Shining – IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends (Season of Mist)Sunday, 10th May 2015
Rarely can a band sound so bleak, angry and bummed out while laying down such thick, polished, professional-strength melodic metal. Sure, most metal bands do not play happy music (if you’d like to give that a try, check out Germany’s Freedom Call, at your own risk). But as with so much depressive black metal out there (the subgenre we will apply to Shining) bands tend to create that mood with a lot of effects, both over the vocals and on the guitars, maybe some forlorn keyboard melodies in the back, lots of blast beats and acceptable black metal musicianship, usually on the simplistic side of things. Of course, there are bands that rise to the top of the heap, but there is nobody like Shining.
Shining, the Swedish one (the real one, kids) return for their ninth outing, and it’s a total bummer. That’s a compliment, of course. Skin cutter extraordinaire – the dynamic, skilled vocalist, songwriter and force behind Shining, Niklas Kvarforth, delivers another fine chapter of despair, black moods, and great musicianship on IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends. This time we are treated to an experience with many valleys. The slower nature of the album wraps a subdued feel across the whole record, while still maintaining vibrancy and plenty of dynamic. Lush guitar riffs and atmospheric strumming dance with melodic bass lines and patient drumming under some moments of clean singing (in Swedish, of course), while other times furious and muscular metal crushes with intensity and swagger.
While probably not beating what is seen by many as their best (2007’s V – Halmstad), IX – EEEE certainly is no slouch, especially in the execution department. As with other Shining releases, acoustic guitar and cleaner tones are in play, as should be expected (as well as some more progressive passages). Of course, these frequently explode into rippin’ electric guitar solos and punishing black metal-rooted ferocity. Solid, clear production allows the music to hit hard, as it should.
A very cohesive album in mood, darkness, and weight, containing six songs (as all Shining albums do), this latest Shining release has the band in top form. Rich in musical texture and epic sentiment, Shining once again shows the world why they are a top-shelf act, totally unique, and one who should never be confused with another band, even if they happen to have the same name.