VI - Klagopsalmer

Written by: EW on 19/11/2009 13:59:30

In light of their current support slot to Satyricon, travelling across Europe as I write, I deemed it a good time to finally bring out a review of Swedish Shining's album, released back in the summer, "VI - Klagopsalmer". And it is now that a review of a band as bleak as Shining is suited, as the winter draws upon us as the music offered on "Klagopsalmer" is anything but summer material.

A key factor in discussing this release is the slow and subtle movement away from the bleaker territories in which Shining were born. Yes what you have here is still one of the blackest albums to be reviewed on but with album number six Shining are drifting further from the abject suicidal path that was propagated so mournfully well on "V - Halmstad". That 2007 release, the one in which I finally gave in and decided to check out Shining, was as depressive as I had expected from hearing so much of their name, but in so many other ways it was, and still is, an utterly astounding listen. Because far from being merely a morose collaboration of morose souls, Shining mix their downtrodden negatives in a veil of lush, well-written, -played and -produced blackened metal. Honestly, there is no band I've yet come across who combine the bleakness of BM (and much of extreme metal in general) with such an artful take on the genre, and for this Shining deserve many plaudits.

Whereas once Shining was effectively the sole outlet of the slightly deranged Niklas 'Kvarforth' Olsson the band these days are much of a unit, going some way to explaining the intricacies of much of the output here. In overall terms "VI - Klagopsalmer" bears strong resemblance to "V - Halmstad" - a strong bassy sound and several flourishing solos that at times recall Jeff Loomis (Nevermore), both brilliantly at odds with what is 'expected' of BM bands, and a variety of vocals deployed by the pained Kvarforth set to convey different feelings across the stylistically variable songs - yet it never quite reaches the heights (or should that be plummets the depths?) of it's predecessor of two years.

To exemplify the streak of self-determination Shining go far beyond the limits of simple guitars, bass, drums and 'metal' vocals to convey much more emotional feelings of helplessness and misery. Closer "Total Utfrysning" meets the trajectory of "Halmstad" with a long period of simple, exposed guitar chords and a very tactful collaboration of esoteric piano and weeping violin, injecting further classical influence into the works of these Swedes. Ok it doesn't quite reach the torture of having to listen to a girl genuinely and audibly on the edge of suicide ("Låt Oss Ta Allt Från Varandra" from "V - Halmstad" if you're intrigued) but compared to the methods of most metal bands Shining are, true to their name, a beacon of light and symbol of how far the genre can be taken.

The first half of this album consists of three good, though far from great, songs and is where the album lacks in quality in comparison to previous works. Continuing the experimentation ingrained into their souls yes, but none of these first three quite feature the hooks inherent in an album designed for long-lasting appreciation. Track four, "Ohm - Sommed Med Siv", is where the album turns up the heat in a complex song at various points not dissimilar from any of Arcturus. Katatonia and Opeth. And from this point on Shining reveal what has brought them as far as a direct support to megastars Satyricon; deceptively complex tomes of glowingly dark metal.

A step down from their previous effort it may be but don't write off "VI - Klagopsalmer" on this basis as there is still much to be enjoyed on a listen that ironically given the subject nature is a viable entry route for newcomers into black metal.


Download: Total Utfrysning, Ohm - Sommed Med Siv
For The Fans Of: Bethlehem, older Katatonia
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 30.06.2009
Osmose Productions

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