Shining – VI/Klagopsalmer Review

The album cover of "Klagopsalmer"As a matter of full disclosure, I must say that I am a huge Shining fan, but a fairly new one. I totally got turned onto this band because of their opus V:/Halmstad which was easily the best record I bought in 2007 and which blew me away. I then went back and got their entire discography and really like the older stuff as well. One could say, I guess, that I had very high expectations from VI/Klagopsalmer when it came out. But, of course, I couldn’t get my hands on it for a long damn time, so unfortunately this review is coming a little later than I’d’ve normally liked. I blame Sound Pollution for not responding to my e-mails.

Take a look at the cover art, and then find that place in yourself that feels like that. Dark, gritty, worn, used and despairing. That disgusting little spot is the crux of Shining’s sound, for those of you who have never heard them. Despair, self-disgust, suffering and suicide are all very much a part of this music, and the dreary veil that is draped over all of Shining’s music is very much ever-present on this record.

It’s tough to say that Shining can really be classified as black metal, now, however. While Halmstad moved in the direction that Klagopsalmer has continued (almost more progressive in the vein of Opeth), there is less of the rawness which made the last record so heart-wrenchingly excellent. While the first two tracks on the record (which, incidentally, are the only two written entirely by Kvarforth) still hold tightly onto the style which was prevalent on Halmstad, the rest of the record steers further away from that sound with the addition of more clean vocals, acoustic parts, keyboard and a lot of super crazy shredding parts.

shiningkvarforthHowever, not all change is bad and that shows on this album. Despite not being a duplicate of Halmstad this is still definitely a Shining record and still a damn good one, at that. The feel is dark, dirty and vile and Kvarforth’s extreme vocals still have the same gut-wrenching rawness. The lyrics are still the same dire poems of death, despair and the true evil of the disregard for all other life in the world. But, this record still feels like it’s lacking a couple of things. Firstly, on this 6 track record, one song is a cover (“Ohm – Sommar med Siv” is a cover of the Seigmen track) and the acoustic track “Krossade drömmar och brutna löften” basically feels like filler. Secondly, while some of the soloing on here is very good, I feel like the shredding gets to be a bit much at time and it feels a little bit at odds with Kvarforth’s style from other records. While it does arguably add variation, in the end, it still feels a little bit like sticking Yngwie or Petrucci onto a black metal record: odd.

Despite these gripes, VI/Klagopsalmer is an all around good record. I especially like “Plågoande o’helga plågoande,” and I do really enjoy the Seigmen cover as well. The album feels like a Shining record despite some cosmetic changes, and it is that feel that draws fans to the band, I think. Even if the record doesn’t live up to some of the band’s previous work, it is still heads and shoulders above a lot of the crap that’s come out this year. I know that Indie Recordings announced that Shining is already working on VII, and I eagerly await it.

Rating: 4,5/5.0 – Excellent | 3.0/5.0 – Good, but not great.
Label: Osmose Productions

« »