August 06, 2020

Various Artists - Ladykillers (23 Tracks To Die For) (1996) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Pop Rock, Alternative Rock, Noise Rock, Punk Rock, Europop
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☠: Selected By Lass

© 1996 PolyGram TV
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: various artists, ladykillers, lady killers, 23 tracks to die for, 1996, compilation, flac,

Psyched Up Janis - Swell (1994) ☠

Country: Denmark
Language: English
Genre: Grunge
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1994 Replay Records
*No professional reviews are available in this release.

tags: psyched up janis, swell, 1994, flac,

A - How Ace Are Buildings (1998)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Punk Rock
Style: Pop Punk
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© 1998 Tycoon Recordings
AllMusic Review by Owen Guthrie-Jones
Those familiar with the dialect of A's native eastern England will recognise "How Ace Are Buildings" grammatically as a statement rather than a question. Although its meaning is never totally revealed, it typifies the band's intent to race into rock's psyche with a powerful debut, rather than tip-toe onto the stage with the feelers out. Rock is the passion here: their logo is Aerosmith-esque, AC/DC have taught them well, and no sooner has the leading track invited you to "Turn It Up" than it's headlong into "Foghorn," one of the most impressive tracks and definitive of A's raucous sound. The gesture of an introductory bio in the form of "Cheeky Monkey" is served up, as if it were needed by now, to familiarize you with the group. "My name is Jason/I'll rock your face in/'Cause I've got relations in my band/We like Van Halen and Iron Maiden/And I'll do the talking, understand," yaps Adam Perry, who's infant-like vocal helps put across juvenile lyrical themes coupled with poppy harmonies. An almost visible energy has been pumped into delivering seven of the most mercilessly fast-paced songs you're ever likely to hear in succession, before taking a breather with the summery "Fistral." Superseded with a couple more potential singles (this album is flush with them), and the melancholic farewell "Ender," A's unveiling is a suitable one. In comparison to later efforts, there's little evidence of the impending electro input on 1999's A vs. Monkey Kong, and it's surprisingly several miles from A's powerful n├╝-metal approach on 2002's Hi-Fi Serious, though there are hints of the shamelessly American style, which comes to the fore in the latter release. Still, it's of its time and it's clear to see how they managed to join hands with Kerrang! magazine and British bands like Feeder and Ash into mainstream rock fame in the early 2000s. It's difficult to section this title, but a mention for Billy Joel's "My Life" on the superbly catchy single "No1" and name-checking Eddie Van Halen, Faith No More, the U.K.'s notorious Wildhearts and the Sex Pistols, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, and Marvel comics in the sleeve credits should give you some idea of whether you would enjoy this record or not. Generally, it's nice to hear a band having so much fun, especially on the self-indulgent hidden track at the end, which if nothing else gives the band a chance to have a final heavy guitar flourish. And why not? It's your first album; don't hold back.

tags: a, how ace are buildings, a band, 1998, flac,

A - A Vs. Monkey Kong (1999)

*U.K. pressing. 
Contains 14 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Punk Rock
Style: Pop Punk
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© 1999 Tycoon Recordings
AllMusic Review by Tim Sheridan
Blending the best of Brit-pop with the bite of punk and a touch of techno, this outfit offers a visceral burst of energy. While lead singer Jason Perry sounds particularly influenced by Perry Farrell (Jane's Addiction), the mix of catchy hooks and snotty insolence put this disc over the top. Dig the bounce of "Old Folks" or the frontal attack of "For Starters" and you'll get a good idea of where they're coming from.

