International Blackjazz Society

Written by: RD on 29/10/2015 15:24:15

The Norwegian metal band Shining has been active since the early 2000’s, although they only managed to get a lot of success over the past few years. The late blooming of the band could indeed be related to its gradual movement from experimental and avant-garde jazz towards metal. This evolution was built over the years and, if the first Shining albums were not very accessible, the inclusion of metal in the music has definitely made it easier to grasp. With their latest albums, the band managed to keep a perfect balance between fun music, elements of jazz and complexity. With “One One One” (2013), it seemed, however, that the Norwegians had reached the limits of “blackjazz” – a genre they had created with their eponymous album in 2011. “Blackjazz” consists of fast and technical metal, aggressive vocals and the presence of a tormented saxophone. So the question is, if Shining, standing on the border of the genre’s possibilities, has anything new to offer us?

With its title, “International Blackjazz Society” already indicates that it will not differ much from the previous two records and the short introductory track only tends to demonstrate that we are still in the same territory. It is a destructive piece of madness with the crazy saxophone of Munkeby and a de-structured rhythm section. After this, the album carries on in the same direction as “One One One”, but shows some new features: the rhythm is a little slower and we can hear a guitar inspired by “surf rock”, something that has not been explored by the band previously. “International Blackjazz Society” is an album that shows how Shining can still add some elements of novelty to their genre. The instrumental track “House of Warship” is a good example; it is a chaotic maelstrom where Munkeby displays all his abilities on saxophone, which makes him reminiscent of artists such as King Crimson, John Zorn or even John Coltrane. “House of Control” is another example of innovation. The rhythm here is much slower than the rest of the album, as the band shows a quite surprising emotional side and the symphonic keyboards give a peculiar feeling, while the changes in rhythms switch between the intimate and more energetic side of the band.

Apart from that, Shining navigate in what they do best: Brutal industrial metal, tight riffs and memorable melodies. The production is quite dense, but not completely overwhelming; the keyboards, for example, add some subtlety through the entire album. Munkeby’s vocals become more and more versatile on this record since he alternates the violent vocals with more poignant ones. In spite of its qualities, “International Blackjazz Society” seems quite short. Already after 38 minutes, the end comes as a disappointment especially because the album shows a variety that was absent from “One One One”. Maybe this brevity is the price to pay for this intense feeling of emergency, which permeates the record.

Still, “International Blackjazz Society” is a powerful album; and Shining renew themselves with relevance, by integrating a more experimental side without giving up melodies and straightforwardness. This shows how the band, against all expectations, can still develop and thrive within “blackjazz”. In many of their concerts, Shining has covered the King Crimson song “21st Century Schizoid Man” and the resemblance between the two bands is striking. People discovering Shining today thus probably feel the same as people who, for the first time, listened to King Crimson in 1969: shocked, disoriented, amazed and definitively hooked.


Download: The Last Stand, House of Warship, House of Control
For The Fans Of: King Crimson, Mr. Bungle, Naked City

Release date 23.10.2015
Spinefarm Records

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