“Me, I had been trying to get the hell out of there. The knock had turned into this heavy pounding. The hallway door was still bolted shut and barricaded but I just knew all hell was about to break loose” (Danielewski, 2000).
You see, on International Blackjazz Society, Shining have managed to compound space and emotion. The Norwegian 4-piece can bring on an anxiety attack, especially for those that are claustrophobic, beware!. This music encloses you, almost as though you feel locked within the sound while the Blackjazz maelstrom sits right on top of you. There is nothing offensive or even sinister about the music and how its structured; but if you let it, that little prison of thought inside you can feel overwhelming. The industrialised metal, saxophone, vocal attack and heavy hitting production scale is an assault on the senses.
Shining have largely followed the patterns laid down on album number six: 2013’s One, One, One, whereby the rhythm section is joined front and centre with the saxophone, on previous efforts it was the latter that formed the centrepiece of their Jazz take on rock and metal. On opener ‘Admittance’ this Blackjazz sound has been taken to the extreme, starting with the sax ripping open the album with illustrious and piercing effect, joined by throttling drums. Shortly afterwards ‘The Last Stand’ riffs its way out with an industrial tone reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails.
The momentum continues with the troubling ‘Burn it All’ and the robust ‘Last Day’, while a ‘Thousand Eyes’ takes the listener on a ride that feels insane, out of control yet calculated and purposeful, climaxing with the drum solo of the year. ‘House of Control’ is a change in pace for Shining and what a song it is, equally frightening and grim showcasing a welcomed new side and one that does not feature the saxophone.
The technical aspects of the recording are very well done, the production is flawless and each instrument has been mixed to perfection, especially the vocals; delivered with such intent that you can not come away from this experience thinking that Jørgen Munkeby has given less than 110%. There are some faults however, while the sound has improved upon One, One, One the band could have extended themselves more and veered a little away from the Blackjazz tag. Even naming the album International Blackjazz Society feels a touch lazy, even the album art is a little bland. The Nine Inch Nails/Marilyn Manson type vocal is also overused at times.
If your looking for an album to get the blood flowing yet challenge you senses at the same time then look no further, this is your nightmare and you can not control any of it.
Reference: Mark. Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves, 2000