PHOTOS + REVIEW — JINJER w/ P.O.D., Malevolence, & Space of Variations at Jannus Live 2022

JINJER w/ P.O.D., Malevolence, & Space of Variations • December 13, 2022 • Jannus Live — St. Petersburg, FL • Photos by Randy Cook —

LIVE REIVEW — Jinjer, P.O.D., Malevolence, Space of Variations | December 13, 2022 | Jannus Live, St Petersburg, FL

It was back in June earlier this year as the war between Russia and the Ukraine continued to rage on that my favorite metalcore band, Jinjer, out of the Ukraine, announced that with the support of the Ukrainian Ministry Of Culture, they have been granted a special exemption to exit Ukraine in order to help their countrymen the best way they can – through music. Bassist Eugene Ulasevich states: “We are very honored to announce that together with the help of the Ukrainian Ministry Of Culture, we have successfully been granted permission to travel abroad as ambassadors of our country to raise funds and awareness about the war raging back home. This is a huge honor for us as a band and as citizens. We will do our part to make sure that this war stops as soon as possible! Come support, dance and scream your hearts out for Ukraine!”

Reading that was music to my ears as ever since I discovered Jinjer I have not been able to get enough of their infectious sound and the incredible musicianship across every member of the band. I was even more delighted when a local date was announced at my favorite local outdoor venue, Jannus Live, in St Petersburg, FL on December 13, 2022. It would be a night of some serious metalcore fun as also on the bill were a fellow Ukrainian metalcore band Space of Variations, English groove/metalcore Malevolence who are described as having “…King Kong-size riffs backed by brutal rhythms…” and American Christian metal’s P.O.D. whose music does not really fit into any one category is best described as their “…rap metal sound on their early albums to the nu metal and reggae-infused alternative metal styles…”

Explaining my excitement of seeing this show, my first exposure to Jinjer was hearing them on Sirius/XM in the car one day and not only being blown away by the killer musicianship in this band, I was beyond certain what I was hearing vocally was two different lead singers. Both musically and vocally the song I heard gave way from a soft, peaceful, melodic, almost seraphic female voice to deep male guttural screams that seemed to rise up from the depths of Hell. Holy hell I had to look this band up when I got home! The song I had heard was “Pisces” and later that evening as I watched the video, I recall my jaw dropping when I discovered there was not two vocalists; those two contrasting sounds of angels and demons came from the same person!

Tatiana Shmailyuk is her name and she is the lead vocalist of Jinjer. She has the most incredible vocal range I have ever heard. To say that I was totally blown away by this band when I first heard them is an understatement, and not just for the vocals, musically they are an incredibly talented band and quickly became a staple in my daily listening rotation. So fascinated by Tatiana I was that I watched many of her interviews and discovered she taught herself to death growl by screaming Mudvayne lyrics at passing cars in the Ukraine as she was growing up. In those interviews I saw, she is very soft-spoken and a self-professed introvert but when she gets behind the microphone it is like she is a whole different person. I seriously could not wait for the show date to get here.
The day of the show finally arrived and my buddy The Foz and I made our way to the venue. I picked up my credentials and made my way down to the photo pit area in a totally excited state. While I was somewhat familiar with some of P.O.D’s music, the other two bands I was not familiar with and I have discovered some seriously kick ass bands as openers for bands that were my initial draw to come to the show for and that turned out once again to be the case for this evening. This would also be my first time seeing each of the opening bands.

Also hailing from the Ukraine, Space of Variations kicked off the show and immediately had necks bobbing to their in your face, almost chaotic blend of metal. Their music is described by their label as “…gut-punching hardcore riffs and catastrophic breakdowns with colorful electronics, brutalizing vocals and, at times, trance-like synth – exploring elements of djent, hip-hop and even hyperpop influence along the way .” It was evident they had fans in the crowd, old and new. The most touching moment was when lead singer Dima Kozhuhar appealed to the crowd to love those close to you, speaking about how the band’s families and friends back home were unsafe and in bomb shelters. He stressed the importance of family, both blood and metal, and asked everyone to reach out and tell your family you love them. The band then proceeded to crank into their last song of the night, which about halfway though Dima comes down from the stage and jumps over the rail to continue the song’s vocals in the crowd. What a great start to the night.

Hailing from jolly old England, Malevolence hit the stage next and immediately I was loving the band’s extremely crushing breakdowns as well as excellent growls emanating from lead vocalist Alex Taylor. I enjoyed their sound and stage presence (the crowd did as well), and going in I thought I was unfamiliar with this band but when they hit their last song of the set I immediately recognized it as one I had been enjoying on Sirius/XM the past couple of months. After the show ended and The Foz and I were grabbing a late night bite, this was the band that he raved about as being his favorite of the night. Quoting The Foz, he said “bands from overseas bring their heart and soul it seems…”. Also the ferocity of the pit that ensued during their set almost had The Foz jumping in as he said it would have made him feel young again but knew he would be paying for it the next day. I certainly need to go back and check out more of this band as their breakdowns totally had me trying to headbang and photo at the same time and those two activities do not go well together. This band kicked ass!

