos for awesome music I can barely keep up. You’ll know his contributions, as I’ve now tagged him as SixSixSteve. He’s been in this game for a long time, so he knows what he’s talking about. Thanks Steve, you’re a blog saver!

I’ve been very impressed by the releases that have come my way recently from Italian label Avantgarde. And the one thing they’ve all had in common, has been a superior level of musicianship. And Norway’s Dystopia Nå are very close to the top of the pile, in that respect.

Dweller on the Threshold is a beautiful album. Mixing gentle Doomy passages, with minimalistic ambience and the occasional foray into Shoegazing Black Metal territory, it’s all tied together with maddening screams, cries of despair and any other downbeat form of expression you care to think of. The beauty of the music and the anguish of the vocals are perfect bedfellows.

And it’s an album that relies heavily on moods. From uplifting, through anger to total despair, it’s an ever-changing journey, with a never-ending palette of textures. Basically, if Steven Wilson replaced Dave Gilmour in Pink Floyd and then took the whole of Syd Barrett’s drug stash in one sitting and decided to throw some Black Metal into the Progressive melting pot, then you’re just about there with this album.

‘Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde’ is a strange beast. A one-man French black metal project has an implied sound and style, i.e Blut Aus Nord or Deathspell Omega. Alcest is neither, having much more in common with My Bloody Valentine and Burzum than their Gallic peers. ‘Souvenirs…’ is the debut album from Neige, the one man behind Alcest.

‘Souvenirs…’ provides an oddly outward view of the black metal landscape; it reaches upward with hope and light, rather than dark introversion. That alone should make it worth a listen, but the combination of hypnotic Burzum riffing and the fuzzy majesty of My Bloody Valentine create a strange beast that is beautiful to behold. Post rock meshes with blackened shoegaze (a term I had never come across before this album) to create six pieces of hopeful music, each with their own distinct identity. Ethereal vocals, seemingly devoid of lyrical content flow over each song, and weave within shimmering walls of guitars. It isn’t quite the ‘wall of sound’ approach, but there is a sense of size and scale. Vast sections of ebb and flow, coupled with crescendo-ing climaxes leave you with just a trace of Isis or Red Sparowes, but with less weight.

Multi-instrumentalist Neige combines his guitar lines well, clean guitar over acoustic working particularly effectively in ‘Ciel Errant’, and the prevalence of acoustic guitar during the majority of the record suits the style perfectly. The vocals are clean, clear and mesh in well, never taking attention away from the music yet never sparse enough to be ignored. Alcest is a project based on dreams that Neige had when he was younger, and you can believe that ‘Souvenirs…’ would provide a more than adequate soundtrack for a place of eternal happiness and bliss.

Happy black metal is not something you experience everyday, if ever. Alcest isn’t really metal, although Neige’s black metal past shows through Burzumic tremelo guitar drenched in fuzzy tones. One for the shoegazer in all of us, ‘Souvenirs d’un autre monde’ is simply stunning; proof that black metal can throw up beauty and light, as well as the darkness we all love.