Once upon a time a Norwegian group released a couple of acoustic jazz albums. But, apparently having diverse tastes in music, their next two albums incorporated progressive rock and experimental metal sounds. Then they worked with black metal vikings Enslaved on a concerto that was actually commissioned by a top European jazz festival. That collaboration informed Shining’s album Blackjazz, which the New York Times called a “radioactive alloy of jazz and black metal.” Now they’re back with One One One, continuing in that vein, which I would describe as death metal meets jazz meets speed metal meets prog rock meets hell. With a touch of classical. And what does that sound like exactly? Screamed, sometimes grunted vocals, thrashing mad guitars, blaring horns, sonorous, rapid-fire drums and constantly changing, often ridiculously fast tempos.
“Just when you think you’re off the hook / the devil takes another look,” lead vocalist Jørgen Munkeby screams during the intense chorus of “Off The Hook,” where the expertly-played horns — Jørgen also plays the sax — sound off triumphantly while Torstein Lofthus’s rapid-fire drums kick your teeth in.
Jørgen is capable of singing in several different ways and sounds more like Lemmy from Motorhead than your typical death metal singer during most of the verses here. During “My Dying Drive” he sings much of the verses in a style resembling that of the late AC/DC singer Bon Scott. “My, oh my, I don’t need your help / I’ll build this bridge my fucking self,” he croons, sounding particularly snarky. During the massive anthem “Blackjazz Rebels,” he actually whispers parts of the verses. “We never needed, we never needed you.” Clearly, this is a band with a wide array of influences. And clever, biting lyrics.
Speaking of which, one of Shining’s greatest assets is Jørgen’s ability to scream like the world’s most intense death metal singers while also being entirely understandable. When was the last time you listened to a death metal album where you could actually understand all of the lyrics? Sure, there are times when it’s easier to understand him than others, but it only takes a couple of listens to decipher the hard parts. I could easily name a dozen death metal bands where you can’t understand half of the lyrics even if you listen to the songs twenty times with your ear to the speaker. And Jørgen is equally gifted with his ability to play the saxophone. To that end, “How Your Story Ends” begins with a mighty impressive sax solo, sounding like Angelo Badalamenti’s beautiful but ominous score for Twin Peaks on steroids and amphetamines.
Suffice to say it’s impossible to predict what styles of music this band might incorporate on their next album. But one thing is for certain: it’s sure to be SHINING.