Shining, from Sweden, are one of the most regular and longeve bands in black metal. For about twenty years they have released a new album with a cadence of two or three years, and almost every time their records maintain the same structure of six tracks in the basic version of the album, with always an instrumental track which is in most of the cases the fifth song of the album. Their release of 2018, Varg Utan Flock, is no exception and presents almost the same winning formula of their previous albums: an interesting version of depressive and experimental black metal which often incorporates many elements from thrash and, less frequently, other intriguing inserts from jazz and rock.
The music of this band has been always influcenced by the the strong and controversial personality of its founder, guitarist and vocalist Niklas Kvarforth, a man who has often claimed to suffer from mental illnes and whose inner torments have been always part of the creative process. And as a consequence, listening to an album from this band projects us into a complex, dark and certainly problematic world. But rather than representing a simple element of costume in the iconography of the band, this compositional imbalance is reflected in the case of Shining in an extremely curious and dynamic music, never trivial and often enriched by a few touches of genius that raise the band’s production far beyond the simple boundaries of black metal.
One of the elements that makes this album particularly enjoyable is the brilliant alternation of different moments, in particular between the typical furious sections and slower and more expressive moments, which makes the listening enjoyable and interesting. In addition to that there is of course an extremely high overall quality of the songs, that are always involving and with a successful mix of brutality and accessibility.
The official release date of the album is January 5, 2017. The album can be streamed and acquired on bandcamp.