1ST LISTEN: Shining, V: Halmstad (8/10)

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shining.jpgThe litany of abusive, nasty Swedish black metal continues. In the two years since the near-masterpiece IV: The Eerie Cold, Shining has provoked the world by glorifying suicide, dramatically faking the death of their singer Kvarforth, splitting up, and then staging a blood-soaked mess of a CD release show that featured two living Mayhem singers, Attila Csihar and Maniac, in a variety of sado-sexual role-playing [Blabbermouth ran this problematic eyewitness account back in February]. So there are antics here, but also plenty of visionary, boundless black metal that takes cues from prog rock and ’90s German darkeners Bethlehem while still pleasing the orthodoxy.Maybe it’s due to drugs or blood loss, but Shining are in no particular hurry in unfurling languid, well-orchestrated metal. Coupled with big-sounding production, the effect is operatic, with no weak link to drag the band back into the bedroom/project corner of the genre. The drums are formidable and great, the guitars are poised and clever, and the vocals run the full range without overdoing it (mostly). If they could rein in the hijinks, Shining could be a threat — cracking apart the black metal dichotomy between formulaic, packaged bands like Dimmu Borgir and preferable hellish underground noise like Ondskapt. The only reason I don’t like this album as much as their last is that the acoustic and piano bits overpower the energy at times, drowning the band, plus the production is slightly less nuanced.Listen for yourself at the Halmstad preview page.Strangely, there’s also an unrelated highbrow Norwegian act called Shining that seems to be arriving at metal from the more expensive prog side of the tracks.

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