Shining Black – Shining Black

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: August, 2020
Released: 2020, Frontiers Records
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Erich

Album Cover

Frontiers Records can always be counted on to help put together interesting projects from different artists on their label. The latest is a collaboration between singer Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen, Royal Hunt) and guitarist Olaf Thorsen (Labyrinth, Vision Divine). The origins of the project began when singer Roberto Tiranti left Labyrinth to pursue a solo career in 2014. The band chose Mark Boals as his replacement, but because of Boal’s many projects, he was unable to meet the recording schedule of the band. Eventually Tiranti rejoined Labyrinth and the Boals collaboration ended without any released material. When schedules and opportunities arose recently, Frontiers suggested the two join forces in composing new music. SHINING BLACK is the result, released on July 10 on Frontiers Records.

SHINING BLACK is an accessible album of modern melodic metal with elements of power metal included. Boals continues to defy father time sounding far better than many of his contemporaries. The deep album power ballad “The Day We Say Goodbye” is perhaps the best display of his versatility and impressive range. I have admired Thorsen’s guitar abilities since I first heard Labyrinth’s RETURN TO HEAVEN DENIED back in 1999. Gifted with technical skills, Thorsen is one of the rare guitarists that delivers some of his most melodic and memorable melodies in just a few notes, capable of incredible emotion in his solos. Sure, he can employ flash and often does as album opener “House of The Fallen Souls” speedy tapping shows. “A Sad Song” demonstrates that he can also put on the brakes and show restraint to convey his message.

SHINING BLACK is mostly mid-paced melodic metal/hard rock, but “My Life” has Labyrinth written all over the track, particularly in its frenetic beginning and chorus. “Where Are Your Gods” also leans more Labyrinth’s way, but most songs are an equal combination of the two men’s styles. As might be expected, the production and mastering sounds flawless, yet cold and mechanical. This is a common symptom of modern production techniques in all music styles today.

While only a few tracks rise above the other songs on this album, there is also no filler or inferior tunes. This an album of remarkable consistency, even if some songs blend into each other. Ultimately, fans of both artists cannot fault an album of this quality, provided there is understanding that this is most likely a one-off and unlikely to be toured. Considering these realities, SHINING BLACK is an album worth your time just to hear the combination of two huge talents collaborating.  This album is recommended for fans of Khymera and Serious Black along with fans of each artists respective past and present bands.


Track Listing:

1. The House of the Fallen SoulsBand
2. The Boogeyman
3. My Life
4. A Sad Song
5. Shining Black
6. Just Another Day
7. Where are your Gods
8. The Carousel
9. They Day We Said Goodbye
10. We Fall


Mark Boals – Vocals
Olaf Thorsen – Guitars
Oleg Smirnoff – Keyboards
Nik Mazzucconi – Bass
Matt Peruzzi – Drums