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Shining: 8 1/2 - Feberdrömmar I Vaket Tillstånd

Black metal’s doyen of despair is not alone

While many choose to overlook Shining’s music – writing them off as style over substance due to mainman Niklas Kvarfoth and his frequently controversial behaviour – it has to be said that around all the sex, drugs, violence and self-destruction, the band actually manage to release a remarkable amount of material. In fact, in the last two years they’ve issued two albums, one single, one EP and three splits.

Take into consideration the numerous guest appearances Niklas makes – a point highlighted by his recent Fifteen Years Of Darkness double-disc compilation – and you have quite an impressive work ethic. For this album, something of a role reversal has taken place, with Niklas now inviting an array of guest vocalists to appear on resurrected Shining material, with vocals provided by Gaahl (God Seed, Wardruna), Pehr Larsson (of Swedish outfit Vinterland and Alfahanne), Niklas himself, Maniac (ex-Mayhem, Skitliv) and, somewhat controversially, Famine of French far right-leaning outfit Peste Noire.

Not merely featuring new vocals, each song has been re-recorded and features guest synth work by renowned Norwegian keyboard player Lars Fredrik Frøislie to boot. Despite this updating, the songs bear a nicely archaic and hypnotic vibe, in large part due to the original songwriting. Whereas modern Shining songs not only boast sophisticated compositions, some fairly flashy musicianship and elements of doom, rock and blues, the earlier numbers were rather more indebted to a purer depressive Norwegian black metal blueprint à la Burzum, Manes or Strid.

This record is essentially a compilation and therefore it’s unsurprisingly a tad disjointed, but though it’s probably not an essential part of the band’s discography it is a successful enough experiment to justify its existence.