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Shining: IX: Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends

Niklas Kvarforth finds rich channels for torment

Returning with his ninth expression of abject negativity, the controversial public figure cut by Shining frontman Niklas Kvarforth remains the only constant in the band’s ever-changing lineup, the expression of his singular vision the only crucial factor.

Carving fresh wounds into the scars left by 2012’s Redefining Darkness, Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends continues to expand beyond the band’s black metal roots, wherein melody and groove are allowed to flourish in such a manner that contrasts artfully with the uglier aspects of the music. Never sounding like a pastiche of uncomplimentary styles, it remains a singularly forthright, brazenly misanthropic vision. The aim isn’t to create the most sonic brutality possible, but to express instead the brutality of persistent mental anguish.

That the entire record translates as a conflicting stream of thoughts and emotions is testament to the increasing maturity of Niklas as a songwriter, and means that when the heavy parts do impact upon your eardrums the devastation comes with added significance.

The sustained moments of fervent blasting in Människotankens Vägglösa Rum are effective because of the tense, grooving build-up in the preceding minutes. They eventually subside, followed by pensive acoustics and a delicately poignant – dare it be said, beautiful solo – an uplifting moment then abruptly interrupted by further outbursts of palpable rage and frustration. Quick to subside, they continue to ripple malevolently beneath the surface, emerging during final track Besök Från I(ho)nom to once again tear the melancholic repose asunder, in a stunning representation of the flawed nature of the human condition.

In other similarly ambitious but less well-honed contexts, the banjo solo of Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna might jar, but here fits seamlessly within the expertly cultivated aura of sadness that permeates every layer of the record.

Kvarforth has, as ever, played up to his role as a nihilistic Pied Piper, wilfully leading others down the path towards self-destruction, even if at times contradicted by the bacchanalian excesses he revels in. It begs the question: to what extent is his public persona genuine? Is it possible to revel permanently in such pain and darkness?

Regardless, the truth masterfully reflected herein is the inner turmoil through which we all at times suffer./o:p