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From the very beginning of this album I realised that Shining meant serious business. The listener is plunged into a deep abyss of godforsaken darkness from the moment that the first track starts. The guitars are down-tuned and contribute to a general atmosphere of depression. There is a constant shift between slow guitar-riffs and much faster pieces. But personally I love the vocals the most – they are nothing but genuine cries for help and also an intense mixture of hopelessness and raw pain. It is certainly not melodramatic, but rather very honest.
The album as a whole gets interrupted in the middle with a spoken piece in which the band lays out their philosophical ideology of self-destruction and suicide. This might sound like a call-for-attention to some, but once you listen to this you will realise that it is a very scary work of art drenched in a slow river of pain. What make it even scarier is the psychotic cries and the obsessive repeating of the words “do me a favour and kill yourself”. Every single part of this album is a climax, but this part is certainly the ultimate climax that might finally convince you to lose all hope.
The rest of the album is a cacophonous symphony in which various influences from raw black metal, doom metal and depressive black metal can be heard. Instead of playing shrieking guitar-solo’s that sound like the more traditional stuff, the band plays a mixture between slow guitar-solo’s and slow guitar-picking. This might be boring to those who wish to focus more on the technical aspects, but it actually fits in very well with the aesthetic atmosphere in which Shining cloaks their music. They have a very unique way in which they take the macabre elements of self-destruction and suicide and bastardise it with elements of beauty. The best example of this is the track “Through Corridors of Oppression”. By the time you get to this track you are mentally worn-out, but the beautiful symphony that plays in the background (it is a mixture between guitar, keyboard and drums) actually gives you some kind of a cold comfort. The vocals on this track are also much more passively-aggressive without losing any of its intensity.
The final track is also a very beautiful symphony, but it contains some elements of atonality that creates an unnerving atmosphere. It is as if the band wanted to summarise the whole album on this final track, because it sounds like the whole album thrown together in an immense dark cloud of venomous aesthetics.
Overall this album is a suicidal masterpiece that blows every bit of entertainment-value into pieces. In some sense it is a challenging work of art that is very powerfully formulated.
Although I was expecting some sort of ultra kvlt 'greatest hits' collection, Shining offers a compilation that has some good merit to it on its own. In essence, 'Through Years Of Oppression' collects some of the band's apocryphal recordings, including unreleased tracks, alternate takes, and the highly rare 'Submit To Selfdestruction' demo. Normally, this would be the sort of thing that I could only recommend to hardcore fans of the band, but it benefits from being released in a very interesting stage of the band's development. Released right before their big transition album 'The Eerie Cold', 'Through Years Of Oppression' is an intriguing crossroads of the band's past, present, and future.
The first two tracks of this compilation is a reprise of 'Submit To Selfdestruction', a 1998 demo that the band did when they were teenagers. While recorded primitively, Shining give a powerful, albeit generic display of depressive black metal. Things get a little more interesting with the ambient track 'Manipulation Session', a none-so-cheery ode to suicide where Kvarforth openly asks his fans to do him a favour and kill themselves. Perhaps this was too 'extreme' a message for a full-length album, or maybe its mellow focus on atmosphere didn't fit the flow, but it was left off of the band's second album. 'Black Industrial Misery' is an alternative take from the band's third album, an instrumental version that gets a good grasp of the misanthropic sound despite the absence of Kvarforth's vocals.
While the first four tracks of the compilation show Shining developing from an adolescent depressive black metal act into a more serious project, the final two tracks would show Shining as they were at the time of the compilation's release, and even a sneak peek at the new album. As most fans of Shining would hopefully agree, 'IV: The Eerie Cold' was the album in which Shining finally matured as an act, incorporating healthy doses of progressive rock into their sound. 'The Claws Of Perdition' ends the compilation with a look into the future. Although this is a more primitive recording than the near-perfect version that would end up on the full-length album, one can definitely get the sense that Shining had done alot of thinking in between the third and fourth records. 'Through Years Of Oppression' may be something of a fans-only item, but as a fan item goes, it is very insightful into the development of this band. It's a good thing that these tracks were released.