Release: October 25, 2019
Booyah! Say what you will, but it felt like 2019 was Jinjer’s year. This power-house Ukrainian extreme groove metal band started the year in full force with the release of the EP “Micro” in January, and continued with heavy touring and appearances at top festivals across Europe, and now they are back with their fourth full length album, “Macro”. This decade the four-piece known as Jinjer, fronted by versatile vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk, have carved their own niche on the metal scene, and are set to rise even higher in the following decade(s).
Defined by Loudwire as a “cocktail of modern prog metal”, “Macro” twist and turns though its 41 minutes of playtime, as just when you were expecting heavy breakdowns or over-the-top solos, along
come jazzy or reggae-flavored passages that are so superbly inserted in the music, it’s uncanny. True enough, these passages do catch you by surprise at first, but at the same time, after
subsequent listens to this album, they make perfect sense, and gel quite well with the music. From this perspective I was surprised on my first few listens to “Macro” as I had expected to be
heavier and darker (like their EP “Micro” or The Agonist’s “Orphans”), but in time I came to appreciate these various nuances and flavors it offers.
On the top
Pit of consciousness
Judgement (& punishment)
Still, the music is heavy, with Tatiana’s signature growls in the fore-front balancing her beautiful cleans, while Roman Ibramkhalilov’s guitarwork is driving the music forward with punishing riffs and melodic lines, and Eugene Abdukhanov’s bass is as groovy and relentless as always. I love how upfront the bass is in their mix, as it not only ads thickness and darkness to their overall sound, but Eugene also provides many groovy moments and intricate passages that could challenge any musician, as the absolutely killer intro to “Home Back” proves. And honestly in between Tatiana’s vocals and Eugene’s bass, I find it particularly hard to choose who the focal point in Jinjer actually is. Opening track, “On the top” features all these trademark elements in a neat display of virtuosity and well, groove, being the most Jinjer track on the whole album, while asking the question “is it lonely on the top?”, as “real happiness has nothing to do with it — not a career, achievements, money etc. Is it really worth climbing up the ladder just to be ON to the TOP if there is nothing or no one there for you in the end?”. This is definitely something worth pondering for a bit.
On the heavy side of things, we have “Pit of consciousness”, complete with heavy yet melodic guitar riffs and a cascade of harsh and clean vocals, and the technically perfect duo “Pausing Death” and “Noah” where Vladislav Ulasevish’s double bass drumming is used efficiently to make the sound more robust and to add volume to the songs, while Tatiana’s clean singing adds texture and depth to the lyrics. The rather rockish and up-tempo “The Prophecy” seems to tie in this album to their EP “Micro” as it not only references it (and other songs) by name (or lyrics), it also seems to channel the same madness and aggressiveness that can be found on said EP.
And now for the surprises the album has to offer. Released as first single, “Judgement (and Punishment)” features some very relaxed reggae / ska moments in between the more aggressive passages which complements the music perfectly. Starting with Tatiana gently singing in Ukrainian (or maybe Russian?) “Retrospection” is a very soulful yet harsh piece that seems to tackle personal issues from the past (hence the name), while the furious “Home Back” has a jazzy mid-way moment that will make you double back and listen to the song again just in case you imagined that slower moment. Rounding off this album is the highly atmospheric keyboard-driven “IainnereP”, which is as chilly as a winter morning, and just as refreshing.
There is something in this bunch of songs that is utterly beautiful yet incredibly brutal, way beyond the traditional ‘Beauty and the Beast’ approach to music we hear in gothic /symphonic metal. With Jinjer it is more primal, as it is closely related to the groove of life, with its ups and downs, its serene moments and its turbulent parts, than it has to do with aesthetics, nor is it used for the sake of ‘sounding good’. It’s a sort of sonic representation of yin-and-yang, as everything is in balance on “Macro”. The shadows are dark, the highs are brilliant, and the layers run deep, making “Macro” a well-worth dive into Jinjer’s musical universe.
Rating: 10 / 10
Tatiana Shmailyuk – vocals
Roman Ibramkhalilov – guitars
Eugene Abdukhanov – bass
Vladislav Ulasevish – drums