tags: a, a vs monkey kong, a band, 1999, flac,

August 05, 2020

The Nixons - Latest Thing (2000)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge
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© 2000 Koch Records
AllMusic Review by Deren Svendsen
After the underwhelming response to their 1997 self-titled album, the Nixons were dropped from MCA and subsequently signed with Koch Records, a much smaller label. The change appears to have done a world of good. While their previous album suffered from a lack of memorable hooks and underwritten songs, Latest Thing sounds like a band revitalized and hungry again for success, but on their own terms. This new attitude is most apparent in the strong (if not particularly original or groundbreaking) songwriting. The band covers all the bases nicely; between heavy-hitters such as "The One" and "Drama Queen," countrified rock ("First Trip," co-written with Night Ranger's Jack Blades), and even a nod to the Cars and new wave in "Blackout," arguably the best song of the album. Truthfully, there isn't a poor track in the bunch, which is all the more impressive given the weak songwriting of their 1997 release. Comparisons to Matchbox 20 are inevitable, as similarities in both songwriting and singer Zac Maloy's vocal delivery abound. However, for fans of Matchbox 20, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Latest Thing delivers the goods.

tags: the nixons, latest things, 2000, flac,

August 04, 2020

The Samples - The Last Drag (1993)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock
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© 1993 What Are Records?
AllMusic Review by Sara Sytsma
The Last Drag follows the same formula as the other Samples records, but it's a bit disjointed and overlong, preventing it from becoming a consistently enjoyable album. Nevertheless, there are several fine moments on the album -- it just takes a little longer to find them.

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Deathwitch - Monumental Mutilations (1999)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Blackened Thrash Metal
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© 1999 Necropolis Records
Review by Paul Schwarz for Chronicles of Chaos.com
The description, in one review I read, of Deathwitch's music as being "shitty Brazilian death metal" certainly seems apt when attempting to describe _Monumental Mutilations_. It also provides some explanation as to the material presented here is both raw and simplistic. If I look at _MM_ from the perspective that it is trying to recreate the "shitty" feel of _Morbid Visions_-era Sepultura, it doesn't surprise me that creativity or variation aren't on Deathwitch's agenda. However, that the aim of this was not ambitious does not excuse its mediocrity. The material here is structurally simplistic, repetitive, tedious and unoriginal, and though the Andy LaRocque production gives the guitars a somewhat fierce roar and the drums a decent bite, the style in which this potential beast conducts itself results in it being a rather tedious and tiresome creature to witness in performance. Further, _MM_ is not really great value for money, being more of a thirty-six minute compilation than an album. Songs left over from the sessions of their last album (1998's _The Ultimate Death_) along with two covers (of Bathory and Sepultura) and two re-recordings accompany the four original songs. When you add the excessively uninspired lyrical content ("Possessed by fire / My morbid desire / The flames reaching higher / I'm lost in fire" are the opening proclamations of the "interestingly" titled "Fire Fuck") you're left with virtually nothing to encourage you to pick up this release. 

tags: deathwitch, death witch, monumental mutilations, 1999, flac,

Simple Minds - Real To Real Cacophony (1979)

*U.K. first pressing. 
Contains 12 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave
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© 1979-1985 Virgin
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
To the delight of some open-minded post-punk fans -- fans who also had space for the relatively new, untraditional likes of Devo, Kraftwerk, and Eno in their record collections -- the relative simple-mindedness of Life in a Day was blown to bits and left for dead on the pub floor by Real to Real Cacophony, the wide-eyed carnival-like follow-up released only seven months after its predecessor. The artistic leap from Life in a Day to Real to Real has to be one of the most mesmerizing ones imaginable, an improvement that is even more impressive when the short time between release dates is considered. It's where Simple Minds ventured beyond the ability to mimic their influences and began to manipulate them, mercilessly pushing them around and shaping them into funny objects the way a child transforms a chunk of Play-Doh from an indefinable chunk of nothing into a definable chunk of something. Aside from a mercifully brief lapse into aimless murmuring and doodling that occurs during the middle of the record, Real to Real Cacophony is rife with countless bizarre joys. It knocks you on your back with pretentious artsy-fartsiness as instantly as New Gold Dream dazzles with its art pop pleasures, but its challenging melodicism through jerky time signatures and an endless supply of varied sounds and textures keeps you coming back for more. "Real to Real," a sinister rewrite of Kraftwerk's "Radio-Activity," is a good, quick point of reference. Guitars are employed less frequently and are replaced by burbling electronics and further use of keyboard shadings, though the absolute high point of the band's early years, "Changeling," benefits from plangent, angular jabs. The record is certainly as much of an achievement as New Gold Dream -- an achievement that's on a plane with other 1979 post-punk landmarks like Metal Box, 154, Entertainment, and Unknown Pleasures. No kidding.

