Concert Recap: Alcest and Deafheaven @ Big Top – 3/20/12

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Review by Brendan Twist

So in 2011 the indie music community got really excited about black metal. There were think pieces, and much-ballyhooed buzz bands, and the inevitable hey-we-were-here-first backlash from the tr00 kvlt fans. It was fun, for a while, to see this potent subgenre, long relegated to the margins of musical discussion, getting so much ink. But hipsters, it seems, can find a way to make anything annoying, and we’re nearing that threshold for black metal – or at least for conversations about it.

Fortunately, there really are a lot of good bands inspiring all this talk. Two of them played at the on Tuesday: , a French group that’s been melding black metal with the dreamy sounds of shoegaze for years; and , a band that’s so damn hot right now that NPR and Esquire – fucking Esquire* – dubbed them among the best acts at SXSW in Austin last week.

, who headlined, began as a solo project of multi-instrumentalist Stéphane Paut, who previously did time in more traditional, corpse-painted black metal outfits. Along the way, he’s picked up a full-time drummer and a touring rhythm guitarist and bassist (Paut plays lead and sings). In January, the band released its third full-length, Les Voyages de l’Âme, which refines the slow, shimmering, deeply melodic sound heard on 2010 breakout album Écailles de Lune.