I have this terrible habit of spending money on CDs I know absolutely nothing about when I'm horribly bored because I'm irresponsible and an idiot. On my many travels, I found this: Shining Of's "Convicted By Sin." I remember finding the item information vague, the description calling it an avant-garde/experimental death metal album that was the first and only significant release from this short-lived Polish project. As a weird death metal enthusiast, my curiosity was stimulated. Searches regarding the whereabouts or any information at all about the band was (and still is) extremely limited in this age of Google searches and hyperactive information finding, so I snapped, coughed up eight or nine bucks, and awaited the arrival of the pro-CDr, limited to 230 hand-numbered copies. The packaging featured a pink slipcase with the band's logo and the album's title covering an idiosyncratic inner shell painted in a rainbow of colorful swirls. Flashy stuff.
Clearly, someone put a lot of effort into making "Convicted By Sin" a visually hooking product, or, at the very least, something unique. Not surprisingly, the band's vision of death metal is anything but safe and expected. Shining Of's source of light (hurr hurr) comes from the avid use of keyboards and saxophones which both add ambience and brutality to the group's blast beats and traditional death metal riffs. Accompanied by adequate growling vocals, Shining Of's assault has an exoskeleton that won't surprise many. However, "Convicted By Sin" adds many interesting hues to the picture, solely because of the upfront keyboard melodies and the avant-garde nature often implanted in most tracks. The riffs and guitar parts are actually pretty basic and unimaginative, but the experimental edge of "Convicted By Sin" is clearly its source of vital life, and everything moves quite smoothly when all is said and done.
There are times when Shining Of listens like Harvey Dent in the studio: equal parts death metal and avant-garde, yet always entertaining stuff. Songs like "Dies Ater" (Dies After?) and "Shining" tilt the scales in favor of the experimental side of things, with various parts of the former showing traces of songwriting akin to Unexpect, and the latter encouraging the saxophone to lead it to a land of jazz-laden grace. It all ranges from decent to utterly creative and perplexing, really. My only complaint happens to be the lack of variety in the guitar work; there could be a hint of innovation added somewhere in the basic death metal chops. Other factors, like the production and sound quality, are free of hazards and contribute to an enjoyable, spicy record of strange death metal.
Well, it's strange, but not totally strange. In fact, I think "Convicted By Sin" has modernistic appeal for the less-ambitious listener and enough bizarre taste to capture the hearts of the odd ones amongst us. Shining Of have supposedly discontinued all activity since this 2004 release, so "Convicted By Sin" is the lone artifact left behind by this forgotten culture of Polish death metal. Its unique traits make the album something special and noteworthy, perhaps even influential. Maybe some kid will find a copy of this mysterious album several eons down the road and find Shining Of an inspiring project that proudly countered the insipid flock often passed as death metal in 2004; it certainly has potential to do so.