In 1996 Niklas Kvarforth, a twelve year old from Halmstad, in south west Sweden, formed black metal band Shining. Their debut album “Within Deep Dark Chambers” was released in 2000.
Since then, Kvarforth and band have released a further eight albums, and numerous EPs, with the newest being “IX : Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends” released in April 2015.
From the outset Shining have been a band that pushes the boundaries of acceptability, as they are vocal in their support and promotion of suicide and self-harm in the lyrical content of their material – including drug abuse, something that is also indicated in one of their rare music videos, for the song “Tillsammans Ar Vi Allt” (which translates as “Together We Are Everything”) from the 2011 album “V : Född Förlorare (Born Loser)”
Whilst this ideology does nothing for me, and I can quite see why people might get upset about it, musically the band are strong, an certainly “IX…” is a very good, well produced, extreme metal album. Joining vocalist / guitarist Kvarforth are guitarists Peter Huss and Euge Valovirta, bassist Christian Larsson and drummer Rainer Tuomikanto.
An eerie soundscape ushers in opening track “Den Påtvingade Tvåsamheten” (Being Forced Into Twosomeness) an atmospheric instrumental which is also rather gentle and melodic in places, recalling perhaps some mid-period Opeth. The piano ending to that track lulls us into a false sense of security however, as we are immediately woken up by the initially pacey and snarling “Vilja & Dröm” (Will & Dream) which itself has slower passages but never loses its menace.
“Framtidsutsikter” (Future Prospects) begins with a simple acoustic guitar motif accompanying Kvarforth’s almost plaintive vocals before gradually progressing to a mid-paced metal sound. “Människotankens Vägglösa Rum” (Human Thoughts, A Room Without Walls) has some aggressive riffing and excellent drum work from Tuomikanto underpining more tortured vocals, and manages to build up to quite a furious pace.
“Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna” (No More Bridges Left To Burn) and “Besök Från I(ho)nom” (A Visit From WitHi(m)n) round out the record, with the latter being another good example of just how well Kvarforth has developed the progressive side of his band without losing the fury and blackness that lies underneath it all.
Not for everyone, particularly taking into account the lyrical subject matter. However, given that the songs are sung in Swedish, for listeners such as myself it’s a case of getting an aural impression rather than the actual words – and listening to this record in terms of the music and mood I would certainly recommend a listen to anyone who appreciates black or progressive black metal…
1. Den Påtvingade Tvåsamheten / 2. Vilja & Dröm/ 3. Framtidsutsikter / 4. Människotankens Vägglösa Rum / 5. Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna / 6. Besök Från I(ho)nom