Shining – One One One | Review

Generally, shunting together genres known for their confrontational and exclusionary force is a dangerous move but, over the years, Shining (Nor) leader/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Jørgen Munkeby and his ensemble have done so with enough intelligence and flair that it has paid off in style. As one of progressive metal’s audacious enigmas, Shining (Nor) have made their name by fearlessly blitzing convention. Spanning the dark divide between the explosiveness of jazz, prog-rock’s intricacies and extreme metal’s severity, the band's fifth studio release, ‘Blackjazz’, provided the breakout, as Shining (Nor) caught the wider attention of music fans that merit such gallantry. The evolution from an acoustic jazz quartet to the band flaunting extensive talents on ‘Live Blackjazz’—released in 2011—is sizeable, and with their latest offering, ‘One One One’, the evolution continues; albeit with fewer tangential leaps. The temptation to descend into blackened-jazz alienation à la ‘Blackjazz Deathtrance’ has been suppressed on ‘One One One’. Instead Shining (Nor) have filled the furnace with as many memorable vocal refrains as possible to work strictly within the confines of verse/chorus structures. In essence, the band has written 9 extreme pop songs shellacked by juddering industrial and progressive metal, resulting in an exciting, immediate and highly addictive listen. “Pop” is used in the loosest sense of the word, of course. You will not find saccharine choruses or moments that would be palatable to anyone unfamiliar with the intensity steaming off caustic vocals and pulverising metallic blasts. Munkeby’s vocals—part slithery lothario, part mantra-bearer—are pushed to the forefront and the bass-heavy riffs and unstable rhythms split and collide like The Dillinger Escape Plan remixed by Trent Reznor or Aphex Twin. All this comes at the expense of free-form jaunts, and the caterwauls of Munkeby's saxophone are limited to a few choice wig-outs ('How Your Story Ends', 'The Hurting Game'); much like his sparse interjections on Ihsahn’s ‘Eremita’ from last year. This may dishearten those looking to Shining (Nor) for jazz-in-extremis, but by cutting each song right to the bone and hanging not an ounce of fat on each arrangement, the band have allowed us to see straight through to what actually exists at the core of Shining (Nor): A swarming mass of enviable musicality and rampant hooks. Don't get too comfortable, however. This may only be a momentary experiment. One that Shining (Nor) have conducted to see how the rats react to stimulus shot straight to the synapses.

Dean Brown

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Dean Brown is a metal scribe based in Ireland. He is currently a contributing editor to the North American cultural magazine Popmatters and he regularly throws words for a number of other reputable loud noise publications such as metal,,,, amongst others. He has a strong affinity for music that shakes souls and leaves debilitating tinnitus in its wake and such obsession has left him financially and medically crippled, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Follow Dean on twitter @reus85