Welcome to a new feature on Heavy Blog, “The Anatomy Of”. Taken from the Between The Buried And Me album of the same name — in which the band pays tribute

9 years ago

Welcome to a new feature on Heavy Blog, “The Anatomy Of”. Taken from the Between The Buried And Me album of the same name — in which the band pays tribute to artists/bands that they feel have most inspired their songwriting — it’s a feature in which we hand off the metaphorical microphone to bands so they can talk about their influences.

Since this column’s inception, we’ve wanted to reach out to Norwegian progressive industrial outfit SHINING to get frontman, saxophonist, and band leader Jorgen Munkeby’s take on the genesis of Blackjazz. We expected the typical rundown of influential records that all of the bands have delivered thus far, but Jorgen went above and beyond and gave us a technical track-by-track breakdown of some of the record’s standout tracks! Check out Jorgen two-thousand-plus word essay detailing the ins-and-outs of the group’s groundbreaking 2010 record Blackjazz.

Over our 15 years long career, Shining has straddled such diverse genres as acoustic jazz through artrock to industrial metal. I could very well have written an article discussing The Anatomy Of Shining, which would include all our influences ever present in our abnormally varied music catalog.

But something happened back in 2010. We stumbled upon a unique gem. Hard as a diamond and black as the deepest vacuum space. We called it Blackjazz, and we have loyally stuck with it since then. In fact we’re still polishing this jagged and piercing beast. In this article I will instead focus on our period after the discovery of Blackjazz, and I will shine a light on what lies inside the hard walls of this black I will also do something I rarely get to do, but something that I love. I often include lots of parts in our music that are direct paraphrases and tributes to other artists I admire and that have greatly inspired me. Back in the days these bits and pieces could be from Mahler or Miles Davis, but now they’re more often from Marilyn Manson or Meshuggah. I’ve left them there in the music to remind me that we owe a huge amount to those who came before us, and that we are in fact “standing on the shoulders of giants,” to quote Isaac Newton.


Our song “Exit Sun” is long and pretty experimental, full of parts, and is probably the song with the most direct links to other artists.


When writing “Exit Sun“, I had just discovered The Dillinger Escape Plan, and their music had hit me over the head like a ton of bricks and literally made me think that Dillinger made the best music in the world, and that I might just as well stop making music. But thankfully that feeling only lasted a few days, and I found myself eager to start making my own music again. DEP’s fierce and raw energy and its spastic rhythms was what initially hit me hardest, but I also though that it was really refreshing how they included a somewhat boogie type one string cowboy riff in the song “Milk Lizard” on Ire Works. I sat down and wanted to write a song that started off in somewhat the same manner. Almost the whole beginning and the end of our song “Exit Sun” is based upon the riff that had its seed in the DEP song. Of course the final version doesn’t sound much like Dillinger’s riff, due to its totally different tempo and its weird 7/8 meter rather than boogie 4/4, but the creative spark for “Exit Sun” definitely came from the hard working American mathcore legends.


I’ve always loved Meshuggah’s trademark trick of taking a short little riff or cell of notes and looping it so that it changes its placement in regards to the downbeat every time it returns. For instance the riff might start on the downbeat, then when it loops it starts on the sixteenth after the downbeat, then on the eight note, and then on the sixteenth before the downbeat, before it again lands on the downbeat itself the fourth time it returns. But underneath all this cleverness, Meshuggah manages to focus on what’s much more essential in music: Getting the music to groove and swing. And there are no other band that does it better in metal than Meshuggah!

When the first part of “Exit Sun” was written, I felt it needed a second contrasting part, so I decided to see if the chopped up feeling of the end riff of Meshuggah’s “Electric Red” song from their Obzen album could work well against the more outstretched figures of the first part. In Meshuggah’s song it’s really just a riff thrown in for the last minute end of a song (starting at 4:56), without it leading anywhere particular, while in “Exit Sun” it’s being used as the main foundation for everything that’s happening in the middle of the song (starting at 2:37 in the Live Blackjazz DVD clip above).

