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Spiritual Instinct by Alcest (Nuclear Blast Records)

Spiritual Instinct by Alcest (Nuclear Blast Records)

Spiritual Instinct by Alcest (Nuclear Blast Records)

The French duo moved away from their Metal roots over a decade ago, dropping most of the metalisms in favor of an uplifting, lighter sound. Over several albums they’ve added a bit of that metal element into a few songs.

On their latest album Spiritual Instinct, Neige and Winterhalter lay more into the aggressive sounds of distorted guitars and harder hitting percussion. Neige has said that the sounds of Black Metal are better suited to express the darkness he feels inside. Catharsis is experienced over the course of Spiritual Instinct’s six tracks.

First track Les Jardins De Minuit begins with portenteous bass and toms, squealing guitars enter the mix and the duo presents a Black Metal masterpiece. Neige both sings and screams and plays a short but memorable guitar melody. Yes even the bleakest sounds can be uplifting. Protection isn’t as harsh yet is still full of energy. While Alcest aren’t flashy, they do have much to express within their songs and Protection should be a fan favorite. Sapphire is the most straightforward rocker on the album. L’Ile Des Morts showcases Winterhalter’s skill with different tempos and styles and Neige’s guitars have some nice tension and treatments.

The title track closes the album and is like if gospel mixed with metal, Neiges’s airy vocals combined with the epic metal arrangements provide much inspiration and joy. While I don’t understand the French lyrics, I do feel the passion and beauty in the voice. You likely won’t be head-banging to the slower pace, but the song does have that fist-in-the air epic vibe, especially during the second half.

Alcest’s Spiritual Instinct is a rare album: hard and heavy yet balanced by tenderness and beauty. It may be too metal for the shoegazers and too light for the metalheads, yet if you’re into both, you’ll love what the duo has created.


(Review by Bret Miller)

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