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Shining - IX - Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends | FESTIVALPHOTO
 

Shining - IX - Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends

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When one speaks of the Swedish ''depressive'' metal pioneers Shining, a lot of reactions arise, be it for their massive controversial nature, perpetuated by frontman and mastermind Niklas Kvarforth, or be it by the music itself, which is nowadays the furthest it could be from what it was at its birth, nearly 20 years ago. They have nothing to prove, and certainly no one to please but themselves, as they are already established as one of the greatest bands in black metal history. Yet their new album ''IX - Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends'' is not a black metal album, as their previous releases have not been, arguably since the release of the masterpiece ''V - Halmstad''. They have been continuosly evolving and growing, experimenting with new sounds and facets, which has made their last records something either one loves or hates, and creatures of their own, as the purists keep whining about their distancing from the ''black metal scene'', and the rest of us praising their evolution.

And if either one agrees or disagrees with his actions or philosophies, there is no denying the amazing work and dedication Kvarforth puts into Shining, his ''child'', as he calls it. But the merit isn't exclusively his, as the current lineup is probably the best so far, for its coherency and musical harmony, and even its stage chemistry. And it has been lasting, which shows that maybe Shining's ''curse'' with band members has either ended or has laid dormant, and if the latter is the case, we hope it lays dormant for many, many years. In this album we can hear the musical chemistry between guitarists Peter Huss and Euge Valovirta, a chemistry that is palpable on stage, and even moreso on recorded form. Their guitar work goes beautifully together, be it acoustically, rythmically, or with the mercilessly extravagant solos. And this excellence isn't exclusive to the guitars, as once again Christian Larsson showcases his amazing bass skills, delivering hauntingly transcendent basslines and scales, as he did on ''Redefining Darkness'', and showing that despite his young age, the multi-instrumentalist is not just a one-trick pony or mere eye-candy, for he knows exactly what he is doing and does it exceptionally well, as this album contains some of the most beautiful basslines and parts I have ever heard. And what would be a great album without a great drummer? Having been playing with Shining for a while now but this being his first recorded album with them, Rainer Tuomikanto shows us what we already know: he gets shit done. The drum work on this release varies between simple and slow, setting the tempo and beat to some of the more calmer parts, to crushing blastbeats that bring a black metal violence, to the groovy and jazz-influenced parts, and it all makes it consistent yet diversified. If the drums are the spine of an album or song, then his work makes us stand perfectly upright. All of this sounds pretty good so far, and Kvarforth's vocals are the cherry on top of this decadent cake. He is a multi-faceted singer, no doubt about it, and he explores his range to the max. Every occasion is adequate to show that, be it on his signature rough screaming, or screeching, to the lower more gutural growling, and the occasional cry-like sounds, and whispers. There is also and audible and significant evolution on his clean singing as well, a fact that can be verified through listens on parts of ''Neka Morgondagen'', ''Förtvivlan, Min Arvedel'', the ''Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt'' EP, and songs on ''Redefining Darkness'', here in ''IX - Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends'', he shows his clean vocals are quite at their peak, as they sound better than ever.

Now, onto the album itself. Shining seem to have returned to their formula of numbering albums, a tradition they broke with ''Redefining Darkness'', however they broke another tradition, despite still having the six usual songs, the fifth is no longer an instrumental one, as that place was changed by making the first track and instrumental intro, which is something new. And also, the entire album is written in Swedish.

Den Påtvingade Tvåsamheten is the intro that begins the album, a dissonant track with dissonant and eerie sounds at the beginning until the instrumental kicks in, powerful, with great solo and guitar work being put on dispaly here. It is somewhat melacholic, but also has a sort of ''grand'' feel to it, like one is standing before a battle, yet this contrasts with the soft and quiet parts, almost as a child's lullaby of some sort.

Vilja & Drom starts off with the ever so characteristic ''ugh'' and it is absolutely violent and unforgiving. To the whiners, here is your ''Halmstad'' throwback. The guitars on this are purely marvelous, and the anger on Niklas' voice is resonating. There's a gloominess in the air, and certain feelings of despair arise, being lead on by the dreariness of the song. It's a track that could easily be present on any earlier release, maintaining the black metal feel some so desperately crave for, even if it's more black n' roll oriented.

Framtidsutsikter is what one could call the ''ballad'', and it is so chillingly beautiful. From the acoustic guitars to the vocals, which, like in the second track and throughout the album, you can feel every emotion in his voice. It's all purely genuine. The bass on this track is so wonderfully done and combines it all together into an atmosphere of melancholy and despair. The entire seven minutes of this track have a very individual beauty in their complex simplicity. And then, the electric guitars build you up for a hard rock influenced final section, with some great solo work.

Människotankens Vägglosä Rum is one of the strongest points of this record. It's groovy with an inherent evilness and relentlessness. The dissonant guitar parts just add to the evil atmosphere, and then it comes to the blastbeats, completely crushing and impeccably executed. It's a song I'd really like to hear live. The bass, so powerful, stands out through all that madness. The characteristical acoustic passage brings us a clean yet rough voiced Niklas, followed by a mellow classic rock like solo. Bulding up again, and I must highlight the cymbal work in that small part, as I completely adored how it sounded. Kvarforth's grunting goes on as the guitars go out.

Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna, a song that begins with a splendid dance between enticing acoustic guitars and a sublime bass that gives me goosebumps, and goes ever so calm as Niklas screams away with an anger filled voice. This is my favourite song in the album, mainly because how the bass is so extraordinarily inserted and executed, and the ''silent'' parts with drums, bass, and acoustic make me crawl out of my skin, and all the elements in it are arranged in such a way that could render one speechless. And then we have the banjo. Taake have done it, but here it is used exquisitely, as it gives the song an oriental feel, something that just works so good.

Besök Från I(ho)nom is the final song, and just by the start it's already worth going through the entire album to listen to it. The unexpected violence hits you like a brick, and like ''Vilja & Drom'', this is the type of song that can shut up all the whining purists. Shining didn't lose their essence, ladies and gentlemen, they perfected it even further. The vocals are just hateful, and the drums are one of the biggest virtues of this song, along with the bass once more, as it is so hauntingly eerie. And in this track, in its acoustic part, we are presented with something rather new: no clean singing, Kvarforth merely speaks. Now, Swedish is a beautiful language, and his speaking voice does it in such a manner that brings the entire song up a notch. The ending guitar work sets the final notes on Shining's latest, and dare I say, quite honestly flawless release.

Writer: Ana Raquel Mendes
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