Alcest is a French shoegaze band from Bagnols-sur-Cèze, France, founded and led by Neige (Stéphane Paut). It began in 2000 as a black metal solo project by Neige, soon a trio, but following the release of their first demo in 2001, band members Aegnor and Argoth left the band, leaving Neige as the sole member.
This marked a change in style, as Alcest's subsequent releases have more often been described as shoegazing mixing numerous rock and metal influences, including black metal and post-metal.
Alcest was formed as a solo project by Neige in 2000. Soon after, the band became a three-piece black metal outfit, consisting of Neige on vocals, rhythm/acoustic guitar, and drums, Argoth on bass, and Aegnor (now known as La sale Famine de Valfunde. Famine used Neige as a drummer and rhythm guitarist in the early years of Peste Noire and Neige even wrote a song, "La Césarienne", for Peste Noire) on lead guitar.
In 2001, the band released a 4-track demo tape entitled Tristesse Hivernale on Drakkar Productions in which Famine wrote the main riff of the song "La Forêt de Cristal". Not long after the demo was released, the band once again became a one-man entity, with Neige taking Alcest in a more personal direction. Neige, having originally formed Alcest as an outlet to create cold and raw black metal, moved away from the minimalist approach with the follow-up to Tristesse Hivernale, entitled Le Secret. This EP, released in May 2005, is an introduction of sorts to the new concept behind the reformed Alcest. After having signed to Prophecy Productions in March 2007, Alcest's debut album Souvenirs d'un autre monde was released in early August of the same year, and drew comparisons with the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Jesu. In August 2007, Tristesse Hivernale was released by Northern Silence Productions in August 2007 as a split with French black metal band Angmar.
Alcest's second album, Écailles de Lune (Scales of the Moon), was released March 29, 2010. The band's third album, Les Voyages de l'Âme, was released on January 6, 2012.
Alcest's fourth effort entitled Shelter was released on January 17th, 2014 via Prophecy Productions. It features Birgir Jón Birgisson as producer, Amiina for the string sections and a guest appareance by Neil Halstead. With this album Alcest for the first time removed all remaining ties to black metal - and metal in general - and fully embraced a shoegaze/post-rock sound.
As a child, Neige had experiences of being in contact with a "far off country", which he generically refers to as "Fairy Land". Alcest serves as the musical adaptation of the memories from this "otherworld". Neige intends for Alcest to be a journey for the listener to this world through his memories. This change in concept was first introduced on Le Secret. Souvenirs d'un autre monde will serve as a literal summation of the concept behind the band.