at John Dee, Oslo, Norway, January 28, 2014

Photo by Patrick Larsen Holseth

All photos by Patrick Larsen Holseth

Support for Alcest were the British Shoegazers The Fauns and the Psychedelic Folk Rock band Hexvessel from the deep forests of Finland.


HEXVESSEL (Oslo, Norway, January 28th 2014)
Photo by Patrick Larsen Holseth

While the former played soothing music it kind of became stale after the first three songs. Hexvessel however played a much more varied and vivid form of music and managed to keep the crowd on their toes throughout the set.

With keyboards, a trumpet and a violin to spice up the mysticism of the Finnish folklore the crowd were taken on a venture through the forests with “Woods to Conjure” to witchcraft with “Woman of Salem” while the more complex songs “His Portal Tomb” and “Unseen Sun” clocked in at 10 and 13 minutes of length. Hexvessel is definitely a band to be recommended!


ALCEST (Oslo, Norway, January 28th 2014)
Photo by Patrick Larsen Holseth

Alcest is often dubbed a “Shoegaze” band that blends in elements from Post-Metal even Black Metal. The terminology often becomes difficult when you are dealing with sub-genres in the outskirts of Metal. Alcest is a lot of things as it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what kind of band they are though they are a lot of things in-between these genre terms. There are traces of Black Metal in their music, especially the way some of the lead guitars play at times or the occasional growling vocals, but as far as the rest goes Alcest plays Atmospheric Metal. But enough about genres, what’s certain is that no other bands sound quite like Alcest.

They entered the stage to the sound of “Wings,” the intro to the brand new and fourth studio album Shelter (2014), and went right into the beautiful “Opale.” The lyrics are still in French, which only makes it sound more beautiful, and this song is arguably a lot dreamier than what Alcest has released up until this point. The vocals courtesy of guitarist and group founder Neige (Stéphane Paut) adds another atmospheric layer to their music. You don’t always hear what he is singing but it doesn’t matter (even if you know French) because the sound of his voice plays a bigger part in the musical expression than the actual words. Guitarist Zero’s backing vocals complements Neige’s voice almost to perfection.

Photo by Patrick Larsen Holseth

The set was dominated by songs from Shelter and Les Voyages de l’Âme (2012) and no wonder really; those two albums really define Alcest’s musical style best. The way Alcest builds their setlist is quite nice. They go gradually from atmospheric beauty to a darker type of Metal and back again. Everything wasn’t dreamy though. “Là Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles” starts slow and dark while it builds up to a part with growling and double bass drum pedals and further on to some blast beats. While this is going on there are always layers of keyboards in the background which ensures that the atmospheric elements aren’t lost. In fact the growling also seems like another layer that blends perfectly into their well-composed and beautiful music. “Beings of Light” took things a bit further. This is a semi-instrumental with blast beats and wall-of-sound-guitars; another nod to their Black Metal roots. “Percées de Lumière” off Écailles de Lune (2010) was the rawest sounding song in the set and the second one to feature growling vocals.

ALCEST (Oslo, Norway, January 28th 2014)
Photo by Patrick Larsen Holseth

Neige was calm and polite towards the crowd all the way and didn’t utter more words than what was necessary. That actually worked fine in this setting. Alcest is a band that lets the music do the talking. “Voix Sereines” and the title track off the new album slowed things down while “Autre temps” off Les Voyages de l’Âme was another highlight of the show. They slowed things down completely with the semi-acoustic “Sur L’Océan Couleur De Fer” while “Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde” was the only song representing the real roots of the first album.

Alcest is a band for those who like atmospheric music and a certain mood. In spite of this there was a lot of headbanging from both the band and the crowd as it’s obvious that Alcest has their roots in Metal. Either way Alcest is back better than ever, and the ticket is definitely worth the money.

Setlist: Opale / Summer’s Glory / L’eveil des Muses / Là Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles / Voix Sereines / Shelter / Beings of Light / Autre Temps / Sur L’Océan Couleur De Fer / Percées de Lumière / Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde


  • Kristian Singh-Nergård

    Kristian is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He is Metal Express Radio's Marketing and Communications Manager, and on occasions also reviewer and photographer. Based out of Oslo, Norway, Kristian is a bass player and owner of the independent record label Pug-Nose Records. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2006.

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