Alcest - Le Secret

Posted on Monday, June 06, 2011

This reissue of the 2005 EP is as about as essential as a reissue can get. Not only was the original pressing limited to just 1000 copies, but Neige has actually re-recorded the two epic tracks and included them with the originals. As for the material, it is Alcest, which is to say it is equal parts uplifting and heartbreaking Shoegazer Black Metal. Just like the two nearly flawless full lengths he’s put out since this EP, sorrowful yet beautiful melodies, the perfect mix of soothing clean and harsh Blackened vocals, occasional speed but mostly mid-paced to slow tempos, and pure sadness. Not much can touch Alcest when it comes to sadness, save for Jesu and Katatonia. The odd thing is, a look at the English translation of the lyrics (sung in French) reveals that the majority of the subject matter isn’t really the kind of negative, frostbitten prose you expect with something this suicidal. They’re actually quite innocent, positive lyrics. Not “positive” in the Jesus-fucking vein, I must add. Neige (French for “snow”) is a nature lover, very nostalgic and seemingly tied to mysterious events of his childhood as the lyrics, his interviews, and more thoroughly, the extensive liner notes of the reissue explain. Still, uplifting music I often find to be the most depressing, especially when this man can manipulate a melody at any tempo to the point of simultaneous goosebumps and teardrops at will. The only factor keeping this from absolute perfection is that the re-recorded 2011 versions blow the originals away. Not a lot has changed except for a much higher quality production and superior drumming (Neige played all the instruments including the drums on the original EP), but there is no comparison. Still, I’m glad the originals were included as any completist would be. Hard to find much fault with anything this guy does really.

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