tags: simple minds, real to real cacophony, 1979, 1985, flac,

Simple Minds - Once Upon a Time (1985)

*U.S. first pressing. 
Contains 8 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave
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© 1985 A&M Records
AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson
Riding the coattails of the John Hughes flick The Breakfast Club, Simple Minds finally broke into America with their theme song "Don't You Forget About Me," and their 1985 release Once Upon a Time captured the heart-wrenching excitement found in bands such as U2. They were now one of the biggest names in music, and Jim Kerr's thirsting vocals became the band's signature. Once Upon a Time, featuring producer Jimmy Iovine (U2, Stevie Nicks, Bruce Springsteen), showcased more of a guitar-driven sound. The band's heavy synth pop beats had relaxed a bit and Charlie Burchill's charming playing style was most noticeable. Also enlisting the choir-like beauty of Robin Clark, Simple Minds' popularity was expounded on songs such as "Alive & Kicking" and "Sanctify Yourself." This album was one of their best, most likely leading the pack in the band's album roster, because it exuded raw energy and solid composition not entirely captured on previous albums.

tags: simple minds, once upon a time, 1985, flac,

August 03, 2020

Caroline's Spine - Attention Please (1999)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge
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© 1999 Hollywood Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
With their second album, Attention Please, Caroline's Spine doesn't so much as change their musical direction as refine it. They are still a post-grunge band, leaning hard on their guitars and turning the amps up, churning out a heavy rock that doesn't quite become metallic. They have developed stronger hooks, however, and are more assured in their performance. That doesn't mean that it's a perfect album -- some may complain that the production is a bit too clean to truly hit hard, but the real problem is the material is uneven -- but it does demonstrate that they're maturing at a steady pace, becoming a better band all the while.

tags: carolines spine, caroline's, attention please, 1999, flac,

August 02, 2020

Simple Minds - Sparkle In The Rain (1983)

*U.K. first pressing. 
Contains 10 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave
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© 1983-1984 Virgin
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
In less than four years, Simple Minds produced and progressed like few other bands. They released six albums, including a pair of nervy post-punk classics in Real to Real Cacophony and Empires and Dance, as well as the lavish "new pop" triumph New Gold Dream. Their audience expanded, and dates opening for the likes of U2 and the Police placed them in stadiums. The band's sound naturally became less subtle. For Sparkle in the Rain, they sought U2 producer Steve Lillywhite, whose approach helped shape their performances into a forceful, direct set of commercial rock designed to shake nosebleed seats. Despite frontman Jim Kerr's vaguest gesturing and most voluble bellowing to that point, the move worked. The pounding "Waterfront," hurtling "Speed Your Love to Me," and gleaming "Up on the Catwalk," the album's singles, all reached the Top 30 in the U.K., and by the end of the year, the band was headlining North American hockey arenas and amphitheaters. Apart from the brawling "The Kick Inside of Me," which contains one of Kerr's least tethered turns, none of the album cuts matches the urgency heard in the singles. Relatively restrained moments, such as the absurdly titled "'C' Moon Cry Like a Baby" ("Could this be something we don't understand," indeed), resemble stiff stabs at re-creating tense drama akin to the tail end of New Gold Dream. As successful as it was, Sparkle in the Rain merely poised Simple Minds for their biggest year, 1985, when they followed up with "(Don't You) Forget About Me" and "Alive and Kicking," singles that hit the Top Ten in the U.K. and the U.S.

tags: simple minds, sparkle in the rain, 1983, flac,

Figures On a Beach - Standing On Ceremony (2008 Reissue)

