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Album Review: JINJER Macro

Posted by on October 25, 2019 at 11:25 am

Since YouTube became one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, now sitting in second place behind Facebook with two billion users, countless bedroom broadcasters have begun resorting to desperate measures to accumulate views. Reaction videos increasingly dominate YouTube recommendation feeds, prompting viewers to watch strangers embarrass themselves as they put on contrived performances, pretending to be shocked by the unremarkable. That said, when a reaction video’s title mentions Jinjer, rest assured that it’s genuine.

The live video for Jinjer’s virally popular track “Pisces” leaped over the 20 million view mark back in May, leaving plenty of petrified YouTubers in its wake, while their other official videos continue to raise the band’s profile to enviable levels. Given her visual style and Jekyll-and-Hyde vocals, frontwoman Tatiana Shmailyuk is naturally Jinjer’s primary focal point, but this Ukrainian quartet’s indomitable staying power marks them out as more than a short-lived online distraction. They shock on the surface, making the kind of initial impression that many of their contemporaries could only wish for, but their music also stands up to repeated listens. Jinjer can widen your eyes, hook your ears, make you think, burrow their way into your brain, and maybe alter your taste in music for the better.

As the online reaction to our review of Jinjer’s recent EP Micro demonstrated, the topic of women in metal remains as contentious as ever – but Macro is yet another nail in sexism’s coffin. Although that mindset won’t be buried alive quietly, it still belongs deep in the ground, muffled into silence and irrelevance by gritty riffs, fractured grooves, and bestial growls. Jinjer have publicly stated that Macro is their most intense, brutal, and uninhibited outing to date, and it certainly represents yet another defiant middle finger aimed at ironically conservative, oppressive, and narrow-minded music fans.

At this point, Jinjer must be used to beating the odds. Plenty of bands fail despite forming in famous and comfortable Western cities, from London to Los Angeles – yet Jinjer emerged from war-torn Ukraine and made their mark early on with 2012’s Inhale, Don’t Breathe, a promising blend of Protest the Hero-style tech-metal and Killswitch Engage-evoking metalcore. After being officially declared the best metal band in Ukraine by local record label ІnshaMuzyka, Jinjer catapulted themselves into the international spotlight with 2014’s Cloud Factory. Plenty of touring followed, as Jinjer began pummelling their audiences with catchier, punchier, and more technically accomplished songs.

Then, in 2016, King of Everything changed everything. Most of Jinjer’s most-viewed videos relate to a set of songs cherry-picked from that utterly flawless long-player – an acquired taste for some, and love at first listen for many other new converts. Cue a whole other level of attention, acceptance, criticism, and success – all setting the stage for the frenziedly devoured Micro. The official video for that EP’s lead single “Perennial” racked up 250,000 views in just one day – but Macro contains some outright bangers that easily rival anything in Jinjer’s back catalog.

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Jinjer are best considered as composers rather than songwriters, placing the tiniest details under a microscope and tweaking them until everything flows perfectly – and the depth of meaning behind each word is particularly impressive. Macro’s opening track “On the Top” identifies the psychological and interpersonal consequences of neurotically motivated ambition; “Pit of Consciousness” peers into a mind riddled with mental health issues; and “Home Back” spotlights the war in Ukraine using a combination of vicious musicianship and off-kilter humor. “Retrospection” references “Dreadful Moments” (a Micro song about child abuse penned by bassist Eugene Abdukhanov), while explaining that Tatiana Shmailyuk did not experience it herself – and additional references to Micro pop up during “The Prophecy” and “lainnereP”, the latter an ambient reimagining of “Perennial”.

There are so many levels and layers to Macro that it will take a while for listeners to really get into it. Still, when you take the time to dig as deep as possible into Jinjer’s work, you come away with even more respect for this band of tenacious outliers. That’s the defining mark of truly exceptional artistry – and Jinjer have it etched into their DNA.

SCORE: 10/10

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