Swedish controversial band Shining is often surrounded by stories of madness and erratic behavior but nobody could ever deny that Niklas Kvarforth is one of the most talented creative minds in the extreme metal scene and the tenth album “X – Varg Utan Flock” continues to unfold the band’s unique music pathway through intensely dark nuances and unrestrained emotions.
“Svart Ostoppbar Eld” immediately drags you into impossibly darkened depths with untamed raw guitar riffing introducing primordial black metal roots as the tight rhythmic section acquires chaotic speed and extremely cold tonalities while Niklas delivers painfully savage screams. Yet this oppressive blackened urgency will be interrupted by soft melancholy infused arpeggios and bleak melodic tapestries rightfully culminating with a pleasantly heartfelt guitar shredding solo.
“Gyllene Portarnas Bro” will easily become a favorite track with its palpable inner demons and exceptional emotional quality embedded in the brilliant guitar work as the exquisitely poignant recurring guitar melodies feel simply addictive and unforgettable. Here Niklas focuses on a dramatic vocal delivery with the expected dosage of outpouring charisma and anguish while slow burning graceful melodies and enchanting arpeggios keep a dominant role throughout the song even if there are occasional bursts of blackened fury.
“Jag Är Din Fiende” offers faster infectious blackened rhythmic dynamics with sharp guitar riffs marching frenetically through layers of subtly majestic Nordic bleakness and Niklas’s voice is absolutely filled with inspired theatrical anger but Andy La Rocque’s compelling guest guitar solo brings a marvelous classic metal mood into such obscure sonic realm followed by a sorrowful dreamy breakdown.
The classical piano piece “Tolvtusenfyrtioett” is made of pure melancholy and provides a contemplative break before entering the epic darkness of “Mot Aokigahara”, a song that certainly matches the dreadful moody atmosphere of the entire album. Refined, almost relaxing, arpeggios surround Niklas’ haunting vocal performance and lead guitars continue to impress the listeners with loads of passionate harmonies before a ghastly brutality takes the lead for the last time with fierce riffing & drumming enhanced by ominously ardent growls.
Regardless of any gossip about disputable behavior and suicidal messages, Shining’s music should always be the center of attention and with “X – Varg Utan Flock” Niklas & co. confidently goes beyond the average characteristics of a black metal album with a remarkably radical songwriting approach that will definitely solidify their seminal status in the current metal scene.