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"Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt" is a short EP and break filler before the release of the emotionally stunning and musically diversified main release "Redefining Darkness" where Shining covers three bands from Sweden and one band from Finland. The interesting thing is that this short release presents us Shining in a new light as the controversial Swedish band chose to cover more or less popular tracks from bands that rather belong to the alternative or folk rock genre than to the metal scene. The tracks still have a very slightly dark, eerie and melancholic touch but it all feels like an uninspired light version of the main band. This touch is not due to a rework of the band but because the originals already sound this way.
Instead of adapting the four tracks to the harsher and progressive sounds of the band, Shining chose to perform four songs that are quite close and almost similar to the original songs. The instruments are more laid back while the vocals are clean and very melodic throughout the entire release. This proves that the band has multiple influences and has no boundaries for their inspirations which is a quite positive sign. The enchanting clean vocals prove that Niklas Kvarforth is one of the most variable extreme metal performers around and he does a very decent job on here. I must even admit that his versatile vocals are often better than the vocal performances by the singers of the original bands but apart of this, there isn't much of a difference.
The tracks simply don't vary much from the original performances and all sound rather similar. This short record lacks of astonishing passages or outstanding moments. The four songs are definitely not bad but can't be called quite spectacular either. The special certain something Shining stands for is completely absent on this release that lacks of extreme contrasts, profound emotions and progressive breaks. This experimental EP is a little bit too relaxed and unspectacular to be bought by anyone outside of the faithful Shining fan basis and has nothing to do with what this band has done prior to and after this release. It can be described as a little experiment and an attempt to break out of the usual structures but it lacks of profound inspiration and true motivation. In the end, this just feels like an odd mixture of a few relaxed jam sessions and some sort of an identity crisis as these four tracks go straight nowhere. Every band needs to break free from time to time and try out something new but they should have done this for themselves in their basements instead of professionally releasing this kind of average material to a rather confused fan basis. On the other side, the band likes to provoke by chosing a disturbing title for this EP for example but this time there was really just much ado about nothing.
Shining are one of the best known depressive black metal bands and they hail from Sweden. They've been standing long, since 1996, and have a plethora of releases under their belts; most notably V: Halmstad and last year's VII: Född Förlorare. With another full-length release coming in just a couple of months, lets take a look at the strictly cover based EP the band have put out in the meantime, Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt.
Upon first hearing this album, the listener may find themselves double checking the CD to make sure they haven't been sent the wrong one by mistake. Anyone expecting to hear anything that makes up signature Shining tracks will be sorely disappointed when they are met with a poppy, generic, gothic-folk hybrid of dark metal. That being said, the production of the overall album is great and the layering is clear, to the point that it makes one want to puke out black monochrome rainbows come the second track, "Utan Dina Andetag", which is a Swedish wedding song and is the happiest, least depressive of them all.
It's clear that Shining are trying to show tribute to some of their influences, and they are taking a different direction in doing so. Every song here is upbeat and strictly made up of clean vocals, which is something no one familiar with Shining would ever expect. The vocals are a nice display of the clean capabilities possessed by Niklas Kvarforth and he does possess a very melodic clean voice, but a mash-up with some signature forlorn growls would make this material a lot less plastic sounding.
Sure, the covers themselves are spot on, decently done homages to the originals, but what makes a real tribute is throwing in some of your own gained influence, which is a trait Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt severely lacks. There's not a whole lot more that can be said about this material, and to those scared that this drastic change may be a foreshadowing of what is to come this October on Redefining Darkness, fear not. The band, and management, have stated that this EP has nothing to do with the upcoming release. Steer clear of this one and check back in on Shining in October 2012.
- Villi Thorne
First and foremost, so there is no confusion; This is not metal. There are no harsh vocals, blastbeats or guitar-wanking. It won't make you want to headbang or raise the horns. It's a sort of folkish pop (apart from the dark rock of Katatonia)
Now, I don't have a problem with artists trying to show off their influences, through the occasional cover song as bonus tracks or when playing live. Even when their influences are miles away from what they themselves actually do. Niklas Kvarforth's appreciation of bands like Kent and Imperiet is hardly a secret, and the covers by these bands , as well as the Poets of the Fall cover, are pretty decent, and in fact Kvarforth has in the past participated in live covers of Imperiet when playing with Skitliv. The vocals are not great, but the music is pretty simplistic. This takes some of the pressure off Kvarforth to compete with the music, and seemingly allows him to relax a bit more. The reason I'm reviewing these three together, however, is that they all sound a bit alike. They're all slow-ish melancholic songs that seem to go on forever. Perfectly acceptable songs that are good for a bit of downtime from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
However, whoever came up with the idea of Shining making a Katatonia-cover (presumably the record-company) should get reprimanded. The toolbox (the band) are certainly capable of pulling it off, but Kvarforth's vocals make this song practically unbearable. Where Jonas Renkse is arguably one of the best clean singers in modern metal, Niklas sounds like he's at a club at 2 a.m. singing karaoke after a particularly nasty bender. His voice cracks in places and he sounds wheezy and tired. Maybe they could've benfited more from covering some of Katatonia's earlier work, maybe something from "Discouraged Ones".
So, my main beef with this EP is the vocals. They work great when Shining do their own songs, and in fact their last album (2011's "VII: Född Förlorare") was my album of the year last year. But when doing songs like these, the vocals are much more important than in metal. And in this case, it's just tedious. Jonas Renkse would be forgiven for giving Niklas Kvarforth a smack in the mouth after hearing this.
At least, according to the management and band, this is not representative of Shining's next album. So no worries there.