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A tedious gap-filler - 55%

Mannevond, July 5th, 2012

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.