ALBUM REVIEW: Shaam Larein – Sticka en Kniv I Världen

Evoking more than a whiff of the spirit of Siouxsie Sioux with a tight, goth-rock unit, Shaam Larein’s second full-length Sticka En Kniv I V​ä​rlden (Svart Records) may have you seeing visions of witches dancing barefoot under the moonlight.

Like the great, theatrical creation Alice Cooper, Sweden’s Shaam Larein simultaneously denotes the singer and the band. Though the press release focuses largely on Larein the singer—who occupies centre stage with her dark and powerful gothic delivery—the band that shares her name provides a totally fitting musical accompaniment.


Translated as “stick a knife into the world” the follow up to 2020’s debut Sculpture is thirty-nine minutes and eight tracks of atmospheric, gothic rock that for better or worse brings to mind the old Peter Steele line: “Every day is Halloween”.


When it comes to the album’s eponymous title track, the pros far outweigh the cons. ‘Sticka En Kniv I V​ä​rlden’ opens with an ominous guitar arpeggio that moves into a satisfying hard rock stomp, keeping the listener unsettled with its odd time signature shifts.

Larein, gives her best rendition of a dark priestess invoking the spirits of the night, while the band adeptly move through some unexpected melodic transitions—if you don’t love the instrumental part just over a minute in, moments of delight on this record will probably be few and far between for you.


Larein’s vocal performance—drawing from her Syrian background with a penchant for eastern scales—remains strong for the duration of the album, as does the playing from the rest of the band. Like a nordic Danzig (another singer/ band association), the unit of drums, guitars, bass (and occasional keyboards) provide a satisfyingly muscular and often inventive ghoulish, gothic musical accompaniment.


The rhythm section in particular excels, with a number of darkly catchy rhythms and when the seventies style keyboards come in, the band even has a bit of Jefferson Airplane about them in their dark theatricality.


The ‘cons’ alluded to earlier are not so much due to the performances, it’s about the atmospherics, which by the end of the record walk a fine line that threatens to fall into self-parody. On the one hand, each track is distinct in terms of its arrangements. There’s attention paid to the pacing with more rocking numbers like the excellent ‘Beware the Duchess’ leading into the hypnotic, thumping ‘I Have No Face’. It’s pretty much here at the half-way point of ‘Murderer’ however that the constant weight of the dark, atmosphere perhaps becomes too heavy for the songs to carry and risks capsising the whole thing.


What it really comes down to by the end of the record is whether you, the listener, remain onboard with the constant goth-rock atmospherics. While Alice Cooper and Type O Negative always had the tongue-in-cheek sense that you might be in on a knowing joke, Shaam Larein seems to be playing it straight.


The above mentioned ‘Murderer’ for example, has a particularly powerful vocal performance from Larein, as well as a ripping guitar solo, but without any sense of irony in the delivery it feels a little unintentionally cartoonish and maybe taking itself a bit too seriously. This constant tone of brooding darkness, let’s be honest, doesn’t have the emotional intensity of say Lingua Ignota.

Still, the performances are strong from start to finish and if you like the style and you like the atmosphere there’s plenty to enjoy on this record.


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7 / 10