Review Summary: Jinjer may be heading for a brighter future, but they still need to hone their songwriting skills and push forward with that experimental, inspired bravado only a handful of songs have managed to achieve.
Ukraine's Jinjer are on the rise. Sure, they've been growing in popularity over the last couple of years but 2019 seems to have been a real kickstarter of a year for the band. Festival headliner announcements, bigger fanbases, global support-it's all there in the band's favour. The weird thing is, is that their music doesn't immediately give you the impression of a band being as big as Jinjer actually are, but their mission statement is obviously to get to the top. This mix of djenty aggression, Tatiana's unmistakably diverse vocal range and a light scatter of prog renders the band somewhat difficult to categorize, but whatever you make of their existence in the metal field, Jinjer have a big future ahead of them clearly.
If this year's Macro
is a marker of the band at their best, it seems we're still seeing faltering footsteps. Most of the album is riddled with djenty, so-so riff work and settled grooves and the aforementioned experimentation comes in hints rather than hitting you full in the face. That's why songs such as “Noah” and “Home Back”, as explosive as they are, ultimately turn out to be forgettable by the end. Sure, the clattering rhythm section is violent enough to incite a few sweaty moshpits, but when you think of songwriting it seems that there's so much more to put in if we're looking at game-changing musicianship. Tatiana's vocal range helps to redeem this and lift the likes of “Retrospection” out of stagnation, but when it's a song that is obviously trying to show off a band's vocalist, the backing musicianship being so passive and seemingly uninspired doesn't bode well for those who want something special. Talented as Tatiana is, Macro
is a group effort and her vocals alone can't quite reflect the instrumental performance as an important aspect.
Thankfully, there are moments here where you can finally understand just why Jinjer is getting the hype. Most obvious example would be “Judgement (and Punishment)”, a song initially beginning with menace and velocity, but which takes an outside influence and goes full-on reggae, Tatiana bringing her funky voice amidst an instrumental backdrop of groovy prowess. It's actually quite bizarre, but once the heaviness returns that reggae-influenced beat is maintained to still remain intact. Elsewhere there are parts of several songs that see the band soaring beyond the monotonous djenty chug. Opener “On the Top” is as bare-bones as you'd imagine until its chorus inspires Tatiana to raise her vocal prowess to maximum volume, cleanly sung silhouettes rising above the instrumentation and lifting the song out of first gear. “Pausing Death” gives off a similar impression, though with a few blastbeats and a more epic soundscape in the song's second half. It's arguably the fastest and heaviest song on the album, never allowing the listener to take a breath until that calmer mid-section ensues, inviting Tatiana to soothe everything into a lilting, ambient flow.
The main problem with Macro
is that, whilst Jinjer are clearly on the up, their songwriting skills are in dire need of refinement and the experimental, more inspired musical moments seem few and far between. Not just that, but we don't really get more of the effect and impression inspired by “Pausing Death” and “Judgement (and Punishment)”, two songs which really stand out from the rest of the album for unfortunate reasons. Yes they're highlights, but a full album of such excellence would benefit Jinjer in the long run. Instead, what Macro
turns out to be is an album of above average djenty metalcore with just a few golden moments.