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Shining - "International Blackjazz Society" (CD)

Shining - "International Blackjazz Society" CD cover image

"International Blackjazz Society" track listing:

1. Admittance
2. The Last Stand
3. Burn It All
4. Last Day
5. Thousand Eyes
6. House Of Warship
7. House Of Control
8. Church Of Endurance
9. Need

Reviewed by on December 11, 2015

"A mix of hard rock, industrial, and some avant-garde metal focused around the sax is what you get here..."

The Norwegian genre-benders from Shining made quite a spectacle promoting this particular album, flying gear by helicopter to play on the top of a mountain. Following up the genre defining “Blackjazz” and subsequent “One One One” release, Shining has a serious shift in tone primarily towards industrial this time around, with much of the “International Blackjazz Society” album exuding a Nine Inch Nails feel.

A mix of hard rock, industrial, and some avant-garde metal focused around the sax is what you get here, and frankly a lot of these tracks wouldn't be out of place on a much more mainstream rock or metal band's catalog. That may be disappointing to fans who like how much Shining pushed boundaries before, but on the other hand it offers up another side of the band to explore, and most of the disc really works with this odd mashup of sounds.

Some really interesting moments pop up as these different ideas play across the disc, like the very dark electronic elements opening "Burn It All." Several of the songs go at a frantic pace as well, bringing to mind Nachtblut but without the black metal. Everything is distorted to the max as well, from the guitars to the electronic sounds, so it all has a heavier edge even when stuck more in hard rock mode. It's always a pleasure to hear bands utilizing the underused saxophone, which still doesn't get as much love as it could from the metal scene. Ihsahn's “After” is probably still one of the most major releases to utilize saxophone to a serious degree, and if you hear similarities between that album and this one, it's because Jorgen Munkeby played sax on both.

Oddly that particular instrument is not as prevalent here in “International Blackjazz Society” as you might expect, used fairly sparingly and relegated to only a handful of tracks. Where it does show up, it works well, even as a replacement for the guitar. “House Of Warship” is the track where it appears more predominately, with the song sounding an awful lot like something from “After,” just without any vocals. Follow-up track “House Of Control” is then primarily vocals over instruments, resulting in a weird one-two punch that swings to two different extremes.

The album does flow undeniably well, with endings of songs smoothly transitioning into the beginnings of others without skipping a beat, although by the end of the album the formula is a little played out, with the earlier tracks feeling stronger. If you dig Nine Inch Nails or Ihsahn, or want to know what the two would sound like on the same album, Shining's latest oddball release is worth hearing.

Highs: It's industrial metal with sax - you should probably check that out, don't you think?

Lows: Some of it sounds too much like Ihsahn and some of it sounds too much like Nine Inch Nails.

Bottom line: It's not perfect, but there's plenty worth hearing if you dig industrial, darkwave, or even the sax-focused tracks from Ihsahn.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)