Blackjazz, the eponymous album that both defined a transition in sound for a band and a new subgenre of black metal, was released in 2010 to little fanfare and through a grant from the 80s pop-band, Aha. It was a tightly wound package of schizophrenic sounds, inspired by Shining’s previous life as a jazz band. After watching the Blackjazz concert on youtube, I immediately purchased the album and listened to it for three or four days in a row. It was an amazing composition, unified by the play and creativity of the band and most specifically its lead singer, saxophonist, and guitarist, Jorgen Munkeby. This was the best review of the album:
So, what is a band to do when a completely experimental sound pays off, and they nail the performance of the album live? Try to push it further or refine it just a touch more. Of the songs on Blackjazz, “Fisheye” is the most intense experience, slamming you with a jazz percussion and saxophone breakdowns, industrial synths, whispered and howled vocals. Putting it mildly, it is such a mind altering experience that it damn well demands your attention.
One One One (2013) is their attempt to refine Blackjazz further. It is a shorter piece than Blackjazz, running just under 36minutes. It contains two more songs, and all of which would be among the shortest compositions off the previous album. The album definitely builds from the same playful, torrential energy of Blackjazz. However, its focus attempts to develop through each individual song, attempting reproduce the same energy in each song.
Their sounds are still intensely dark, rattlingly jazz with black metal guitar and lyrical themes, and industrial synths. The music is good, direct and focused. It rattles and hums, hammering you with more twists and turns that could be expected. “Paint the Sky Black” is the best piece off the album, coming in with focused percussion and Munkeby’s tortured sounding howls. “My Dying Drive” is one of the weaker tracks, sounding like it tries to be too much like “Fisheye” from the previous album.
Ultimately, Shining’s experiment is still successful. Their style is indeed a unique and personally founded subgenre of metal, jazz, and prog. Yet, for all its experimentation and all its hard work, One One One is not as solid an album as Blackjazz. Their attention to shorter compositions makes the music feel a bit rushed in comparison and the album feels like it lacks cohesion amongst the songs. Ultimately, I feel that the removal of the improvisational elements found on Blackjazz hurt One One One while the confrontational elements benefits it greatly. Otherwise, taken on their own, a number of the songs off this album should tickle most fans of metal, prog, or jazz.