March is National Women’s Month, and we have decided to celebrate some our favorite women in metal. Every week during March we will honor some of the most respected women in the metal and hard rock world.
Today we focus on the stunning and amazingly talented, Tatiana Shmaylyuk – lead vocalist of Ukrainian prog metal band, Jinjer. Having joined the group in 2010, Shmaylyuk has been essential in propelling them to reach accolades that include being named Best Ukrainian Metal Act of 2013 and 2016, and Best Metal Video for “I Speak Astronomy” in 2016. As a frontwoman in the primarily male-dominated world of metal, Shmaylyuk’s vocal ability, range, and stage command put her not only in a class of her own, but in a position to rival some of the best men in the game.
While providing powerful clean rock vocals that would make a young Ann Wilson blush, then seamlessly transitioning into underworldly death growls, her impressive vocal versatility is unquestionable. Throw in some reggae/funk-influenced, Gwen Stefani-esque spice and Otep’s bloodcurdling maniacal screams and you have a complete package of vocal dynamics that incorporate the wealth of influences Shmaylyuk keeps at her disposal. Equally impressive is her striking stage presence. Like a badass metal chola, she seduces the crowd into complete attention through her confidence, personality, and talent. Her energy and passion are undeniable.
Jinjer, as a band, have released three studio albums, with 2016’s ‘King of Everything’ being the most recent. Lyrical themes for the latest album have been described by Shmaylyuk as dealing with what makes us human beings, “dependent on what we use in this life.” It also deals with some romantic themes, such as in the song “I Speak Astronomy.” Shmaylyuk not only displays her vulnerability by exploring such topics, but also embraces her emotional side by utilizing it to add depth to her music. Perhaps less confined by male societal standards to be “tough,” particularly in metal, Shmaylyuk wields her femininity and emotion in a way that is deeply powerful yet at the same time undeniably metal. Don’t be fooled, however, Jinjer’s music is far from soft and loveable. Shmaylyuk and gang will bludgeon you with moshpit-inciting rage and attitude by the megaton just as easily as they can transition into deeper moments. The parallel shift between these different moods and styles is one of the aspects of the music that makes it so impressively entertaining.
As a representative and role model for women in metal, there is no question that Shmaylyuk has a lot to be proud of. She exudes not only confidence and class in herself and her femininity, but also effectively raises the bar for what a metal singer – male or female – can be capable of. Her talents are wide-ranging and reach beyond the realms of just metal alone. Shmaylyuk is not simply a female metal singer, but rather a certified frontwoman – unstifled by the expectations or perceived limitations of her gender in a male-dominated arena. Women and young girls alike can be proud and inspired by her example.