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2007's 'V: Halmstad' was a landmark album for the Swedish 'suicidal black metal' act Shining. To date, it was their boldest departure from the raw black metal sound the band first played. As many bands do when following up a defining record, Shining builds upon the ideas and sound of 'Halmstad' with their sixth album, 'VI: Klagopsalmer'. Although not quite as warmly received as the modern classic 'Halmstad' by many, 'Klagopsalmer' further refines the sound of Shining, tuning out some of the excesses that their fifth album was rife with. 'Klagopsalmer' is not as much of a jump for Shining, but musically speaking, it may be their most underrated and tasteful record to date.
Without a doubt, 'Klagopsomer' seems to suffer from the younger child syndrome. In retrospect, it is seen as something of an extension of what Shining struck home with on 'Halmstad'. To a degree, this is true, but 'Klagopsalmer' takes the Opethian light/heavy dynamic they were working with and makes it more melodic, and more subdued, rather than the progressive onslaught that largely defined its predecessor. Several listens into 'VI', I was surprised that I was actually enjoying it more than 'V', seeing as Shining's classic had long been one of my favourite black metal records. On its own, 'VI: Klagopsalmer' is a beautiful work that sparks comparisons of some of my other favourite metal artists, including Opeth, Katatonia, and Blut Aus Nord.
For those who have not heard the band before, Shining has a unique sound of their own; one that is rooted in black metal, but strikes with a beefier guitar tone and vocal delivery. At this point in Shining's musical development, they have become very good at incorporating beautiful melodies into the guitars. Shining is also distinct for their use of some incredibly soft and tender passages. Contrary to the acoustic worship that Opeth employs, Shining will more often take to the piano and cello, as is best demonstrated on the album's epic final track, 'Total Utfrysning'. Anyone who can read Swedish will know by this point that while Shining's music can be sweet and soft at times, their lyrical themes rarely stray out of the darkness. In short, Shining are not called a suicidal black metal band for nothing, and even sparing the band's twisted and controversial history, the music here can feel incredibly dark.
Shining's grasp of atmosphere on 'VI: Klagopsalmer' is impeccable. They are able to pull off soft and heavy sections incredibly here, while on 'Halmstad,' I felt that their strength lay largely in the lighter passages. One of the most noticeable improvements here is the vocal performance of Niklas 'Kvarforth' Olsson. On the previous album, it was clear that he had a hell of a voice when it came to screams, but his distinctive delivery was often taken far overboard, often to the point where I would show friends the band, and they would smirk whenever it came time for Kvarforth to belt out. Kvarforth has a slightly more black metal approach to his vocals here, while maintaining his unique vocal style. The compromise has led to a more listenable performance.
'VI: Klagopsalmer' may be doomed to slumber underneath the shadow of 'V: Halmstad', but for me, this may be the best thing to ever come out of Kvarforth's head. The music is intense, but not so much that it becomes a mockery of itself. The overwhelming negativity of past releases gives way- albeit only slightly- to more conventionally melancholic sounds. Make no mistake though, this is still a very dark, disturbing brand of metal that should only be experienced and appreciated by those mature enough to handle the emotions, and don't be surprised if the sky outside looks a little grayer than usual.
This album is more extreme metal than black metal because the minimalism that was present in their former works has been watered down. This album generally showcases sheer brutality mixed with depressive elements. The fact that this album is in Swedish (except "Ohm - Sommar med Siv", which is in Norwegian) makes Kvarforth put more emotion in the songs as he sings them. The musicianship is superb, as usual. They have sinister riffs, rocking solos, pummeling drums, and music with a good sense of direction. By solos being "rocking", I meant that the solos are somewhat hard rock oriented. Though the solos are somewhat appealing to my taste, it may be a turn-off to others, though.
The first three songs are undeniably excellent; simply put, they're awesome. These three songs are enough to start a good moshing session, with brutality and depression all over. The fourth song meanwhile, is a cover of of "Ohm" by Seigmen, a Norwegian gothic metal band. This is the first song everto make use of Kvarforth's clean vocals, and all i could say is that I'm impressed. Who could have known that he sings this good? Although not as extreme as the first three songs, the band still managed to put it in place.
