I used to be quite a fan of Swedish band Shining. I visited a lot of their shows, as weird as they may get, and always found them very enjoyable. Like most fans, V – Halmstad was (and still is) one of my favorite albums and it frequently spins around. While VI – Klagopsalmer, VII – Född förlorare and Redefining Darkness are pretty good albums as well, they didn’t top Halmstad. IX Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends really didn’t do it for me, but in the mean time I still saw them live a couple of times and they never disappointed.
And then I heard Varg Utan Flock a few weeks ago. From the first spin on I was hooked on the album and it immediately got on repeat for a couple of times because I wanted to learn more about it and understand the different layers the album has. There is way too much going on to get to know the album after just one of two times listening to it, though the only thing you do get to know after only one spin is that the album takes you back roughly ten years ago to the good old golden times of Shining their album making.
The album is a perfect mix between aggression and depression and opens fast, with Svart Ostoppbar Eld. Familiar sounding guitar riffs and drums greet me and Niklas Kvarforth his screams pierce through me. Halfway the song, Shining does what it does best: they slow down instrumentally and make place for Niklas’ cries, only to speed up again after about two minutes.
If you’re familiar with Shining, you’re familiar with the emotional depths and Niklas his demons that mark their music. Yet when listening to Varg Utan Flock they seemed to have stayed superficial the previous albums. For the first time since years, I can feel the true pain and emotion again coming out of his cries, especially when for example listening to slow, deep, dark, and my favourtie song of the album: Gyllene Portamas Bro.
After this, the albums speed up with some more aggression and excellent guitar play during Ja Ar Din Fiende and Han Som Lurar Inom. Long time band member Peter Huss and Euge Valovirta, who currently has left the band but still took part in the recordings, team up to treat us with great skills and craftmanship, but also the bass lines of Markus Hammarström really set tune to Han Som Lurar Inom.
During that song, also first guest, guitarist Andy La Rocque, appears.
Second guest appearance is during the instrumental song Tolvtusenfyrtioett, where Olli Ahvenlahti plays a beautiful piano piece as an interlude between Han Som Lurar Inom and the slower finale Mot Aokigahara. This might sound familiar to you, because this song is dedicated to the suicide forest in Japan that has been overall in the news lately. The spooky start of the song indeed gives you the feeling of wandering through a suicide forest and ends in desperate cries and music representing those for whom help has come too late.
Record label: Seasons of Mist
Release date: January 5th 2018
Review by: Ingrid
1. Svart Ostoppbar Eld
2. Gyllene Portarnas Bro
3. Jag Är Din Fiende
4. Han Som Lurar Inom
6. Mot Aokigahara