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Shining - International Blackjazz Society CD (album) cover





3.24 | 14 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars Having scored with the their international breakthrough "Blackjazz" in 2010, SHINING had hit upon an ever evolving formula that focuses on caustic extreme metal as the main driving force of their once jazz and prog fueled escapes that dominated the first four albums but despite this cementing of sounds into a more cohesive whole still wriggled around a bit from album to album as "One One One" tried to tighten things up even further in order to create a more accessibly although equal brutal listening experience.

It seems that after "Blackjazz" bandleader and main creative force Jørgen Munkeby tasted a bit of success and pondered the possibilities of the much desired crossover success that many less complex bands consistently enjoy. The result was in yet another simplification in the industrial metal approach that "One One One" refined yet still had elements of extremity beyond the comfort zone of all but the most hardcore extremophiles. Having adopted the "Blackjazz" album title as sort of a musical ethos of sort, SHINING attempted to capitalize on its notoriety and titled its seventh studio INTERNATIONAL BLACKJAZZ SOCIETY.

As was a given at this point, this album features another lineup change only this time with the departure of longtime original drummer Torstein Lofthus whose technical drumming prowess was becoming less relevant as Munkeby strived for a greater crossover appeal. Taking his place was Tobias Ørnes Andersen whose simpler approach took SHINING's industrial metal sound out the more frenetic world and more in the direction of mainstream artists like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. Despite the simplification the band once again became a quintet with the addition of keyboardist Eirik Tovsrud Knutsen.

Despite the "Blackjazz" title appearing in INTERNATIONAL BLACKJAZZ SOCIETY, there is not much on this one to bring back all those extreme adventures into prog complexity laced with jazz and avant-garde Western classical compositional fortitude. Instead this one is more of a simplified form of alternative metal with easy to follow song structures that adds a bit of industrial heft as well as the occasional saxophone squawks that have become less and less significant after "Blackjazz" to the point where Munkeby dropped the sax altogether on the following album "Animal."
 While the guitars have that ballsy bluesy alternative metal sound that was common in the 90s, the drumming styles often mimic industrial metal bands like Ministry, Marilyn Manson and other late 90s / early 2000s similarly minded artists. Once again Munkeby's vocal style mimics Marilyn Manson with those scream as loud as you can from beneath the swells of distorted din affect and still maintains an eccentric edge despite the music being tamped down for broader acceptance to the point where tracks like "House Of Warship" are more hard rock than metal however these less frenetic tracks also feature more saxophone squawks. On slower parts his screams are replaced by a more generic alternative rock style of vocals.

Overall this one is a major step down in SHINING's quality control and clearly geared towards crossover appeal but unfortunately the result is a rather boring album for those on the prog side of the fence and not melodic or interesting enough for a straight on industrial metal type of albums. The melodic hooks aren't memorable, the tracks while somewhat diverse aren't as interesting and the overall effect is fairly weak not only compared to SHINING's previous canon but in the context of both alternative metal and industrial rock. It's not a bad album by any means and decent enough but unlike everything that came before comes off as a bit hollow.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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