As I sit down to listen to “Wallflowers” for the first time, I feel that rare excitement typically reserved for grand adventures (vacations and whatnot). It reminds me of the days when we’d go to the record store at midnight to have listening parties for new records. These days listening parties and record stores are rare, which is quite sad, but even if that weren’t the case, social interaction in general has been a great challenge. So, I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge that feeling of anticipation we all share when we’re about to experience that first listen of an album we all want to hear. It’s a shame we can’t experience this together more often.
This anticipation, however, does not come without concern. Nobody enjoys being disappointed by a band they’re invested in, and no band enjoys disappointing their fans. We want to love it, and they hope we love it. We’re all in this together, after all.
“Call Me A Symbol” proves immediately that Jinjer is back ready to snap some necks, with a bit of a Gojira/Meshuggah groove, with guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov and bassist Eugene Abdukhanov, just tearing shit down. Add in Tattiana Shmailyuk’s voice and drummer Vladislav Ulasevich impeccable delivery, and all of the pieces exist for an absolutely devastating experience. The rhythm section continues to be both pummeling and subtle, as “Colossus” completes the familiar 1-2 cross punch the band has presented on each of their three previous full length releases (“Cloud Factory” in 2014, “King of Everything” in 2016, and “Macro” in 2019). Given the angry nature of Tati’s vocals on these first two tracks, I feel quite comfortable saying Jinjer has perfected this approach on their fourth.
“Vortex,” the first single from the album, is well-placed. It’s hard not to see this video while listening, which I am personally quite glad for. It provides a perfect explanation of what “Wallflowers” is as an album. Classy. Comfortable. Shut-in, but together, yet slightly off balance, which results in small but glorious bursts of magic, mayhem, and maturity that can only come from an imaginative, well-traveled group of people.
With the first three tracks alone, Jinjer goes through being Djent, Groove Metal, Hardcore, Progressive, as well as some Metalcore in the breakdowns, and still manages to sound 100% like them, which is an astonishing feat, if you ask me. On paper that looks pretentious as fuck, but with Jinjer it isn’t. Not for a moment, and nowhere is this more obvious than on “Disclosure!”
“Disclosure!” starts off sounding like if Gwen Stefani joined Audioslave for a minute, a fact which again sounds horrifying on paper, but within just over 60 seconds, Tattiana shuts down any bullshit someone may have thrown… hard! Seriously, man. That woman’s voice is goddamned wizard-like! She’s… whatever the female equivalent of Gandalf would be. Somebody help me out with that one.
Not too long ago I saw an Instagram post where the question was asked: “What genre is Jinjer?” Jinjer‘s reply was: “Yes!” I love that! It’s funny because it’s true, and the truth of it compounds with each track. Particularly when it comes to the last three: “Dead Hands Feel No Pain,” “As I Boil Ice,” and “Mediator.”
“Dead Hands…” starts at a boiling point. The album bubbles up quite nicely up to this point, but here it is clear that something is about to explode. Then, with “As I Boil Ice,” BOOM!
“For the millionth time I got
Something to complain about
Where is my zest, interest?”
So good! But as strong a song as “I Boil Ice” is, it is not well-suited for an album closer. That honor goes to “Mediator,” which puts the final nails into the coffin, so to speak. It hits all the right notes at all the right moments. On its own it isn’t as good as “Disclosure!” or “Vortex,” but as a part of a whole, “Mediator” does what it needs to do: it hypes you up to the point of wanting more, and at this juncture the only thing left to do is start the record over.
For Jinjer fans, “Wallflowers” is absolute perfection. It is just different enough to keep us wondering what might be next, and for listeners on the fence about the band… there isn’t anything here but eleven reasons to like them more.
Considering that “Wallflowers” was created during lock-down, and through a global pandemic, Jinjer is here to remind all of us who suffer from the human condition that through this suffering we are not alone. Not ever. And right now, with the world the way it is, I’ll take every little bit of magic I can get.
“Wallflowers” was released today on Napalm Records.