Review Summary: Blooming through the cracks, reaching out to you.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a young girl who used to stand in front of the highway screaming at the cars passing by, defying the unforgiving Ukrainian cold, day after day, in search of an scream that, she felt, lived inside her in a deep slumber, and with every cry against those cars, the voice would awaken and become angrier, stronger, to the point it would pierce through the freezing wind and the polluting noise that shrouded the city. That young woman's name was Tatiana Shmailyuk, and little did she know, that years later she would become one of the most charismatic voices in metal, fronting a band called Jinjer, and touring the world like, and sometimes with, those bands that inspired her in the first place.
For those in need of an introduction of sorts, Jinjer is a mathy, jazzy, metalcore four-piece from the tumultuous city of Donetsk (Ukraine). The band was formed in 2009 but it wasn't until 2011 that the actual formation, with the exception of drummer Vladi Ulasevich who joined in 2016, consolidated and went on to take the world on their own terms, funding tours with their own budget and booking live dates by themselves. Their persistence gained them the attention of Napalm Records, a union that resulted in the release in 2016 of King Of Everything
, which included the single "Pisces", a song that, as many of you already may know, became a very popular meme video to surprise family and friends in Christmas parties, in great measure due to Tatiana's peculiar change of registers throughout said live performance.
But Jinjer has come a very long way from that, and 2021's Wallflowers
certifies that the band from Donetsk had much more to offer than entertainment in family reunions. Jinjer's fifth full length is a classy, powerful, and strangely alluring record, a release that shows how cohesive the band has become through the many performances and recordings they have experienced in the last five years. Structurally, Wallflowers
has a pretty solid start, with "Call Me a Symbol" blasting out without losing a second in introducing the listener to the band's sound. Just a few seconds in, Vladi is already firing up a blast beat sky high and bringing the band back to land with a forceful slam while Tatiana's fierce growls bounce against the bent riffs of guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov and the feverish bass lines of Eugene Abdukhanov. The first melodic parts, the ones that give Jinjer that wonderfully distinct character, make their way to the middle of the track for much needed contrast. Now, if you are like me, and you particularly enjoy these dashing sections, know that they are pretty abundant in Wallflowers
, with special mention to the ones that constitute the main skeleton of single "Vortex", the one that kicks off "Disclosure!", or the intense build up that explodes in Tatiana’s screams toward the end of the title track.
But fear not, Jinjer have not lost an inch of aggression and fury. Roman and Eugene chug on their strings in religiously tight slams marked by Vladi's relentless but maniacally controlled hammering combo of snare and double kick while the track is orchestrated by Tatiana's fearfully impossible grave growls and daring melodies. Give the ending of "Colossus", the final section of "Dead Hands Feel No Pain", or the smashing beat down of "Vortex" a quick check if curiosity is killing you but know that it’s in the band’s (and forgive me God for this terrible example) marriage of Guano Apes with Meshuggah where their appeal resides. Their heavy gravitational whirlwinds of meticulously calculated riffs transition to melodic parts with impressive ease, but I feel their formula wouldn’t be as effective if it wasn’t for Tatiana’s remarkable delivery and the way she introduces every section with the most fitting register.
With lyrical themes that go from a hateful message to an inquisitive journalist who wouldn't let the band out of his political schemes, to Tatiana's struggle to socialize while also dealing with everyday life in a pandemic riddled post-world, Jinjer ravages through 47 minutes of intensely charming mathcore with a release that may very well be their best, if not my personal favorite, or the one that I found somehow more engaging. If the Ukrainians have been on the brink of hooking you up in the past but have somehow failed to do so due to that missing... "something", Wallflowers
might have it. Think how roots planted on concrete surfaces always find the way to bloom through the cracks and reach the sunlight in impossible places, well, that’s exactly what this band has done to me, and far from complaining, I’m certainly glad they did.