We literally kept the Meshuggah riff almost in its original form, added some melody over it, and then after a while started manipulating the main riff by transposing it, changing pitches and slightly twisting it. But this is still probably the clearest example of a tribute riff in Shining’s music we have ever released. Thanks to Meshuggah for lending us their riff!


The last part in “Exit Sun” that was based on another song is a unison descending chromatic line that shows up three places, with the first being at 1:45 in the Live Blackjazz DVD video. It is bluntly based upon the amazing opening bass line of Muse’s mega hit “Hysteria“. Although the pitches and root notes have been changed and the tempo is taken up a few notches, it is still fairly easy to hear the connection.


Fisheye,” probably our most well known song, also contains two places with noticeable links to other songs. The remnants of these ideas are not as easily discernible as with “Exit Sun“, but they should be able to be spotted nevertheless.


The opening drum groove is the very signature and backbone of the song, with its noteworthy and elegant use of the 7/8 meter. When I first heard Nine Inch NailsYear Zero album, I loved the heavy and industrial feeling of the medium tempo opener track “HYPERPOWER!”. I wanted to see if I could make a drum groove, and not to mention a drum sound, that sort of resembled this, which in turn led to the whole song slowly unfolding.

I remember programming the drum groove in Cubase and working quite a bit on the mix, so when it was time to record properly with real drums in the studio, we were unsure if we could get it to sound as industrial and hard as the demo drums sounded. But when Sean Beavan stepped in to mix the album, he gathered all the tricks from back in the days when he was producing and mixing Nine Inch Nails in the 90s, and managed to make the best sounding drums and the best sounding drum groove I have ever heard. Due to Sean’s work, this has turned into a staple groove among drummers for sound check.

Even though I don’t think most people will notice the link between “Fisheye” and “HYPERPOWER!”, the first three beats of the two songs are exactly the same and has pretty much the same tempo. The idea for “Fisheye” was definitely conceived in the Year Zero opening track.


[youtube src=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kQMDSw3Aqo&w=560 “The New Shit”]

Another signature part of “Fisheye” is its chilling and ice cold synth melody that focuses on my favorite musical interval of all, the b9. I remember that I loved the melody that comes in at 1:37 in Marilyn Manson’s song “The New Shit” when I first heard it, and the memory of this part jumped into my mind when I sat down to write a synth melody for “Fisheye“. The sound we utilized is quite different, and the pitches are not the same either, but the underlying idea and feeling is the same.


Even though the low and slow guitars in these two songs do not play anything alike when it comes to pitches and rhythms, there’s no denying that I took the sonic idea from Sunn O)))’s trademark and gritty guitars. On the other hand, the similarities of the vocals between the two tracks were never intentional, as the vocals were improvised while recording the song in the studio way after it was written. But even the vocal tracks resemble, which is quite fun.

[youtube src=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIR1KfKXH6s&w=560 “Sunn”]


[youtube src=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wqx6m7TVkMc&w=560 “Schizoid blackjazz live”]

There are no direct links between our rendition of the King Crimson classic and John Coltrane’s last ever recorded version of his song “Ogunde“. But ever since the first time I heard this fierce recording of the legendary saxophonist (at the time battling with deadly cancer), it has stuck with me as one of the most powerful things ever recorded to tape. The sheer energy, furiosity and aggression present is enough to blow any tribal tattooed macho metal band off the stage. And as a sucker for distortion, I think the unintentional overload on the recording itself actually makes the track even better, and I definitely think it helps underline the intensity of it all.

[youtube src=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPGsroRcEU4&w=560 “Coltrane”]

Every time Shining find ourselves in a situation with lots of energy, distortion and improvisation (for example at 6:08 in the Live Blackjazz video above), I summon all the angry ghosts from this recording, especially those of Pharoa Sanders, who sounds like a furious elephant finally taking revenge for Cecil The Lion by trampling on the collected trophy hunters in the whole world. Skip to about 5 minutes out in the video track and get directly to the most hefty parts.


