Published on November 1st, 2020 | by Justin G.
Shining Black: Shining Black (Frontiers, 2020)
The latest and greatest project from the Frontiers factory is called Shining Black, and it pairs vocalist Mark Boals (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, ex-Royal Hunt, Ring Of Fire) with guitarist Olaf Thorson (Labyrinth, Vision Divine). Thorson also produced the project’s self-titled debut, with mixing/mastering services provided by (who else?) Simone Mularoni of DGM.
Boals was actually slated to join Labyrinth a few years ago before Roberto Tiranti rejoined the band, so Shining Black gives us an idea what a Boals-fronted Labyrinth might have sounded like. Even with some of the progressive elements dialed back, you can definitely hear a lot of Labyrinth and Vision Divine here, but with a more straightforward melodic metal approach that should resonate with fans of Magnus Karlsson and even Pretty Maids. The melodies in particular are just fantastic. Boals, of course, turns in another great performance, and once again makes you wonder how he never became a star. He has the range, the power and the charisma, and he really sells these songs.
Highlights on Shining Black include the very Labytinth-esque “A Sad Song,” “House Of The Fallen Souls” and “The Day We Said Goodbye,” but the whole album is remarkably strong. You’re not going to be reaching for the skip button during any of these songs.
Even if you’re jaded about all the Mularoni-produced Italian metal projects that Frontiers has served up in the past few years, Shining Black is one that’s worth getting excited about. This is a fantastic partnership that brings out the best of both Thorson and Boals, and hopefully it won’t just be a one-off project. If you’re a fan of either artists’ other bands, as well as artists like Eden’s Curse, Pretty Maids, Evidence One, Magnus Karlsson and Masterplan, you owe it to yourself to check out Shining Black.
Summary: First class melodic metal