*Reissued on CD in 2008 by Wounded Bird Records
This reissue contains remastered audio and 15 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock
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© 1987-2008 Wounded Bird Records
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason
Aside from the glorious opener "No Stars," a swelling, romantic tune with a memorable melody and gossamer production, the full-length debut by Figures on a Beach is a bit of a dud. The group's two indie releases from 1983 and 1984 were complex and melodic synth pop with a slightly arty edge, but the comparatively slick production of this album (by New York remixer Ivan Ivan, who had recently done good work with the fairly similar though more airy Book of Love) makes these songs sound flaccid and underwritten. Even worse, the arrangements sound terribly dated in retrospect -- it's possible that this very early-'80s brand of art rock sounded dated even in 1987 -- which detracts further from Christopher Ewen's solid melodies. Songs like "Rhythm" and the mildly over-the-top "Pagan Gift" feel like empty exercises, and even some of the better songs could stand a thorough remixing. Compared to what had come before, Standing on Ceremony is a disappointment. The self-titled 1989 follow-up was an improvement, however.

tags: figures on a beach, standing on ceremony, 1987, 2008, reissue, flac,

Broken Hope - Omen of Disease (2013)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
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© 2013 Century Media
Review by Jeremy Ulrey for Metal Injection.net
Elder statesmen of the Chicago metal scene, and one of the more seasoned lynchpins in American death metal period, Broken Hope emerged fully formed in 1991 with Swamped in Gore, a well-received (if now dated) monolith of unadulterated Cannibal Corpse worship.
On subsequent records – uniformly released on a rigid two year schedule throughout the 90's – the band experimented with speed, often dabbling in full on grindcore velocities, but always stubbornly maintaining an old school ethos… all the way up until 2002, when the band finally called it quits. With traditional death metal not exactly in vogue right now, what exactly prompted the band to record their first album since 1999's Grotesque Blessings?
For one, it's the band's 25th anniversary, but the pertinent question is not so much why the band is getting back together as why they split up in the first place. According to mainman Jeremy Wagner, Metal Blade – the label which released all of their records with the exception of the first and last – simply didn't offer the band sufficient support during their tenure on the label. Increasingly dispirited by the lack of sales despite consistently excellent reviews and a diehard fan base, Wagner made one last stab with Martyr Music Group (1999's Grotesque Blessings) before finally putting Broken Hope to bed.
Things weren't looking up for a reunion when longtime vocalist Joe Ptacek took his own life in 2010, but with Gorgasm's Damian Leski on board Wagner recruited mid-90's Hope bassist Shaun Glass and a pick up group of Mike Miczek (drums) and Chuck Wepfer (lead guitar) and went out on a well-received tour with ObituaryDecrepit Birth and Jungle Rot.
Of course, reunion tours don't always result in a new studio album materializing, but in this case Wagner likes what he's got and wants to showcase Broken Hope 2.0 to the world. This time around he has label heavyweights Century Media in his corner, so for the first time Broken Hope should get the opportunity to showcase their skills without the albatross of an absentee landlord pimping their wares.
The first thing you notice about Omen of Disease is just how much the production has opened up – particularly the percussion – courtesy of Chris Wisco and Scott Creekmore (ex-drummer for Broken Hope from 1999-2001). The second thing you notice is just how little change there's been in vocal execution. Damian Leski slides right in where Ptacek left off; old fans who pick up Omen of Disease without having done their homework might easily believe that Jeremy Wagner dusted off some old Ptacek demo tracks, the variation that Leski brings to the table being easily masked by the production overhaul.
Otherwise everything is business as usual: Broken Hope were labeled by some as technical death metal back in their day – particularly circa the Grotesque Blessings era – but what passed for technicality in the 90's seems almost quaint by 2013 standards. No matter; there is frankly plenty of death shred out there right now, no need for another entry in the virtuosity sweepstakes.
And so, being neither the most technical nor the most brutal band on the planet, Broken Hope may end up largely playing to a crowd of preexisting converts, aging 90's old school death fans who know all the previous albums by heart, but the problem was never that there weren't enough of those to go around in the first place, it's that Wagner and cohorts were hamstrung in their ability to get that material in front of those fans to begin with.

