Release Date: 15th October 2021
Record Label: Volkanik
For Fans Of: Periphery, Between The Buried And Me, Haken
Twelve Foot Ninja have properly upstaged some of the biggest names in prog rock. Multimedia releases are still pretty rare when it comes to music, with Coheed & Cambria being the most notable to release comic books alongside their records, but with the release of Vengeance, Twelve Foot Ninja have unveiled a tie-in comic book, literary fantasy novel and a damn video game! Talk about dominating the market!
Appropriately, the music of Vengeance is heavily influenced by video games. Lead synth lines and pads spread themselves throughout the record, evoking not only the 80s but the long-lasting revival that started with the Nicolas Winding Refn film Drive. And just to really hammer home the video game aesthetic, 8-bit style keys mark the opening of several tracks, as if one were booting up their old GameBoy.
But do not fear, djent fans, the bonkers metallers haven’t pulled a Radiohead and traded their guitars in for keyboards. The bouncing low rumble of the band’s Meshuggah-tinged riffs still dominate the record, cutting through the more spacious passages to throw the listener off guard. In fact, with the recent Doom games featuring an obnoxiously heavy metal soundtrack, Vengeance has parallels to video games beyond the 80s synth sounds – those familiar with the Doom games will have Vietnam style flashbacks to whenever the guitar kicks in on Twelve Foot Ninja’s new record.
While the teaser singles have shown the heavier side of the album – as well as a track featuring Jinjer’s Tatiana Shmayluk, whose vocals blend in wonderful harmony with Nik Barker’s – the record features a mid section that almost abandons any metal element. ‘IDK’ may open with a guitar heavy riff, but once the intro passes, the track reveals its true nature as a cool, jazz fusion number that sounds closer to Dirty Loops than Tesseract or Periphery. Boasting tight vocal harmonies and hooks galore, Twelve Foot Ninja sound like they’re auditioning to be Bruno Mars’ backing band – and could deservedly get the gig.
Follow up track ‘Shock To The System’ opens with the band’s best Daft Punk impression, with Nile Rodgers-esque guitars complete with vocoder heavy vocals. Even when the distorted guitars interrupt the band’s disco break, the vocals continue in a particularly poppy vein. The track then veers even further left field, with vaudeville style piano and accordion, all topped with a sinister spoken word performance. Keeping the genre swapping going, ‘Gone’ embraces an acid jazz vibe, with cool guitar patterns and a funky bassline one would normally attribute to the likes of Jamiroquai.
With such a vast and disparate selection of genres on display, and on an album that only just exceeds the half an hour mark, there’s a risk of Twelve Foot Ninja having a busy mess of a record on their hands. But due to an incredibly impressive knowledge of many niche and quite specialist genres, the band can blend their usual djent riffs with music that sits on the jazzier side of pop. The result? An album that oozes fun. The sound is constantly changing, meaning neither the metal riffs nor the wacky style switch-ups overstay their welcome. And with many of the ‘alternative’ genres that the band explore being previously untouched by acts known for their genre-bending, it’s not just the tie-in video game that marks a first for Aussie mentalists. Hashtag blessed life best life no filter.
Recommended Tracks: Start The Fire, IDK, Gone
Social Media Links: