It’s a triumph in itself that Jinjer are still around, let alone on the upward trajectory that sees fourth album Wallflowers as one of the most highly anticipated metal records of the year. Their home nation of Ukraine sits alongside Moldova as the poorest in Europe, rife with corruption, poverty and an ongoing conflict with Russia known as the Donbas War.
Nevertheless, Jinjer have channelled this adversity into concentrated rage and fused it with their brand of groove-laden prog metal to produce a sound with enough punch to knock out several teeth and fracture a jawbone for good measure.
Add the events of the last 18 months into this potent mix and Wallflowers has all the ingredients necessary to be the angriest record of 2021. It makes its case immediately as Call Me A Symbol flies out of the traps with a flurry of drums and guitars whilst vocalist Tatiana Shmayluk screams ‘Look at me!’.
Any album starting in such a bludgeoning manner is guaranteed to be given your full attention. However, as the track seamlessly becomes more melodic and Tatiana showcases her clean singing, Jinjer reveal where they really flourish. They effortlessly mix savagery and serenity in a way that never feels jarring or out of control – an ability that has made them such a valued presence in alternative music.
The momentum generated from the opening song continues across the next 10 tracks with no let-up. Colossus lives up to its name with a huge stomp and thunderous blastbeats before lead single Vortex twists and turns through moments of calm and chaos and Pearls And Swine brings more of a progressive chug to affairs.
Jinjer also occasionally move into more uncharted territory but deliver superbly regardless. Disclosure! boasts a layered, grunge-like vocal performance and the title track starts with a teasing bassline from Eugene Abdukhanov before moving into something more akin to ambient post-rock; it doesn’t last, of course, but it’s thrilling to see Jinjer pushing the boundaries of what they can do with such panache. Closing track Mediator stakes its claim for the best mosh call of the year – a sharp opening cry of ‘Stop!’ from Tatiana, a brief silence and then a shout of ‘Go!’ unleashing a final hell on the senses.
Wallflowers is, from the first note to the last, Jinjer’s finest work to date. Although they can no longer be considered a cult band – previous album Macro’s critical acclaim moved them away from that particular tag – this record will send them into the metal stratosphere with consummate ease. There haven’t been many releases in 2021 with the combined technicality and brutality that this offers across its 50 minutes, and there probably won’t be many more to come in the next few months, either. If you consider yourself a metalhead, this is essential listening.
Wallflowers is out August 27 via Napalm