tags: broken hope, omen of disease, 2013, flac,

Broken Hope - Mutilated & Assimilated (2017)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
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© 2017 Century Media
Review by Connie Gordon for Loudersound.com
Considering Broken Hope’s dysfunctional and scattershot history, including a decade-long hiatus and the tragic passing of two former members – vocalist Joe Ptacek in 2010 and drummer Ryan Stanek in 2015 – that these Chicago-based OGs returned at all in 2013 with Omen Of Disease is a small miracle. After a few tours and lone original member, Jeremy Wagner, purchasing six of the late Jeff Hanneman’s guitars, along comes Mutilated And Assimilated, steeped in history, lore and sentiment. Beyond the album’s feel-good backstory, what’s on offer is brutal death metal whose most redeeming qualities are the leftfield themes hinted at in The Necropants (really), Outback Incest Clan and Hell’s Handpuppets. Most disappointing is the actual musical delivery which is overly linear and staid, monotonous and, despite the horror themed interludes, suffering from a lack of intrinsic dynamics, aligned to others and the ordinary. Cannibal Corpse’s Hammer Smashed Face might be one of death metal’s greatest moments, but we really only need them to play it, not have Broken Hope extract and dilute it over and over again like they have here.

tags: broken hope, mutilated and assimilated, 2017, flac,

August 01, 2020

Figures On a Beach - Figures On a Beach (1989)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock
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© 1989 Sire
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason
The second full-length by Detroit-to-Boston transplants Figures on a Beach is an album out of time. When FOAB leader Christopher Ewan joined Stephin Merritt's Future Bible Heroes in the late '90s, his rattling synth pop melodies sounded retro and quaint. In 1989, which is when this album was released, it simply sounded terribly dated. Ewan's twinkly synths and the electro-pop sheen of Ivan Ivan's production, coupled with Anthony Kaczynski's occasionally overdramatic vocal style and the sometimes mildly pretentious lyrics, makes this album sound like the state of 1983. That said, however, if one can work past the over-slick production and over-reliance on MIDI synths, Figures on a Beach is overall a pretty good album. The ultra-catchy opener "Accidentally 4th Street (Gloria)" is probably the catchiest thing the group ever did, and songs like the wry "Clamdiggin'," the bouncy character study of a lazy sod justifying his life, reveal a sense of humor that helps deflate more ponderous tunes like the self-pitying "Welfare." However, the electronic cover of Bachman Turner Overdrive's "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet," undoubtedly a misguided A&R suggestion, is an abysmal failure. Figures on a Beach were clearly not a band who would fare well in the '90s, and they broke up shortly after this release.

tags: figures on a beach, figures on a beach album, 1989, flac,

Alcest - Souvenirs D'Un Autre Monde (2007)

Country: France
Language: French (Le Fran├žais)
Genre: Blackgaze
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© 2007 Prophecy Productions
AllMusic Review by Brian Way
The relationship between heavy metal and the so-called "shoegazer" movement of the early '90s might not be apparent in writing, but with Justin Broaderick's amazing transmutation of his grinding industrial metal in Napalm Death and Godflesh into the dark, sonic bliss of his current incarnation as Jesu, it doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore. Immediately upon first listen the connection between one-man band Neige's French "black metal" roots and his current neo-psychedelic explorations under the Alcest moniker doesn't seem so far-fetched, natural even. Playing all the instruments on Alcest's debut full-length Souvenirs d'Un Autre Monde ("Memories of a Future World") Neige builds layers upon layers of ecstatically distorted guitars that evoke obvious comparisons to My Bloody Valentine's sonic extravaganzas and less obvious nods to the brooding minor-key post-metal of Jesu, only perhaps a bit sunnier. There are only six songs on Souvenirs, and the formula deviates only slightly, but the mission statement is evident from the opening crunch of the first track "Printemps Emeraude," as the foundation of majestic guitar swells and stately minimalist drums is laid and the journey begins, and the listener is seemingly transported over great distances and through lifetimes via hypnotic repetition and a series of dynamic shifts which are probably more important than the actual songs themselves. The feelings elicited are those of yearning, nostalgia, triumph and blissful peace, all without a single lyric in (discernible) English. And really, the best factor arising from the meeting of metal and shoegaze is that this is a guitar album -- a monstrous, churning, epic guitar album -- without a single guitar solo!

