It’s been a long 20 years since Shiner’s last album, The Egg. Apart from a 2016 remaster of Lula Divinia, the band has been largely silent since 2003 apart from some reunions, likely due to members like Josh Newton keeping busy serving as guitar tech for such huge bands as Kings of Leon, Sleater-Kinney, and Band of Horses. Nevertheless, the time has come for a new record from the group in Schadenfreude. Classified as “space rock,” I look forward to examining this unique sound.
Schadenfreude kicks off with “In the End,” immediately layering guitars as vocalist Allen Epley sulks. It’s clear right off the bat that the proggy, mysterious sound of Shiner is one drawn from experience and vast influence. Single “Life as a Mannequin” features timid, tongue-in-cheek vocals over brimming instrumentals, bringing me back to the nostalgia of acts like Deftones and Hum. A track to get lost in, it’s a solid 6 1/2 minute piece.
“Genuflect” puts the bass quite high in the mix, deservedly so as the simple, effective riff commands the forefront for the majority of the song. “Nothing” is anything but, a busy track that sticks to a fast pace and has vocal harmonies and guitar hooks-a-plenty.
Next up is “Low Hanging Fruit,” which has my favorite guitar riff yet in its verse, a truly divine, delicate procession in another longer piece that keeps the listener immersed for its 6 minute length. With ample reverb, a strong bridge, and a fantastic fade-out, this is my highlight track off Schadenfreude. A bit on the heavier side, “Paul P Pogh” continues the vibe right into the next track.
“Swallow” is yet another longer piece, which is noteworthy from its haunting melody in the chorus. It’s odd listening to tracks like these, as I look away from the music player and see that five minutes have passed without a second thought, thanks to their consistency and staying power. A solid album closer lies with “O Captain,” a dreary, sentimental piece destined to be the last song.
Shiner’s long-standing existence strongly benefits from Schadenfreude. While the band might not get to play shows anytime soon, their legacy is improved with this new offering. Quite an unsung hero of the 90s, it’s great to see this band have more in the tank.
A press copy of Schadenfreude was provided courtesy of Josh Newton.