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Shining - X Varg Utan Flock

X Varg Utan Flock
by "Der Bärtige Mann" Gareth Beams at 31 January 2018, 10:00 AM

Not to be confused with their Norwegian namesake, who are Dark Jazz Metal. The Swedish Black Metal legends bring in their tenth album: “Varg Utan Flock” (Wolf Without Flock).  To quote their Bandcamp: As black metal enters its third decade, SHINING's Niklas Kvarforth continues to be its leading Agent Provocateur; inciting as much consternation among the "true" as he does fanaticism among the soiled minds of his growing legions of devotees. His antics, opinions, and sometimes presence is accompanied by the gnashing teeth and wailing, tone-deaf opinions of the self-proclaimed genre "elite".  SHINING, led by lightning rod front man Niklas Kvarforth, enter their third decade with the epic new album 'X - Varg Utan Flock' (English translation: ‘Wolf Without a Pack’). As is their wont, SHINING use black metal as a foundation upon which to build epic and radical songs that smash all genre convention. The charismatic Kvarforth, ever the conductor of madness, leads the charge with some of metal's most daring and expressive vocals. With 'X - Varg Utan Flock', SHINING proves once and for all that they stand alone as one of black metal's most intrepid bands.

Svart ostoppbar eld” (Black unstoppable fire) has a great start, the build-up is intense, it stops briefly before exploding, going into top gear straight away. The melody is fast, clear and certainly encourages headbanging. Niklas has his raw and powerful vocals kicking off hard. There is no holding back on this first song of the album. The vocal outbursts are in short proportion, but work well with the beat of the guitars brilliantly. There is a slow, gently melody in the middle, which allows you to catch your breath and come to terms with what you have already heard, the dark growl of Niklas greets the slow tune, you are expending this to kick off, waiting for shit to truly hit the fan, there is a beautiful solo again, building up the anticipation, before dying down again, truly flirting with the listener. When the pace does kick back in, it is a little less intense than you’d want it to be, slightly anti-climactic. The song then slowly fades into the blackness once more, a good start, but feeling a little let down.

Gyllene portarnas bro” (Golden Gate Bridge) takes off with an added bit of pace from the dwelling end of the previous song. Slowly it sludges through the dark intro. Niklas breaks his silence with a dark, twisted, slow vocal outburst. The overall feel is more of Dark Doom than Black Metal. You are waiting for it to pick up pace as previous, but once you appreciate the morbid feel of ambience in this song, you begin to enjoy it. There is already a huge diversion of styles on the album, just after two songs.  A few evil deathgrowls pick up the pace, it kicks off into the higher gears. Hard hitting for the last minute, a nice addition, to keep things flowing.

Jag är din fiende” (I’m your enemy) continues from the late outburst, with a more thrash-based beginning, the only issue is the huge diversion in styles, you never seem sure of what to expect. The Black Metal feeling has returned. The tempo is in your face, the vocals are powerful, and the instruments are chillingly sharp. The vocals slow down towards the end of the first third, bringing in some more melodic guitar riffs, a lack of consistency may bother some people during this song, but others will see the beauty and embrace it. The second third is broken down at the end into a slower beat, its almost three songs in one. The slow tempo continues into almost Atmospheric Black Metal territory.


Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Svart ostoppbar eld (Black unstoppable fire)
2. Gyllene portarnas bro (Golden Gate Bridge)
3. Jag är din fiende (I’m your enemy)
4. Han som lurar inom (He who fools in)
5. Tolvtusenfyrtioett (Twenty-Four Forty-one)
6. Mot Aokigahara (Towards Aokigahara)
Peter Huss – Guitar
Niklas Kvarforth – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Euge Valovirta – Guitar
Marcus Hammarström – Bass
Jarle "Uruz" Byberg – Drums 
Record Label: Season of Mist


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