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Shining - Blackjazz CD (album) cover





3.84 | 105 ratings

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4 stars Just the other day, I was reviewing Ihsahn's After and noted a particularly bonkers track called A Grave Inversed where Ihsahn and chums seemed to play as fast and horrifically as they can and just when you thought things couldn't get crazier, in came the saxophone. Exhilirating though it was, I commented that it was a good thing he didn't try to keep that up across the album because it would've been exhausting not to mention just plain horribly noisy. So I turn around and am confronted by Shining's Blackjazz (also from Norway, big year for them with the two mentioned acts and Motorpsycho getting big buzz on new releases and we're only in March) which is broadly the sound of A Grave Inversed stretched across an album. And I'm eating my words at saying such a record would be painful because I have thoroughly enjoyed Blackjazz. I must say that the best songs come towards the end. Opener The Madness And The Damage Done is a great showcase of the band's energy and enthusiasm- the first few seconds alone find the tricky G-spot between being terrifying and entertaining- but after multiple listens feels a bit simple and repetitive. The next track, Fisheye, is more proggy- The Madness And The Damage Done is structurally straightforward, it's the ferocity of the sound that's amazing- hopping about between odd places and introducing the sax but doesn't really interest me that much despite some nice guitar work and a few well executed explosions of anger. Exit Sun, pointlessly separated into tracks as the outro track doesn't stand alone, trundles into view next and is quite close to Fisheye in vibe but feels a bit more sinister and has a big payoff lurking at the end. But then we're into the second, much better, half of the album. Shining is one of those bands that should really consider becoming an instrumental band- predictably disturbing lyrics aside, the two instrumentals Helter Skelter and Omen together with Blackjazz Deathtrance (not an instrumental but very focussed on the sound with the vocals being part of the atmosphere) are easily the highlights. They find Shining exploring more literally jazzy and freeform spaces, Helter Skelter showing off tight, flashy chops, Omen being a more lazily evil beast that grows in might and dread as it goes along and provides a rare flash of beauty in the synthesized recurring refrain and Blackjazz Deathtrance being a colossal and unsettling 10 minute descent into madness of the kind that all extreme RIO fans love. A cover of 21st Century Schizoid Man closes the album but feels a bit tacked on- Shining don't embarrass themselves with this bold choice of track, but it feels quite needless after the whopping one two of Blackjazz Deathtrance and Omen. While the album never gets bad, a few tracks do not capitalise on the musical potential I think Shining have which stops this from being a fiver. However, fans of RIO and jazz influenced metal can't pass this up.
Textbook | 4/5 |


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