Sound — 8
Kvarforth, along with a few other musicians, formed Shining in 1998. Although the band was essentially a studio band at the time, without the members to tour or perform live, they released their debut album, "I: Within Deep Dark Chambers" in 2000. Kvarforth was soon the only remaining member and he began recruiting members with the intention of releasing more albums and working towards performing live. It took a few years before Kvarforth was able to tour extensively and his lineup has never remained very consistent, though he has remained creative and has released 9 albums over the last 15 years which is better than an album every 2 years. Kvarforth views his music differently than most black metal bands, looking at it as a weapon he wields against his listeners instead of it being a therapeutic tool. Kvarforth has bragged in interviews that fans have hurt or killed themselves while listening to his music, and has also faked his own suicide in 2006 in an attempt to inspire fans of the band to follow his example. Kvarforth also encourages other types of self-destructive behavior, as well as drug use purely for its destructive side effects. His "politics" are very upfront and are very distasteful to me, but I enjoy his music regardless.
"IX: Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends" is Kvarforth's ninth full-length studio album. The album contains six tracks and clocks in at just under 40 minutes. The album opens up with "Den Påtvingade Tvåsamheten," which is mostly guitar string noise for over the first minute (with maybe footsteps in the background?), but it builds to an epic emperor's march type of piece, and does a few different things during the track, but is wholly instrumental and mainly seems to be setting the stage for the rest of the album. The second track from the album, "Vilja & Dröm," is much more aggressive and sounds like conventional black metal with tremolo picking and blast beats for parts of the track, but Kvarforth does have some lyrics over a creepy arpeggio that slowly transitions to a chugging guitar part with the lead guitar playing a slightly atonal riff, then back to the arpeggio. "Framtidsutsikter" opens with a dark folk-ish acoustic riff and Kvarforth singing clean with a touch of reverb. The track has heavy guitars come in about a minute and a half in, and you have to give the drummer credit on here, his sound is compressed but no so much that his playing sounds like a big mess (which is a problem, to me, when I listen to black metal or any extreme metal) - so kudos to Rainer and whoever the recording engineer or producer was. "Framtidsutsikter" closes out with a pretty engaging guitar solo. "Människotankens Vägglösa Rum" opens up pretty intense, and for the most part stays intense, whether the guitar is playing creepy, slightly atonal arpeggios, or tremolo picked riffs. The song is about mental illness of some type, if the interwebz interpretation skills can be trusted - which they can't. "Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna" has an acoustic opening, which is just some basic strumming, but is then replaced by some clean electric playing of a creepy arpeggio. I've just had the realization that black metal is made almost entirely out of creepy arpeggios (sometimes slightly atonal sounding), dark acoustic folk stuff, and tremolo picked distorted guitars with blast beats on drums - at least Kvarforth puts these elements together in a fairly interesting sequence and combination. The album closes out with the track, "Besök Från I(ho)nom," which has some interesting stuff going on with the bass, and then goes straight in to the blast beat, tremolo picking and tortured screamed vocals. Maybe a last frantic plea before the end of the album for the listener to please just kill themselves - times like these I wish I understood Swedish. The drummer was fairly impressive for his choices and how he chose to play this track - I have to give props to Rainer Tuomikanto, though the internet has very little to say about him besides he's been playing for Kvarforth since 2012. The track closes out with a long passage with bass, acoustic guitar, drums, and some very limited and tasteful electric guitars with a little bit of talking going over the top of it all. I enjoyed the album musically, but I know what very few of the lyrics mean, even translated the syntax and sentence structures are off and confusing - not the music's fault, but for all of us English speakers out there, the lyrics are mystifying.
Lyrics — 7
Kvarforth provides vocals (as well as some guitars and keyboards) on releases by Shining, and his vocals are actually fairly versatile, though on "IX: Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends" doesn't have any lyrics in English. Using some translation sites online I was able to translate (poorly) some of his lyrics to English, which seem to all be in Swedish. As an example, from the track "Människotankens Vägglösa Rum," which the internet translates to mean "human thought wall loose rooms" you have the translated lyrics: "A once temporary state/ bloom now out in its full glory/ a permanent inconvenience/ legitimate/ Oforklarbar psychosis due to/ unexplained just impulses." Honestly, that is about as articulate as some metal bands that write in English, so I can't really complain. If it wasn't clear earlier in the review, I'm not a fan of Kvarforth's politics or lyrics, but they're on par with his contemporaries so no complaints.
Overall Impression — 7
I like Kvarforth's sense of musicality, and think he's an exceptionally creative dude - but man, it is hard to want to buy albums from a musician whose master plan is for their music to make you so depressed that you off yourself. I felt like the album was a strong effort and I enjoyed the more "folk" aspects of the album, which added another dimension of interest for me.