Review: Shining Black “Shining Black” [Frontiers Records]

Review: Shining Black “Shining Black” [Frontiers Records]

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The new name on the heavy metal scene Shining Black, the product of two renowned musicians – guitar player Olaf Thörsen and singer Mark Boals has released its self-titled debut album through the Frontiers Records. And they were helped by guest musicians known from Olaf’s band Labÿrinth. Six years ago, Mark was invited to join the band, but due to his busy schedule, Labÿrinth brought back previous singer Roberto Tiranti. But Mark and Olaf stayed in touch, and by suggestion from the label Frontiers they reunited once again to record this release.

Mark and Olaf are the real professionals, they worked with notorious names like Yngwie Malmsteen, Royal Hunt, Labÿrinth, Vision Divine etc, but on this collaboration they could truly enjoy themselves and create something with all the heart, because they had an absolute freedom, there were only two of them. Undoubtedly there are some traces of an influence from their current or former bands, but it also has its own vision on melodic metal, and thanks to their professionalism and an ability to compose catchy songs, “Shining Black” won’t go unnoticed.

Despite that this album is a classic example of hard and heavy, sometimes it sounds not only old school, but has a modern touch, and that’s due to a contemporary sound of synthesizers (played by Oleg Smirnoff). Usually the synths are in the background, but this almost synth pop melodiousness makes it more driven and cheerful. But that’s not all, there is an imitation of a pipe organ (“The House of the Fallen Souls”) and psychedelic passages à la The Doors (“The Carousel”). The most synthetic songs are closer to pop rock (“The Boogeyman” and “Shining Black”), but the fastest ones are structurally related to power metal (“My Life” and “Sad Song”). And of course, every melodic heavy metal release has at least one ballad, here are two – the romantic “A Sad Song” and a pensive “The Day We Said Goodbye” with its acoustic intro. In general, the songs have left a bright impression, full of light and positive moments.

Olaf demonstrates his guitar skills on every song, “Shining Black” is full of crazy, but melodic solos, but focusing on an emotional and spiritual state rather than bare technicality. Basically, all the guitar work is founded on a heavy metal framework, but with a strong affiliation to hard rock and art rock of 70-80s, so there’s definitely no hesitations to call it old-fashioned and modern at the same time. Mark knows the power of his voice, it is full of emotions and feelings, and that’s far more important than all the extra technicalities. His recognizable voice is strong and diverse within the limits of the genre, there’s even an Italian speech on first song “The House of the Fallen Souls” and the double vocal lines on songs “Just Another Day” and “The Day We Said Goodbye”. Their creative duo is integral and harmonious, and although every guest musician did his best on this release, it is the alchemy between Mark and Olaf what is essential and primordial.

Not often the collaborations between two world-class musicians get a continuation, because everyone is busy in its own projects. But the success, the support from the label and the love of the fans can decide these matters in their favour, so there’s a strong possibility to listen from “Shining Black” more in the future.

Release date: July 10th, 2020

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