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Jinjer And The Agonist Storm The Thekla In Bristol

There's been no shortage of awesome tours this year. We've seen thrash legends combine forces, bands from different sub-genres unite and pairings as black and heavy as dark matter. With all these having come and gone, it's exciting to have had one more rumble through the UK, as Jinjer and The Agonist took their European tour to this divided island to unify head bangers. Fortunately, when they came to Bristol, they took the show to the perhaps the best venue in the city, The Thekla, a boat with the grit of old school venues yet the romance of the water.

Opening the show this evening was Space Of Variations, who hail from historically fascinating Ukrainian city of Vinnytsya. Much like their countrymen and headliners Jinjer, the band is pretty hard to define, combining metal, rock, hardcore, rap and some electronic influences. The best way one could describe their sound is Madball meets The Crystal Method. Sometimes having so many different sounds can be too much for a band to pull of live, but this quartet were absolutely superb from start to finish. Frontman Dima Kozhuhar is a particular highlight, radiating with intensity throughout the set, without coming across as trying too hard. Not everyone got to the show early tonight, but those that did will know that the latecomers missed out big time. Hopefully there's big things in store for Space Of Variations.

Up next was Finland's own, Khroma. It might sound strange considering the bill was full of bands unafraid to experiment, but they felt a little out of place here. Combining metal with electro, the group contains as much ambience as they do hard hitting metal. I'm reminded of the Peep Show character Super Hans, who once said, "What we really need to do is create a powerful sense of dread. The longer the note, the more dread." This not to say I thought they were bad, far from it, but they lacked the fury a gig like this demands. Of course, there were some in the audience who enjoyed their set, which is great, but Khroma are not for everyone, which I'm sure is the way they like it.

Up next, we have a band arguably in their prime; The Agonist. The Canadian quintet have recently released their sixth album, "Orphans," which many have cited as their best record yet and are clearly loving the chance to show it off in the live setting, performing no less than five songs from the release. Opening with the single, "In Vertigo," the band were welcomed as heroes from the get go, with the Bristol crowd clearly delighted to have The Agonist finally come to the great city. It was easy for vocalist Vicky Psarakis to get the crowd to roar when she asked and the band seemed to have just as much fun throughout.

There were a few older songs on display of course, namely "Panaphobia" and "Dead Ocean," from "Prisoners," as well as "Gates Of Horn And Ivory" from the "Eye Of Providence" album. More new staples such as "The Gift Of Silence" and "Burn It All Down" followed, to a rapturous response, before the band closed out the set with "As One We Survive," another excellent cut from "Orphans." It's a real treat to watch The Agonist at work, as the band have overcome some very difficult circumstances to still be here and as such, have developed a warrior mentality where they're taking on the world... And winning.

Finally it's time for the headliners to take to the stage. Jinjer has perhaps received more attention than any other band from Ukraine and rightly so. With a technical, yet groovy and aggressive sound, led by one of the most versatile vocalists in metal right now, Jinjer are gaining new fans every day. Like The Agonist, Jinjer are also promoting a new album on this tour, the wonderfully received, "Macro," from which they performed no less than four songs including, "On The Top" and "Judgement (& Punishment,)" the latter of which must be the heaviest reggae song ever written.

Backed by a screen broadcasting images both of intensity and beauty as appropriate, Jinjer creates an atmosphere like no other, as if one were watching rage itself come to life. The musicianship is shining bright for all to see, while vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk stands as strong as Boudica leading the charge. There's plenty on offer from the preceding EP "Micro" too, including set opener, "Teacher, Teacher," "Ape" and "Perennial," while older songs like "Who's Gonna Be The One," alongside five tracks from the "King Of Everything" album including the brilliant, "I Speak Astronomy" and "Just Another," before closing the regular set with "Words Of Wisdom" and then the obligatory encore, "Pisces." Jinjer are fast becoming metal stars and while the fame that comes with that maybe a lot to take it, their live show demonstrates better than anything why they deserve all the good things coming their way. Absolutely breath taking.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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