The last two tracks are free from any form of brutality, just pure depression. "Krossade Drömmar Och Brutna Löften" is an instrumental that gives the feeling of pure depression and suicidal tendencies, as if you'll feel that you're stuck alone through time and space. "Total Utfrysning", meanwhile, is the opposite of my impression of this album. Although it still has those hard rock solos, it is quite melancholic and more minimalist compared to other tracks. And also, this track is quite melodic.
Although not another "V: Halmstad", this album is certainly a good get. This album is definitely a good way to piss yourself off and to freak out your mind. Snag if you like extreme metal, or Shining, or maybe both.
Orinally made for http://mystifymyserie.blogspot.com
I'm just gonna say that i am a huge Shining fan! They might be one of those bands for me that can almost do no wrong... so i may be a little biased. Shining V hit me like a ton of bricks when i first heard it. I felt like a little kid again. It sounded so heartfelt and painful and was constructed and performed in such a way that i believed every second of it. Kvarforth had created a suicidal masterpiece. And he had done it with a total disregard for the typical "rules" of the suicidal depressive black metal scene.
So here's the follow up. Great albums are hard to follow. How can you top the best thing you've done? 9 times out of 10 you can't. But when i bought this album i went into it knowing this, and listened to it keeping that in mind. Thinking to myself "this probably won't be as good, but I'm probably still gonna like it." And I was right.
VI starts off with 3 blazing tracks that don't really even resemble anything even close to his depressive roots... in fact it almost sounds uplifting in areas, all except his amazing vocals. They still sound as painful and tormented as ever, only this time set on top of what can almost be described as thrash riffs. And the riffs are simple, but SOOOO effective and infectious. All 3 of these tracks are intensely well put together, all chocked full of great riffs and ups and downs, and all have INSANE lead work. This album is a shred fest and i love it!
After that things slow down a bit. Track 4 is a cover of Ohm by a band called Seigmen. It's fantastic! Kvarforths clean vocals are amazing. Reminecent of Micheal Ackerfelt of Opeth. And they add a little of their own flavor by putting a guitar lead outro that is very emotive.
Track 5 and 6. Here's where things get weird. Track five, as usual, serves as a lead in to track 6, added for a little atmosphere or whatever, and is basically just a one riff acoustic waste of time. Although it serves its purpose which i believe is to just lead you into the next song. Track 6 is a 16 minute long depression fest that at first listen may turn you off, but after a few spins i started to love it. It starts out with the EXACT same riff as the first track on Halmsted. And in the middle of the song they also borrow from themselves again with some of the piano work from the las album. All very weird. But... it works some how. Great leads weave in and out as the song rolls along and then it finishes out the album with a perfect, and very sad sounding cello piece that i could listen to for a week if it lasted that long.
In light of their current support slot to Satyricon, travelling across Europe as I write, I deemed it a good time to finally bring out a review of Swedish Shining's album, released back in the summer, "VI - Klagopsalmer". And it is now that a review of a band as bleak as Shining is suited, as the winter draws upon us as the music offered on "Klagopsalmer" is anything but summer material.
A key factor in discussing this release is the slow and subtle movement away from the bleaker territories in which Shining were born. Yes what you have here is still one of the blackest albums to be reviewed on Rockfreaks.net but with album number six Shining are drifting further from the abject suicidal path that was propagated so mournfully well on "V - Halmstad". That 2007 release, the one in which I finally gave in and decided to check out Shining, was as depressive as I had expected from hearing so much of their name, but in so many other ways it was, and still is, an utterly astounding listen. Because far from being merely a morose collaboration of morose souls, Shining mix their downtrodden negatives in a veil of lush, well-written, -played and -produced blackened metal. Honestly, there is no band I've yet come across who combine the bleakness of BM (and much of extreme metal in general) with such an artful take on the genre, and for this Shining deserve many plaudits.
