SHINING X: Varg Utan Flock

X – Varg Utan Flock



SUICIDAL BLACK METAL:Shining, led by maniacal frontman Niklas Kvarforth, has carried forth its brand of black metal for two plus decades now, including its epic album and 10th overall, X – Varg Utan Flock. The English translation, “Wolf without a pack,” describes Kvarforth to a T. Mostly disturbing, highly entertaining, and darkly creative, there is a lot to like about X – Varg Utan Flock. Even though sung in Swedish, through Google translation, his lyrics are depressing and stark. Opener “Svart Ostoppbar Eld” has a main riff almost identical to “Vilja & Dröm” from last album IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends. It’s a diverse song that seamlessly sways from one dynamic to the next. Throughout the 42 minute duration, Kvarforth’s vocals go from spoken whispers, to anguished rasps of outcry, to full-on tormented screams. Plus, the way he rolls his R’s is impressive. The guitar skills of Peter Huss and Euge Valovirta is fantastic, while the rhythm section of bassist Marcus Hammarström and drummer Jarle Byberg also shines. The production values are warm and crisp, while the band implements less Dissection influences this time around. The soothing piano instrumental “Tolvtusenfyrtioett” and the acoustic/electric guitar and melodic vocal harmonies of nine plus minute closer “Mot Aokigahara” adds a haunting hue of color compared to the rest of the album’s tormented darkness. ~ Kelley Simms