Alcest, Clad in Darkness, End of the Ocean All Ages Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., April 6, 6 p.m. 2012

Alcest front man and songwriter Neige famously dislikes it when reviewers emphasize his black-metal background—though you can hardly blame them, given that the band's first recording, a 2001 demo, was undeniably black metal. But since then Alcest has been devoted to Neige's childhood dreams of an unreal realm he calls "the fairy land," which he clearly still holds sacred, and he swears he doesn't want any hint of despair creeping into them. To my ears, Alcest's third album, Les Voyages de L'Ame ("The Voyages of the Soul," released in January on German label Prophecy) has a fair amount of darkness in it, despite the almost angelic vocals—but it's a romantic, gothic kind of darkness, a la the heyday of 4AD Records. The drums in "La Où Naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles" surge with a distinctly metallic force, and the powerful, icily beautiful guitar chords of "Nous Sommes L'Emeraude" wouldn't be out of place on a live Bauhaus bootleg. But really, that's as it should be. Any attempt to evoke a spirit world that included no sinister shades would end up sounding like bland New Age music, and the terrain Alcest occupies is hardly so featureless: it's more like Marianne Moore's "imaginary gardens with real toads in them." —Monica Kendrick Clad in Darkness and the End of the Ocean open.

Price: $15, $12 in advance

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