For reasons that will become more than apparent when you hear “Wallflowers”, JINJER are currently being touted as metal’s next big thing. And that, in itself, is cause for celebration. Because while the Ukrainian quartet undoubtedly tick plenty of modern metal boxes, their fourth album displays the exact same disregard for convention or expectation that made them so interesting in the first place. Far from a big label push toward commercial acceptance, “Wallflowers” is a brave and adventurous thing, with multiple moments of monstrous brutality and elegant, progressive ingenuity. If JINJER‘s first three albums didn’t make it plain enough, this sonically immense leap forward proudly proclaims the band’s inherent oddness.
Opener “Call Me A Symbol” offers an uncompromising reminder of JINJER‘s extreme instincts. Its first half, a blur of churning deathcore riffs and angular about-turns; its second half, a swirling, ethereal post-metal detour. “Colossus” is even more savage, with vocalist Tatiana Shmayluk demonstrating how ridiculously powerful her growls and screams have become over the years, but with those sweet, melodic refrains wrenching the rug from under listeners’ feet with tangible glee. Shmayluk adds soaring but skewed melodies to most of these songs, and there are certainly moments that, at first glance, seem to be a shade or two more commercial than any previous JINJER material. But even the intermittently hummable likes of “Vortex” and “Disclosure!” have their wild and intricate moments of brute force: the former ends with a disgusting, staccato death metal riff that will have most diehard metalheads pulling the face, while the latter has a bona fide, singalong chorus woven into a dense maze of wonky riffs and textural shimmer.
“Wallflowers” reaches a peak of efficacy on the righteously slamming “Sleep Of The Righteous”, which switches seamlessly from groove metal attack to atmospheric drift and back again, Shmayluk‘s incisive vocals effortlessly cutting through the churn. In contrast, Wallflower” is a more delicate, spectral affair. Both the most overtly prog-friendly song on the record and arguably its most accessible, it’s still driven by JINJER‘s cracked-mirror musical ethos and steadily mutates into a volcanic melodrama with Shmayluk‘s untamed versatility a gripping vocal point. Similarly, “As I Boil Ice” is at least 50 percent gorgeous and otherworldly, its darker moments highlighting the Ukrainians’ exquisite grasp of dynamics and their emotional power.
The closing “Mediator” is an almost perfect encapsulation of the fluid formula that has reached peak potency here: initially bewildering but, a few listens in, as rich and rewarding as fans will have hoped, it’s a triumph for ideas, instinct and individuality, with massive riffs erupting from every angle and one of the finest vocalists in metal letting rip with enhanced authority. Never mind the hype, JINJER are obviously brilliant, and “Wallflowers” is an ambitious and creatively honest modern metal record that we can all believe in.