Alcest is a difficult topic to write about because this is a band that I absolutely don't want to ruin with my mundane words. It's somehow a very fragile band to talk about, and as I said in my post about their song Autre Temps, I'm afraid that the beauty of this music will wear out if I listen to or talk about Alcest too much. That is a very reasonable fear :/
Alcest's songs are depictions and stories of a dream land or a fantasy world where Neige, the mastermind behind Alcest, used to visit as a child. Combine that dreaminess with his black metal background, floating atmosphere, the French language.. and Alcest is what you get. To my understanding the band's earlier releases before these two albums are more black metally in nature, whereas now the focus seems to be going further away from (black) metal. Le Voyages de L'âme is a bit softer than Écailles de Lune, of which the song Autre Temps is a great example. It's a very easily approachable song that has nearly no traces of metal in it. At the other end of the scale is, for example, the song Écailles de Lune (part II) from the 2010 album, which quickly descends into blast beats and black metal screams - something that might keep non-metal listeners away from Alcest.
Neither extreme end is better than the other, though. The metal in this predominantly atmospheric landscape of soft music is a much needed element, in my opinion. It makes Alcest easier for metal fans to relate to, and without it, the music would be maybe too soft and boring (and then the mainstream would like it, which would be terrible!). The successful combination of the metal and the dreamy atmosphere, like in the song Là Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles (from Les Voyages de L'âme), is something you don't hear every day, and it's wonderful. The term post metal is very appropriate for Alcest's music. You know the elements from metal, but they've gone through some sort of softening machine that makes it no longer heavy metal. I never thought I'd hear soft blastbeats.. Or soft black metal screams. o_o
The only song that I don't care to listen is the instrumental song Beings of Light of Les Voyages de L'âme, which is a bit too repetitive with its aaah's and... aah's. Other than that, both albums are absolutely wonderful. I'd recommend Alcest to anyone who's interested in escapism. This is the real shit for that activity.
Scores..? 9/10 for both. Alcest doesn't fit into every state of mind, and at least I don't find it in me to listen to it all the time. It's at its best in small dosages every now and then. That's why it's so good, I think: it has it's specific place and time.
I wanted to describe the atmosphere that I experience when I listen to Alcest, so I went skiing in the snowy forest and filmed the video below. A crappy video quality and a shaking picture combined with Alcest's song Percées De Lumière is, for me, a pretty good description of where I go when I listen to this band. Figuratively speaking.