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Shining – Redefining Darkness - 80%

Asag_Asakku, November 7th, 2012

Yesterday, upon the stair / I met a man who was not there / He was not there again today / I wish, I wish he’d go away…

This short verse, declaimed at the beginning of V-Halmstad album, starts my passionate relationship with Swedish band Shining. So rarely an album moved me like this one, for both aesthetic and circumstantial reasons. Of course, I already knew about them. At that time, they were one of Europe’s depressive black metal most influential crew. However, their fifth album offered an important stylistic shift, confirmed since. Pushing back their sclerotic sub-genre boundaries, band led by Niklas Kvarforth (vocals and keyboards) created its own artistic universe, marked by originality and pure talent.

A little over a year after excellent VII: Född Förlorare release, group comes right back with Redefining Darkness, carelessly leaving Roman numbering started with the third full-length. Dedicated to the late Trond Bråthen’s (Urgehal, Beastcraft) memory, this new record has many distinguished guests, including Andy LaRocque (King Diamond), Hoest (Taake) and Peter Bjärgö (Arcana), each adding their personal touch to this beautiful album.

Again, Shining musicians display their skills without complex and – most importantly – without any concern about black metal traditional forms. Blasting during Du, Mitt Konstverk’s first few seconds, Halmstad’s quartet almost immediately slows the pace and starts playing this peculiar amalgam of indie rock, jazz and classical music, overwhelmed by sadness and despair. Some songs are chilling because of their intensity, especially For The God Below, clearly inspired by some Led Zeppelin masterpieces.

With audacity, the band also adds very rarely heard instruments on a “black metal” record, such as The Ghastly Silence’s poignant saxophone solo and Det Stora Grå’s piano parts, always with excellent results. Vocal work is also wholly very successful; even if the album’s only weak point is its high pitch clean vocals, which sometime sounded out of key or limited.

I know. My Shining bias is blatant and I do not care to apologize. This band never disappointed me and Redefining Darkness is a new manifest of its members’ immense talent. Anyone with some musical culture and mind openness will be immediately seduced by this record, which transcends genres and is based on a great song writing work. Just close your eyes and let Shining redefines darkness.

Originally written for Métal Obscur.