Jinjer – Wallflowers (Album Review)

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Progress cuts right to the core.

The concept of progressive music, regardless of what specific genre it subsumes, is one that has become a bit muddled of late, owing no doubt to it coming of age and developing its own orthodoxy of idea-splicing and signature tricks of the trade. Nevertheless, for some the term still implies something a bit nebulous, a sort of chaotic blend of seemingly contradictory elements that somehow reaches a point of synchronicity. This is the field that has been explored by the Ukrainian quintet turned quartet Jinger since their 2009 inception, often stretching beyond the boundaries of accessibility while still keeping things within a radio-friendly duration. Billed as a progressive mixture of metalcore and groove metal, their resulting sound scarcely stays within the implied borders of said label, and their most recent and fourth studio LP “Wallflowers” presents the most versatile permutations of their craft yet.

Though the complexity of the formula at play here might hint at a mathematically-geared brand of technical showmanship parallel to the early works of The Dillinger Escape Plan, the aesthetic and emotional reality that comes about is far more nuanced and organic. Nothing about the performers or the songwriting is static in nature, but there is a recurring theme of serenity and anger represented in the vocal performance of Tatiana Shmailyuk, who basically runs the gamut from being a pop diva and a raging death metal growler after the spirit of Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz. However, this thematic duality is the only real constant in what is essentially a medley of various heavier and lighter musical expressions, as no two songs really follow the same formula and the only regularly recurring reference point is a groovy, at times djent-leaning stomp to the harder riffing sections that channel fragments of Gojira and Lamb Of God.

One of the strongest general influences upon this album’s emotionally charged nature has been the social stress that has abounded for the past year and a half, and it really shows on some of the more aggressive anthems in congress here. The opening crusher “Call Me A Symbol” comes in about as subtle as a sledgehammer, laying down pummeling distorted riffs in a rhythmically vague manner to a raving vocal performance, and goes on for over two minutes until reaching a cadence of sorts as the music becomes a bit more tuneful and Shmailyuk’s vocals turn to a more melodically consonant character. Drawing upon a similarly dark and furious well, albeit with more of a textbook melodic death metal aesthetic is the raging beast “Colossus”, which nevertheless finds itself veering into jazzy territory between the loose drumming and noodling bass work of 5-string virtuoso Eugene Abdukhanov.

“Wallflowers” Album Artwork

As one stream of consciousness set to music gives way to another, a sense of nuance and moments of respite from the rage becomes a bit more pronounced. “Vortex” begins things on a more subdued note with some faint psychedelic tendencies before taking the plunge back into a state of fury, while the raucous “Disclosure!” trades blows between a sort of grungy Pantera-inspired stomp and a more chaotic thrashing approach. There are some hints of a more standard verse to chorus structure to the wandering stomp and trudge of “Pearls And Swine”, featuring Shmailyuk showcasing her dynamic vocal capabilities in rapid succession as the almost conventional character of the song is obscured by a lot of elaborate asides from the instruments. The almost balladry of progressive grower and title song “Wallflowers” could almost be mistaken for something Tool might dream up, save for the ultra-smooth croon of the singing, while the cacophony of differing elements put into the closer “Mediator” take the cake in terms of both making an impression and leaving one.

As with many bold adventures into uncharted sonic territory, this album is an enigma with so many moving parts that it will likely leave the listener baffled at first glance. Its connection with metalcore actually becomes a bit tenuous at times, as its unfettered sense of progression puts it more comfortably in the territory of outfits like Gojira and Opeth, though it’s a bit more compact in delivery. This band has nevertheless struck an impressive chord with the general music scene that has resulted in a high degree of engagement via online streaming and beyond. Nevertheless, this album’s highly avant-garde character may prove a stumbling block for the average Lamb Of God or Trivium fan. This is an album that is experienced more than it is simply heard, and a deficit in accessibility stands as the lone Persian Flaw in what is otherwise a highly impressive and original opus.

Released By: Napalm Records
Released On: August 27th, 2021
Genre: Metal

Musicians:

  • Tatiana “Tati” Shmailyuk / Vocals
  • Roman Ibramkhalilov / Guitars
  • Eugene Abdukhanov / Bass
  • Vladislav “Vladi” Ulasevich / Drums

“Wallflowers” Tracklisting:

1. Call Me a Symbol
2. Colossus
3. Vortex
4. Disclosure!
5. Copycat
6. Pearls and Swine
7. Sleep of the Righteous
8. Wallflower
9. Dead Hands Feel No Pain
10. As I Boil Ice
11. Mediator

7.6 Great

The ongoing quest for originality has yielded its fair share of curiosities, and one particular Ukrainian offshoot of the 2000s metalcore craze continues to explore the contrast of beauty and rage within an extreme progressive context on their latest studio excursion

  • Songwriting 7.5
  • Musicianship 8
  • Originality 7
  • Production 8
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