If you heard an almighty thud at the end of last week, it was no doubt the sound of Wallflowers, the latest full-length from Ukrainian prog-metallers Jinjer. To say the record was anticipated would be an understatement: even those who consider themselves ‘casual’ fans of Jinjer stood waiting with bated breath for this release.
Since kicking in the doors with 2012’s Inhale, Don’t Breathe, Jinjer have amassed a legion of followers all over the world, and with all eyes on them, they’ve decided to use their moment for good, by using Wallflowers as an opportunity to not just talk, but goddamn scream, about an oft neglected issue: the perils of being a Wallflower.
“Wallflower, what a wonderful word,” lead guitarist Eugene Abdukhanov reminisces to BLUNT. The phrase is often used often to describe those that are socially awkward, lingering against a wall at the back of the room rather than being amongst the humans in the centre. It was a word and concept the band realised didn’t only align seamlessly with the album artwork, then already signed, sealed and delivered, “but also the vibe of the whole album.”
“Every song is a wallflower,” vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk interjects, “A living being”.
“Let’s imagine the situation”, she continues. “If you enter a room – like a ball, for example – you see a lot of people dancing; but a lot of people are just standing near the wall. You can actually apply every single song to each [of these people near the wall].
Tatiana points to the album’s penultimate track, ‘As I Boil Ice’ – a heavy-hitting homage to the perils of feeling useless – as an example. “You look at the person near the wall and this person’s probably thinking, ‘Damn, I’m so useless. Everything I do makes no sense.’
“It’s not angry music-wise, because music always has been aggressive in Jinjer. But lyrically, I think it is passive aggressive.”
“You switch your attention to another person standing by this one for example.” Continuing the metaphor, Tatiana points to the next subject, ‘Sleep Of The Righteous’, a song born in the fires of her personal battle with sleep paralysis. “This person is suffering from sleep paralysis and constantly exhausted, having no rest. I don’t know if you’re familiar with this disorder, sleeping paralysis – It’s a terror.”
The magic of Jinjer’s songwriting is that it’s so expensive, there’s plenty of cracks for fans to insert their own meaning, and as such, Wallflowers is open to interpretation. But when asked if they feel this is an album by and for the introvert – the feelers and anti-socials of the world – both Eugene and Tatiana seem comfortable, eager even, to accept that label.
Another label being widely associated with Wallflowers is that it’s an ‘angry’ album. It might seem contrasting – impossible, even – that an album with such noble intentions as to give a voice to a large crowd of voiceless people could be angry; but again, when asked for their feelings on whether it’s an angry record, Jinjer are adamant: “It is angry,” Tatiana says. “Oh, it is. It is, for sure,” Eugene agrees.
Tatiana expands on this: “It’s not angry music-wise, because music always has been aggressive in Jinjer. But lyrically, I think it is passive-aggressive.”
It’s a topic steeped in anger, and Euegene explains that as such, any communication is going to come out accordingly. “Wallflower people, introverted people, are often very angry at the outer world because it is hard for them to self-express. I always knew that Tatiana herself, It’s hard for her to communicate with the outer world because she’s introverted. I think by means of the lyrics she wrote on this album, she managed to speak about her issues, share all the problems she had and people all around the world will be able to resonate.”
With Wallflowers, Eugene adds that the band hopes to deliver a Rosette stone, of sorts, for those who struggle with meshing with the greater society, “For some it’s easy to communicate, for some people it’s easier to socialise with other people. For introverts, it’s difficult and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
It’s a sentiment that Tatiana agrees with and indeed takes it further, explaining her own personal mission with Wallflowers, to seek out and engage with other introverts throughout the world, “If you understand it, it’s going to be easier for you to interact with these people and for introverts. The main thing that I don’t like to communicate with outer world is that no one understands who the fuck introverts are. For example, some of the people I met, they’ve never even heard such terms. I was like, damn, well, all right. And I really hate explaining myself. So I’d rather explain myself through music.”
“I’m looking for like-minded people through this album.”
Wallflowers is out now via Napalm Records