When band’s like Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols and Metallica introduced themselves to the world, they were the first of their kind, demonic, anarchic and shocking. Nowadays it is far harder to be truly original than it was 30 years ago. Whenever new music graces our ears, we cannot help but draw comparisons to other artists that have been there and done it before them – a crime we are all guilty of.
But, emerging from the darkest corners of Oslo, Norway, Shining are trying their damn hardest to be rekindle the fire of originality and become unclassifiable, impossible to pigeonhole. Recorded at the band’s own Olso, studio, mainman Jørgen Munkeby claims all writing credits and main producer credits, with Sean Beavan (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Slayer) credited as co-producer, One One One completes the band’s Blackjazz trilogy. Although this is their seventh record in all, it is the aforementioned trilogy, which started with Blackjazz (2010) and Balckjazz Live (2011) which has seen the band’s profile raised enormously.
Their sonics are metallic, yes, and it is very much a guitar-orientated record, but lashings of dark, discordant, air-raid siren saxophones, which sit atop blistering rhythms and fuzzy, venomous guitars, it is quite unlike anything else. What’s more is that these moments are irregular. They are not overdone; they are in fact well placed amongst some fantastic songs. They have their niche and they are smart enough to only pull the rabbit from the hat when necessary.
Speaking of the record, Jørgen Munkeby, Shining’s vocalist, guitarist, saxophonist and synth player made his mission statement with One One One crystal clear, one that paved the way for the album’s title. “I aimed at getting each and every song to sound their absolute best, and to be strong enough to stand alone. A series of ones…but we never strayed from the totality of the album.” The first few opening tracks stand as undeniable truth of this. I Won’t Forget, which has been hogging the airwaves of NRK P3, Norway’s biggest radio station for some time now, grabs you by the balls. Its catastrophically big drums, elegantly simple yet stunningly effective guitar work and those signature sax moments really pack a punch. Followed by the swift uppercut of The One Inside’s grooving riffage and the evil sounding My Dying Drive, their originality shines majestically through. It is impossible to pick a standout track as they are all so ridiculously brilliant, each in their own, independent way.
While their sound is most definitely that of Norwegian metal, it is iced with little twists and turns that separate them from the competition. What they offer is a venture into unchartered territory, a waltz in the unknown. Founded and built around catchy metallic anthems, synthesizers bubble under the surface, occasionally being brought to the boil along with the uneasy feeling that Munkeby’s saxophone brings to the table, make One One One more than just a good metal record.
As the man himself explains, these are, quite simply, fun songs. There is really nothing more to it. Not only do these songs make you want to start a circle pit wherever you are, but they also put a big smile on your face, they make you laugh at just how fun, at how silly they are. Says Munkeby: “The focus was on writing fun songs that are fun to listen to and fun to play. These are our new Blackjazz hits, one hit after the other.” I wholeheartedly agree.
Preceded by the craziest offering of the album in Blackjazz Rebels (think no holds barred), How Your Story Ends provides jolting, unrelenting rhythms and, as is the case with every track on here, a gigantean chorus.
By the close of the album, you are left a little speechless. You are struggling to find another band for comparison. Munkeby and co have succeeded in their quest to startle, bewilder and stand on their own.
Downsides? Every track is more intense than the last. To listen to the record start to finish is a medal deserving fete. This is my own opinion here, but I would love to see them drop the dynamics; resist the urge to go up to 11 at every given moment. A quite interlude would show the world they have a versatility that all the top bands have. While they are versatile in their own way in that we may even be witnessing the birth of a new genre here, there is room for this chaotic, testosterone powered beast show it has a soft side.