Sound: Shining. Lots of alternating views. The most frequently heard statement when a person critiques 'Shining', is that the main man Kvarforth is a poser and isn't that depressed or, suicidal. I'm sure this is probably true, but regardless of this fact, the music he creates with his group of... generally unknown musicians, can forgive his activities on stage. Like 'Enslaved' is the 'Opeth' of Black metal, 'Shining' would be the 'Opeth' of Depressive Black metal. The sound is clean, as it has been since their previous, 'IV/ The Eerie Cold'. But the first thing about the sound that comes to mind is the fact that it's so damn gloomy. Even if Kvarforth isn't really depressed, I'm willing to believe that he is just from listening. The atmosphere from the acoustic sections, the pure ambiance in the background from a twisting, sprawling black metal passage in minor, it's all enough to make even the most emotionless of a person either frightened of the music itself, or crying in the corner. All the violins, pianos, intertwined with Kvarforth's (For future reference, is the singer) disgustingly disturbed singing voice creates the feeling that one might be better off dying in a corner somewhere. That is the feeling the music resonates. "Lat Oss Ta Allt Fran Varandra" is probably the most distinct song on here, mainly because... well, it's just so damn depressing! // 10
Lyrics: The Lyrics sprawl lots of emphasis on Suicide and depression. This juxtaposed with the atmosphere presented in the music pretty much stabilizes the lyrics and makes them feel at home. If the lyrics were good but the music wasn't depressing it just plain wouldn't work. Since the sound is very gloomy and quiet at parts, Kvarforth's clean (well, cleaner) vocals feel at home.
On IV/ The Eerie Cold, lots of the songs contained little recorded passages, one where only the bass is playing in the background and a girl talks about how she's cutting her throat- One where a man explains how he believes we should all be born at 100 years old and age backwards. And at the end of the song "Claws of Perdition", a man talks about how he would like his pain inflicted on others, and how he feels no emotion; something along the lines of that. Halmstad has less of them- infact it only has one. On the song "Lat Oss Ta Allt Fran Varandra" (which, I said previously was very depressing) there is a sample from a film, called 'Prozac Nation'. It's basically a girl crying, telling us how she can't be what everyone wants her to be - that's what I can make of it, anyway. What makes that part of the music so effect is that it shys away from the Pure Black Metal vocals and allows the music to calm down a little. Immediately after Kvarforth gives his cleanest vocals on the album, and it fits perfectly in with the mood generated by the atmosphere created by the crying girl. Simple, effective.
Another, interesting sample of Kvarforth's vocals is in the song, 'Besvikelsens Dystra Monotoni'. Complete Despair, Nihilism at it's best. He sounds like somebody is pulling parts of his body off, bit by bit. You'll either find it silly, him screaming and shouting and showing lots of emotion with his voice, or you'll find it the creepiest, most depressing thing you'll hear from a Depressive Black metal record. // 9
Overall Impression: In all honesty, the album is near perfect. The sound and production is great, the use of violins and pianos mixed with black metal creates something far from generic. (See "Attiosextusenfyrahundra".)
The most impressive songs on the album are all of them. There is not one bad song, every song has it's own little part which makes it different from the rest on the album. But if I'm going to choose one song which just puts the strawberry on top of the icing, it would be "Lat Oss Ta Allt Fran Varandra". The song is gloomy, depressing, Nihilist of the highest order. And as much as I want to find something bad about it, I can't. There is nothing on here which I can criticize. Maybe it's just too depressing.
Comparing it with other artists of the genre, 'Lifelovers' album "Dekadens" feels too happy at times. Although one part of their concept is irony, the feeling of V/Halmstad just feels overwhelming in comparison. An album like 'IIII' by Farsot is very similar in retrospect but i would choose V over it, mainly because of it's atmosphere- which, don't get me wrong, both albums have but use it alot differently.
If I lost this album I would buy it again. I would probably have withdrawal symptoms without it. It's just that good. Go out and buy it. You need this in your collection. // 10