269

Shining: Blackjazz

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Shining: Blackjazz Few groups have been as inherently frightening from the get-go as art rock progenitor King Crimson, in particular tracks like "Cirkus," from Lizard (DGM Live, 1970), "The Devil's Triangle," from In the Wake of Poseidon (DGM Live, 1970) and, perhaps most iconically, "21st Century Schizoid Man," the opening track to the group's opening salvo, In the Court of the Crimson King (DGM Live, 1969). It's no coincidence that Norway's Shining has chosen to end Blackjazz with an even more terrifying, 21st Century update to "21st Century Schizoid Man," demonstrating Crimson's profound influence over the past four decades, but here taken to extremes that out-metal the Nuevo Metal of more contemporary Crimson's The Power to Believe (Sanctuary, 2003). Crimson's original was chaotic; Shining's version is sheer anarchistic nihilism—yet, in some ways, it's one of Blackjazz's tamest cuts.

Starting as an electrified, metal-tinged fusion band, Shining has been gradually throwing off its jazz roots over its past two Rune Grammofon albums—In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster (2005), and even more so on Grindstone (2007). For its first post-Rune release, the group ratchets up the volume, the intensity...and the fear factor. "The Madness and the Damage Done" may reference grunge-folkster Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done" in title, but substitutes deranged lunacy and thundering intensity for Young's mournful plaintiveness. The thundering, power-riff-driven "Fisheye" is, in drummer Lofthus' powerful groove, something of a high octane relief, though when guitarist Munkeby moves to saxophone for an unfettered aural assault, it becomes clear that, with Blackjazz, Shining is taking no prisoners.

The evolution towards a darker, death metal-tinged, occasionally goth and industrial sound hasn't come without a price. Only (Jørgen) Munkeby and (Torsten) Lofthus remain from past incarnations, and Munkeby has trimmed his extreme multi-instrumentalism down primarily to crunching guitars and screaming saxophones. Shining can still be considered a progressive rock band, but one with a far weightier presence than ever before. Norway has long been a bastion of death metal, but Shining expands the genre's usual combo of harsh guitars, thundering bass and pounding drums with synths, programming and arrangements that are often more complex. Still, that doesn't detract from Blackjazz's overall relentless nature.

The first of two back-to-back tracks called "Exit Sun" begins with an overdriven, irregular-metered riff, part of an episodic eight minutes that, despite its ruthless implacability, manages to cover a lot of ground. Shining may no longer be anything resembling jazz, but even at its harshest extremes, many of its components couldn't happen without at least some players possessing exposure to the jazz continuum, making Blackjazz a not inappropriate title.

But with its growling and screaming vocals, swirling, ferocious attack and unyieldingly sharp edges, Blackjazz is nothing short of a progressive metal masterpiece—hard on the ears and even harder on the mind but, in its sheer power and visceral depiction of the dark side, impossible to ignore.


Track Listing: The Madness and the Damage Done; Fisheye; Exit Sun; Exit Sun; HEALTER SKELTER; The Madness and the Damage Done; Blackjazz Deathtrance; Omen; 21st Century Schizoid Man.

Personnel: Munkeby: vocals, guitars, saxophone, additional keyboards, winds, synths, effects and programming; Lofthus: drums; Kreken: bass; Moen: keyboards, synths; Hermansen: guitars. Gentle Kjellson: vocals (8, 9).

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Indie Recordings


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "O Horizonte" CD/LP/Track Review O Horizonte
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 8, 2016
Read "Leaving Everything Behind" CD/LP/Track Review Leaving Everything Behind
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 5, 2016
Read "The Scrambling Ex" CD/LP/Track Review The Scrambling Ex
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 24, 2016
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Out & About" CD/LP/Track Review Out & About
by Doug Collette
Published: July 3, 2016
Read "Tuesday Prayers" CD/LP/Track Review Tuesday Prayers
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!