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Review: Shining - Halmstad

Label: Osmose Productions
Year released: 2007
Duration: 42:33
Tracks: 6
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: August 10, 2007
Reviewed by: Chaossphere
Readers Rating

Rated 4/5 (80%) (12 Votes)

Metal bands which get better with each successive release have always been rare. Often a band will shoot its entire creative wad on the debut and expend the remainder on the followup , then struggle to surpass the freshness and energy of that initial release. Shining, to the contrary, just keeps getting better. While the early material was fairly straightforward Burzum-ish atmospheric "suicide" black metal, the last 3 albums have all taken crab-like sidesteps into a far more inspired "black death rock" approach. Halmstad is simply an amazing continuation of this pattern.

While the basic sound remains rooted in the Swedish black metal sound, there's also a liberal amount of extremely emotive lead guitar work (something often very lacking in this style), with various dalliances into classical music (hell, "Åttiosextusenfyrahundra" is simply a ripoff of "Moonlight Sonata" with a different title), and plenty of contemplative acoustic moments. Over all this, the increasingly deranged Niklas Kvarforth spews all sorts of angst and hatred, wallowing in abject misery as a visceral means of self-expression. The music retains a complexity and scope more in line with 70's prog-rock than the majority of black metal, branching out in all sorts of odd directions while always remainingly firmly anchored in the atmosphere of life-hatred and self-destruction that this band has always made their own.

Shining will always be a controversial band, mostly because they refuse to adhere to a strict "Black" formula, and aren't content to wallow in the sub-underground recording albums which sound like articulated radio static. Anyone who enjoyed the last two albums would do very well to pick this one up too. Bonus points for the artwork too, which is easily the most viscerally graphic interpretation of the band's concept to date. An essential purchase.

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