Submit to Self-Destruction: Shining live in Kansas City 05/12/2017
“This is Hail Darkness Hail. It’s dedicated to everyone here. Fuck you all.”
Niklas Kvarforth, the driving force behind Sweden’s black metal outfit Shining, is an enigmatic figure – both on stage and off. His penchant for confrontational and sometimes abrasive live shows precedes him in such a way that when the band played the Riot Room in Westport on Friday night, the crowd seemed split between embracing whatever would come from the performance and keeping a healthy distance from the stage to observe from afar. While the group behind him performed, Kvarforth would pace back and forth on the stage, reaching out into the crowd to sip drinks from anyone close enough to the stage and to rest himself on those in the front row. He mostly seemed to want to keep a jovial (albeit increasingly morbid) scene throughout the performance – multiple times when singing, he pointed out a kid with a Trivium shirt (for those unaware, Trivium can be classified as “false” or “poser” metal) and would flip him off or incorporate how much the group sucks into the lyrics, but he’d come back with a smile and shake the kid’s hand or pat him on the head. Other times, it seemed like Kvarforth flipped the switch to his fabled misanthropic, antagonistic self. A fan gave him a thumbs down (note: a positive reception at a Shining performance) and Kvarforth went off on the guy, mid-song, calling him every name in the book – followed up with a smile, a handshake, and telling him to kill himself. All this coupled with wringing his sweat-drenched gloves onto an audience member, continually “shooting” audience members and band members (and himself) onstage, espousing that he’s done with black metal because Led Zeppelin is the greatest; it’s all just a typical, outstanding performance at a Shining show.
Althoug Kvarforth took center stage, literally and figuratively, the band performing was nothing short of masterful at their craft. In particular, lead guitarist Euge Valovrita had several jaw-dropping guitar solos that teetered between old-school indulgence and over-the-top wankery. It even got Kvarforth to comment that he hates everyone, but hates his guitar player a little less that night. The venue sound was particularly great which can be a pretty hard thing to accomplish with a band like Shining who hits both ends of the spectrum when it comes to dynamics in their music. Even when Kvarforth took the microphone to the bar to order a drink and the band was shredding onstage, it came across clean, clear and heavy.
Sort of on the exact opposite end of the sonic spectrum, opening band Revenge reveled in dissonance, noise, chaos and impenetrable death/black metal. One of the frontrunners in the extreme metal sub-sub-subgenre of “war metal,” Canada’s Revenge relies more on feeling and suffocating music than anything really resembling melody or conventional musical qualities – even by most extreme metal standards. With song titles like “Traitor Crucifixion” and “Mass Death Mass” it can be pretty easy to assume what Revenge sounds like, but seeing them in a live setting is a whole different beast. With zero talk in between songs, the power trio launched into each song at max volume and max speed – the constant blastbeats and drum fills from drummer James Read just added to the whirlwind of sounds. The guitar and bass playing would alternate between speedy riffing and noisy solos to the occasional breakdown; although these slower movements were few and far between, their sparse inclusion made them supremely effective. A terrifying performance from a terrifying group.
No stranger to Kansas City, Minnesota blackened sludge group Wolvhammer opened the touring portion of the night. A cross between the heavy, downtuned dissonance of Primitive Man and Eyehategod and the blackened speed of Marduk and Belphegor, Wolvhammer commands a stage presence unlike most others. Intense commitment to each song in their set from each member onstage, especially from vocalist Adam Clemans (you know, the guy who sings in Skeletonwitch now) who looks completely deranged as he paced around the stage whilst providing his brand of harsh vocals. At one point, Clemans dropped the microphone to the ground and continued to just scream his lyrics into the void. They must really like playing at the Riot Room, because they had a recently released live album for sale with them that was recorded last year at the Riot Room when they opened for Taake in June. Can we have Wolvhammer as an honorary KC band, please?
Opening the show were Topeka death metallers Moonsick. Performing a type of death metal that incorporates heavy elements of melodic death metal, brutal death meta and even some black metal thrown in for good measure – it was hard not to picture Lykathea Aflame or obscure Japanese death metal group Intestine Baalism as big influences to their sound. Honestly, Moonsick is one of the most impressive local acts from the Kansas City scene in quite some time. A lot of their songs are pretty technical and complex but not one member seemed to have a problem ripping through it. Make it a point to check them out, sooner rather than later.
Shining set included:
Hail Darkness Hail
Vilja & Dröm
Submit to Self-Destruction
Längtar bort från mitt hjärta
1. Us and Them (Higher Power)
2. Traitor Crucifixion
3. Pride Ruination (Division Collapse)
4. Mass Death Mass
5. Desolation Insignia
6. Altar of Triumph
7. Banner Degradation (Exile or Death)
8. Wolf Slave Protocol (Choose Your Side)
9. Silent Enemy
10. Blood of my Blood