"Redefining Darkness" is the 8th full-length studio album by Swedish extreme metal act Shining. The album was released through Spinefarm Records in October 2012. "Redefining Darkness" was produced by Andy LaRocque (King Diamond), who also plays some leads. Other notable guests are Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano, who also contribute with lead guitar work and Hoest (Taake) who contributes additional vocals.
The album features six tracks. Two with Swedish language lyrics, three with English language lyrics and one instrumental. The band haven´t used English language lyrics on any album since "IV - The Eerie Cold (2005)", so in that respect Shining return to the roots. That´s certainly not the case with the instrumental part of the music or the songwriting in general though. "Redefining Darkness" is in the more mature semi-progressive extreme metal style that the band have more or less followed since they reformed in 2004. Misantrophy, depression, self-loathing and suicide are still central themes in the band´s lyrics like they have been from day one. The words are delivered with a malevolent kind of gleam in the eye and therefore it´s hard to know how much to put into them. They are certainly deranged and will probably also be perceived as imoral by some.
Niklas Kvarforth´s twisted schizophrenic vocal delivery, which ranges from extremely aggressive raspy/growling (completely intelligible) to clean singing and whispering, is a real treat and create intriguing contrasts, that not many extreme metal vocalists are able to do. Personally I think he is best when he delivers lyrics in his native tongue. One of the most striking examples of that is the line: "Snällä, snällä, snällä, snällä, snällä, snällä Låt mig få skada dig" (which translates into: "Please, please, please, please, please, please Let me hurt you") from the opening track "Du, Mitt Konstverk" ("You, My Artwork"), which is delivered in a clean emotional and mellow tone, that greatly contrasts the lyrics, which are about a murderer and his obsession with mutilating his victims. In his mind he is an artist. "Genom att förstöra skall jag nu skapa" ("By destroying I shall now create"), "Så skapar jag nu ännu ett mästerverk", "Allt som är vackert blir nu fult" ("This is how I create another masterpiece". "Everything that's beautiful now becomes ugly"). Twisted and unpleasant to say the least.
The intrumental part of the music is varied. The album features both faster parts, crushingly heavy yet groove oriented parts (the main riff in "Han Som Hatar Människan" ("He Who Hates Humans"), is a classic example of the stomping groove that Shining are able to produce) and mellower acoustic sections, which usually feature a haunting or melancholic atmosphere. The guitar solos on the album are a real treat. It´s not that the guitar solos on previous releases have been bad. Actually far from it. But the solos on "Redefining Darkness" are a step up for the band. Of course I would have expected no less from especially Andy LaRocque.
Out of the six tracks on the album, it´s only the instrumental piano dominated "Det Stora Grå" ("The Great Grey"), which isn´t that great. On the other hand it does work as an atmospheric intro to the closing track "For the God Below", so it does serve a purpose on the album. "Redefining Darkness" is overall a very strong release by Shining. This could make a great entry for new fans but it´s certainly a worthy addition to the collection of the existing fans too. It´s not that "Redefining Darkness" is vastly different from the rest of the post-2004 material by the band, but the band incorporate enough new ideas to the music to keep it fresh sounding and exiting. A good example are the saxophone parts in "The Ghastly Silence". A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is well deserved.