Whereas once Shining was effectively the sole outlet of the slightly deranged Niklas 'Kvarforth' Olsson the band these days are much of a unit, going some way to explaining the intricacies of much of the output here. In overall terms "VI - Klagopsalmer" bears strong resemblance to "V - Halmstad" - a strong bassy sound and several flourishing solos that at times recall Jeff Loomis (Nevermore), both brilliantly at odds with what is 'expected' of BM bands, and a variety of vocals deployed by the pained Kvarforth set to convey different feelings across the stylistically variable songs - yet it never quite reaches the heights (or should that be plummets the depths?) of it's predecessor of two years.
To exemplify the streak of self-determination Shining go far beyond the limits of simple guitars, bass, drums and 'metal' vocals to convey much more emotional feelings of helplessness and misery. Closer "Total Utfrysning" meets the trajectory of "Halmstad" with a long period of simple, exposed guitar chords and a very tactful collaboration of esoteric piano and weeping violin, injecting further classical influence into the works of these Swedes. Ok it doesn't quite reach the torture of having to listen to a girl genuinely and audibly on the edge of suicide ("Låt Oss Ta Allt Från Varandra" from "V - Halmstad" if you're intrigued) but compared to the methods of most metal bands Shining are, true to their name, a beacon of light and symbol of how far the genre can be taken.
The first half of this album consists of three good, though far from great, songs and is where the album lacks in quality in comparison to previous works. Continuing the experimentation ingrained into their souls yes, but none of these first three quite feature the hooks inherent in an album designed for long-lasting appreciation. Track four, "Ohm - Sommed Med Siv", is where the album turns up the heat in a complex song at various points not dissimilar from any of Arcturus. Katatonia and Opeth. And from this point on Shining reveal what has brought them as far as a direct support to megastars Satyricon; deceptively complex tomes of glowingly dark metal.
A step down from their previous effort it may be but don't write off "VI - Klagopsalmer" on this basis as there is still much to be enjoyed on a listen that ironically given the subject nature is a viable entry route for newcomers into black metal.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
I don't get how everyone here can't see that they have been completely ripped off by this album, in so many ways.
But first, I want to get one irritating detail out of the way.
The final track, "Total Utfrysning" employs what, in music, is known as a leitmotif. This is a common occurrence in film scores, or sometimes on certain 'themed' albums. They aren't "playing the riffs from that other song" for the sake of doing it, there is a point to it, and this misunderstood effect is just one more thing that shows that the musicianship of this band is capable of surpassing the simple level of understanding for most of their fans.
Well, then why does this album have a 20%?
Because in my opinion, this album is really only worth the first two tracks, which aren't even that good. And you paid $10.
Has it occurred to anyone that this album is technically only 4 really sub-standard songs? You have the 4 'new' tracks, then one cover, and one brief musical interlude. $10.
Everyone has complained about this interlude, but no one has seemed to put two and two together, that there is always an interlude before the final song on a Shining album. Its not meant to be a song you rock out to or whatever, its another dramatic effect implemented to prepare you for the climax of the album. On Halmstad, it was that Attiosextusenfyrahundra track, which segues into the closing song, Neka Morgondagen. On The Eerie Cold, there was the title track, and then The Claws of Perdition, and so on. So you see, its not a "waste of time" or a "meaningless song", rather again, the fan base just doesn't seem to grasp the concept of atmosphere and effect, but on the other hand, this album is severely lacking all of that anyway, so it makes sense that their heavy metal fans would score this album with 85% and 96%, and pay that $10.
The first song does sound like Shining, but it doesn't really seem to go anywhere. There is no atmosphere, no buildup, no contrasts, nothing except for rock n' roll riffs. Say what you will, but I completely disagree that Huss and Gråby are as excellent as people say. They know how to play their instruments, but their song writing ability only seems to go so far in this context. They would probably be much more effective writing death metal or jazz, but they are beginning to use the same riffs in a lot of these songs (not a reference to the last song), the same chord progressions, the same structures, but then why is there no atmosphere? Where are all the different surprise instruments? This is just the first song and already this album is weak as fuck for $10.
The next song, in my opinion is the only worthwhile song here. I can tell by this point in Shining, Kvarforth is really struggling with these vocals, maybe that's why he's mixing it up a bit and trying to sing or whatever. The singing is alright, appropriate for Shining. Its a pretty straightforward track, very catchy, but still remarkably bland compared to something like I Och Med Instikt Skall Du Forgå, or even Svart Industriell Olycka. John Doe would have been worth $10.
