Jinjer Showcase Complexity and Perseverance on Their Final Shows of the Year

The past couple of years have been a whirlwind for Jinjer, to say the very least. The Ukrainian metal group has steadily been making their way to the forefront in the current wave of heavy acts thanks to their distinct, groove-laden and technical sound as well as the astounding vocal acrobatics of frontwoman Tatiana Shmailyuk. With glowing endorsements from bands like our very own Slipknot and a rapidly growing fanbase over the course of their first three albums, Cloud Factory, King of Everything and Macro, Jinjer have become a powerful testament to how far metalcore has come and how limitless it can actually be.

Yes, there are the expected breakdowns, guttural riffs, and rapid-fire drumming, but no two Jinjer songs ever sound the same thanks to the band’s incorporation of various genres and song structures. Every track is taken on its own musical journey through bouts of jazz, reggae, thrash, funk and other surprising inspirations while still maintaining the singular Jinjer sound. That’s no easy feat.

With tight and infectious melodies from guitarist Roman Ibramkhalivov and the crushingly heavy rhythms of bassist Eugene Abdukhanov and drummer Vlad Ulasevich, the band’s technical prowess is also a prominent element that calls to mind the strength of some of the world’s best progressive metal bands.

There’s no better showcase for Jinjer’s sonic adventurousness than their latest album, Wallflowers. Released in the second half of 2021, a global pandemic seemed to give the Ukrainian metalheads a reason to throw caution to the wind and create their most eclectic and fully-realized collection of songs to date.

Each headbanging track sounds like it’s been given the proper time to be developed, explored and perfected, but as Ulasevich tells it, even something like COVID-19 barely slowed their usually hectic schedule down. “We never actually stopped. We played shows even in the pandemic, in places like Germany where everybody was sitting at a table, drinking beer. We joke about it, but we played our first stadium show then and there were like, small bungalows for two people. Whole stadium, everyone sitting. We did have two regular shows in Switzerland with mosh pits and no masks.”

We’re chatting on the tour bus just outside of The Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Jinjer is setting up to kick off the second leg of their current U.S. tour. Just a year ago, they came through with Suicide Silence and laid waste to The Underground next door. The fact that they’re now playing in a venue more than twice the capacity such a short time later with an arena-sized show is further evidence of the band’s rapid rise.

It’s something that Ulasevich may still be getting used to. “A lot of people like going to the show to see huge productions. Screens, slides, everything.” he tells me. “I have a good story. When we were in Australia, we had an opportunity to go to a Gojira show in a venue, not at a festival. And the venue was not so big. I think it was maybe 1,800 capacity or something like that. When you see such a huge band in such a small place, like no huge production screens or anything, you can just listen to how the musicians play their instruments. It was amazing. I like this.”

Jinjer arrived back in the States at the very start of November following a flurry of summer festival appearances around the world as well as a long-awaited fall tour of South America. They traveled from California all the way to New York and then immediately hopped back on a plane to Australia, where they played a brief tour Down Under only to return right back to the States for even more shows. That’s bound to give anyone, seasoned touring musician or not, some serious whiplash. “That’s pretty normal.” Ulasevich admits. “When we played all those festivals over the summer we had like forty flights. All the shows involved flights. Like today I’ve had no time to sleep. I woke up at 5 AM because of jetlag. At 8:30 we arrived here at the venue and I’ve had a lot of work to do with my drum tech.”

That sense of normalcy is possibly a welcome comfort for Ulasevich, his bandmates and their crew considering the tragically abnormal circumstance they found themselves in at the beginning of 2022. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forced the group into an obvious state of career reassessment; further promotion for Wallflowers (including a massive arena tour spot alongside In This Moment and Slipknot) was put on indefinite hold while the focus shifted to the safety of their friends and families and support of their home country. Music was probably the last thing on anybody’s mind. After a few months, the band finally reappeared as official ambassadors for their nation, deemed as such by the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, and have been back at it with a newfound sense of fire and aggression, but obvious heavy hearts as well.

A tour like this comes with the difficulty of having to walk the fine line of needing to acknowledge the ongoing conflict while also understandably not wanting to talk about it at all. Thankfully, the very first act of the night - fellow Ukrainian artists Space of Variations - decided to tackle the sore subject head-on. After blasting through a frenzy of synth and electronica-laced metalcore off their album IMAGO, the band paused the set midway to share some moving words that felt like the mission statement of the entire tour.

As supportive cheers and chants began to ring out from the crowd, they discussed the terrors of the war but asked that the audience only focus on one thing: Love. “If these hard times have taught us anything it’s to be grateful for your loved ones and to hold them close.” they shared in a genuine and emotionally raw moment. They then proceeded to set off mosh pits and crowd surfers with a song called “Fuck This Place Up”, so you were really getting the best of both worlds at this show.

