Shining - IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends
Season Of Mist
Progressive Black Metal
6 songs (39:33)
Release year: 2015
Shining, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat

After Redefining Darkness it was always going to be interesting to see what sadsack Swedes Shining would do next, yet the answer may not please everyone. Returning to the numbered albums – and doing so in such a way that proves Redefining Darkness was number eight and therefore very much a part of the Shining discography as opposed to something new – will be cheered by some, yet it doesn't say much for any expected evolution of the band's sound. IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere Ends, to give it its full, very melodramatic title, is much a continuation of the previous album's post-Opeth gloominess. Far from the 'cut your wrists and shoot yourself' vibe of the older Shining output, this is instead a more melodic, progressive approach to misery, perhaps their most accessible album to date, in fact.

Yet as that disturbing artwork would suggest, the emotional impact of Shining at their best is still present and correct on IX, and it's still an album very much worth hearing, especially for fans of Redefining Darkness. I'd actually rate IX higher, as the band have grown better at this toned-down version of their miserable music. Opening instrumental Den Påtvingade Tvåsamheten begins with eerily shrieking guitar notes, unsettling you before the actual expected metal rolls in. But what metal it is! It's more like the opener to some melodic doom epic than you'd expect, melodic death guitar widdles joining battle with heavy metal chugs and tinkling piano to form an oddly beautiful opening... Of course, it's soon demolished by Kvarforth's 'ugh!' opening the following Vilja & Dröm in more typical Shining fashion, all blunt-edged riffing and ugliness. And despite this song's dips into melodic mid-paced churn, it's made dark and despairing by Kvarforth's rabid vocals, like Csihar fronting a doom band. He's always been an excellent vocalist, but his performance on IX is especially impressive, enunciating the lyrics emphatically and singing beautifully when the song calls for it. On the acoustic-backed beginning of Framtidsutsikter he's fantastic, a truly heartfelt performance, and with the clean electric guitar that follows he may grow more sinister but it's equally gripping, only aided by the widdly soloing that ends the track in heavy metal fashion.

Some seem to have lost interest in Shining since they introduced the guitar heroics and melody, but the band has only grown more relevant for me with age and familiarity. Depression, after all, is not always one constant trudge through the bleakest darkness; there are peaks and troughs, moments of light as well as darkness, and Shining's broadening of horizons is a welcome one. It fits in well with my gradually increasing preference for melody in my music, making tracks like Framtidsutsikter that fans of very early Shining would hate all the better. I think it's the mixture of styles that ultimately works for me. The tumultuous and riff-driven Människotankens Vägglösa Rum is excellent, a modern form of black metal that's dark as much as it is progressive, moving from riff to riff with the expertise that only musicians who have been doing this for years could manage. Sure, the strummed opening to Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna is more Opeth-like than ever, and indeed, song titles like 'no bridges left to burn' can be irritatingly whiny even to a miserable git like me. But ultimately Kvarforth carries this off; his vocals reflect the scar of the album cover, and even when reflecting the memory of misery rather than the full bleak impact of suicidal despair itself, Shining still make some wonderfully dark music.

Killing Songs :
Vilja & Dröm, Framtidsutsikter, Människotankens Vägglösa Rum, Besök Från i(ho)nom
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Shining that we have reviewed:
Shining - Redefining Darkness reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Shining - VII: Född Förlorare reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Shining - VI - Klagopsalmer reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Shining - Halmstad reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
Shining - IV: The Eerie Cold reviewed by Daniel and quoted 65 / 100
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