Review: JinjerMicro EP

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Mutations are the engines of change; they brought our ancestors from the oceans, lifted us to our feet and folded our brains into maze-like structures capable of great artistry and depravity (see Picasso’s Guernica and Uwe Boll’s filmography). Our proliferation across the planet has created a massive Petri dish within which concepts and cultures evolve with alarming speed. The cross-pollination of musical styles is particularly fertile ground, spawning bizarre entities every day, most of which pale in comparison to the oddity that is Jinjer.

Nü-tech? Lady MeshugGaga? Attempting to pare down Micro to a single genre can only lead to an unethical number of hyphens and an aneurysm, so let’s call them metal with myriad influences. This EP carries vestiges of styles that went out of vogue decades ago, recombining them into something unpredictable and refreshing. Within the first minute of the opening track, “Ape,” Tatiana Shmailyuk tackles beefy groove metal screams (somewhere in Virginia, Randy Blythe retreats with his tail between his legs) and sings with the melodrama of Pat Benatar. The complex rhythms of Roman Ibramkhalilov (guitar) and Eugene Kostyuk (bass) mix dissimilar sounds as well: tangled tech riffs meet the drop-Z tuning and slap bass of nü-metal, creating songs both punishing and playful.

The frequent shifts between tranquil and abrasive atmospheres, between retro and modern sounds, would be a disaster without songwriting skills and conviction. Thankfully, Jinjer understand how to balance the catchiness of pop with the rush of ignorant heaviness. When “Dreadful Moments” reaches the first break in its barrage, the riffing becomes almost weightless, soothing, a lullaby played on a distorted baritone guitar. Tatiana’s crooning envelops listeners, at times evoking Janis Joplin‘s ragged blues before the calm collapses and the cradle falls to the earth. Authenticity is usually the first victim when a singer (or band, for that matter) is spread too thin over multiple techniques, but she remains convincing throughout, wringing every possible emotion from her vocal cords.

Micro is incredibly dense for its short runtime (just over 20 minutes), and each track is brimming with creative ideas. The layering of Tatiana’s voice is particularly clever: an assortment of melodies, mini solos and spoken word segments (played through a lovably old-school radio filter) that adds nuance as they fade in and out. The band’s experiments with genre taboo unfold so naturally that even gatekeepers will pause for a second, consulting their user manuals to determine if what they’ve heard is, in fact, acceptable. Sections of “Ape” fuse frosty black metal with the extended range of djent, and “Teacher, Teacher!” begins with a rapped verse dripping with attitude.

Jinjer’s tight rhythm section prevents the EP from collapsing under the weight and sheer variety of its compositions. Vladislav Ulasevish is the definition of a pocket drummer, always following the song and reserving the stroking for the snare drum. The clear, punchy production gives his kit a live feel, making the occasional blastbeat all the more bruising. After the thrashy D-beats that introduce “Perennial,” he lays down a delicate groove as all distortion fades away for the second half of the song. Clean guitar and bass engage in an echoing call-and-response riff beneath Tatiana’s vocals in a lucid moment amidst the chaos.

Jinjer are a volatile specimen, an organism in rapid transformation before our eyes. They’ve slipped beyond the old ways of evolution, the steady process of a thousand millennia, and fly toward an unmapped horizon. Is this sustainable? Will they emerge unscathed from the constant destruction and reformation of their genetic code? There is only one certainty—whatever they become will be something new and strange.

4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

Micro is out now on Bandcamp.

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