After that, we get some death metal song with too many solos. I guess they want us to believe this is 'melancholic' when it sounds like Spawn of Possession riffs. I hate how people throw that word around; 'melancholic'. This song isn't melancholic, it just sounds like it belongs to another band. Where do people get the idea that this is all 'progressive'? In what sense does this apply, because I only see this album as a huge step back (step down?) towards selling out. Yes, I said it. SELLING OUT. I'm sure anyone would like to argue with me that they are just experimenting and trying new things, but if its not broke, then why are you fixing it? A Seigmen cover? Come on. This would have been cool to have on another unreleased compilation album, but this cover is taking up space on an album which would already only have 5 'real' songs, and it isn't even their own. Who cares if its a good cover, its not a new Shining song. I wouldn't go to a Shining concert to hear Seigmen songs, so why would I buy an album to keep forever just to hear some obscure band from Norway which I am sure only has meaning to Kvarforth here?
The last song is anti-climax. It is maybe three riffs played over and over for 16 minutes, with no change in tempo, and only a temporary piano interlude with a sample from a Swedish film (again I'm sure this is only personally relative to Kvarforth), and then those three-ish riffs again. Then the CD is over and you paid $10.
This is the truth about this album. As I said, the second song and the noticeable absence of annoying movie samples are the only redeeming qualities this album has. Don't believe Shining fanboys that will tell you this is awesome because they will eat shit off anything Kvarforth has touched. This is a weak album, and if I haven't convinced you, hear it for yourself and regret.
After the masterpiece that was "V: Halmstad", it was hard to imagine how Niklas Kvarforth and his boys in SHINING could improve their sound any further. Being the best album of 2007, and also one of two albums to ever get a perfect 10 from yours truly, "V" took everything that was good about SHINING's previous albums and put them into overdrive, cementing the band as the prime "depressive Black Metal" group and transcending the boundaries of several genres. Now, after several tormenting delays, they have returned with the highly anticipated follow-up "VI: Klagopsalmer", but does it live up to the hype?
SHINING's founder and only core member Kvarforth has explained several times in recent interviews that "Klagopsalmer" should be viewed as a experimental interlude to fill the gap between "V" and the upcoming "VII" (which was already being recorded by the time "VI" hit the shops). Looking at the album in its entirety backs up this postulation, since "VI" seems to go in several directions at once. The first three songs continue where "V" left off, taking SHINING further into the territory of Progressive Black Metal.
As a further sign of evolution, Kvarforth is now experimenting with different vocal techniques, ranging from shouting, growling, whispering, and some surprisingly good clean vocals. When these clean vocals shine through in "Plågoande O'Helga Plågoande" ("Tormenting spirits, oh holy tormenting spirits"), the similarity to countrymen OPETH is startling, and the new-found path of SHINING becomes clearer. In "Fullständigt Jävla Död Inuti" ("Totally Fucking Dead Inside"), guitarists Wredhe and Huss are allowed to go crazy with some jazzy guitar solos, which is unexpected but a welcome addition to the band's sound. Thus far all is well, even though it seems like the band has left their depressive roots behind them for good in favor of the aggressive and progressive.
The second half of the album is where the truly experimental part of this album starts showing itself. The song "Ohm" is a cover of the Norwegian dark Pop-group SEIGMEN, and really allows Kvarforth to demonstrate his skills as a vocalist. As a cover-song, this is a very interesting choice, and might even be the best song of the album, mixing SHINING's dark aesthetics with a melancholic Pop feeling reminiscent of newer KATATONIA. The result is a worthy tribute to the often under-appreciated Norwegian band, and possibly the best summer-hit of the year. Yes, I'm still talking about the Swedish suicide-kings SHINING, just bear with me.
The fifth track, "Krossade Drömmar Och Brutna Löften" ("Crushed dreams and broken promises") brings the depressive element back to SHINING. The song is just an acoustic interlude, and reminds me of several tracks by one of Kvarforth's other bands, DEN SAAKALDTE. Despite its melancholic feel, the track feels like unnecessary filler material, and serves as a doorstop to the album's natural flow. It's interesting to note that SHINING sticks to a strict 6-songs-per-album formula, and this track seems like its only purpose is to fulfill this pattern.
