Alcest is a band that made its mark by taking the trappings of black metal and applying them to a cleaner, brighter, post-black and shoegaze sound. Lots of major tonality and clean vocals stand in stark contrast to the performative grimness so often seen within the scene.

The band’s latest album, Spiritual Instinct, drops October 25 through Nuclear Blast, and sees the band keep their more upbeat approach to black metal, but with a slightly heavier sound than seen in their work before. Listeners will notice this change right out of the gate with the opener, “Les Jardins Des Minuit,” and its bass-heavy, slightly sludgy sound. “Le Miroir” features this sludge approach combined with a soft folksiness and electronic elements, making for a pretty fresh sound as far as Alcest is concerned.

The title track closes out the album with a meditative, chanting tune and repeating motives. Like most Alcest songs, it’s beautiful and flowing and well-constructed, but things begin to meld together after a while.

Spiritual Instinct sees some development in Alcest’s sound, with incorporation of elements not heard from them much before, though it takes several spins to really start appreciating the record. Like most Alcest albums, the tracks begin to blend together and get lost in the overall vibe, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because that’s just what these guys do. Spiritual Instinct is a solid record and a good listen; just don’t expect any particularly strong earworms, especially following in the wake of Kodama, which had a couple more memorable tracks.

Pre-order the album here. 


Ben Serna-Grey is a musician and writer from the Pacific Northwest. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Apex Magazine, Bending Genres, Broadswords and Blasters, Two Cities Review, and others. He has sheet music published through Subito Music Publishing and also puts out experimental electronic/noise music as Mother Anxiety. He is also a contributor for Toilet Ov Hell and occasionally reviews short fiction on SFF Reviews.

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