Label: Napalm Records
If anyone mentions metal from the Ukraine these days, one of the first bands to come to mind is none other than Jinjer. Ever since their debut in 2013 – along with their Finnish gig debut at Nummirock and opening for Arch Enemy in 2017 – they have done nothing but grow in fame and popularity. After being generally blown away by their performance at Tuska 2019, we were first in line to have a listen to Macro – appropriately named following the EP from earlier this year called Micro – which is set for release later this month.
The album starts really strong with “On the Top.” It’s full of good old heavy metal power and has a nice combination of some smooth and ferocious growls by the ever-popular Tatiana Shmailyuk, who is pretty much topping the “best female vocalists in heavy metal” lists right now. What really makes her sound work is how strong her vocals are. Classic female growlers like Angela Gossow or her protege, Alissa White-Gluz, sounded too gritty when they sang, like they didn’t have healthy vocal technique. Shmailyuk sounds like a heavy metal demon to whom growling is second nature. This is a consistent feature throughout the album.
“Pit of Consciousness” continues the pattern of strong vocals supported by good, fierce death metal, while “Judgement (& Punishment)” brings in some really diverse sounds, from true heavy metal bass over to something that is almost reggae (and as someone who tends to dislike reggae, I nevertheless don’t mean that as an insult).
We get a taste of their native language in the first chorus of “Retrospection,” with the first verse sung softly in what I presume to be Ukrainian, with the heavy dynamic kick-up taking place right in the middle. The song balances nicely between gentle and heavy as hell, without feeling remotely jarring.
If you like bashing drums and seriously wacky bass lines, “Pausing Death” has ample amounts of both. The combination of growling verses and melodic choruses is working well for these guys, and the contrast between the clean vocals and blast-beats make for a really vicious sound. “Noah” is conceptually quite interesting, though didn’t do a lot to stand out from the rest of the songs; rather, it seems to continue the existing pattern. “Home Back,” however, definitely shakes things up with some slower parts mixed in with the crushing heaviness.
The album begins its wind-down with “Prophecy,” though the energy certainly doesn’t follow suit. This one is a bit less on the melodic side of things, more on the djent-y heavy side, though saying that it doesn’t have any melody would be an outright lie, as some of the vocal lines are very nice. The album closes with “lainnereP” (that’s “Perennial” backwards, in case you didn’t notice), which is notably the exact same length as “On the Top” (05:28), giving the album a full-circle feeling. It’s also worth noting that every other song on the album is between 4-5 minutes in length – quite specific! This is a far more ambient and eerie song, working nicely as an outro and standing out as the only song on the album that doesn’t have any heaviness or funk to it. Rather, it lures you along with its mystery and intrigue. It’s a surprising turn for the album but nevertheless works quite well as a closer to the whole piece.
After seeing Jinjer at Tuska 2019, the impression I had was, “What could anyone possibly complain about with this band?” After listening to this album, my feeling is largely the same. Oh, you might nitpick certain things here and there, but frankly, if you just want good heavy death metal with strong melodies, this band isn’t going to let you down.
Rating: 9/10, 5 stars
1. On the Top
2. Pit of Consciousness
3. Judgement (& Punishment)
5. Pausing Death
7. Back Home
8. The Prophecy