Seven albums deep into their career (5 since they started incorporating hard rock and metal elements), Shining shows no signs of relenting. At least, they show no signs of returning to the free jazz of their early days. Indeed, the Norwegian extreme metalers seem to be making strides towards a more mainstream sound on International Blackjazz Society. If 2010’s Blackjazz was the benchmark for extreme music, 2013’s One One One took the heaviness and brutality from its predecessor, and trimmed them down into more bite-sized servings. Blackjazz had songs ranging from 5 to 11 minutes in length, whereas One One One’s longest was barely four and a half.
On the hilariously-acronym’d IBS, their ideas are even more distilled. The vocals are a bit cleaner and more understandable. “House of Control” even includes some of the only clean-sung vocals in Shining’s entire output. “The Last Stand” has a dancey backbeat reminiscent of mid-2000s Nine Inch Nails. “Last Day”, with is screamed chorus and ample use of sonic dissonance, is still surprisingly catchy. And let’s not forget vocalist/guitarist Jørgen Munkeby’s sax interludes and solos, which have long-since been a staple of what has become an otherwise pretty straight-forward extreme metal band.
Unfortunately, IBS is a bit top-heavy. The band opted to pack the best songs into the first half of the album, the latter half suffering some from overly lengthy tracks or unimportant interludes. There’s a fantastic drum solo on “Thousand Eyes”, though.
Sure, the record might be a bit dated sonically. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it ensures that many fans of early-2000s metal will be willing to give the band a try. And sure, Shining has their niche. But for a metal band, they always find some way to be new on every record, which can’t be said for a lot of bands in the genre. And their music video for “Last Day”, filmed live atop a mountain in Norway, is proof enough that it’s worth keeping an eye on Shining, if only to see what they attempt next.
7.5 out of 10