At this point we only have about 30 minutes of (admittedly great) music, even less if you don't count the acoustic interlude, and thus a lot of pressure rides on the 17 minutes long closing track "Total Utfrysning" ("Total isolation"). This song will undoubtedly be the point that makes or breaks the album for many listeners, but those who prefer the depressive sounds of early SHINING should be pleased. Being the third installment of a trilogy that started with "Ännu Ett Steg Närmare Total Utfrysning" back on "II: Livets Ändhållplats", this song is a journey back to where the band started. Featuring a very monotonous and bleak riff that will ring familiar in the ears of old SHINING-fans, "Total Utfrysning" is a revisiting of the past, incorporating piano and a violin into the old sound of the band. There is also a quite long dialogue taken from a Swedish movie placed into the song, which feels a bit forced, making the 17 minutes wear out its welcome way before it's over. While a great concept to build upon, I can't help but feel that this song could have been reworked into something more dynamic and interesting, instead of stretching the atmosphere so terribly thin. Thus a otherwise great album ends up trailing into nowhere the final 22 minutes, which is a shame for a band of this caliber.
To recap what has been an unusually long-winded review, "VI: Klagopsalmer" takes the successful recipe of "V" and enhances it with improved vocals and solos, leading the band onwards towards new frontiers. However, the last two tracks make up almost half of the album, and since both of these feel forgettable the album as a whole fails to live up to "V". With that being said, The first four songs here are more than enough to justify getting the album, and those of us who are left wanting more can console ourselves with the fact that "VII" should be right around the corner.
(Online September 8, 2009)
It’s nice to finally hear the result of this album after a long time of extra waiting caused by several delays. It doesn’t sound exactly as I had thought it would, but it surely doesn’t sound bad. What I expected from ‘Klagopsalmer’, being somewhat the sequel of ‘Halmstad’, was something much more dark and depressive than the actual result. I actually think that ‘Halmstad’ was much darker. Probably a lot because of the many calm, acoustic parts with depressive voices talking. ‘Klagopsalmer’ has that too, indeed, but not in the same sense.
The exception is ‘Total utfrysning’ which is extremely dark and depressive. It has both to do with the usage of instruments such as cello, violin and grand piano that they have, but also it has to do with the rather long spoken part (if you understand Swedish) taken from the movie ‘Ett anständigt liv’ (‘A Decent Life’). Though, apart from that song the album in its entirety feels less depressive and more aggressive and black metal-ish than their last work.
To have a cover song on the album like this is also something that I didn’t expect from Shining. The song that I’m talking about is of course ‘Ohm (Sommar med Siv)’ which is a cover of the Norwegian band Seigmen’s song ‘Ohm’. Where the parenthesis comes from I have no idea and I still can’t figure out what it has to do with the song. ‘Sommar med Siv’ means ‘Summer with Siv’ (Siv is a typical Swedish granny name) and has nothing to do with the meaning of the lyrics (which actually even is in Norwegian and not Swedish).
In some way I feel that some things on this album may have been done just because they always want to have six tracks on all their releases. Both the cover and the instrumental piece ‘Krossade drömmar och brutna löften’ feel as if they could be results of the six-songs-obsession. Though, neither of them is bad. Sometimes I think that ‘Ohm’ is the best song of the album, and ‘Krossade drömmar…’ has an extremely atmospheric melancholy and ambience in it. But anyhow, it feels as if the records could have looked a lot different if it wasn’t always supposed to be six songs, and I never believe that it’s a good thing to do to always follow these kinds of obsessions. Make another song if you want to, make an album with only one 60 min track, use your imagination.
As for the other songs of this album I think that they sound much more straight on than Shining’s work used to. It’s more “normal” metal. It’s damn good normal metal, though. About the many solos I can only be positive also. Both Gråby and Huss are great guitarists and they surely can add great solos to the songs without ruining the atmosphere of the music.
