Review 111 : Shining – Varg Utan Flock – English

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Every bands are not created thanks to two childhood friends that share the same passion. Shining is the perfect example.

Started in 1996 in Niklas Kvarforth’s darker spirit corner (vocals, keyboards, guitars) under the name of Voorhees, he surrounds himself of numerous musicians through years, but just a few will stay with him. The band released an EP, then full-lengths and a split before breaking up in 2004 then coming back the same year. 2018 marks the release of X – Varg Utan Flock, the Swedes’ eleventh record. It was recorded by Niklas, Marcus Hammarström (bass since 2016), Peter Huss (guitar since 2005), but also Euge Valovirta (guitar) et Jarle « Uruz » Byberg (drums) before they leave the band. The full-length follows a specific pattern that hardly never default before : six tracks made of pure darkness, including an instrumental one. Don’t close your eyes, or I cannot ensure your safety.

Shining - Varg Utan Flock

The album begins with Svart Ostoppbar Eld and its worrying whispers that comes before a jerky but as dark as possible rhythmic. Riffs suddenly mushrooms thanks to the Swedes’ skills, and Niklas starts to scream with a voice that inspires simultaneously hatred, pain and forsaking. His voice’s particular tone allows him to convey all these emotions through his tortured vocals, and it’s easy to understand that this record will probably be as interesting as the previous ones. Whether the rhythm part calms down, it’s only to morph into an intriguing clean sound that acts as interludes between two saturated riffs. Madness continues with Gyllene Portarnas Bro that uses a slower but always dark sound  to accompany the singer’s voice. It’s almost a lament that the band offers us, and even if violent riffs sometimes come back, the track is as quiet as death, and Niklas is as terrifying as a nightmare. Jar Är Din Fiende resumes with a warlike aspect and a rawer voice, but doesn’t forget the underlying melodic side that allows it to pique the listener.
Han Som Lurar Inom takes time to initiate an oppressive ambiance before throwing us directly inside the storm with freezing harmonics yet necessary to the contemplative universe that reigns here. Rhythm part, that highlights Marcus’ bass seems to be as plaintive as always while Niklas’ vocals strengthen itself. Swedish language perfectly fits to this track, but Tolvtusenfyrtioett, the instrumental song, comes to prove us that Shining is also able to spread its message without vocals, because this short piano interlude is also etched with the band’s and it’s creator own madness that make them live, and we can mainly notice it at the end of the song. The last one, Mot Aokigahara, starts slowly, with Niklas’ whispering voice as only clue to their cursed universe. Darkness progressively appear without we can barely notice them, but after an intense solo, they’re perfectly settled and even if the rhythm part is the same, there’s a different feeling. The track suddenly explodes in an uncontrollable and insane blow.
On the deluxe edition, there’s two more songs. The first one, In The Cold Light Of Morning, is an acoustic Placebo cover that sounds like a lullaby with a quieter than ever Niklas, but with an intense voice, mainly on the end, that allows to enjoy effort. Cry Little Sister, the second and last cover honours Gerard McMahon. The band left all the iconic gothic hymn’s ambiance untouched, but it is obvious that Niklas’ voice perfectly fits.

With X – Varg Utan Flock, Shining came back to evil roots that keep them alive. Ambients, each one more terrifying than the others, make us dive into a cold and massive Black Metal, that compels the admiration. Compositions are both consistent and different, therefore I wonder which ones will be honored to be played on stage by the band during their frightening and intense shows.


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