Released: 2013, Indie Recordings
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Shining are a Norweigan 4 piece band that claim to have pioneered a genre called “Blackjazz”. This album, One One One, is the 3rd in the “Blackjazz” series. Now, from this label and claim alone, I think it says quite a lot about the band, that is, that they are extremely confident in their ability and sound which they think is unique to claim to have invented a genre. I could have been put off by this from the start but nonetheless I listened to this album with open ears, not having heard any material from them before.
My main problem with this album lies in its claim of being “Blackjazz”. I am assuming they use this term due to their saxophone parts but where they crop up they fail to be jazzy or even fit the music well and they get worse as the album progresses. On the first track I found myself merely noting that it just sounded dull and that it masked everything else. The next track One One One, with its vocals sounding a bit like a bad impression of Marilyn Manson, uses the saxophone again, and this time it gets a bit worse as it just sounds noisy and messy in the arrangement, which is not even the productions fault, though it certainly doesn’t help it either.
It’s not that saxophone being used in metal is a strange and alien thing, many bands such as TesseracT, Ishahn and Ever Forthright use saxophone to great effect, but the way Shining have employed it on this album I feel is just simply bad. But it’s not just the saxophone that is the culprit of my distaste for this album. At times the guitar tone is actually painful to listen to, the drums sound pretty rigid and mechanical with a china cymbal that just sounds like harshly compressed hi passed fizz. The whole mix is far too distorted and the bass is typically in audible.
I have heard crushing hardcore bands that intentionally distort their tracks heavily for dramatic effect or in pursuit of a punky lo-fi sound but it is apparent that this is neither hardcore nor tasteful.
When the album isn’t trying to live up to its absurd “blackjazz” label it tends towards a flat, generic un original metal sound that would have been modern around 10 years ago. When bands don’t claim to have invented a genre and don’t pretend to be original, I find this quality somewhat forgivable. I listen to plenty soundalike ‘djent’ bands and I do so un-ashamedly so because they aren’t pretending.
In summary I think Shining have somewhat shot themselves in the foot. Whilst I may be taking the whole ‘blackjazz’ label a bit too seriously, I do think it really puts the nail in the coffin for me. If this band had just described itself as metal I wouldn’t have been nearly as frustrated or disappointed in what was on offer on this album, but they have made the choice to use the word to no end.
This is at its least offensive a sheer marketing ploy, but at worst I feel an insult to the word jazz, as someone who appreciates and listens to the latter enough to know Shining cannot legitimately claim to be jazz in any sense of the word regardless of prefix.
Review by Nick Povey