Overall I have to say that it’s a great album even though you might have to listen to it two or three times before you’re complete stuck with it. The best song is without doubt ‘Total utfrysning’ because of its progressiveness, its usage of classical instruments and because of the depressive emotions that arouses in me when I listen to it. That’s the whole purpose with Shining’s music, isn’t it?
And so begins a new long running debate about the latest Shining effort, ‘Klagopsalmer’. During my review for the third Shining record, I mentioned the fact that Shining were a different band before they broke-up in 2004. Although this is only a reported split, and that nothing has been officially confirmed, it does seem to make sense given the fact that the bands style drastically altered on the fourth record, entitled ‘The Eerie Cold’. The band some how managed to become darker, but in a more subtle sinister way, as opposed to the early stages of their career when Kvarforth and the gang were up-front-and-honest about the way they felt. A lot of the previous material, especially in regards to the third opus, is a bit too one-dimensional for my liking. So when ‘The Eerie Cold’ strode in on its stylish black stallion, the band had a similar message, but a new way of telling the story that glorified depression and a maniacal sense of the self. In relation to the debate I briefly spoke of at the beginning of this review, the Swedes have already managed to draw out the doubters despite the fact that the new record has only been out for a short period of time.
The complaint is that Shining has focused solely on the same sound that ‘Halmstad’ explored with a bright and vivid imagination. As I understand, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the material present here didn’t sound as it if had been directly recycled from the bin that the material Shining themselves didn’t consider good enough to be present on the innovative ‘Halmstad’ on here. That’s right - Shining haven’t offered us much new material to speak of. A lot of it sounds like it could have competed for a place on the sublime ‘Halmstad’. There are, of course, a few minor changes that offer us more questions than answers as to what the future of this epic black metal band holds. For example, the briefly introduced clean vocals on songs like the pleasant ‘Plågoande O'Helga Plågoande’, which is most certainly the pinnacle moment of this oddity. The debate ensues as to whether these minor changes are positive or negative. Undoubtedly, the minor alterations in the production and negative, almost so much so that my own personal opinion of this piece is damaged significantly by the lacklustre production that surrounds the experimental instrumentation.
Don’t expect the clean as a whistle approach on ‘Halmstad’, the production has altered in a subtle way, giving the sound a dirtier and grimier feel to it than previously entertained on the delightful ‘Halmstad’, which has definitely set the bar as high as humanly possible. Whether Shining will be able to conquer those heights in the future is uncertain. I feel the band is capable of it, but if they do not achieve this goal that has been set upon them by the possibly irrational fans, myself included, then the future will look bleak like an English summer which consists of overcast skies and rain, plenty of rain. ‘Halmstad’ is currently viewed as the epitome of Shining records, the shining light, if you’ll excuse the unintended pun, in the dark corner of that is the Shining discography. Its themes, which were old favourites, were explored with a brighter touch, a mature eye and a gentle caress, rather than the heavy handed approach the band might have taken in previous years, with the first three records. Since the band split-up in 2004, they have taken more time at creating records, generally two years of rest and thought goes into the making of a new Shining record and previously, with ‘The Eerie Cold’ and ‘Halmstad’, the band benefited drastically from the longer intermission.
However, the debate over whether the band has run its course will now be ignited due to the fact that they have struggled on ‘Klagopsalmer’ to bring any new, outstanding ideas to the table. Or, at least, one’s that won’t be rejected by a confused listener - dare I mention the guitar shredding at this stage? Sometimes, a little too much experimentation can cause unpopular irritations amongst certain sections of fans. Personally, I don’t mind the shredding, as its referred to. I’m not used to it, what with being a fan of simplistic techniques and methods, but Shining are definitely a band with a number of capable musicians, as songs like the surreal ‘Fullständigt Jävla Död Inuti’ prove with its inspiring clean vocals from Kvarforth and the exceptional bass play. The guitars, as usual on this record, are impacting, but not always in a positive fashion. The confusing mesh of old and new styles doesn’t comfort me as much as it did on the iconic ‘Halmstad’, but I can’t help feeling as if the band are trying too hard to revisit the heights of previous days by simply substituting good sense for a serious of haphazard instrumental mistakes in the form of over-complications and experimental nuisances.