tags: alcest, souvenirs d un autre monde, 2007, flac,

Alcest - Écailles De Lune (2010)

Country: France
Language: French (Le Fran├žais)
Genre: Blackgaze
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© 2010 Prophecy Productions
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
If any proof were needed that anticipation was at a fever pitch for Alcest's second full-length album, it could be found in the fact that a clever leak of Écailles de Lune that made the rounds before its release was rabidly snapped up worldwide even though most of the tracks came from a compilation of Chinese black metal acts. But the fact that it was treated as the real thing shows how strong Alcest's own aesthetic mark has been made already, and Écailles de Lune makes the most of its compelling fusion of black metal's theatricality and the after-echoes of shoegaze's propensity for utterly enveloping a listener, even if bandleader Neige approached that sound unconsciously at first. The first half of the two-part title track that begins the album starts with a gentle guitar chime before the full skyscraping riff kicks in, but -- instead of getting even more intense as it goes -- it's happy to turn even more elegantly beautiful, letting moments of strutting rock brawl feel more like exaltation than destruction. Neige's singing is some of his loveliest at many points throughout the album, a soft keen toward the middle of the second half of the title track, a low and contemplative rumination elsewhere -- if not notably different from his earlier work in approach, it's at its most enjoyable here, and perhaps at its most beautifully serene on "Solar Song," vocals overlaid to lovely effect. In contrast to how Justin Broadrick's work in Jesu feels like brutal songs gone blissed-out, here it feels like calmly performed songs given sometimes full-speed accelerants that never lose a central grace, even when Neige's vocals turn into a familiar hollow rasp and wail.

tags: alcest, ecailles de lune, 2010, flac,

Alcest - Les Voyages De L'âme (2012)

Country: France
Language: French (Le Fran├žais)
Genre: Blackgaze
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© 2012 Prophecy Productions
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
Though French black metal has always been full of experimental weirdness that pushes at the genre's narrow boundaries, none has pushed the envelope as far as Alcest, a band that willfully combines black metal's buzz, gorgeous shoegaze melodies, ambient soundscapes, and post rock feedback. Les Voyages de l'├éme, Alcest's third full-length, arrives with great expectations based on the shock-of-the-new that greeted their debut, Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde, and its follow-up Ecailles de Lune. Alcest stands in its own "blackgaze" space at the crossroads of Burzum's Filosofem and My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. But one wonders how black that space can actually be with melodies that are so consciously attractive and lyrics that reject negativity. Founder, songwriter, and guitarist Neige was a one-man show until recently when Winterhalter was added on drums. Here Alcest's sound continues to evolve, stripping away more and more of metal's tropes; its production values have improved vasty as well. In its harmonic sophistication and layered sonic washes, its ability to create emotions that approach bliss in now part of its sonic architecture. Neige's vocals, decipherable at times, are all in French. They're meant to be another layer of that atmospheric palette; when they can be understood, they celebrate something spiritually positive though abstract. Multi-tracked electric and acoustic guitars and tension-tuned basses meet washes of synth and Winterhalter's tom-tom-heavy drum attack (no blastbeats) in songs that embrace the experience of an undefinable beauty in the shared terrain of spiritual, human, and natural worlds. The sense of "heaviness" in the mix is pronounced, but it employs aggression in a celebratory manner as evidenced by opener "Autre Temps" and closer "Summer Glory." Even at its harshest, when Neige is screaming, as on “L├á o├╣ Naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles” and “Faiseurs de Mondes," the melodic beauty of the guitars seems to open up that expression, ensuring balance. This is music created to invite listeners to enter into the band's soundworld aesthetic, not be dictated to by it. Les Voyages de l'├éme is a conscious synthesis of the music from their two previous albums, rather than a move forward. And that's fine: assessment and integration and perfecting previous ideas are important aspects of any serious attempt at making art and creating a forward motion trajectory. Whether Les Voyages de l'├émeis the band's finest album is a debate listeners will no doubt have, but is a great record;it simultaneously self-defining and alluring.

tags: alcest, les voyages de l'ame, 2012, flac,