Overall Score: 9/10 Technical Proficiency : 9/10 Songwriting: 10/10 Production : 7/10 Pros: Jinjer produces the best album of their career and hold no punches in doing so. Cons: For such a statement of aggression, the production could have little more edge.
If necessity is the mother of all creation, then the need to protect their stainless reputation is what birthed Jinjer’s fifth full-length leviathan; Wallflowers. Nine years on from debut Inhale, Do Not Breathe the Ukrainian quartet’s meteoric rise to one of modern metal’s A-listers is simply astounding – with legions of rabid fans and a wealthy catalogue of wildly intoxicating hits to boast. As one of the few to successfully mix groove metal, death metal and progressive metal to the satisfaction of fans and critics alike, Jinjer’s reputation proceeds itself in 2021; with that said, prepare for their darkest chapter yet.
For those unaware, mincing words – nor riffs – has ever been part of Jinjer’s M.O. Through a concoction of brutally realised lyricism, copious levels of groove and the vocal acrobatics from leading legend Tatiana Shmayluk, there has rarely been a crowd that Jinjer cannot please. It has always been a concern, that such consistent success could give rise to complacency and yet the arrival of Wallflowers only delivers a bolder and grittier side to the band we have yet to see; the result sits atop with their finest work.
As first impressions go, Wallflowers greets with a vice-grip handshake and a wide-eyed grin as Call Me A Symbol rattles through the open doors like some enraged bull; one that’s excellent at playing the guitar, of course. This serves as an excellent tone-setter, as the band’s trademark for leaping from blast beats to tight and destructive riffing to the impassioned two-tone deliveries from Tatiana remain familiar while offering up Wallflowers’ new iteration of ‘heavy’. The record offers up menace in healthy supply. More blast beats, tougher growls, bigger switch-ups, and while ‘more’ has never directly equated to ‘better’, it only ever feels natural as Jinjer draws upon the decay of the world at hand.
Colossus, Copycat, As I Boil Ice and Mediator all dig their heels deep into this realm of abrasion. The latter two are fitting closers to this world of crooning melancholy. As I Boil Ice Throws does well to subvert expectations at each turn with a pop-y refrain here and a breakdown there before Mediator bodies its precursor with an intro vile enough to make an avid DM-head pull a ‘stinky face’. Despite the material not venturing too far from Jinjer’s established comfort zone, there’s no denying that these are new levels of brutality for the quartet.
However, Jinjer records have always been tales of light and dark with Wallflowers refusing to break this mould. After Vortex brings its final assault to a close the band shocks and pulls a U-turn on Disclosure! and welcomes a punk-driven tirade with fist-pounding hooks whereas the title-track highlight wields an explorative soundscape of balance that could rival even Pisces. Thus, Wallflowers covers trodden ground with the same strong strides and ventures into new territory with striking confidence only reflective of Jinjer’s, now proven, level of expertise.
Does Jinjer’s Wallflowers ever wilt? Only slightly; and it’s only ever a matter of unrealised potential as opposed to some grand misstep. As the band digs their claws deeper, drawing blood with this heavier set of tools, the feeling that the production package could have been equally as lethal is unavoidable. Sure the record equals its forerunners in giving itself a balanced sound – suited for the explorative nature of it all – but it feels too safe, too clean at times. While the band does their best to burst eardrums and strain necks, the album can sometimes feel a little too clean to match such ferocity.
Despite this, Jinjer has, without doubt, delivered their most unforgiving record yet and lay another benchmark for metal’s competitive top ranks. Smart, focused and undeniably sadistic at times, this is a statement that the best bands in the business can always get better.
The new Jinjer album, Wallflowers, is out now on Napalm Records.