While the entirety of vocal work found on V - Halmstad is Swedish, it is not necessary to understand the lyrics to be transported to a self-destructive space of mind. The album begins with a spoken word introduction, a recitation of "Antigonish" by Hughes Mearns in English before Shining envelops you in shadows. Evil dual guitars swirl in the opening track "Yttligare Ett Steg Närmare Total Jävla Utfrysning" before giving way to an eerie acoustic melody accompanied by the sound of rain. Drums and a cold bassline re-emerge, followed by singer Niklas Kvarforth, sounding nearly soothing. The track's opening maelstrom shows again, briefly, and then once again after another more calm, and yet wholly sinister interlude.
The second track again begins with dual guitars, an acoustic paired with an electric meandering in the background, together weaving a sorrowful sound not unlike something from Agalloch. Shining charms you with these beautiful and haunting musical spells before grabbing you with some considerably evil, unique black metal. There are a number of these relatively peaceful bits interspersed throughout the music, but the backbone of Shining is a driving, grim assault that sucks you in and allows you a glance at perdition. During the fourth song "Besvikelsens Dystra Monotoni," another acoustic melody appears, accompanied only by drums, and Kvarforth demonstrates truly tortured vocals, showing incredible range as he shifts from convincing wails of pure anguish to sounding briefly like Tom Waits possessed.
Shining as a band display plenty of malice and uncomfortable, creepy tunes, and yet remain playful enough to work a cowbell into their album. It is this experimental aspect of the band, and of course their obvious diverse musical talent, along with some impressive vocals, that keep me coming back to V - Halmstad, and other albums by the Swedish masters of suicide.
Verdict: Win [8.5/10] (deny tomorrow)