Job : Oh boy, this record is going to make a fanbase very pissed… Shining from Norway, the wintered avant-garde rockers known for mixing jazz and far-out progressive influences with an industrial hard rock recently released ‘Animal’, their new record. The band known for their ‘Deathjazz’ sound, the saxophone amidst the furious hard rock and technical music and a certain pretentious pompousness in their avant garde influences leaves it all behind. No more saxophone, no more technical prowess and no more pretentiousness. We get a straight hard rock record in return, with all the focus on heavy groove, pounding drums and a frontman in Jorgen Munkeby that’s never been more center stage.
Fans will be hoping for a return to ‘Fisheye’ and ‘The Madness and the Damage Done’. ‘Animal’ couldn’t be a bigger “fuck you” to those fans, and quite honestly: good on the band for doing that because this album is great because of it. This is a Shining that finally takes a bold step away from the familiar and jumps into territory that’s going to alienate a large part of their so pompous fanbase. I couldn’t be happier with this – previous album ‘International Blackjazz Society’ from 2015 felt like a xerox of ‘One One One’ and I was wondering how long their very particular sound was gonna last. ‘Animal’ shows us a band that’s more passionate, has more fire and feels more genuine.
Songs like ‘Fight Song’, ‘Animal’, ‘End’ and ‘Everything Dies’ are straight bangers. Lovely, catchy bangers with 4/4 beats, pounding drums and a Munkeby that’s never been as much of a presence as he is here. The vocal production causes a bit of a contrast at times, though. One moment it’s raw and punchy, the next it’s overproduced and a little too clean. Nothing that takes away from the oomph of the songs, though. ‘Smash It Up!’ really cranks up the tempo, where songs like ‘When I’m Gone’ feel right at home at a slower pace with more focus on strong hooks and great singing. It’s ‘When the Lights Go Out’, where Chris Cornell meets country and Nickelback. Now, that might sound like the biggest shit show, but it works like a charm. Personal favorites ‘My Church’ and ‘Hole in the Sky’ are vastly different and kind of two different sides from the same coin; the one being a powerful, heavy rock song, the other a modern Linkin Park-inspired pop ballad.
‘Animal’ isn’t going to be for everyone. Hell, in straying away from the progressive influences and unto the more mainstream path, they might really lose a lot. But it takes balls to change your sound this drastically and it does feel genuine here; this is not a band looking for fame and money. This is a band that wants to do what feels right and it sounds just great!