Review: Shining - Redefining Darkness

Band: Shining
Album: "Redefining Darkness"
Style: Depressive Rock/Black Metal
Release date: 2012-10-29
Origin: Sweden

1. Du, Mitt Konstverk
2. The Ghastly Silence
3. Han som Hatar Människan
4. Hail Darkness Hail
5. Det Stora Grå
6. For the God Below

We don't really have the best of relationships, Shining and I. For every album they've released, I've always managed to find one or two good songs, at max. The rest have felt like fillers and it has always annoyed me that mainman Niklas Kvarforth always insists on having only 6 tracks on each album, making them painstakingly long at some points. Sometimes it has worked, but for the most it has been more filler in my ears. Well that's all in the past now...

For you see, even if this album might not exactly redefine darkness, it is a damn good effort by this Swedish band and easily the best and most consistent album since "V - Halmstad" (2007). First off, the rhythm section is really astounding. Drummer Ludvig Witt has a real good groove that I have missed on some earlier albums and bassist Christian Larsson really nails his parts. It's also nice to hear a production that for once let's the bass guitar be heard properly. To think that the old racist Jan Axel "Hellhammer" Blomberg used to play drum for this band is a weird thought if one listens to how they sound today and how one-dimensional that guy is.
Vocally, everything is good as Niklas does what we're used to; whisperings, half-hearted clean singing (which just sounds better and better) and those insane screams - bordering on psychopath.
Niklas Kvarforth, 2012
When I read through my notes that I wrote after just having heard the album two times, I realized how much impact this album has had on me after a couple of more listens. Because, at first I wrote; "But the problem is, we've all heard this before" - which is not necessarily true. Sure, there are parts that sound most Shining indeed, but that's just the sound of an established comfort-sound-zone to my ears. What Niklas have done, is to really redefine his songwriting. The songs are still quite long and I still question why the man insists on this 6-track maximum on each album.
There are also some subtle things that really sticks out, such as the outro to "Du, Mitt Konstverk" and the incredible saxophone in "The Ghastly Silence". Overall, I would say that the tempo is quite slow on the entire album and there are lots of places in the music where I just can relax and actually feel quite good. I kind of doubt that this was Niklas intention, but to me, "Redefining Darkness" might ironically be the band's "lightest" album so far, and I mean that in a really positive way. But of course, there are some parts that really makes the listener shrug and feel somewhat uneasy - also in a positive way.
Then we have the usual uptempo pop-black metal song - in this case "Han som Hatar Människan" - which I usually find to be the strongest song on a Shining-album. But this time around, I really find myself enjoying most of the songs and each of their intricate parts, since the songs themselves always change a lot. In conclusion, "Redefining Darkness" is most definitely an album that is meant to be listened to thoroughly -  do not try to pick a song at random and try to enjoy it - it doesn't work that way. Of course, there's the usual instrumental piece - "Det Stora Grå" which actually adds very little, although it doesn't destroy the flow of the album either.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that Niklas would hate my review if he ever read it, but I stand by my words. There is a flow throughout the entire album that I've missed on previous albums and I can just congratulate the man in creating Shining's most thought-through and mature album to date.


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