Shining – Animal (Spinefarm)

Wednesday, 17th October 2018
Rating: 8.5/10

Never a band to standstill from a musical standpoint, Norway’s Shining continue to change, quite drastically, with Animal. Quite obviously from the bright, ‘80s artwork to Jørgen Munkeby’s release statement that the album would owe more to Muse, Ghost, and Biffy Clyro than Meshuggah, Gojira, and Burzum – one can’t say that this change was entirely surprising. The biggest surprise though? Animal is a ‘crank it to 11’ party album that will probably lead the band down pathways towards even greater successes.

Admittedly, the synth-wave injections and saxophone removal are some big pills to swallow. Animal is a huge leap from Blackjazz and One by One. But for those willing to look past the stylistic changes, there’s a large amount of fun to be had here. “Take Me” and the title track open the release to exactly what you are going to witness over the remainder of the tracks. There’s some ‘80s vibes to compliment the synths, going for those big anthemic choruses but still retaining some almost industrial heaviness to a few songs. Some rolling grooves, like on “Welcome to My Church” and “Everything Dies” should be a welcome invite to the heavier crowd, while the drive of “Smash it Up” provides a solid punch that contrasts with the more synth-intensive cuts of “Fight Song” and “When I’m Gone.” But the diversity is what keeps things fresh as the album progresses, with the shorter songs (all hitting that 3-4 minute sweet spot) diverting in different directions while maintaining a vibe that contains just enough heaviness while expanding into the rock-party sector – “End” being possibly the most spectacular of this merger.

An album that’s sure to be polarizing within the fanbase, and rightly so, Animal is also going to resonate with those normally outside of Shining’s grasp. With ‘80s flair, modern electronics, and plenty of party vibes, it’s yet another unique turn for the band and does what it set out to do brilliantly. It’s full of catchy earworms and keeps the listener wondering where Shining will head towards next.

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