French outfit Alcest have always been a difficult band to nail into a genre. While leading man Neige comes from a black metal background the band itself the band itself has always used the term alternative or post-metal. Confusing to say the least, but take just one listen to their brand new album Spiritual Instinct and you would have to say that there is a definite prog sound breaking through… and to be blunt this is some of the best prog you are likely to hear this year.
Neige has admitted that this album was written at a time when he was re-discovering himself and the pain and anguish of that time can be heard throughout the album. These are all tracks written from the heart and it shows. ‘Les Jardins De Minuit’ has a long instrumental intro made up screaming guitars from Neige and drumming from Winterhalter that just continues to build and build before the beautiful and atmospheric vocals kick in almost heralding a spiritual awakening for the listener.
The two sides of Neige’s vocals come out to play on ‘Protection.’ The track has strong harmonies that make their way inside your head before a more eerie feeling sinks in as Neige’s delves into the more traditional metal growls. The result is a prog track with pure edge that make it truly special.
‘Sapphire’ sees Alcest sound a lot like The Butterfly Effect while ‘Lile Des Morts’ is a good track made even better by the hardcore drumming and haunting vocals that lift the track and make it even more memorable. Then there are ‘Le Miroir’ and ‘Spiritual Instinct’ which showcase the fact that this album was recorded using analogue tape as both tracks have an ethereal feel but at the same time have a rawness to them that is normally reserved for bands like Pallbearer.
Spiritual Instinct is one of the true surprises of 2019. The music itself is brutally honest and from the heart while at the same time showcasing a true beauty that makes you want to listen to the album over and over.