Excuse the direct wording used to start this off but let’s be honest, at the time our mindsets were: here comes another tour, another international band spreading its metaphorical wings for its first-ever tour down under and yes we were bloody excited and ready to have our ear canals punished yet again by another insanely talented band!
For so long Australian lovers of metal and all things heavy had been spoilt rotten with countless tours of nearly every heavy metal band this world has produced gracing us with their presence and prowess year after year. Now, before a hand reaches out of the page and proceeds to choke me I must point out, us Australian’s on the East Coast are the spoilt ones…. now the breathing can get back to normal and we can continue to get into what very well may be one of the coolest ways for a live album to come to life and to continue existing until the end of (our) times in the form of being released on all platforms.For Ukrainian juggernaut Jinjer this wasn’t just any tour, this was a debut, an adventure into uncharted waters and a test (of sorts) to see how far a reach the almighty quartet had spread its version of progressive, abrasive and downright gritty metal sound to the said metal masses!
Now, unless you were stranded on a deserted island (in which I strongly suggest you return immediately for a little while longer) or you were the only human left on earth without the “interwebs” then you all know what happened at the end of March in 2020.
But let’s not focus on that because us metalheads are positive folk and you readers want to know what the hell I’m building up to here! Well, a chat with Eugene Abdiukhanov, the bass player of Jinjer who was able to give us a real insight into their latest offering entitled Alive In Melbourne.
It was early March and Jinjer were making their way around this mighty continent at a rate of knots that only few can maintain. As they headed into Melbourne’s iconic Max Watts (formerly the HiFi Bar for those playing at home) to grace the locals with another blistering show a proposal was given to the band – a single human would offer and record their Melbourne live set in full!
“We didn’t even plan to make it, it was this spontaneous decision, we decided to do the recording during the soundcheck in Melbourne,” Eugene informs us. “Somebody just showed up and told us there is this guy who wants to do the video, make a video recording and we said ok we will make audio on our side, and this is how it happened! There was no percolation there was no plan, making a recording in Melbourne wasn’t on our list at all, and here we are with a live album!”
Just like that Alive In Melbourne was born out of a late off the cuff decision and it captured what would be for a select few thousand metal fans a chunk of what would be the last international band we would see still to this day.
“It’s important to know but on the other hand it’s the biggest thing because I wish things were different,” Eugene continued. “I wish everyone was enjoying other bands shows who would have been on tour. In a perfect world/ parallel universe I wish things were like that, but it is what it is and we need to be strong and go through this shape happening now and I’m sure the world will be able to get back to normal life!”
That being said we’re all learning what is becoming a new normal and it’s no secret that the world will be different after the fact. But will this pause (in a live music sense) or stifle our love for live music? Well, speaking for others isn’t a normal pass time for me but on this occasion, I will stand on an imaginary soapbox and scream “Hell no it won’t” *insert fist in the air here. When asking Eugene the reply was deep and honest.
“I cannot wait for this,” he enthused. “I’m looking forward to the day where I will go on stage in front of 1000 people the same way we did in Melbourne, no masks, everyone shoulder to shoulder like fish in a can and we will start playing and they will start moshing and there will be this energy, this is what I’m waiting for”
This is the point where it must be noted on how levelled Eugene is as an artist displaying examples of being no different to the fans that endorse Jinjer for what they have produced thus far in their 11-year career. Not only does this transpire during a live set but one on one it is more clearly evident.
“I do not see the point of soaring in the sky,” he measured. “There is no elitism and this is what we have been baring in these bands since the very beginning. There is no point to look down at people. A lot of bands these days do because they play very well, they play a lot of notes (laughs) but who cares how many notes you play? It’s a matter of whether people back the music, this is the hardcore attitude which we have, and we will always have because of our roots and our foundation. None of us (in Jinjer) started playing as progressive metal musicians. We played hardcore, we played nu-metal we played music that moves you and that’s it and throughout the years we learned to play our musical instruments. We ballooned into a progressive metal band and we started playing something difficult and complicated although the true nature of use, the core is still there and it’s hardcore! The main thing is making people move, to make people mosh and people enjoy it at a live show, this is the message”.
Alive in Melbourne is raw, energetic and captures the true essence of a heavy live show. The pure ferocity of the recording will have the listener engaged in its clarity and in its constant bulldozer loads of sound. Including the intro and outro, it totals 17 tracks and does not let up the entire time. From moments were singer Tatiana Shmailyuk addresses the crowd with a sassy “Who’s gonna be the one? Hmmm I wonder?” before belting into said track whilst Eugene Abdiukhanov (Bass) and Vladislav Ulasevich (Drums) lock-in near impossible rhythm the entire time and Roman Ibramkhalilov (Guitar) delivers pounding riff after pounding riff.
“This is the point,” Eugene nodded. “Music must be true. Music must be open and must come naturally. There’s no overthinking, it’s either yes or no, there is nothing in between.”
Now for the basic and straight forward question. What is the coolest moment you’ve ever experienced in your 9 years of being the bass player in Jinjer?
“It is very hard to pick one,” Eugene almost apologized. “It’s just impossible because of all the things that are happening to us over the 9 years since I joined the band. They all were cool in its own way in its own time. You know when we were a small band playing to 30 people and just had a small old and shabby van which sometimes hard to drive because it was falling to pieces, but we did it and that was cool in its own way. Then we became a relatively known underground band and it was cool to play sold-out concerts but for two to 300 people here and there and then we bring it to (and become) an internationally acclaimed band, and in the last year we’ve played these sold-out tours and this year we played a sold-out tour in Australia!. Coming so far from home and being our first time in Australia and seeing all these people who came just to see you and we were giving exactly what they were asking for which is music. This is a brilliant and perfect interaction from fans to the band, it’s very pure! We give them something and they give it back, this is the energy, and that is very special”.
It’s no secret that times have been tough for travelling musicians with their lives going from being on the road, in the air and living out of suitcases to being stuck at home with nothing but the sounds of the world around them week in a week out. Upon paying a compliment to Eugene in regard to how connected Jinjer is to its fans, a moment of emotion crept in when he replied: “You know, talking to you is something that I really needed, its very motivating and you give me some hope… so thanks”.
This giving one example of a touring musician’s hunger to play live again and interact with the fans that believe in them!
With that, we now wait and lay in hope that live music will return and that overseas bands will tour and together we can witness such an act like Jinjer again soon, but for now we have Alive In Melbourne which will be available November 20 via Napalm Records and the bands website.
Do yourself a favour and pre-order yourself a copy, it’s a must for the metal collection!