When critics compared the delicate parts of French erstwhile-black-metal band Alcest to English '90s group Slowdive, main man Neige checked out the shoegazer pioneers and fell hard for their hazy sound. He even recruited Slowdive vocalist Neil Halstead to sing on Alcest's fourth album, Shelter. The gauzy guitars, gliding violins, and reflective melodies are well-crafted , but unlike past Alcest albums, the gentle tones aren't balanced by torrents of distorted guitar, growling vocals, or rapid-fire drumming. Only "Voix Sereines" features buzzing riffage, and even that is devoid of any urgency. With Shelter, Alcest have abandoned bracing storm bursts, leaving a too monotonous calm. JON WIEDERHORN
Check out "Voix Sereines" off Shelter.