Shining (SWE)
X - Varg Utan Flock


3.0
good

Review

by Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (250 Reviews)
January 21st, 2018 | 15 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Shining on autopilot.

It’s hard to deny Shining’s simple gravitational pull on the depressive/suicidal black metal scene over the course of the last twenty years. Since establishing their signature sound back in 2000 the band’s mastermind Niklas Kvarforth has churned out musical efforts on a near predictable, ever consistent basis and while the madman’s masterstrokes are evident (shown in career defining pieces such as Halmstad and The Eerie Cold) Shining has always presented a band simply “going through the motions”.

Not that it’s a bad thing. For the most part the depressive… somewhat suicidal portrayed throughout the twenty year have carried a disheartening message for listeners; positive boredom, conveyed from a milked gimmick and an unwillingness to push up from the bottom of the water’s surface to breathe fresh air again. Varg Utan Flock is an on-par, middling record hampered by Shining’s own nuances, even if these nuances are what gave listeners’ grandiose in the form of Halmstad and co. Shining show conflict within their musical template; there is an easy contrast between light and dark, melancholy and grace, but it meets a Niklas Kvarforth simply wandering down a path, direction already chosen.

Varg Utan Flock runs the path of Shining’s last four releases, middling where it should be mind-blowing and impressing where it should be unfathomable. The music is a combination of watered down brilliance, pretentious coatings of niche, building into a cliché copy of the music Shining fans want to hear again. At its core, most fans would appreciate the resemblance to Halmstad, but the mirrors between both records add to the appreciation that Varg Utan Flock doesn’t have a chance of meeting the same grander quality levels, casting doubts on whether the Shining moniker will ever reach the heights of musical virtuosity. It’s depressing sure enough, but in completely the wrong way.

Despite Varg Utan Flock’s “old-school” black metal groove and roll feel the usual stereotypical black metal traits recur into heightened intensity, before dropping into bleak melancholy. These days it seems like a modern day recipe for making black metal, a relevant terminology for any number of bands releasing music in the last decade, but Shining still measures against the rest with their own flair. It’s how Shining do this that prevent Varg Utan Flock becoming any less than a middling black metal record. It’s not something that can be taught or changed from album to album, maintaining a naturalist quality to their music, living off the relics built off an ever-lengthening musical career.

At six tracks (eight if you pick up the deluxe version), Varg Utan Flock doesn’t become tiresome or long winded. Shining’s tenth studio record also includes a somewhat reclusive piano led interlude that splits the anxiety away from the music whilst maintaining a clean melancholic air, but the album’s true highlight comes in the album’s final track, “Mot Aokigahara”. The track is honest, melancholic, truly depressing building off a host of song-writing styles including a chilling spoken word. “Mot Aokigahara” references Japan’s suicide forest in whole and in contrast with itself. Smooth tones meet blistering black metal passages making the track worthy of the genre’s finest traits while sounding the less forced of all the new album’s tracks. The natural progression of the music only builds on the atmosphere, building on the realism of such a place and is worthy of repeated listens.

Overall it’s hard to fault Shining’s Niklas for doing what he has done over the course of the last twenty years. Varg Utan Flock can’t help but present a “going through the motions” approach to music. Thankfully Shining on ‘autopilot’ are a safe (if not mind-blowing) listen in 2018



Recent reviews by this author
Atreyu In Our WakeObscura Diluvium
Monuments PhronesisAnaal Nathrakh A New Kind of Horror
Until Death Overtakes Me MissingAbstracter Cinereous Incarnate
user ratings (44)
Chart.
3.1
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 21st 2018


8869 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Still better than watching the tennis...

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2018


10387 Comments


hey you're back, good to see ya bud

and reviewing black metal m/

Digging: Cultes Des Ghoules - Sinister

zaruyache
January 21st 2018


19711 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Dec albm.

Digging: Dakhma - Suna Kulto

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 21st 2018


8869 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hi Game, long time no talk. Back for good too,

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2018


24217 Comments


Robert, back w/a VENGEANCE

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 24th 2018


8869 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah Brandon, even got my app in. Got a whole bunch of 2018 music to work through.

Dewinged
January 24th 2018


11235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review man. I actually tried to take on this one but couldn't get anything decent so heavy pos.

Digging: Ancestors - Suspended in Reflections

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 24th 2018


8869 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks man, sometimes the “average” albums are the hardest to write about

Maco097
January 24th 2018


2933 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Best Shining in a while, terrible opinions from you as expected.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 24th 2018


8869 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Lol

Wizard
January 24th 2018


20199 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

This was so bad.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 24th 2018


8869 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thought it was about as bad as the last four albums

someguest
March 15th 2018


29862 Comments


People always talk about Halmstad and The Eerie Cold, but Klagopsalmer is nearly as good. It's just over-the-top extreme metal. Kvarforth's music has never felt suicidal to me. It's just excessive.

Wizard
March 16th 2018


20199 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Klagopsalmer is an awesome album too, right up there with IV and V.

Maco097
March 16th 2018


2933 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy