Review Summary: Hellhammer plays in this band. Nuff said.
First things first, most of the track names were Swedish but fortunately Wikipedia had the translated English names. Since I really don't want to have to write the track names out in Swedish every time I reference them, I have posted the revised English track list below to avoid confusion.
Track 1- Due to Insight You Shall Perish
Track 2- Architecture of Sadness
Track 3- Something is Very ***ed Up
Track 4- Eradication of the Condition
Track 5- The Eerie Cold
Track 6- The Claws of Perdition
Suicide is quite a common theme among black metal. Aside from many bands actually writing songs about suicide, many members of famous black metal bands have actually committed suicide, which in my opinion is much more metal than just writing about it. Over the years, black metal and suicide have been rather intertwined, resulting in a sub genre called depressive black metal, or even just suicidal black metal. The general sound of depressive black metal is just as emotionally raw standard grade black metal but it contains much less rage and fury, emphasizing on icy, sorrowful tones and heavy depression. In general, depressive black metal is supposed to make you want to die, Shining however is a completely different concept altogether.
Shining have apparently adopted the grotesque suicidal imagery and depressive lyrics of the sub-genre however they have no developed into a band that I could call depressive black metal. Shining has more of the pure unbridled hate of black metal that focuses on a depressive mindset, while not really creating music that sounds even slightly depressing. Of course, there are several bare-bones instrumental pieces throughout that are supposed to be dark and gloomy, but they really fail to delve into the bitter emotional spectrum of bands such as Coldworld. However, Shining isn't really pure black metal either.
Instrumentally, The Eerie cold is much more advanced than most black metal albums both technically and melodically. First of all, the most renowned drummer of all black metal plays for Shining, Jan Axel Blomberg, more commonly known as Hellhammer. Throughout the album, Hellhammer completely sidesteps blast beating, replacing it with more technical fills that actually accentuate the rapid-fire guitars much more elegantly than random blast beating would. The guitar as well avoids the stereotypes of black metal with the use of actual guitar solos. The solos aren't mind-blowing or shred masterpieces but they stray away from the typical tremolo picked melody style of black metal, favoring a style that is more akin to death metal than anything else. The bass also shines through the dense guitar riffs occasionally, and once you have found it, its easy to follow the humming bass lines throughout the entire album.
The real power of the music comes in how well it flows together. The drums and guitar lay down the rhythm in harmony; perfectly meshing together to create insanely juicy fills that you can actually tap your foot to, or in some cases head bang. The perfect example of this comes in the end with "The Claws of Perdition" which in addition to having an awesome name, is an awesome song, and the best closer I have ever heard from a black metal band.
Lyrically and vocally however, The Eerie Cold is a quite a disaster. The vocal style of "Ghoul" is utterly horrible and unsatisfying to listen to. Instead of using the harsh screams typical to black metal, Ghoul favors an ugly and unsavory croak that grates on the ear, and negates 90 percent of the lyrical comprehension of the album. Several times throughout the album, Ghoul does some very strange things, creating warped and strange vocal noises that really bring the music down such as near the end of "Something is Very ***ed Up." After several moments of listening to Ghoul shrieking like a dying man while rapidly shifting the pitch of his vocals from low to high, I was beginning to agree with the song's title.
At first the sheer idiocy of the vocals prevented me from fully enjoying the album, but after a while I was able to look past it, solely to enjoy the music, which is quite decent for black metal. I definitely recommend getting this even if it is a bit hard to get into. After giving it three or four listens, you should be well conditioned and able to appreciate the musical complexity.