[23rd April 2013]
01. I Won’t Forget
02. The One Inside
03. My Dying Drive
04. Off the Hook
05. Blackjazz Rebels
06. How Your Story Ends
07. The Hurting Game
08. Walk Away
09. Paint the Sky Black
Jørgen Munkeby isn’t messing about. The Norwegian multi-instrumentalist wrote on these very pages about humanity’s increasing thirst for dissonance, and with his Blackjazz noise-terrorist outfit Shining and sixth album One One One, he is clearly aiming to quench that thirst.
At just under thirty-five minutes long, One One One is a short, sharp and focused aural assault – but, almost paradoxically, it is more immediately accessible than the band’s previous album Blackjazz. Yes, there is a healthy portion of discordant noise, but it has been strapped into a collection of tightly written songs.
One One One is far from easy listening, though – the heavily effected, overdriven squall is a splenetic fusion of Nine Inch Nails-style industrial metal with the atonal experimentalism of Italian trio Zu, played with the dangerous ferocity of The Dillinger Escape Plan, propelled by snare heavy, machine-gun drumming. Munkeby’s occasional saxophone interventions also make clear that the jazz elements of their sound are now drawn more from the likes of John Zorn than John Coltrane.
In its finest moments, it is a white knuckle runaway train ride through the darker corners of the psyche, and would serve as a perfect soundtrack to the most decadent and depraved nightclub you could imagine. Second track “The One Inside”, in particular, is surely a future classic dancefloor stomper, with a colossal hook of a chorus that is a match to the giants of the genre. “Off The Hook” also takes an almost primal howl and turns it into an inspired and memorable vocal line.
These tracks, together with opener and lead single “I Won’t Forget” result in an astonishingly strong start to the album. However, sixth track “How Your Story Ends” doesn’t quite work, let down somewhat by the chorus, and the album doesn’t fully recover until the closing “Paint The Sky Black”. Perhaps these songs just need longer to bed in, but I also suspect that the lack of variety in tempo and tone is also a factor.
But even if the second half of the album has some slightly disappointing moments, that does not detract from the fact the first half is truly fantastic. If those first five songs had been an EP, it could well have been my release of the year.
On the fringes of a genre that contains more than its fair share of clowns trading on empty shock value, a single listen to One One One is all anyone should need to convince themselves that Shining are the real deal. For all the abrasive spikiness, there are subtleties and nuances that give these songs real depth and credibility. Towards the end of “The One Inside”, the riff and the beat become temporarily detached from each other before snapping back in, in a moment of – frankly – genius, and the fact that all of this is bolted to a hooky, danceable framework is nothing short of remarkable.
In a nutshell, One One One is the album Marilyn Manson might have been able to make if he had spent all those years since Antichrist Superstar focussing on what really matters – the music – and not prancing around like a weapons-grade chump in too much make-up.
Though not quite perfect, One One One firmly establishes Shining as a force to be reckoned with, and one that anyone who likes their tunes a little bit twisted would do well to seek out. I saw the band supporting Devin Townsend a year or two ago, and didn’t pay nearly enough attention. I’m not going to be making that mistake again.