On my nineteenth birthday, I spent the night going to London’s various downtown bars with some friends. At one point in the night, I turned my back on one of them for about five seconds and heard a thud. I looked over, and saw my friend hobbling and grabbing his knee near a shallow pit in a construction zone. “It’s not too bad now, but this is going to really hurt in the morning” he said. I’ve still got no idea what his intention was or what glory he thought he could achieve by doing whatever it is he did, but the aftermath was confusing and a little bit funny nonetheless. Apply this to music, and you’ve got the essence of King of Everything, the second record by Ukraine’s Jinjer.
Jinjer play a combination of groove metal, metalcore, and nu metal. Vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk does some screams, growls, aggressive spoken-word poetry, and clean vocals over top of it. If Issues didn’t try to be the combination of metalcore, Flo-Rida, and R Kelly that they are and instead were just another metalcore band, they’d probably sound like Jinjer. There’s some Memphis May Fire in here, but Jinjer seems to go out of their way to be less catchy than those guys. Old Parkway Drive with less discount brand Gothenburg influences is another fine comparison, but again, King of Everything isn’t as catchy. Essentially, you can expect some simple modern nu-djent chugging, some arbitrary techy parts, some poppy metalcore parts, and some knockoff Devildriver1 groove riffs.
With the above in mind, I feel obliged to point out that Shmailyuk has an impressive set of pipes when she puts them to proper use. “Beggar’s Dance” is the best example of this and the best track on King of Everything. In a confounding turn of events, it’s essentially a slightly restrained samba track that has nothing to do with the rest of the record, replete with a Santana style solo and scat vocals. Intro track “Prologue” isn’t awful, revolving around a simple but somewhat catchy vocal line. “Captain Clock” wisely lets Shmailyuk’s clean vocals take the lead around the 3:30 mark, and it’s the best proper (read: not samba) moment on the record. Her vocals are almost strong enough to carry the largely uninteresting chugging part underneath, so it ends up being less lugubrious than the rest of the material.
The negative aspects here are legion. I haven’t the foggiest idea who King of Everything is intended for, unless there’s some horrible underground nu-metal fan club that wants to be the scintillating combination of eyes-glazed-over bored and quietly enraged while having a crippling existential crisis knowing that they’re edging ever closer to death listening to something so tepid that it gives warm Corona2 a run for its money. There’s almost no sense in naming particular songs, because they uniformly follow a pattern of rote djent-lite staccato chugging, bass intrusions somewhere between Mudvayne and Korn in style, and choruses that seem to go out of their way to be as unmemorable as possible (the latter being possibly the most avant-garde approach to metal I’ve ever heard). “Words of Wisdom” is an example of this, sporting a chorus that sounds like the excellent one in “Nevermore” from Symphony X’s Underworld sans everything that made it great. At a downright torturous six minutes in length, “I Speak Astronomy” sees Shmailyuk delivering some quality pop vocals in the middle over a riff so bad that this compositional choice could be aptly described as wanton self-sabotage. “Pisces” begins as a bland but fairly tolerable ballad, but proceeds to gleefully drive itself off a cliff, Thelma and Louise style, when it switches to being “heavy” instead. This “heavy” bit uses ostensibly the same riff, but without the nice guitar effects and with Shmailyuk using her maladroit harsh vocals instead of her solid clean vocals it becomes clear how boring the whole ordeal is, especially when it’s content to switch between these two modes for five minutes straight and do nothing else.
I have nothing else to say about King of Everything, because it’s so inessential, so boring, and so forgettable that even writing about it is a chore. I could mention the production, I guess; clean but not sterile, essentially brickwalled, overtly present bass, factory-setting distorted guitar. Every time I hit play on any Jinjer track on my laptop, it would freeze for a few seconds. As this only happened when listening to Jinjer, it leads me to believe my laptop gained sentience and became worried about me, thinking that the audial self-harm I was perpetrating would make Kvarforth, on one of his edgier days, a bit concerned. I trust that you, dear reader, are sentient; make the right choice.