Jen Majura is a name that has quickly become globally recognised ever since she was welcomed with open arms into Grammy award winning rock act, Evanescence, as lead guitarist back in 2015. While she is best known for her guitar work, the multi-talented artist also has bass and vocal competence firmly tucked under her belt as well.
Hailing from small-town Germany, you’d be sorely mistaken for thinking of Jen as a simple country girl. Her passion for what she does, along with her ‘don’t know how to stop’ work ethic has inspired her to decide that 2017 would be the year for her to create the follow-up to 2015’s self-titled solo release. Jen’s sophomore album, InZENity (out November 24), was funded by a crowdfunding campaign, which saw the goal being surpassed within 24 hours of going live, creating a new Indiegogo record. In fact, the campaign was so popular, it saw an entire restock of perks and by the end of its eight weeks, had achieved a whopping 185% of the original funding goal. With that kind of demand, perhaps the follow-up to InZENity will be much sooner than we think…
InZENity’s introductory track, “All The Other Ones” instantaneously solidifies the direction of the album, with its hard hitting opening drums quickly making way for the gripping guitar riffs that Jen is known for, completed with nothing other than a side of sass intertwined within the lyrics. The first track of the album also features the first of five guest guitar performances, in the form of a guest solo by Canadian guitarist Jeff Waters of the metal band Annihilator. Just try sitting still through this track!
Despite InZENity not having a formal definition, the record’s title track, the second song on the album, certainly lives up to its name. It’s a rollercoaster in song form with all of its ups and downs, twists and turns, and of course, you can’t forget the loop-de-loops. It’s busy but at the same time, remains clean and simple. “InZENity“ is a song that will make you stop – but only for a second. It’s catchy. It’s groovy. It’s comfortable. “InZENity” is an unexpected combination of so many different elements, but it works incredibly well. This is one of those tracks that may take some people a few listens to get to that understanding due to it being somewhat of a departure from the expectation of a generic rock song. Even with all of the aforementioned elements happening in this song, there was still room for another guest solo, this one from fellow Ibanez-faithful Jan Zehrfeld.
The end of “InZENity” takes us back to perhaps a more comfortable, good old fashioned rock album vibe. This welcome return is evident in the crowd pleasing tracks “Leave Me” and “Drama Queen”, with the subsequent track, “Lied Ohne Namen” feeling a little bolder. In what feels somewhat contrary to its title, which translates in English to “Song without a name,” “Lied Ohne Namen” proves slightly more memorable then its two predecessors.
“Bully Lies” brings with it a return to the guest appearances which are proving heavily favoured on this record. In a double-whammy appearance, the ever-catchy “Bully Lies” not only showcases a solo from Swedish metaller Mattias IA Eklundh, but also features guest guitar work by Glasperlenspiel’s Nico Schliemann.
The fifth and final guest appearance on InZENity comes as another solo, this one by American guitarist, Alex Skolnick, who is best known for his time in the bands Testament and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. “Sick Brain” is a solid track that will appeal to those who love a song with a prominent guitar riff.
You’d be mistaken for thinking the next few tracks are still named by their working titles. “Stupid Piece of Wood” is a direct translation of a German saying, which equates to the English phrase “thick as a brick.” This is another heavy hitting track, perhaps made to feel a little bit more light hearted with the use of the directly translated term. Once again Jen brings the sass with the delivery of the lyrics, blatantly calling out somebody who has clearly pissed her off.
“Stupid Piece Of Wood” is followed by another catchy track, “Tobi Didn’t Show Up For Breakfast”. Much like the rest of the album preceding it, this is another track that’ll either have you tapping your toes, bopping your head and wanting to pick up a set of drumsticks… or wanting to dance. Depending on your mood.
“Like Chuck Norris” takes a bit more of a mainstream turn, yet incorporates a variety of styles from rock to pop and even a hint of jazz. Vocally, it showcases a wide range of Jen’s abilities and it’s clear by this point in the album that this is something she enjoys doing. Lyrically, “Like Chuck Norris” is everything you would expect of a track with such a title, and with a background chant of “Chuck! Chuck! Chuck! Chuck! Chuck!” during the chorus, this is a track that’s sure to get stuck in your head.
Whilst there are no unplugged songs on InZENity, the closing track, “Far Away” is the closest thing to a ballad on the album. This track really showcases Jen’s vocal abilities in a more simplified way than any of her previous work. “Far Away” is an easy to listen to, comfortable track that just makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
If the title track off InZENity was a rollercoaster ride, then the entire album was the soundtrack to a day at a theme park. “Far Away“ is that point at the end of the day when you go home, absolutely shattered, and sit down to relax and realise how perfectly content you are in your life right in that very moment.
…Or perhaps it’s that feeling you get when you’ve finished listening to the ride that makes up this record. InZENity is heavy. It’s fun. It’s catchy. It’s quirky. In short, it’s “very JEN”, and it’s an album you will definitely want to play loud!