I would like to take a second here and give props to the behind the scenes crew. With four bands on a weeknight there was minimal down time in between bands and I even heard someone in the front row along the rail say “…already?” when the lights went down for P.O.D.’s entrance. I could see based on the set times I was provided for the evening that everything was exactly right on time. Without these stage hands none of this could ever happen for us fans.

P.O.D. came out and immediately broke into their rap/rock/funk song “Boom” and let me tell you these guys brought the boom for their entire set! The open hearted spiritual subject of their lyrics mixed with smash your face riffs and breakdowns with a message of peace and spirituality while loving yourself and those around you transcended this band to a higher level for me than I imagined going in. I was familiar with their stuff that I have heard on terrestrial radio, but I was blown away by how much their music drew me in and captured my attention. For “Youth of the Nation’ lead singer Sonny Sandoval brought up several youngsters on stage and had them sing with him during the song. After which he stressed the importance of nurturing our youth and he spoke of his Youth of the Nation Foundation which “…provides a safe haven, especially for those in underprivileged neighborhoods and inner city communities where at-risk youth are given the opportunity to find their self-worth and value. Through the teaching of music, art and mentoring programs these young people can unlock their true potential and talents to lead a happy, healthy and fulfilling life that they deserve. It is up to us to break generational curses and leave behind a new legacy for the next youth of the nation and today is the first day of the rest of our lives.” Wow, what a powerful evening it had already been and we still had the main reason why we came still to go.

The moment we all had been waiting for finally arrived and you could feel the excited apprehension in the air. Right on time the lights dimmed and the crowd screamed their approval as the band hit the stage with a fury. Every song they performed was loud, powerful and aggressive music constructed around the mind-blowing vocal range of Tatiana. She can switch from the soft, sweet, seductiveness of her soul to brutal, gut-wrenching growls. I noticed it right off the first time I heard it this evening, her very soft, almost whisper quiet ‘thank you’ to us in the crowd after each song break. After my three songs in the photo pit and as the show progressed I moved around in the crowd and I heard several others mention and laugh about the same thing – how could this possibly be the same person whose growls and screams just moments ago would have scared Satan out of Hell!

In addition to lead vocalist Tatiana, Jinjer is Roman Ibramkhalilov (guitars), Eugene Ulasevich (bass), and Vladislav Ulasevich (drums) and let me tell you just how technically crisp this band is, I consider them to be the musical masterpiece I had been missing in my life. The intensity of the rhythmic combination of the music mixed with Tatiana’s prowess on stage I would gladly admit this performance was definitely worth waiting for months for. This band is full of explosive energy throughout the entire show and the crowd was more than receptive to show their pleasure during and between songs.

Their set list touched upon all four of their studio releases and the highlights for me included “Judgement (& Punishment)”, “Vortex”, “Pisces” and “Wallflower”. To me each of these songs are brilliant musically and the ones they did play that I was not familiar with, I soon will be! Accordingly during “Judgement (& Punishment)” the entire crowd joined in at the ‘Booyah!’ moment in the song.

Another thing that I noticed is how little chit-chat there was between songs. Sure, Tatiana acknowledged the crowd many times during the songs, but this is a no-nonsense, we came to rock the f*ck out with you guys and let’s get onto the next song kind of band. Sure there was a mention here and there about the war going on back in their home country, but nothing overly political. Sadly their performance came to a close and as the crowd and I were exiting the venue it was easy to see on people’s faces I do not think a single person left the show disappointed. I know I certainly did not and as The Foz and I went for a post-show meal afterwards, he chimed in that it was the best show he had seen in a very long time.

I cannot stress enough that everyone should check this band out live. This was my second time seeing Jinjer perform and I can easily say this show is definitely also near the top of my favorite shows of the year. The musicianship is absolutely top-notch and not to mention the sheer insanity that Tatiana brings on stage. She transitions from that super sweet girl next door with a smile that will melt your soul to an alluring succubus that will rip your f*cking heart out just for the fun of it. Sign a brotha up, as I already yearn for my next Jinjer show.

One last thing to note – the sound team needs to be recognized here as well. I have never heard such a clean, crisp audio experience at that venue as I did this night. Bravo to whoever was doing the sound. \m/

Jinjer’s setlist for December 13, 2022 was:
Sit Stay Roll Over
Teacher, Teacher!
Home Back
I Speak Astronomy
As I Boil Ice
Judgement (& Punishment)
Dead Hands Feel No Pain|
Who Is Gonna Be the One
Sleep of the Righteous
Call Me a Symbol
Captain Clock

Jinjer Live Photos + Review by Randy Cook /// @horns_raised

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