WORDS: Perran Helyes
The cold confines of the Sound Control tonight play host to the final date of those Norwegian jazzy maniacs SHINING’s European headline tour, promoting recent seventh (or in the minds of most metal fans third) album International Blackjazz Society. The room is by no means full but those in attendance are just enough for a palpable sense of anticipation.
SHINING’s countrymen JACK DALTON start things off with a splash of vaguely techy modern hardcore, that slight edge keeping them in line with tonight’s eclectic headliners. They’re an energetic lot, vocalist Jimmy Nymoen leaping into the front row of the crowd to scream centimetres away from their faces, and there’s certainly a degree of emotional depth to their battering squawk. Nymoen’s cleaner vocals are lacking a great deal, backing vocals from their bassist who does actually appear to be moving his mouth are entirely inaudible and pointless, and individual songs don’t do much to stick in the memory, but they make some headway making up for it with their zeal and a rather talented drummer slamming out an array of engaging rhythms while contributing some savage vocals of his own that are maybe the most effective in their arsenal.
The real thing CALIGULA’S HORSE have going for them in contrast is their singer, his voice confident when belting out dramatic choruses or dipping into falsetto territory, in a way refreshing for a singer on stage to be able to rely solely on his raw talent as a singer and not have to use screams as a crutch. He’s also a charismatic frontman with plenty of well-received banter with the audience, and in their more visceral moments leaping off amps and throwing himself around without going over the top. Moreover they don’t have too many drawbacks either. For squeaky clean progressive metal of this style they’re pleasingly focused and engaging, consistently feeling like their songs are actually going somewhere, and the likes of All is Quiet By the Wall and Daughter of the Mountain are anchored by genuinely meaty chugging riffs as well as some very pretty lead parts.
SHINING emerge to all the jarring sax and chaotic drum-kit tumbling down the stairs madness they’re primarily known for in the collective metal consciousness, and it’s largely uphill from here. They certainly look like the society their new album title proclaims them as, identically clad in suave black, and they seem keen to recruit new members to their cause. Gang leader Jørgen Munkeby is a hell of a presence up front, parading around the stage and climbing on top of any obstacles in his path making his saxophone wail and screech. Both with SHINING and his work with IHSAHN he’s undeniably done a lot to further the instrument’s profile within a genre by no means tailored for it with an unconventional playing style which he deserves credit for. He frequently switches to guitar allowing him to deliver his ballistic vocals and some decent hooks like the middle finger in the air howl of Burn It All. For newcomers to this society it might be a surprise just how much of the set this centres on, the band nowhere near as reliant on their one zany instrument trick as outsiders may presume. Those songs meanwhile have buckets more power and impact than they do on record, provided the low end crunch they often seem to crave. The looser pandemonium of their less rhythmically constrained moments does fail to land the punch at some points as it all gets lost within the wall of crashing sound, but when they sink into a swaggering groove on a track like Fisheye it’s hard not to move. Their craft is sometimes hard to get to grips with but they’re a proposition unlike any other within our world and for that at least SHINING deserve respect.