Survival of the fittest? 8/10
Animal is a very different beast of an album to what might have been expected from Shining. Although the clues are in the artwork: it’s bright, bold and a little bit 80’s!
The former Norwegian jazz quartet metal-morphed into avant-garde jazz-metallers and have now transformed to feelgood synthwave party people, with a distinct lack of saxophone! New bassist Ole Vistnes, certainly adds a different primal pulse to proceedings.
This is a much easier listening affair than International Blackjazz Society, but more innovative than derivative. It’s certainly more commercial and accessible! It’s a bold move, one which may alienate some fans but I imagine many more will support them. The Madness and the Damage Done from Black Jazz could easily fit in to this album as an interlude to indicate to existing fans what they might expect… There are ten tracks, which follow a more traditional format and almost all tracks clock in at under four minutes.
The album itself has been produced by Shining and their long term associate, Sean Beavan (Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, A Perfect Circle) as with previous recordings. But the final mix was constructed by esteemed studio guru Kane Churko (Five Finger Death Punch, Halestorm, Papa Roach), son of the legendary Kevin, which adds a fun, glossier and surprising edge.
The release opens with Take me, a powerfully upbeat number with an 80’s action movie soundtrack theme (there’s even mention of a red corvette!) The title track and first single Animal a sleazier offering continuing the upbeat vibes which leas us into My Church. The ubiquitous organ opening doesn’t last long, frenetic drums a deep funky Sabbath-like groove and a slightly slower pace with a more melancholy feel. If there is a god, I do think it could hear this!
Fight Song, their next single opens in a synthy Stranger Things style, but with its soaring vocals and punchy percussion this song certainly delivers. When the Lights Go Out (I’m still alone tonight) is an anthemic epic which indeed draws you in like a moth to a flame. Smash it Up is next and it’s not a cover by the Damned (or The Offspring for Batman Forever) but a stand alone track that could well become as recognisable in its own right as a rousing call to arms. When I’m Gone slows the pace slightly, into full arena anthem mode of contemplating mortality.
Everything Dies is a high energy heavier romp, reminiscent of sunset strip. This was initially released last year, but this is the new improved version. End is a more contemplative mid tempo affair (perfect for the High School dance scene). Now Hole in the Sky (feat Linnea Dale) Is what I imagine happens when Gerard McMahons Cry Little Sister meets Biffy Clyro (Many of Horror) via Evanescence with the ethereal vocals of a Norwegian alt pop songstress for an unexpectedly euphoric power ballad brings Animal to a close in true, extravagant power ballad fashion.
A soundtrack for a modern day Lost Boys film? Will we see Jørgen greased up and gyrating in front of teen vampires, or is this the reincarnation of a more youthful, less flammable and harder edged Europe? I’m curious enough to want more, but I do wonder whether this should have been released under a different name. The evolution of Shining, it is a different saxy beast!
ANIMAL TRACK LISTING:
1. Take Me
3. My Church
4. Fight Song
5. When the Lights Go Out
6. Smash it Up!
7. When I’m Gone.
8. Everything Dies
10. Hole in the Sky (With Linnea Dale)
Each Monday The Metal Report sends out a list of all stories, interviews, reviews and features we’ve posted for the previous week. You can sign up for it here.