Review: Heavy metal band Jinjer see bigger picture with Macro album

Review: Heavy metal band Jinjer see bigger picture with Macro album

Tatiana Shmaylyuk
Tatiana Shmaylyuk delivers a blistering performance at Manchester Academy on Dec 3 2019. Photo: Dave Layzell

From the first heavily distorted, discordant riff of the opening track to the mournful solemnity of the last, the latest release from Ukrainian Progressive Metal quartet Jinjer gives us a masterclass in sound.

Though traces of their Metalcore roots remain, the clear move into the more progressive style on Macro shows a mature evolution in song-writing ability which leaves behind some of the clichés present on their 2012 release Cloud Factory and its 2016 follow-up, King of Everything.

Since founding-member Dmitry Oksen quit the band in 2015, Roman Ibramkhalilov has found space to grow as the sole remaining guitarist and on this album, he shines.  Adapting his playing style to suit a four-piece band, he fills the void with high-tempo riffs, sweeping clean melodies and complex chord structures which create an aural tapestry worthy of any classical composer.

Essential to underpinning this is a rock-solid rhythm section, and Eugene Abdukhanov on bass and Vladislav Ulasevich on drums don’t disappoint.  Incorporating pop-and-slap techniques more commonly found in 1970s funk, Eugene’s approach sets him apart from many of his peers and adds a punctuation to his tone that accentuates the more aggressive sections beautifully.

After getting through enough drummers to rival Spinal Tap, the arrival of Vladislav in 2016 cemented the direction the band would take in writing new material and he brings a natural fluidity to Macro which, despite their technical competence, was not present in his predecessors.  Effortlessly transitioning from insanely fast blast-beats to sections of blues, reggae and even jazz, he is a master of any genre required of him and a metronomic sense of timing binds his beats to the basslines like superglue.

Topping it all off is the mind-blowing vocal range of Tatiana Shmailyuk. From death-growls and piercing screams that would have Satan cowering in a corner, she seamlessly switches to poignant melodies delivered in a clean tone sweet enough to make angels weep.

A prime example of this is on Home Back.  An outstanding track exploring the pain of returning to their hometown in Donetsk after fleeing to Kiev to escape the outbreak of war in 2014.  Two minutes in and the song melts into a laid-back, easy-listening jazz section for a dreamlike recollection of the home-that-was.  With a delivery and tone reminiscent of Gwen Stefani, Tatiana lures the listener into a false sense of security then hits them full-on with rage-fuelled screams of anguish before dive-bombing into a growl low enough to make her male counterparts sound like the Bee Gees.

The only real weak points are in some of the lyrics, although this is easily forgivable considering the majority are written in English rather than their native Russian.  Counterbalancing this is their ability to reflect the words musically by telling the story of the songs through the expression of their instruments rather than just slapping vocals over generic riffs.

That is the mark of a superb album, and Macro is truly greater than the sum of its already exceptional parts.