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Album Review: Shining Shine On International Blackjazz Society

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Can the saxophone be cool?

Can it be metal? (Figuratively — yes, it is actually metal).

Norwegian try-anything rockers Shining certainly think so. On the band’s seventh album, International Blackjazz Society, the band rages on the brass wind like John Zorn. And we do mean rage… this is not baby-making music, Kenny G fans.

But “Blackjazz” title aside, Shining frontman and multi-instrumentalist Jorgen “Thelonious” Munkeby does have more in his arsenal than a crazed horn work. Working with Sean Beaven (Depeche Mode, A Perfect Circle), the band dabbles in thrash, garage rock riffs, dark synths and even industrial beats on International…, rarely pausing to let the music coalesce. Songs like “The Last Stand” and “Last Day” even edge into newer Refused territory, chaotic and experimental works laced with a nice bit of melody and pop.

For a band that started as an acoustic jazz quartet and morphed, more recently, into extreme metal, Blackjazz actually represents a slight turn into the accessible. Nothing here is going to drive you crazy (save for a couple of sax-fueled instrumentals). “House of Control” is actually both moody and progressive, finished with a symphonic flourish.

Overall, it’s fun. Oddly dated, too: nothing on here would be out of place on an avant garde 90s album (the drum solo on “Thousand Eyes” sounding even more retro…along with the ubiquitous cowbell on “Need.”) It’s like a tour where Mr. Bungle, Ministry, John Zorn and the International Noise Conspiracy needed someone to come along and hold everything together.

Shine on, you crazy sax guys.

Shining’s International Blackjazz Society comes out October 23 on Spinefarm. You can stream the track “Last Day” here and pre-order the album here.

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