November 7, 2018 Alcest Bring Kodama To Los Angeles, CA 11-2-18 w/ King Woman & Glaare
One of the more interesting aspects of the Heavy Metal genre is that its sub-genres pride themselves on sparking the unusual. For example, French Post-Black Metal band Alcest are one of the first to create a more somber and ambient Black Metal sound that is a far cry from the old school Black Metal Venom sound. Originating just after the turn of the century, Alcest is now returning to the USA for a milestone tour in support of their latest effort, 2016’s Kodama. An album they selected to perform in its entirety, on Friday, November 2, 2018, at Catch One in Los Angeles, California, Alcest brought with them a soothing vibe impossible to resist.
Marking their second visit to the North American market in two years, the last being 2017’s run with The Body and Creepers, this time around they are back for a brief collection of shows that began on October 25th and concluded on November 3rd. For the stop in Los Angeles, King Woman and Glaare would act as supporting acts, adding an extra dynamic to the evening. Providing a local flair, actually out of the Los Angeles area, Glaare shares a member or two with a couple other similar local bands – Deth Crux and Black Mare. As a dark Post-Punk band, influenced by The Cure and Killing Joke among others, they have a strong skill set and dynamic stage presence which was on full display at Catch One.
A Darkwave-styled quartet, led by quirky yet elegantly powerful Vocalist Rachael Pierce and other members including Cameron Carlin, Brandon Pierce, and newest addition Rex Elle on synth and bass, after all was said and done, they came out on top with perhaps the most lively set of the entire night. In a deep-staged venue and large, very dark room, they held their own with a professional performance that did not shy away from the task at hand. Noteworthy to mention, their incorporation of real drums with synths boded well as a perk to their creativity. Refreshing, they offer a style that moves into the future as they modify an older sound into a modern environment. Certainly worth showing up on time for, Glaare is clearly moving in the right direction with dreamily dark hooks.
Moving on to the Bay Area’s King Woman, this entity grew out of Vocalist Kristina Esfandiari’s solo project where she goes by the stage name Miserable. Originating in 2009, but only acting as a signed band for the last two years, their library of tunes is still growing, yet no less compelling. Lack of material aside, King Woman managed to put together a lengthy seven-song set opening with “Utopia” and concluding with “Manna.”
Excelling with a very melodic Doom sound, one that turns Shoegaze stylistically, King Woman never really escapes their steady drone pace, that is aside from the occasional angry lyrical moment. With such an opposite feel from the opener Glaare, all three bands worked collectively as a unit, yet separately creating their own unique presence. As for the overall performance of Esfandiari and company’s set, it went over fairly well with the audience. For those who just want to drown deep down in the foggy yet peaceful abyss for a while, escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life, King Woman is a great choice.
Now, for anyone discovering the world of Alcest for the first time, pleasant surprises lay ahead as the band follow a noble path of righteous, peaceful melodies. Alcest has basically taken the concept of Post-Black Metal and created a slower environment for it, expanding into, and exploring, other sub-genres including the Blackgaze turned Shoegaze realm. With the latest album, Kodama, the band return to the subtly darker Post-Black Metal world, but still bring with them the doomy pace of their prior albums. A concept piece, Kodoma is exploration of the human-created environment that imposes itself onto nature. Furthermore, it is beautifully-written. Although, chances are if you were at one of lucky ones at one these limited and selection performances, you already know all of this.
As for the showcase at the historic Catch One in Los Angeles, as promised, Alcest played Kodoma in its six-track entirety, ending where it began with recordings from the song “Onyx.” Just over forty minutes of music, the set would continue on with additional mellow tunes spanning over their entire discography, including tracks such as “Percées de lumière” and “Autre Temps.” Then, for the encore, they left the audience in an awe of trance with “Délivrance” from their 2014 album, Shelter.
What Alcest does not lack in hair, they also do not lack in soothing melodies that could easily cast you off into a euphoric escape or, at the very least, put a crying infant into a calm slumber. It shows guts, much skill, and dedication to play an entire album from start to finish, especially a concept one such as Kodama. All in all, the tour, which is not over, was worth the price of admission. Certainly one of the more unique Metal shows around, next time Alcest come around, get out and be a part of the unusual side of life!
Photo credit: Karina Diane Concert Photography