Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Album Review - SHINING - Blackjazz

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
**** out of *****

From their free jazz acoustic roots to this cataclysmic exercise in schizophrenic metal free-form it has been quite a journey for Norway's SHINING, but the fruits of their labor, Blackjazz, is a thrashing success.  The band has completely changed from their debut Where The Ragged People Go, to there newest effort Blackjazz, so much so that a name change was probably due a few albums ago.  The group is now a skittering smash of guitars tweaks, thundering bass lines over assault rifle drumming with distorted howls and screams acting as vocals.  You can pretty much classify anything as 'jazz' but purists who favor Louie Armstrong and John Coltrane might want to check out something else.  Now fans of industrial, thrash and death metal should take note as the album is adventurous yet directed and pummeling.

Opening with a wail comes "The Madness And The Damage Done" blowing out minds and woofers, increasing expectations with its frantic serial killer style; by the time the tracks violin filled reprise returns in the middle of the album you need to sit down and catch your breath. This is a primal earphone experience that rewards with a deep listen, for example when "Exit Sun" blasts to the forefront you can hear the multi-instrument layering with well timed pianos in the breaks and while fierce clanging is on the top, the group sports crafty sonic interplay below.  Tracks run on and on (most waaay too long), such as the dueling/dying clashing between saxophone/guitar/keys/sludge bass and drums that makes "Helter Skelter" feel like the end of days as distortion creeps in and swallows the track whole.

Their epic, in length and structure "Blackjazz Deathtrance" begins as if they are electrifying an ancient kingdom of non-believers, before a satanic sounding chant delivers the track and the masses to hell via twisted keys and bashing skins.  "Omen" builds and builds on feedback taking a vibe of minimalism and reverb until it's exploding crescendo, the track slightly resembles Sun O))) which is a refreshing take after all of the jumbled cacophony proceeding it.    

Obviously SHINING are prog-rock fans (on speed and probably rat poison from the sound of things) and they invite Grutle Kjellson from Enslaved to join them on their screeching cover of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man", but this album will be much better received by fans of early Ministry then early Genesis as it's spastic flourishes and driving rhythms are more akin to industrial prowess then prog excess.  If those are where your territorial pissings splash then fire up Blackjazz.  
Got this album earlier in the year and was blown away...I have always loved Ministry and had recently gone back to listen to a couple of  their more recent albums (Rio Grande Blood really kicks major ass, thanks Glen) and remembered Blackjazz.  If you are into this sort of thing, you really need to check this one out, a ferocious sonic assault, some video below (Not too Jazzy, Huh?):

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