Shining: Blackjazz

A curious, particularly Scandinavian blend of jazz and black metal (just in case you were wondering, this isn’t black jazz as in jazz blacked by black people), Blackjazz is Shining’s fifth full-length, and as far as I can tell, a continuation of the experimental group’s uniquely warped and angular take on abrasive music. Think industrial Meshuggah with saxophones. Now take that out of your head, and replace it with funk period mid-‘70s King Crimson with death-doom overtones (see the cover of “21st Century Schizoid Man” closing out the disc for confirmation).

It’s a perplexing release, in that there’s a lot to like on here for avant-metal types, or to a lesser extent, avant-jazz types. However, in its best rocking moments (single “Fisheye,” for instance), the vamping instinct of these hypereducated musical types sometimes gets the better of them, as they don’t introduce much in the way of new arrangements on top of their solid riff—they instead play it to near exhaustion. Still, among a record that could easily fall apart at almost any instance and traverses a wide array of genres while maintaining a strong identity, complaining about Shining not writing like a rock band is like saying Johnny Cash wasn’t complicated enough. It’s antithetical.

In A Word: Vanguard