Shining - X - Varg Utan Flock
Season Of Mist
Progressive Black Metal
6 songs (41:24)
Release year: 2018
Shining, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat

Despite their transgressive image, Sweden's Shining are very much a predictable band and this is no exception, their tenth album and fourth in a series of formulaic but compelling mixes of black, thrash, and progressive metal into a unique (if often distinctly Opeth-like) mix, given emotional impact through Niklas Kvarforth's unique vocals. As ever the man is controversial, yet I've always found his recorded work fascinating; both as a singer and a black metal snarler, he fits Shining's depressive music well and often turns the good to great. And despite pretty much following on directly from 2015's IX: Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends, X - Varg Utan Flock is just different enough to stand out and may be the better of the two albums. For one, there's a greater acceptance of the sort of shredding riffs that made albums like VI - Klagopsalmer so good, even if it's not near its equal. Opener Svart Ostoppbar Eld, for instance, blasts in after some initial spoken vocals, Kvarforth doing his thing over a groovy blackened riff, becoming darker and more atmospheric over an acoustic break before (ironic?) cowbell heralds the return of the metal. It's the sort of thing we've heard many times before from Shining but it's as effective as ever and starts the album off well. And secondly, the writing is as solid as ever and possibly better than before, the following Gyllene Portarnas Bro being slower and even more atmospheric with a melodic doom approach and a sense of pathetic futility in Kvarforth's broken singing. It ends in blasting black metal and a lengthy snarl, returning to the opening melodic motif and using it as extra emotional fuel.

Say what you like about Shining, they're good at their style, if a little too unadventurous sometimes. Groove-driven first single Jag är Din Fiende is fun enough and there's plenty of guitar solos and proggy percussive interplay to keep the listener happy, yet it's very much Shining by numbers, and the following Han som lurar inom spends far too much of its eight minute length in driving the same riffs into the ground. And the album#s lowest point, piano interlude Tolvtusenfyrtioett is... a piano interlude. Well-played, and not completely out of place, but still something many are going to skip automatically! Fortunately finale Mot Aokigahara embraces prog altogether in an interesting, atmospheric rock piece, that despite a slightly cringey voiceover partway through that leads into a black metal blast and ends in a slightly too familiar way for Opeth fans, it's still effective and contains probably the most fragile vocal performance on the album from Kvarforth. We're at the point now that any one of Shining's last five or six albums will scratch that particular itch, and I'd be hard-pressed to really tell the most recent four apart, but the fact remains that the band continue to make interesting, compellingly dark music for those of us who sometimes find life a struggle. Whilst we may ultimately deal with it in different ways to this band and its self-destructive frontman, there's a realness to the music that's lost in the image, and Shining mix genres well enough to appeal to any metalhead. The bonus tracks on the deluxe edition are a pretty good pair of acoustic covers, Placebo's In the Cold Light of Morning and Gerard McMahon's Cry Little Sister (from the soundtrack to 1987's Lost Boys).

Killing Songs :
Svart Ostoppbar Eld, Gyllene Portarnas Bro, Mot Aokigahara
Goat quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Shining that we have reviewed:
Shining - IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Shining - Redefining Darkness reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Shining - VII: Född Förlorare reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Shining - VI - Klagopsalmer reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Shining - Halmstad reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
1 readers voted
Your quote was: 84.
Change your vote

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:16 am
View and Post comments