X – Varg Utan Flock is Shining’s tenth full-length album and follow-up to 2015’s mildly disappointing Everyone, Everything, Everywhere Ends. Lightning-rod frontman Niklas Kvarforth is back with his progressive, folk-music-heavy brand of depressive black metal, and it is clearly more enthralling than the band’s last release.

Some reviews are quick to note that Kvarforth seems intent on resurrecting the more lauded fragments of past releases in order to mimic greatness in X – Varg Utan Flock. There are shards of V – Halmstad and VI – Klagopsalmer in the newest batch of songs, but they are not as obviously rendered tributary efforts as one may deduce. Should any comparisons to past recordings be made, it should be noted that X – Varg Utan Flock more subtly infuses the styles or close songwriting virtues from such aforementioned efforts. X – Varg Utan Flock is still as musically diverse and original in structure and melody as one should expect from a new album.

Still, many fans want Niklas Kvarforth to experiment further with the style of progressive, folk, black metal that he has now grown comfortable creating from V – Halmstad up to this point, but Kvarforth seems content at least for now to explore the amalgamation of elements that have made his band’s sound so distinct thus far. Gone perhaps are any comparisons to past albums I – IV, from the nostalgia of Within Deep Dark Chambers to the usherer of the new progressive inclinations for the band’s new direction, The Eerie Cold.

Shining’s latest album doesn’t do a lot of things that can be considered wildly different. They only happen to revisit old styles and elements with comfortable certainty and precise execution. They play these hush, mellow acoustic segments and then burst into intense black metal tremolo riffing and blasting. Kvarforth doesn’t spare an ounce of snarling and screaming his larynx can offer the jaded metal fan in search of a frontman who is willing to give his all to a vocal performance. The reasons that have brought Kvarforth wild acclaim are still here in various shades of songwriting and vocalizing brilliance. This is true, although it is not to the degree V – Halmstad had made a landmark, or III – Angst made incendiary. Still, fans of the band will play this on repeat and fans new to Shining will appreciate the album enough to investigate the band’s other efforts.

X – Varg Utan Flock Track Listing:

01. Svart Ostoppbar Eld
02. Gyllene Portarnas Bro
03. Jag Är Din Fiende
04. Han Som Lurar Inom
05. Tolvtusenfyrtioett
06. Mot Aokigahara

Run Time: 41:22
Release Date: January 5, 2018

We know you’re intrigued, so just stream X – Varg Utan Flock here.