IX - Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends
Review by Brian on May 4, 2015.
Shining is a band I became familiar with on their IV - The Eerie Cold album. This was largely due to the fact that Hellhammer provided the beats for that album. What I discovered was that this was a stellar album of dark, depressing, cold, black metal. They only got better when they released the follow up V- Halmstad. This proved that Niklas Kvorforth could assemble a band and that what made Shining what they are was him. After that they kinda fell through the cracks for me. Not that I haven't heard every Shining album at least once, but I am not a completionist by any means. I am also not here to give a history lesson or review their career, I believe almost 20 years and 9 full-length LP's speaks for their professionalism and staying power. What I am here to do is explain to the best of my ability the latest from Mr. Kvorforth's project, IX - Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends.
IX has all the elements that we have come to expect from Shining, six tracks of dark, eerie, suicidal black metal. Shifting from the most aggressive riff to a somber melody. However on IX The instrumental piece, which is normally placed 5th on the album, is located as the opening track. However, there is more that is different about IX than just where they placed the instrumental track. There is a noticeable growth in the songwriting and it's delivery. Kvorforth and crew manage to create these amazing moments of beauty that rise out of the chaotic and ugly.
Opener "Den Påtvingade Tvåsamheten" creates this hauntingly beautiful depressive state that washes over your whole body. The warm feeling that you get disappears quickly with the chaotic opening riff to the next track. IX continues to operate in this fashion throughout it's six tracks. Stunning moments of dark beauty with angry aggressive passages. They even have some classic era Opeth-esc moments. Listen to "Människotankens Vägglösa Rum" and tell me you don't hear Still Life era Opeth from 4:18 - 4:50. The whole time maintaining that overwhelming feeling of emptiness and despair that have been the trademark of this band since it's inception.
The guitar work on this album and the soloing in particular steal the show. The guitar solos are well placed and so emotional. They add this extra element to the songs and are responsible in large part for the beautiful side of the music. It's this beautiful side that compliments the chaotic and darker sides so well, bringing Shining to new heights as songwriters. It's as if "everything ending" is bringing peace. Also, Niklas has some very interesting vocal choices. This is his best vocal performance of his career. What this all adds up to is some of the best Shining material ever and definitely the best since V - Halmstad. IX is a pleasant surprise and only time will tell if it is their best of the career. The fact that I would even make that statement tells you the quality of this album.
Rating: 8 out of 10