Are you ready for the sinister shrieks, razorblade guitars, and blasting mayhem of black metal devastation? Well, you need to go elsewhere then because "Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde" by France's ALCEST is not for you. The fact that the lone force behind ALCEST, a man called Neige, has black metal roots has virtually no relevance to the album. Fortunately, none of that should disappoint anyone, except those who cannot stomach ethereal winds, shoe gazing waves, and post-rock flourishes. Yes, "Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde" is one of Profound Lore's "out there" acts, at least in terms of its connection to metal. As for the metallic aspects of the disc, there ain't none.
But on to the heart of the matter. Whereas THE ANGELIC PROCESS' "Weighing Souls with Sand" derived its power from alush tones interwoven with drone and a MY BLOODY VALENTINE juxtaposition of the harsh and shimmering, ALCEST's "Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde" goes for more of a purely dreamy and atmospheric vibe. In the context of ALCEST, words like "drone" and "harsh" can be replaced with "sooth" and "float."
The light, gentle (at times near whispers) vocals (with French lyrics) work more as another instrument, albeit with melodic patterns. It is the combination of keyboards and acoustic and cleanly picked guitars (save for moments of somewhat heaver riffing on a song like "Printemps Emeraude") that translate into some lovely compositions that stop well short of boring, even if a great deal of arrangement diversity is not present. In fact, the sojourn is a mentally and emotionally comforting one, culminating in an especially moving keyboard-led melody on the album-closing "Tir Nan Og".
"Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde" is not for everyone, but for those with an open mind and/or a preference for smooth contours instead of jagged edges, the album will be a treat. Personally, and I'm no expert on the style, the disc is like a breath of fresh air during a relaxing walk along a nature trail. It may not be heavy rotation material, but "Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde" is certainly a quality affair.