For Fans Of
Ukraine’s Jinjer operates as a lean, mean, alt-metal fighting machine on their fourth album, ‘Macro.’ Which isn’t at all surprising, as its how they’ve gotten to where they are now in the metal community. After all, it’s what they do best; what they’re most known for: mixing a metric shit tonne of melody, brutality and strong elements of groovy alt-metal with prog mood swings and squeaky clean recordings and production. And that’s what this latest LP is: Roman Ibramkhalilov’s wicked tones and hulking djent riffs, an addiction to powerful grooves, Eugene Abdukhanov’s grumbling, pingy five-string bass slaps, and a killer four-piece band dynamic that keeps everything cohesive and believable. If you’ve ever enjoyed what Jinjer do, then this new album is for you, pal.
‘On The Top‘ and ‘Pit Of Consciousness‘ are the first two thundering groove metal openers of this solid LP, seeing one of metal’s currently hottest acts switch between their grand use of harmonic minor sections, as well Tatiana Shmailyuk‘s menacing growls and her soothing mezzo-soprano singing voice. They’re great examples of Jinjer’s sound and how far they’ve come over the last six years as musicians. (The days of ‘Inhale, Don’t Breathe‘ just seem so infantile in comparison to what they’re doing now from ‘King Of Everything‘ onwards.) This release is a familiar-sounding effort yet nonetheless a punchy and well-written one. On ‘Macro,’ Jinjer really don’t take any prisoners.
Bringing back the reggae influences from the end of ‘Who Is Gonna Be The One,’ ‘Judgement (& Punishment)‘ sees Tatiana put on her best Jamaican accent over an organ, a half-time drum beat and upstroke guitars that sit on 2 and 4, to make for the most basic reggae sound one could ever imagine. Yet it all works, and it compliments the heavier alt-metal nature of the songs refrains very well; making for one of the record’s biggest highpoints. Even though it follows a similar structural blueprint to that ‘Pisces‘ (their viral live video with twenty million-plus views that’s spawned just as many reaction clips on YouTube), ‘Retrospection‘ has its own merits. It sees Tatiana singing in her native Ukranian tongue in the first verse before switching to English after the first chorus (singing in your non-native language sure as hell isn’t an easy thing to do), with the rest of Jinjer bringing in some added dynamics and melodic content outside of their pummelling metal sound; it sounds like very real inner retrospection, too. One of my favourite things about this song is how drummer Vladislav Ulasevich consistently slides in these ghost-noted, snare drags between his percussive hits, and it’s a great example of just how talented and precise of a player he is behind the kit.
The band then hits a consistent stride with the next four songs: ‘Pausing Death,’ ‘Noah,’ ‘Home Back,’ and ‘The Prophecy.’ ‘Pausing Death‘ throttles along at a brisk pace, before ending with a crushing breakdown. The jumpy riffs and flow of ‘Noah‘ show that Jinjer can easily maintain a pounding, technical prog-metal pulse whilst also playing around with more pitched yelling vocals and some added glossy production. Whilst revealing that the middle-portion of ‘Marco‘ gets a little too samey and repetitive, the rolling riffs, popping bass lines, and odd-time beats of ‘Home Back‘ still land hard, and it ends with some of the heaviest, deepest growls that Tatiana has ever tracked. The galloping, blasting double-time of ‘The Prophecy‘ is honestly just more Jinjer for the pile but it could also easily whip up circle pits live, right before igniting mosh-pits with its slower, pumping metal grooves that it quickly opts into. At the very least, its a speedy, energetic late-game cut with some sublime vocal melodies at its core.
‘lainnereP‘ (perennial backwards) is this album’s black sheep; a newer spin on another 2019 release of theirs, ‘Perennial.’ It’s this dark, weird swan song for ‘Macro‘ that sees Jinjer forgo their ballsy alt-metal riffs and prog-metal songwriting. Instead, this finale sees them make use of swirling atmospherics, strings, samples, a mixture of live and programmed drums, droning synths, reversed vocal layers, and eerie whispers that condense the original song into a shorter lyrical stanza. It’s something different, kinda like how the ‘Micro‘ EP ended with its titular stripped-back acoustic instrumental piece. But it’s one of those songs that makes me wish they’d shown such boldness elsewhere on the album. Because including ‘lainnereP,’ the only other moment that sees Jinjer offer any kind of variation in their sound is ‘Judgement.’ And even then, that’s something they’ve already done before. Jinjer has knocked out a great alt-metal/groove-metal sound, one they clearly excel at, but it does seem like a bit of a one-trick pony at times. Anyone with ears and a brain can tell they have the chops to achieve anything they set their mind on, and I hope to see the Ukranian act spread their wings wider on future releases.
On top of all that, at just nine songs long, this album feels a little under-cooked, like there’s more to the puzzle that’s strangely been left out. With more songs tacked on, maybe they could’ve spread their musical roots into new ideas and sounds. Perhaps the band’s intention was for fans and listeners to go from January’s ‘Micro‘ EP – which featured the monstrous single, ‘Ape‘ – and then stitch it onto this newer, somewhat short record, to make for a total of 14 songs. I tried such an experiment when listening to and reviewing this album, and while you obviously get some more songs and a longer run-time, it still does feel like a slightly bloated experience.
Jinjer aren’t just a lucky metal band suddenly gaining an exuberant amount of views and traction of late for nothing. Their recent success is built off the back of great songwriting; good songs that, sooner or later, would’ve made them a hot name on so many people’s lips in metal right now. The Ukranian band threads a fine needle between pulverizing groove-metal, giant riffs, and sweet aspects of prog and djent that it all comes together in a solid manner, supported by one of the most impressive and diverse vocalists in heavy music: Tatiana Shmailyuk. At times on ‘Macro,’ Jinjer plays it very safe and give people exactly what they wanted in terms of their alt-metal sound. Yet occasionally, on the reggae-infused likes of ‘Judgement (& Punishment)’ or the experimental finale of ‘lainnereP,’ we see a weirder, different Jinjer start to break in. Hopefully, next time around, that other shade of Jinjer smashes the figurative wall down completely and they embrace so much more than just their normal Lamb Of God, Mudvayne and Meshuggah influences.
- On The Top
- Pit Of Consciousness
- Judgement (& Punishment)
- Pausing Death
- Home Back
- The Prophecy
‘Macro’ is out now: