One of the more controversial outfits in Metal, Sweden's depressive black Metal band Shining are about to release their eighth studio album, 'Redefining Darkness', the follow up to 2011s 'VII: Född Förlorare'. Regarding the new album, founder and front man Niklas Kvarforth says:
"The use of numbers to describe the albums is no longer something that Shining is interested in doing. The new album is without a doubt the darkest thing I have ever done or heard. People will be upset for sure - and hopefully its divine genius will destroy the lives of thousands."
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It is dark, very dark indeed, but at the same time exciting and exhilarating to listen to. Packed to the brim with harrowing emotion right to its very core, I thought 'VII: Född Förlorare' was excellent but this takes up where that left off and goes way beyond, opening a new chapter on Shining's unique slant on black Metal.
There are, once again six tracks, five of which are over the six minute mark, the other, a three and a half minute instrumental. The opening track 'Du, Mitt Konstverk' (You, My Artwork) hits you full on, no intro to ease you in, full force from the offset, harrowing, vitriolic vocals and an intense barrage of drum and guitar and once those vitriolic and almost dualistic vocals kick in you just know you are set for something pretty exciting.
Only two tracks this time sung in Swedish, the opening track and the third track 'Han Som Hatar Människan' (He Who Hates Humans), an up tempo, catchy, yet harrowing track. I do enjoy the Swedish lyrics, it adds intrigue and a touch of mystery, but at the same time the bonus with the English lyrics is you know instantly exactly what the songs are about.
'The Ghastly Silence' has a drum led opening with melancholic guitars which become blackened as the track builds and develops and a haunting sax adds dark melancholic atmosphere while 'Hail Darkness Hail' has a blackened groove to its construct and a spoken Hispanic segment before taking on very a Latino feel with Spanish guitars and clean vocals.
'Det Stora Grå' (The Great Grey) is a piano based instrumental, melancholic and beautiful, the calm before the final storm.
On the final track, 'For The God Below', the clean opening guitar has a deeply reflective atmosphere before building to a powerfully vitriolic burst from the vocals, an immense, formidable final track which vocally switches from soft and reflective to angry and vitriolic for maximum impact, an impressive end to the album.
The level of musicianship on this album is excellent, with astounding drum work and powerful, emotive guitar solos, all involved have pushed themselves to the very limit of their ability and possibly a bit beyond given the level of emotion expelled from these tracks, particularly with Niklas's vocals.
One of the great things about Shining is you never know quite where the music will take you, such is the extremity of tempo change keeping you enthralled from start to finish. Also there is always such a good balance between the tracks harsh and extreme and the lighter reflective and melancholic elements which is what makes their music so interesting.
So, did it upset me or ruin my life? Oh No! Quite the opposite!
'Redefining Darkness' was produced by King Diamond's Andy LaRocque and was recorded at Sonic Train studios and is released on Monday 29th October on Spinefarm Records.