Shining – IX: Everyone, Everywhere Ends (2015) – Well, the new Shining album is finally upon us and it’s a little bit different than you might expect. But let me start by talking about the album’s awesome intro “Den Påtvingade Tvåsamheten 3:55” which melds orchestration and guitar melody so well that it almost makes you wonder as to whether or not you are going to be listening to a black metal record. I’ll be honest; from that song alone I wasn’t sure if I was going to get Shining or something from Yngwie Malmsteen or Steve Vai. It definitely doesn’t sound like Shining, but I think that’s what made it stand out. When
“Vilja & Dröm 6:20” starts however, it’s quite apparent that we are listening to a Shining disc. With a sharp grunt, Niklas Kvarforth tries a little cleaner approach to black metal vocals on this disc that may or may not appeal to fans of the genre. While the entire album is performed in complete Norwegian as with classic titles in the black metal genre, it might be a little different to hear a lack of real blast beats in favor of a groove oriented tremolo style much in the vein of mid-era Satyricon. Eventually things begin to explode on the lengthy cut however, and it does (for me at least) capture the spirit of black metal albeit in a different fashion.
Now as for “Framtidsutsikter 7:18” that’s going to be a complete shock for the majority of black metal hordes, who might just be wondering as to what in the fuck they’ve just purchased. Yes, that is Kvarforth with a passionate clean vocal style unlike we’ve ever heard. It almost sounds like something from a soft rock act and certainly not the kind of approach you would expect for Shining, even in its proggier efforts. The song does have equal moments of darkness and a strange sense of beauty, which compromises itself completely into a heavier effort closer towards the end. Additionally, there’s a very strong guitar solo in place here. Say what you want about the piece, but that’s a pretty hefty guitar solo.
Now as for something that sounds a little more up to speed, we’ve got ” Människotankens Vägglösa Rum 7:13” which begins with a little bit more crunch and definitely more tremolo, like you would be expecting by now. Then finally, the drums begin to blast and a demon gets its horns. There aren’t any vocals during these blasts surprisingly, as one might have expected Kvarforth to let loose one of his trademark scowls into the mix. Instead, things slow down and turn acoustic and Kvarforth goes into a clean approach!
Now I know what you’re thinking, and perhaps you’d be completely correct to think it, so I won’t change your mind. But I will say that there’s another rather great guitar moment to be had, on a record that seems quite full of guitar solos and obvious tremolos. So it’s not exactly terrible, it’s just much different. Hence comes the real moment of truth, “Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna 6:28” which sounds like a combination of harsh depressive vocal and acoustic tremolo. Kvarforth sounds like he’s losing his fucking mind, but he’s probably alienating an entire audience in the process. I’m not quite sure if I should praise this sort of experimentation or strongly discourage it. But regardless of what I say here, that won’t stop him.
Especially when the clean melodies begin and lead into a rather passionate solo. It would sound great on a ballad, but I’m not real sure if this is supposed to be a ballad. The last track on the disc is “Besök Från I(ho)nom 8:19” which is one of those kinds of tracks that combines heavy elements with uncomfortable atmospheres. It feels like a finale and very much is at this point. Unexpectedly, the track also invokes acoustic elements, yet still feels a little uneasy. If there’s one thing I can say about IX: Everyone, Everything, Everywhere Ends it’s that the record feels uneasy throughout.
It’s much different than anything we’d expect from Shining, but it’s definitely better than the last few albums that we’ve heard from these guys. It definitely seems a more mature effort, but that will also make it a more difficult listening experience for some and I can understand that. Unexpectedly, there’s also a lot of bonus material that comes with this disc, like the Rammstein cover “Ohne Dich” which resulted in the worst rendition of the track that I’ve ever heard in my entire life.
Fortunately for Shining, I won’t factor extra content into this review. This might be the next step for Shining, but it feels unsteady and frankly, a bit shaky. I don’t feel it will be well received and personally, I feel that the band have done better albums in the past. (Edit: After looking at the unbelievably high scores garnered for the album on MA, I figured that I might just not be the target audience for the record.)
(6 Tracks, 39:00)