“Gradually and suddenly, that’s how depression is. You wake up one morning afraid that you’re going to live.”
Shining want you to kill yourself. Even singer Niklas Kvarforth admitted that he wanted to “force feed” listeners with “self-destructive and suicidal imagery and lyrics.” He stopped labelling the band’s music as suicidal black metal when it had begun to be used by a string of other bands who were using music as therapy “rather than a weapon against the listener” as Kvarforth intended.
To say that Shining are depressing is like saying the universe is “pretty big.” On V – Halmstad, the band have succeeded to write an album that is completely devoid of joy, even when compared to the remarkably consistent and enjoyable albums that preceed it. Kvarforth’s vocal delivery is absolutely stunning too – the mid-range screams that he delivers sound absolutely tortured. The wonderful thing is that he manipulates his voice in so many different ways throughout the forty-minute venture, often employing clean singing, haunting whispers and even spoken word at times. V – Halmstad is definitely difficult to label as black metal. Though the atmosphere and the bludgeoning brutality of the faster tremolo-picked sections are characteristics of the genre, the exquisite clean interludes and the use of various harmonized solos and intricate melodies seperate Shining from the rest of the genre, putting them into a whole league of their own.
Album opener “Yttligare Ett Steg Närmare Total Jävla Utfrysning” begins with a huge wall of sound in the form of an incredibly bleak riff. Straight from the opening, it’s evident that the mixing job V – Halmstad has been given is one of the crowning achievements of the record. Everything has a massive echo, and when it all breaks down, leaving only the drums playing a 3/4 beat in “Längtar Bort Från Mitt Hjärta,” the listener feels incredibly isolated. “Låt Oss Ta Allt Från Varandra” evolves from a riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a black ‘n’ roll album to an incredibly bleak piano section. Though the band employs the odd sample here and there, the sample from the movie Prozac Nation has been placed in the greatest possible place here, and is definitely one of the most powerful musical moments this listener has ever heard. The way the band builds the track back up is fantastic too, featuring a drum roll that wouldn’t sound out of place at a military funeral as well as the use of string accompaniment and melodies. The penultimate track “Åttiosextusenfyrahundra” is also a definite standout moment. Though it may seem a bit of an anomoly at first being an arrangement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, the way Shining build the piano line up with the use of string instruments before it slows down is fantastic, and by the time you hear it, you’ll be happy you’ve heard something familiar.
Really the only downside that V – Halmstad possesses is that the album’s fourth track is ten minutes long, but it wouldn’t have hurt the record at all if it had been cut down to eight, as it features a fairly extensive clean section in the middle that, while interesting, never seems to really go anywhere.
So immerse yourself in V – Halmstad. In many ways it’s more an experience than a collection of songs. The album is a heartbreaking venture, and it’s truly an exploration into the final thoughts and feelings one may feel before committing suicide. Always self-loathing and always engaging, if the band wanted to use their music as a weapon, they’ve succeeded in every possible way.