Hailing from Halmstad, Sweden, Shining delivers a very tasty blend of black metal, doom metal, gothic rock, jazz, progressive rock, and pretty much anything else main man Nicklas Kvarforth, the main songwriter and live vocalist, decides to fit in to his very eclectic style of writing. Looking at the cover, you see a teenage girl biting the muzzle of a gun, and you probably immediately thought “Dammit, this depressive black metal trend is a bunch of bullshit; I probably heard this album when I listened to Xasthur for the first (and last) time.” To be completely honest, I thought the same exact thing. In my mind, the name Shining was too close in similarity to Silencer and the “depressive black metal” tag was all too repulsive. Not to mention Kvarforth’s knack for getting attention; the man faked his own suicide only to reappear as the singer “Ghoul” who was set to be his replacement. These mixed together make a concoction that normally acts in the exact opposite manner of pheromones when it comes to my music taste.
Hoo boy, was I wrong.
Shining’s extraordinarily powerful, Opeth-tinged performance on “Halmstad” is near perfection. Kvarforth takes his debilitating depression and madness and effectively recreates his emotions in the atmosphere of this groundbreaking release. Essentially, Shining takes the “depressive black metal” tag, spits on it, takes it off its Prozac prescription, and turns it into PSYCHOTIC black metal.
“Psychotic black metal?” you ask. Exactly. Between Nicklas’s extraordinary vocal performance, ranging from deep growls, high pitched screams, moaning, howling, yelling, groaning, and some sort of Louis Armstrong-esque singing technique, and rather eerie movie samples from some Swedish indie movie and “Prozac Nation,” starring Christina Ricci, the severe psychosis experienced by the narrator, presumably Kvarforth, is very obvious.
Moving on, the musicianship of “V – Halmstad” is amazing. As stated earlier, the writing of this album is very Opeth-tinged. That means there are very catchy-yet-dirge-like guitar riffs that rumble along beneath an always-apparent lead guitar whilst the bass (which you can actually hear) rumbles along, allowing for a very nice bottom-end. The most impressive song of the release that demonstrates the versatility of the band, in my opinion, is “Laat Oss Ta Allt Fraan Varandra” (Let Us Take Everything From Each Other). The song starts out with a very gothic rock-like, very heavy guitar part which segues into a very choppy black metal riff. This song features an eerie jazz part, a catchy guitar solo, and even a melodic death/doom metal part, a la Daylight Dies. Kvarforth’s vocals are amazing on this release, experimenting with all of the aforementioned vocal tangents. This song also features a very creepy-sounding movie clip from some rather underground Swedish psychological thriller. I hate to hear women cry, don’t you?
“V - Halmstad” is by far Shining’s best release, slightly outdoing their previous release, “IV – the Eerie Cold,” featuring a less matured style of writing than “Halmstad.” September 16th, 2008, marks the release of “VI – Klagospalmer,” and my expectations are set high for this release, not that I foresee any disappointment in Shining’s bright future (oh look, I made a funny).
Recommended for fans of: Opeth, Daylight Dies, Lifelover, Katatonia, Ikuinen Kaamos, Dark Tribe, and anything that sounds psychotic or beautiful.