Of course, it isn’t all doom and gloom on the new front. Kvarforth’s emotional vocals actually work well, on occasions, with the bass and guitars, allowing the guitars to add a rather over-sentimental value to his emotional offerings with progressive solos, as shown on ‘Fullständigt Jävla Död Inuti’. Where I stand in the debate over whether this is merely recycled material or not is unclear as of yet. I have listened to this record a number of times now, it has digested, but I still cannot grasp my emotional take on the instrumentation. Whilst the acoustic instrumental song shows a wonderfully dark, dreary and depressed side of the bands musicians, the over-complications don’t suit the production style. Having said all this, I do consider ‘Klagopsalmer’ my second, perhaps third favourite offering. Mixed messages and a lot of odd additions make up most of this confusing record, but it generally is enjoyable for what its worth, though the production does hamper my opinion and the mood of the content.
Shining’s new album Klagopsalmer has finally been released after far too many delays. I’m sure many fans are hoping the wait was worth it, and some will, but in my opinion Klagopsalmer falls short of the mark. Don’t get me wrong Klagopsalmer is a good album but I still feel somewhat put off by Shining’s sixth outing.
The first, second, and fourth songs on Klagopsalmer are pretty straightforward heavy rocking. The first thing you’ll notice on these tracks is that the guitar work and drumming is far more aggressive than it was on past albums. The solos are good, but honestly they’re interchangeable with any metal or rock band, I could honestly these solos being in a crappy hair metal song. The other thing you’ll notice is that Kvarforth sings, and not with the Louie Armstrong sounding vocals he used on the song Neka Morgondagen, he actually uses clean vocals. I suppose he has honed his vocals with Den Saakaldte and now has the confidence to use them with Shining.
The third song is an instrumental, in my opinion its worthless filler. Its not like the Eerie Cold’s title track and its not like Halmstad’s Attiosextusenfyrahundra , which was a brilliant lead in to Neka Morgondagen. Its just there for the purpose of continuing the tradition of six songs to an album.
The last two songs Ohm and Total Utfrysning (thankfully) shift back to the depressive sound that Shining is known for. Ohm is a cover song (originally performed by Seigmen) and hands down it is the best song on this album. I believe this is the reason why I have such a problem with Klagopsalmer though, the best song on it isn’t even an original piece created by the band.
Shining set the bar so high with the Eerie Cold and Halmstad that they have a lot of work ahead of them if they ever want to top those albums, and Klagopsalmer is not the album to do that. The band has recently stated that they’ve started work on VII and are looking to go in a new direction, hopefully it will be the right one.
Although originally due for release in late 2008, we have had to wait for almost a full year beyond this for Shining's latest masterpiece. The wait was not in vain, for the album is fantastic in all regards.
Six tracks, as is standard from Shining. Unlike previous albums, Klagopsalmer does not contain a single track that is of any lower quality than the rest. The first half of the album contains some of the more aggressive guitar-work that was so well used in the band's third album, but at times, sweeps suddenly to a much more toned-down, melancholy form of music, generating a fantastic mood of both anger and despair. One does not need to understand the lyrics in order to feel what the songs are about.
The latter three songs take a bit of a different direction, focusing almost exclusively on the more depressive aspect of the music, and they succeed in this to such an extent that even Halmstad pales in comparison. The depressive atmosphere generated is strong enough that it would not surprise me to see a grown man weep at this music.
As one has come to expect from Shining, the music includes a fair bit of experimentation, and to be quite honest I think it is beginning to move away from Black Metal. The first and most obvious change in the album is the use of clean vocals, something frontman Kvarforth has, for the most part, avoided in the past. Being quite used to his more harsh vocal style, it was a surprise to hear him singing in a voice that can only be described as "beautiful", but beautiful it is indeed, and it fits in well with the very melancholic nature of the music.
Halmstad influences are definitely in there, but it is quite strange to hear such an album from the same band who produced "Within Deep Dark Chambers". Van Halen is another obvious influence for the album, as some of the guitar work sounds a lot like what one would expect from him. There are also times when the music actually feels vaguely reminiscent of jazz, somewhat of a change from the more bluesy music of The Eerie Cold. All in all, however, it works together quite well, and I feel safe declaring this to be Shining's greatest album to date.