Jinjer – Wallflowers
Released: 27 August, 2021
Tatiana Shmayluk – Vocals
Roman Ibramkhalilov – Guitars
Eugene Abdukhanov – Bass
Vlad Ulasevich – Drums
Ukraine metal heroes Jinjer return with new album Wallflowers. Following the breakout success of 2019’s Macro, the band continue to explore groove and prog metal, though with an urgency that creates a heavier impression than their last album. When our editor suggested I check them out I was blown away by their raw power and majestic vocals. How the hell had I been sleeping on this? Wallflowers feels important then, a make or break moment for the band, as their touring and positive buzz needs an album with sick songs to help them take a leap forward. Is Wallflowers that album?
If I had to sum up the album in a word (and I don’t, so there’s more below) I would describe it as relentless. Certainly ‘Call Me a Symbol’ is not here to fuck around. It smashes you between the ears from the opening guitar and drum crash, joined swifty by the brutal shriek of Tatiana Shmayluk. And then the blast beats start. It’s a heavy groove slab that demands head banging, before a guitar lead that is almost Cantrell-esque grunge and clean vocals to match. ‘Colossus’ continues the immediacy of the opener, straight into the riffs. It is a dirtier, but no less dynamic song, with more alteration between clean vocals and growls. The first single ‘Vortex’ is almost commercial by comparison – a slower intro with clean vocals and a huge hook for the chorus. It really draws you in, the guitar lines twist and turn into a heavier breakdown. The vocals end up much more on the death metal side, a deep roar that cuts between the melodic singing.
Jinjer’s ability to straddle hardcore metal and more hooky material remains their great strength. ‘Disclosure!’ is in a similar vein to ‘Vortex’, though boarding on post-grunge alt metal at times before incorporating black metal shrieks. Tatiana’s ability to use different styles elevates the material on first listen, check out the different ways she screams “disclosure!”, but there needs to be serious attention to the boys at the back who are able to combine riffs from a variety of influences and keep the song cohesive. ‘Copycat’ threatens to derail at various points as Roman Ibramkhalilov riffs away but Eugene Abdukhanov and Vlad Ulasevich keep shit together as a rhythm section, really pushing the punk rock tempo as Roman and Tatiana go wild. Probably the closest comparison is Mr Bungle? They don’t go all disco but can still move from genre to genre in a single song like few others. ‘Pearls and Swine’ is another grunge-fueled riff fest, with added growls, while ‘Sleep of the Righteous’ is a groove laden tune that delves into prog to create a gloomy but defiant atmosphere, highlighting that Jinjer is able to create different moods from song to song, and often even within the same song.
The title track, ‘Wallflower’, is a jazz influenced song that totally stands apart from the brutality of the album named after it. It’s genuinely exciting to hear Jinjer try for something ambitious as they explore a more psychedelic tone. Just as you think the soaring vocal means Tatiana is going to hit her “growl engage” button, the band comes down again and back into the improv jam. It builds slowly to the moment she unleashes, holding back in the clean vocal realm even as Roman switches to power chords. When it hits it is a burning fury. I had to put this one on again after it finished, just to absorb everything that was going on.
As much as I appreciate a good sonic tour, heavy bands need bangers. Jinjer covers this effortlessly, with tunes like ‘Dead Hands Feel No Pain’ and ‘As I Boil Ice’ bringing the weather with lightning riffs and thundering drums. Like the opening tracks, ‘Dead Hands…’ is pretty straight forward, though ‘As I Boil Ice’ has a prog verse with some different vocal effects that really emphasises Tatiana’s contribution with her instrument. Both are unashamedly heavy with plenty of sections for headbanging. ‘Mediator’ is another really dynamic track too that could’ve worked as an opener just as well as it ends the album. It has a straight up groove orientated with a bit of bounce too. Surely it will become a live favourite to come.
There was a lot for Jinjer to prove on Wallflowers and, thankfully, they have managed to deliver a heavy album with lots of different access points. It plays to their strengths – they’re ability to compliment the many voices of Titiana – but are able to be experimental and branch out from their core sound. It deserves repeat listens, as I am not sure one play through allows you to appreciate the musicianship from Eugene and Vlad. I dare say we will be talking about this one again in December when we celebrate albums of the year.
Jinjer – Wallflowers tracklisting:
- Call Me a Symbol
- Pearls and Swine
- Sleep of the Righteous
- Dead Hands Feel No Pain
- As I Boil Ice