Release Date: Oct 23, 2015
Record label: Spinefarm Records
Genre(s): Experimental, Jazz, Avant-Garde, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Hardcore, Heavy Metal, Progressive Metal, Punk Metal, Speed/Thrash Metal
Five years and two albums since Shining's math-y, high-decibel rebirth on 2010's Blackjazz and it's still unclear whether “blackjazz” is a genre, a spiritual practice, a statement of purpose, or something else entirely. More than anything, the portmanteau of black metal and jazz seems to signify an extended bait and switch. Almost as soon as the Oslo quartet had earned the equal esteem of metal and jazz vanguards and arts-grants committees, Shining moved on, keeping the music-school chops of Blackjazz, but amping up the swaggering riffs and songcraft for 2013's singles-oriented One One One.
Since their debut in 2002, Norway's Shining have pushed their own envelope. Founded by multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Jørgen Munkeby (the only constant member), they began as an avant acoustic jazz group, then embraced more diverse elements over time -- mainly industrial and extreme metal. With their 2010 breakthrough album Blackjazz, they created their own genre; it melded all of the above and more.
Following the short, streamlined songs on 2013’s 'One One One,' Shining have returned to the more extreme blend of prog, jazz and industrial music they showcased earlier. 'International Blackjazz Society' starts off with a sheer blast of free form John Zorn-flavored dissonance before fragmenting in a dozen directions. Instead of providing a series of heterogeneous electro-metal tunes, frontman Jørgen Munkeby gives each track its own identity.
First, Blackjazz was an album. Then it became the ethos of the Norwegian “blackjazz” outfit Shining, who took Blackjazz‘s proggy gymnastics and compressed them into concise pop tunes with serious edge on 2013’s excellent One One One. Now, with the release of International Blackjazz Society on new label Spinefarm, Shining have given the blackjazz moniker a new life in the form of the titular organization, which is a real entity as of 2015.
On their 2010 album Blackjazz, the Norwegian jazz/prog collective Shining absorbed metal into their aesthetic, and it seemed to focus them. On earlier records the band, organized around multi-instrumentalist Jørgen Munkeby, were more elusive, but Blackjazz was an album made entirely of jagged shapes, like the irregular, violent architecture of a cliffside. It feels aggressively assembled, as if its ideas of metal and jazz were less harmonized than magnetized together.
Latest album from Norwegian crossover merchants. Founded by saxophonist, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Jorgen Munkeby, Shining claim to have invented a whole new musical form, which they have dubbed “Blackjazz”, a form of eclectic, progressive metal..
One of the many things we in the AP bunker admire about Norway’s Shining is how disparate elements combine so seamlessly—vocalist Jørgen Munkeby’s screeching saxophone, industrial-inspired textures and Tobias Ørnes Andersen’s tendency to ride his hi-hat like a ’70s disco superstar. Everything gets pureed by daring song structures that make their avant-garde electro-metal appear as natural as a Sunday stroll. The pacing and WTF-factor have been scaled back album number seven, but discordant anger still bubbles (“Burn It All”) and primal jazz rules (“Last Day” with its quick Blues Brothers homage).