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'The Darkroom Sessions' is a rare compilation from Shining, a band who are definitely at the top of my favourites list when it comes to suicidal, misanthropic Swedish progressive black metal. Barring the darkly eccentric nature of their frontman Niklas Kvarforth, the band has made some incredible music. Although it is a compilation, 'The Darkroom Sessions' is not a best-of, or even a collection of unreleased tracks,as was the case with their earlier 'Through Years Of Oppression'. Instead, this compilation offers alternate takes of tracks from their early albums, specifically instrumental renditions. Likely used as demos to sharpen up the instrumental quality of the compositions, these demos show the songs in a (more) raw form, but the lack of anything really fresh or new makes the album feel somewhat unnecessary.
The only real perk that 'The Darkroom Sessions' has over other releases is the lack of Kvarforth's vocals, an aspect of the band which helped distinguish them as a whole. To be fair, these longwinded compositions are functional without the human element, and parts of this- particularly the epic 'Svart Industriell Olycka'- work even better in the instrumental format. However, in general, 'The Darkroom Sessions' does not offer a listener much more than a sombre, tedious listening experience. Keeping in mind that I was not a big fan of Shining's early material to begin with, the compilation does little to augment my appreciation for the work. 'The Darkroom Sessions' is easy to sit through, and enjoyable at times, but it would sooner send me to sleep than haunt my dreams.
I'm not familiar at all with any other work by Shining, but after listening to this record, I think I want to be familiar with everything.
This is a collection of outtakes and rehearsals, though in reality you can't really tell that it sounds like a compilation. It sounds more like a complete album that was recorded start to finish with the same artistic vision in mind.
When you listen to the Darkroom Sessions, you can expect a depressive aural experience that is pretty typical of the depressive black metal subgenre. The majority of the playing time on this disc is instrumental, so the vocals aren't a big feature. When they are used, however, they make a great addition to the atmosphere of the music.
Shining is able to achieve a flat guitar sound, combined with well-placed drum beats and fills and excellent rolling basslines to boot. The music ranges from reasonably fast (Svart Industriell Olycka) to slow (Ett Liv Utan Mening). The best part of the album is the way the guitar riffs combine with the rhythm section to create a steady, yet hard-hitting, black metal sound.
I highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of this subgenre. The most similar album to which I can compare this is Abyssic Hate's "Life is a Pain In the Neck", though with much better production. Overall a great compilation.