Shining – Animal (Album Review)

One might not think of Norway as being a bastion of new and innovative music, but the Scandinavian country is in fact home to a bevy of artists who are making moves and shaking things up. One such band is Shining, powered by rebellious creative Jørgen Munkeby.

Since 1999, Munkeby and Shining have been shattering boundaries and pushing dozens of genres to their breaking point. In the past, Munkeby’s saxophone has been the backbone of the band’s signature sound, adding something new into the Aggressive Metal and Black Metal genres the band made a name on.

Now, though, Shining have done away with the saxophone and taken a bold new step away from Metal and toward Hard Rock. Animal, due out October 19th through Spinefarm Records, sees Shining completely changing up their sound for their eighth LP, making their music now more accessible to new listeners than ever before.

Taking one look at Animal’s blazing bright album art should give you a pretty good idea of its sound: loud, garish, and in-your-face. Even though Shining has taken a step in a bold new direction, they manage to take the most exciting bits of the genres that inspire them and blend them all together to create a bold offering to get your blood pumping.

The first half of Animal certainly delivers on this promise. Diving into some straight-up Hard Rock with “Take Me” and the titular “Animal,” Shining channel bold technical bands like Muse and Enter Shikari to create some bombastic tracks that are insanely catchy and fun to bounce along to. Though the band are moving in a new direction, there are still plenty of chugging drums and fast-paced guitars to please those Black Metal fans along for the ride.

Similarly, “When the Lights Go Out” feels like a Metaled-up Backstreet Boys song – in a good way, of course. It is a catchy party tune mixed with some heavy riffs and more dangerous vocals than your average boy band might provide, but good luck getting this one out of your head. Even though Animal is a colorful, rollicking party album in many ways, it also delves deep into some dark themes. Tracks like “When I’m Gone” and “Everything Dies” take a stark look at mortality, but in such a way that these tracks feel more like a kick-in-the-ass to live your life to the fullest. Still, this message tends to lose its impact as an entire B-side of this album re-hashes that same message to a different melody.

“End” is something of a ballad, while closer “Hole in the Sky” hardly sounds like it came from the same band with its airy vocals and toned-down beats. Some of these tracks feel much less memorable and powerful than those on the album’s A-side as the similarities tend to blend them all together.

Overall, this Norwegian outfit has taken a step in a new and interesting direction with their latest effort. By tossing aside what they originally made their name on, Shining are saying that they refuse to be defined, even if they are the ones who created the genre themselves. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Animal 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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