Shining – VI / Klagopsalmer

Sometimes a band can be thrust into the spotlight for what some would consider the wrong reasons. In the case of Shining, I feel it’s true. Well, at least that’s my opinion.

For those who are unfamiliar with Shining, they are a somewhat notorious black metal entity from Sweden fronted by the ever peculiar Niklas “Kvarforth” Olsson (and no, they’re not named after the book but you’d be forgiven for thinking so). Since their inception in 1996, they’ve garnered some fairly controversial attention. Kvarforth’s lyrics are always opinion splitting (one way of putting it) with them being openly encouraging suicide and self harm. Niklas also is infamous for cutting himself on stage (sometimes to extreme extents) as well as drinking piss and assaulting fans present.

This brings me back to the wrong sort of attention. People spent too much time on their dangerous live shows and virtually nothing on the actual quality of their music. Last January I had the “pleasure” of seeing Shining live. I was glad to see the cutting toned down immensely and no abuse. Eccentricities remained in the form of rubbing some blood on fans, constant groping and spitting a mouth full of whiskey in my face. Regardless, the band killed that night, blasting out great tracks, seeing as the focus is now on the music. Also, Mr.Kvarforth’s stage presence is in a league of its own, in more ways than one.

Now, these miserableists (like the new word I made up?) have delivered a new album, Klagopsalmer (translated as Hymns of Lament).

One of the first things to hit you about Klagopsalmer if you are familiar with the band is the much cleaner production. The album is far more polished but still retains the raw nature like that on Halmstad and The Eerie Cold and of course the much earlier albums.

“Vilseledda Barnasjälars Hemvist” is balls to the wall extreme metal, but even has aspects which could be called… wait for it… accessible!

“Plågoande O’Helga Plågoande” shows efficiently the progress the band has made as musicians. The riffs still sound like Shining for the most part, like a truck smashing through the Louvre. However the pleasant surprise of the song is Kvarforth’s venture into cleaner vocals, opposed to his assorted throaty croons on previous records.

“Krossade Drömmar Och Brutna Löften” is absolutely unforgiving with its punishing blastbeats and vigorous shred. Things shift slightly on “Fullständigt Jävla Död Inuti”, with some gentle passages and Kvarforth hits us with more clean vocals. His singing is a far cry from anything groundbreaking but they have their own uniqueness. Lead guitarist Fredric Gråby is impressive as ever; it’s quite a shame that he lives in the shadow of his eccentric counterpart as his abilities can’t be denied.

After the breather that is the acoustic instrumental “Ohm – Skoj Att Leva”, “Total Utfrysning” is a lengthy jaunt, at 16 minutes. It’s till dominated by the bludgeon but the mid section is rife with spoken word passages like on many a Shining track that has gone before. It also swans with elegant pianism and violins, particularly at its conclusion.

Despite this new found clean production and, from where I’m standing, a new lease on their music and what it means Klagopsalmer is still a harrowing listen, Shining would still fall under the “uneasy listening” column.

The new sounds and ambition shown on Klagopsalmer excites this fan right here. It should induce a new era for Shining and with the band having already began the follow up things look interesting.


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