Welcome to my first Receiving the Evcharist column. I have always been fond of enjoying a good drink and an album or two in the evening to relax so to be able to pen my thoughts about this combination is a treat. Despite it being in the sweltering 90’s today in Southern California, tonight I’ll be embracing fall in the best way I know how: with a strong, dark beer and an album that evokes a chilled walk in the woods in the best way possible. The Metal: Alcestis Kodama, The Booze: Golden Road Brewery’s Back Home Gingerbread Stout.
The Metal: Alcest – Kodama
Full disclosure: I’m coming into this pretty biased. Alcest are one of my favorite bands, bar none, and have been for quite some time. Not only that, but this album’s thematic elements are based on one of my favorite films of all time as well, Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. So it should be no surprise to anyone when I say that I’ve been dying to get my hands on this album since it was first announced. With that being said, I was also hesitant to dive into it in full. Albums that I have psyched myself up this hard for have let me down in the past (Ghost Bath’s Moonlover still stands as the most recent and egregious culprit). Thankfully, I can say that this album not only lived up to the high expectations I had for it, but far surpassed them. This is Alcest at their absolute best. Every hallmark of their classic sound is back in full force; blast beats, crunchy distorted guitars, and most notably Neige’s astoundingly emotional harsh vocals. On the opposite end of the spectrum, songs like “Eclosion” and “Untouched” show that Alcest are still the kings of conveying honest emotional depth through metal music. Many people could dismiss this album as a band trying to curry favor after a perceived weak album — the same people who see Shelter as a step back rather than a step to the side (and for what it’s worth, I will go to my grave defending Shelter as one of my favorite Alcest albums). This is not a band repentant, this is a band renewed. And for my money Kodama is the best thing they’ve ever done.
The Booze: Golden Road Brewing – Back Home Gingerbread Stout
Much like Alcest’s return to their metal roots, Golden Road Brewery is ‘Back Home’ with this take on a fall/winter stout. Golden Road is an up-and-coming brewery on the outskirts of Los Angeles that I have been keeping my eye on since their inception. While most of what you find in stores will be different takes on IPA’s (as is much of the beer selection on the west coast), I managed to get my hands on a few of these darker beers and was instantly taken with the warm coziness this beer evokes. The body is thick, almost syrupy feeling without being cloying, with a thin head that dissolves fairly quickly (about the only thing I wish were different in this drink). The sweetness present helps to counterbalance the 8.5% ABV this beer boasts, so it never feels overpoweringly boozy. The high ABV coupled with the flavor profile of ginger and warming spices makes this a definite feel-good beer, and coupled with the soundtrack I was easily lulled into a state of contentment.
All in all, Kodama and this Back Home Gingerbread Stout have much in common with one another. Both balance darkness and sweetness with just a hint of bite behind them. Paired together, they make a recipe for a great evening of relaxing at home — even though the weather has been far from cool as of late, I feel as though Autumn has really come for us at last. Kodama is my rejuvenating walk in the woods, my reconnection with nature at the time of year when nature is at its peak, and the Gingerbread Stout is the warm house I come home to.
Until next time, cheers.