Here we have the fifth full length of French pioneers of black gaze amalgamation Alcest, the album that sees them returning on the paths that made them famous… or seemingly so. Kodama’s predecessor Shelter was a complete departure from distortions and metal sound (no pun intended) which was not that shocking to me, considering that Neige was always very open about his love for shoegaze and similar styles. After all, Shelter sounded unmistakably Alcest to me – it featured their standard unique vibe but it just did not feature any harder sections. I do not really know the fans’ consensus about Shelter but I loved the album but on the other hand, I felt a bit sorry that Alcest left their unique sound. Kodama puts an end to it as it features Alcest’s comeback of sorts, distortions and even black metal passages are back in the sound picture so I guess that more stubborn fans will be happy with its presentation. I must say that main Alcest’s draw to me was always the atmosphere of music and Kodama once again gives that to me in spades. It should be said here that Kodama’s concept is connection between spiritual and human world which is usual Alcest routine but for this time Neige found his inspiration in Japanes culture which is maybe a bit unexpected for French band. I still do not know about the lyrics since they are still not available but I do know that I can feel that Alcest vibe through and through – ethereal melodies and the whole feeling that just lifts you above the simple world and sets you somewhere else. Knowing that Neige has always been inspired by the otherworld, I guess that this would be the ultimate compliment for Alcest as they have succeeded to do this to their fan once again. When it comes to music, I have already said that Kodama is in vein of older Alcest album but still somehow it brings something different… I even hear some grungy and Anathema like riffs implemented so cleverly into the music that it is hard to notice, as everything sounds like your standard Alcest. The whole album has similar formula with their first two, meaning that it has five “real” tracks so to say and at the end of the album is positioned experimental track so here we have one more link to their previous works. All in all, I feel that Kodama is one more successful work for Neige and Winterhalter and it will for sure end on my year’s end list. It has managed to bring joy to fans who craved for return on heavier waters but still not feeling contrived and cheap copy of old albums, but rather sound very fresh and up to date. Check it out by all means.
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