Saturday, July 30, 2016

Album Review: Jinjer - "King of Everything"

Part of the beauty of music that different genres can originate in one place and then be assimilated, permutated and regurgitated in a new but still recognizable form.  Punk, and the various derivatives thereof, were one of the cardinal genres to exhibit this behavior, as it became the music of choice for upstarts and protest groups the world over in the Cold War era.  Hardcore and metal, both spiritually descended at least somewhat from that paternal genre, followed suit, and now we have Jinjer, arguably the loudest and most explosive band to emerge from Ukraine.

Jinjer is a band that makes an amalgam of a plethora of different styles and throws them with intentional haphazard at the listener, dished out in any ol’ order, consumed in a frantic rush.  The base of the band’s idiom lies in the roots of dirty, unrefined hardcore, the downward pressure of decades of grime and distortion cooking a bizarre gemstone unearthed as a sort of anthropological study of the genre as it currently lives.

One part angry hardcore and one part punk sensibility, Jinjer also mixes in some metal, both experimental and conventional with a visual dose of a post-modern Rosie the Riveter, all messily blended together and turned irrefutably to eleven.

 Their new record “King of Everything” does a lot of things.  That’s the end of that sentence, it doesn’t require a qualifier like ‘well.’  It just plain does a lot of things.  The mix of clean and harsh vocals coming from front woman extraordinaire Tatiana Shmailyuk gives the album an interesting dichotomy, moreso becomes it seems somewhat impossible that such divergent sounds could all come from one person.  Nevertheless, her vocal performance as it rages through “Captain Clock” or “Sit Stay Roll Over” serves as a microcosm of what Jinjer is trying to achieve with their music on the whole.

The sludge of the album breaks up creatively in a few spots, most notably in a cut right in the middle, “I Speak Astronomy.”  It’s here that we see some real versatility within the structure (if it can be called such without insult,) where Jinjer varies the pace and the style to suit two different moods.  The beginning is the natural smasher and banger that fans have come to appreciate from the band, but the second half is a different story, an airy and much lighter idiom that injects some atmosphere into the record right when it reaches a stifling apex.

Which probably paints a solid picture of what’s going on here overall.  “King of Everything” does try a few tricks, but nearly always couched within their base musical style, which in many cases suffocates the experiment.  There are some interesting experimental sections, particularly on the back half of the record as it careens into “Pisces,” but there’s a lot of noise in the surrounding margins that can make it difficult to discern.

It’s hard to recommend “King of Everything” unilaterally, as the acerbic quality of the music and the brash confidence exhibited within can be a hard sell for many listeners.  For those patient enough to sift and dissect the album, it’s a record not altogether different than MaYaN’s “Antagonize” from a couple years back, though for different reasons.  A challenging listen, but not a wholly unrewarding one.

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