There was a noticeably large amount of Slipknot shirts in the audience that night (including my own) and they all began to congregate near the back in preparation for the next band on the bill, the almighty Malevolence. While their distinct mix of brutal hardcore and sludgy Southern metal may lead you to believe that they must be from someplace like Texas, these boys actually hail from Sheffield, South Yorkshire over in England. As the band tore through tracks from new album Malicious Intent (“One of my favorites this year” Ulasevich tells me, along with the new Fit for an Autopsy), a rather large and enthusiastic ruckus broke out in the crowd. Sweat began to fly as the tangle of bodies ebbed and flowed to the breakdown-heavy onslaught.

Fans would go down hard in the circle pit only to be immediately helped back up by dozens of different friendly hands. And in the second surprise of the night, the band found the space to have guitarist Konan Hall take lead vocals on the slower and heart-wrenching song “Higher Place”. It was their first show of the tour, having replaced Vended from the first leg, and they left a very strong impression.

“They’re both good bands. They’re good musicians.” Ulasevich says about Space of Variations and Malevolence. As we discuss the wide range of styles that both his band and the others provide on this tour, he makes note of just how smoothly the different groups of fans have been mixing at the shows. “I like heavy music because it's heavy. I like breakdowns, heavy guitar riffing, anything like that. But I also think it’s weird when you go and listen to like, five deathcore bands in a row.”

That mentality certainly shines through with the decision to have none other than California icons P.O.D. act as direct support for this tour. As drastically different as the nu-metal pioneers may initially appear and sound, it became blatantly clear once they took the stage in Charlotte that night that they were bringing the same kind of sonic fury as their “heavier” counterparts.

With his signature dreads flying in every direction, Sonny Sandoval rapped, screamed and sang laps around the venue like the seasoned professional he and his longtime bandmates have become. Like the best artists of their era, P.O.D.’s bold mix of genres makes them defy easy categorization. There’s everything from hip-hop to fast-paced bursts of punk to easy-going reggae to massive rock choruses and beyond in their extensive catalog, and they did a solid job representing each era of their career throughout the high-energy set.

Classics like “Alive” and “Youth of the Nation” had the crowd singing loud and proud, but it was the double whammy of a new heavy song called “Drop” and old school banger “Southtown” that launched everyone into a frenzy. Excitement had reached an all-time high in the building.

Jinjer’s headlining set is relentless. With little to no breaks, it’s genuinely incredible to witness these musicians perform such complex feats with strong consistency for well over an hour. The peaks and valleys of the music itself at least offer a bit of functional respite (for both the band and the crowd) which helps them straddle that fine line of overwhelming brutality and engaging melodics. So much of that hinges on the otherworldly talent of Shmailyuk, and she had the Charlotte audience eating out of the palm of her hand the whole night. “Good evening, Charlotte! It’s so good to see you tonight, it’s so good to be back!” she cheerfully shouted out.

“This year we’ve been running around this world to spread the word about our country and the shit it’s been going through. Thank you guys so much for your support and your kindness. And for our next song we would like to send a message to fucking Putin that we want our home back!” The pit opened back up and bodies got moving as the band pushed and pulled between vicious blast beasts, jazzy yet haunting interludes, and soul-infused grooves throughout the night. The new songs gelled together perfectly with the old ones. “We just added my two favorite songs from the Wallflowers album for this tour.” Ulasevich tells me. “As I Boil Ice and Dead Hands Feel No Pain.” It’s easy to see why, as both songs stood out in the set thanks to their interesting musical dynamics in between the more standard-ish hardcore fare like “Who Is Gonna Be the One” or “Captain Clock”.

The weather had been cold and wet for days, so thanks to the majority of the crowd wearing more than one layer of clothing, The Fillmore heated up very quickly. The center of the swirling mosh pit became a sweaty mess that you were forced to either accept or steer clear from - I’m sure the smell more so than the violence eventually became an issue for some of the more sensitive concertgoers. But that’s the sure sign of a wildly successful metal show, one filled with camaraderie and just the right kind of unhinged energy.

Jinjer and their fellow musicians had all delivered exactly what the crowd was looking for that evening, and with this being a Wednesday night, they also probably became responsible for a lot of work call-ins the next day. I certainly wasn’t looking forward to going back to work in the morning after a heavy workout like that.

It’s time for Ulasevich and the rest of the band to get ready for the night’s meet and greets. As we exit the bus, I ask him if, after everything everyone’s been through the past couple of years, whether anything has changed in the relationship and connection with their fans. “No.” he tells me with a smile. “I don’t see any difference.” I walk past the line of VIP ticket holders in line outside the venue. One girl at the front has been here for hours. Someone finally arrives to bring them all in to meet the band and the expression of pure elation on her and the others’ faces is the strongest indicator that Jinjer are doing immeasurably important work by still being out here and touring. They just so happen to also kick ass while doing it.

Jinjer are currently on tour across the United States with P.O.D., Malevolence and Space of Varations. They then head over to the U.K. and Europe with Bullet for My Valentine and Atreyu next year. Check out all of the upcoming dates below and get tickets HERE.