Hailing from Ukraine, Jinjer embarked on their first US tour in early spring of 2018 with extreme-metal act Cradle of Filth. While most would say this is kind of a jarring mashup of metal genres, it kind of worked - sorta. I don’t think Cradle of Filth fans are necessarily fans of Jinjer, and vice-versa. Jinjer offers a true diverse mix of death, progressive, djent, and metalcore styles, while Cradle of Filth is you know, Cradle of Filth. It was actually quite weird to see the core kids come out to play with the Cradle crowd, but Cradle’s crowd, at least for the last 15 years, has also been pretty diverse since they traversed through their Hot Topic days.
Anyway, I have been a fan of Jinjer for a few years, and I was thrilled I had the opportunity to see them for the first time. Especially with the current political climate, I was especially thankful they got their visas in order and got the proper clearance to come tour here. What has always been super interesting about their music, is that although they have a very “core” aspect of their sound (and wardrobe, apparently), they seem to draw fans across all metal genres. And, okay, I will try to say this once, and only once - Tatiana Shmailyuk is queen.
While we are trying to move past saying a band is “female-fronted”, the uprising of specifically female-fronted growlers calls for comparison by its very nature. Tatiana is hands-down, the best. After this show I attended in NY, my fears of her being altered by some vocal production tech were quelled. Her raw, brutal, dark, and beautiful growls are real - and she navigates her technique with such ease. On top of this, she can sing - and she can sing in a variety of styles. I am totally blown away by her versatility as a vocalist. Unfortunately, it is also pretty clear that she is without a shadow of a doubt, the best part of the band.
The music Jinjer is making at the moment is unremarkable, and the rest of the musicians are pretty average at best. The djenty moments are far from having to be too technical, and if there was another vocalist in the band, I doubt they would be having as much success. I hate to say that, but I find most people I’ve spoken to about them agree on this point. I also have to say, their choice of stagewear was...out of place. Tatiana sported “weed-pants” (yes), and the rest of the band members had the classic “hardcore guys with hats” look that confused plenty on what type of show they were listening to.
While looks shouldn’t mean anything, I think people DO expect something based on what a band comes out wearing, and I actually did hear these confused opinions from others on their “questionable wardrobe”, mainly from people who were hearing the band for the very first time. First impressions are important, and I’d like to introduce Jinjer to people as not “Just Another” *winky face* metalcore band. They did put on a great show with a ton of high energy...except now that I’m thinking about it, perhaps it was just Tatiana putting on a great show. When you have pure talent like that fronting a band, why do anything else?
They opened the show with a song off of 2014s "Cloud Factory" (recently reissued on Nuclear Blast) “Who’s Gonna Be The One”, which is a great opener with a chorus that consists of literally just the song title, perfect to get people energized for the rest of their set. I wouldn’t, however, say this song characterizes Jinjer’s sound, which I find to be a bit more melodic. Next up in their set were songs from their triumphant 2016 release King of Everything, which included “Words of Wisdom”, “Sit Stay Roll Over”, “I Speak Astronomy”, “Just Another”, “Pisces”, “Captain Clock”, and “Beggar’s Dance”. It seemed that they fortunately had enough time to play most songs off of that album, which I think is a better representation of what the band is doing now and where they will be going.
The recent reissue of Cloud Factory was a bit confusing, as many believe this to be their latest album. If that were true, I would be disappointed that they were heading towards a more “core” sound, but fortunately for fans of King of Everything, this was an older sound. Their setlist only consisted of four tracks from Cloud Factory, and are probably the more progressive of the album. The end of the set included the tracks “Outlander”, “No Hoard of Value”, and “Cloud Factory”. Overall, I was thrilled with the setlist, and would urge ANYONE who has found them intriguing to check them out either at the end of this tour, or hopefully on their next.
As a side note, Cradle of Filth cancelled their show the night before in Baltimore due to Dani Filth having some sort of flu. I was worried they would cancel again for NY, but the show went on. Just have to say - Dani sounded phenomenal. I sincerely hope he didn’t hurt his voice screaming like that when he should have been on vocal rest...