Shining- IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, May 9, 2015

Over the past few years Shining has gone through a significant amount of change. The Swedish band started off with a sound that was very much rooted in the depressive black metal framework, and used the harsh waves of buzzing guitars and Niklas Kvarforth’s emotional and destructive vocal style. But with each successive release Shining has moved further away from the norm and more towards their own combination of depressive rock and black metal. This year’s IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends is no different, as it takes some of the acoustic and melodic moments from 2012’s Redefining Darkness and stretches them out even further. It’s a natural step forward and while it may not be as immediately destructive or abrasive as its predecessors, this is an effort with real depth that is able to capture the dreary tone of the genre and real emotion in a way that will continually draw listeners in.

In typical Shining tradition, there are six songs in total, but this time the group has chosen to start off with an instrumental intro track. This makes it clear right from the beginning that this album is going to have a very different feel than much of the band’s previous discography, as it starts off with minimal distortion before building to a cascade of ominous guitar riffs and sinister melodies. From there “Vilja & dröm” kicks in with some of the more aggressive moments that the disc has to offer, making it clear that Shining is very much still capable of upping the intensity when necessary. But this song isn’t straightforward either, quickly moving from abrasive leads to softer melodic ones that still maintain a dark and sinister tone. Compared to their previous releases, there is a lot more happening this time around and each of the tracks is able to offer more twists and turns than listeners might initially expect. In the course of a single song, Shining often intertwines introspective acoustic guitar work and softer ambiance with downright violent riffing, and the two elements are merged together more fluidly than ever before. Even “Framtidsutsikter,” which spends much of its length sounding more like an acoustic ballad, manages to sneak in some chilling sections at just the right moments. It’s a genuinely compelling listen, and although it did take a little longer to fully sink in for me because there weren’t quite as many traditional black metal sections, this one ended up getting under my skin so much that it’s compelled me to return daily for almost three weeks.

The instrumental work may impress with its versatility and the depth of its arrangements, but Kvarforth’s performance definitely helps to put the entire effort over the top. As with the past few releases, his vocals move between very harsh screaming and mellower singing. It’s a combination that works perfectly, and even when Kvarforth’s pitch hits its softest point there’s still so much emotion and rawness that it hits just as hard. Whereas so many black vocalists over the years have been content to stick with the same scream to the point of repetition, the vocals here are unpredictable and able to maintain intensity even when they’re not coming through as abrasive jabs at your eardrums. That’s not to say that the powerful, ear piercing screams and growls listeners have come to expect from Shining aren’t on display, but they feel like only part of what IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends has to offer rather than being the sole element listeners will focus on.

This current direction of Shining was starting to take shape on Redefining Darkness, and while that album had plenty to offer listeners IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends has taken every element from it and made it even better. The result is a release that is able to draw you in with somber, introspective melodies and harsh blasts in a way that is truly entrancing. With that being said though, compared to some of Shining’s previous discography I think this one will take a few additional listens to fully get a handle on, but those who take the time to do so will find a band that has found a unique space between black metal and depressive rock and become capable of offering more depth and emotion than most.

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