[youtube src=https://youtu.be/fkgXyaTD1gs&w=560 “healter”]

“HEALTER SKELTER”, named after the infamous misspelling of The Beatles’ original song written in blood on refrigerator at the murder scene in LA by the Manson Family, is a good example of a song that pulls parts from a wide spectrum of sources.


The first part is a sax driven riff where the standard roles within the band is turned on its head by having the sax keep the time together with the riff, while letting the rest of the band free to improvise. Both of Shining’s two previous albums before Blackjazz had a sax driven song with somewhat interconnected titles (“The Red Room” and “REDRUM”). When writing Blackjazz, I felt this album could use such a song too, but instead of quoting another artist I chose to steal the sax riff from our own song “REDRUM” instead, but bring it back in a more frantic tempo. It’s not the first time I’ve reused ideas and phrases, but it’s probably the easiest one to notice in our catalog.


The second part consists of the hardest 11 bars to learn in the whole Shining catalog, the dreaded “Rytmedelen” meaning simply “Rhythm Part”. This is definitely where all our musicians and light techs have spent the most hours sweating and slowly counting out the rhythms in their head until it has become second nature.

There was a transitional phase between my jazz years (1994-2004) and me going back to re-explore my metal roots, where I totally emerged myself in contemporary classical music and composition. Big influences was Arnold Schönberg and the musical theory of Paul Hindemith (“The Craft of Musical Composition, Book 1” is an absolute must-read), but the French composer Olivier Messiaen was probably my biggest hero. His music was not only full of amazing sounding chords which I loved, but it was also rhythmically built up in a very unique way, especially for western music. Messiaen studied old Hindu rhythms, and had compiled a table of 120 so called decî-tâlas – Hindu rhythms stemming from a theorist named Çârngadeva from the thirteenth century. These rhythms were built upwards from single units (for instance from 16th notes), added together to create longer notes. This fundamentally different way of organizing music from bottom-up is very different to how most western music is built up, where you instead go from the top-down by starting with a bar, and then divide this bar into smaller parts (like quarter notes, triplets, 16ths etc.).

carngadeva deci-talas

In the library at the Norwegian State Academy Of Music where I studied, I managed to dig up a book with the full list of the 120 Çarngadeva rhythms, and I started the “HEALTER SKELTER” Rhythm Part with the three rhythms called Râgavardhana, Candrakalâ and Liksmîca, then wrote the rest of the part as a continuation and development of these.

To make things even more complicated, the Rhythm Part initally had chords attached to rhythms, which were taken from the grand and heavy opening trombone chords of Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony. But after a while we decided to skip the chords and rather focus on just clusters and noise hits to bring out more aggression and a punkish attitude. But the chords are really cool themselves, and I might use them again in a future Shining song.

Check out the chords in the sheet music for the Rhythm Part here.


The last part of “HEALTER SKELTER” was a little piece that was originally called “Raptor Squadron”. It’s a mix of Meshuggah’s low djenty unison type of playing, combined with Olivier Messiaen’s varying bar meters. There are no system for the meters here, it’s just guided by what I felt like when writing. When learning this part, the musicians had to learn the riff as if it was a melody, and instead of counting beats you just sing the line in your head while playing. This is a much simpler and more musical way than focusing on bars and numbers.

As you see above, HEALTER SKELTER was pieced together with parts taking their inspiration from three very different music genres and times in history. But nevertheless it somehow has survived as one of our most unique songs, and is a track that our audience keeps on requesting for our live shows. Norway’s very own national poet Henrik Ibsen once wrote “Hvor utgangspunktet er galest, blir titt resultatet originalest”, translated to “When the starting point is most arbitrary, the results are often most extraordinary.” I think he’s totally right about that!

Shining’s new record, International Blackjazz Society, will be available this Friday, October 23rd via Spinefarm Records. Pre-orders are available at this location.

Jimmy Rowe

Published 9 years ago