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Shining - "IX - Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends" (CD)

Shining - "IX - Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends" CD cover image

"IX - Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends" track listing:

1. Den Påtvingade Tvåsamheten
2. Vilja & Dröm (streaming here)
3. Framtidsutsikter
4. Människotankens Vägglösa Rum
5. Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna
6. Besök Från I(ho)nom

Reviewed by on May 1, 2015

"Going way past what's expected of a 'black metal' band, Niklas Kvarforth and the rest of the Shining crew has a musical masterpiece on its hands with 'IX' that's simultaneously brooding, thoughtful, and compelling."

There's an awful lot of ways to express darkness through music, and it doesn't always have to involve words like “black” or “depressive.” Shining makes that very clear with “IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends,” an album that's equal doses beauty and horror, with plenty of extreme metal in the mix to balance it all out.

The four minute “Den Påtvingade Tvåsamheten” is a powerful opening track, starting out with bizarre scratching sounds for the obligatory intro, but then throws in actual music to make the song stand on its own rather than just being a throwaway introduction. The guitars freely range across different styles and sub-genres, showcasing a strong grasp of the underlying principles of music rather than just the ability to make chaotic noise, and then the track even brings in backing piano.

From that point onward the album focuses on a mixture of melodic black and death, but its probably more accurate to simply label the music “extreme.” Although there are some Gorgoroth-style drawn out screams and traditional blast beating, the term “black metal” doesn't even really apply here, and that is in no way an insult or a downside. The trappings are there, the influence is clear, but “IX” has gone off the beaten path to made its own trail through metal.

Calling the album “prog metal” would give the wrong impression, but make no mistake here: there is a progressive attitude to this music – it goes where it wants and where it needs, and genre boundaries aren't even part of the equation. “Framtidsutsikter,” for instance, opens with acoustic strumming and clean vocals, while “Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna” layers tortured screams over an acoustic segment, and somehow it actually fits.

The opening riff on “Människotankens Vägglösa Rum” is straight up killer, being both melodic and suitably dark and easily getting stuck in your head. For a nod back to the early days, the track throws in some traditional blast beats before then morphing into something more fresh and new. Playing with the audience, there's a fake out ending five and a half minutes in that seems like the song is fading out earlier than it should, before suddenly slamming back in at full force again.

The aforementioned “Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna” is one of the standout tracks on “IX,” with its guitar buildup and hoarse screams harkening back to the days when underground metal was deadly serious, and then out of nowhere what sounds like a banjo shows up. Some major props have to be given to Shining here for making a banjo sound dark and menacing, as well as for acknowledging the rhythm section by focusing on the bass in final track “Besök Från I(ho)nom.”

Going way past what's expected of a “black metal” band, Niklas Kvarforth and the rest of the Shining crew have a musical masterpiece on their hands with “IX” that's simultaneously brooding, thoughtful, and compelling.

Highs: Black metal gets a major overhaul, going in very unexpected directions that meld melody and darkness.

Lows: Not many. The mixing of acoustic strumming and hoarse screams won't work for everybody.

Bottom line: Think you know black metal? Think again! The genre has plenty of twists and turns left, and Shining aims to explore them all.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)