Twelve Foot Ninja


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Vengeance Review

by Neil Z. Yeung

Hurling the kitchen sink out the window, Australian rock sorcerers Twelve Foot Ninja redefine the boundaries and possibilities of heavy music with their third full-length, Vengeance. A wild blend of genres and bold experimenting, the album evolves the quartet's fusion prog-metal sound, incorporating everything from, but not limited to, djent riffs, whimsical jazz breaks, and grand baroque pop to mariachi horns, electro synths, and elastic funk, creating an unpredictable beast that is a thrill to ingest. Atop this sonic mélange, the band takes listeners even deeper into this high-concept world with an immersive multimedia extravaganza that includes a video game, a graphic novel, and a hulking thousand-page fantasy novel (The Wyvern and the Wolf by Nicholas Snelling) that fleshes out the mythology for the most die-hard of fans. As for the musical portion of this experience, Vengeance is ideal for open-minded listeners who may have always wondered what a collaboration by Mr. Bungle, the Dear Hunter, Slipknot, Meshuggah, and Muse might sound like. Moving beyond easy categorization, Twelve Foot Ninja balance relatively straightforward metal whirlwinds ("Culture War" and "Dead End") with whiplash epics such as "Long Way Home" -- which layers the aforementioned Mr. Bungle/Dear Hunter approach with horror movie atmospherics, symphonic heft, and a brief dub break -- and "IDK," which stuffs 8-bit video game blips, whimsical spoken word, and smooth funk jamming into the first minute alone. There's so much going on that, at a certain point, one must simply surrender to the chaos and accept that a single song can indeed contain vocoder vocals, disco handclaps, buzzing riffs, thundering drum blasts, and a sudden tango break narrated by an Aussie Jack Skellington. And that this can be enjoyable. At a lean ten tracks, each moment is a highlight in its own right, but standouts include the epic storm of album opener "Start the Fire" and "Over and Out," a haunting metallic duet with Jinjer's Tatiana Shmayluk. While they've never shied away from genre tricks, Twelve Foot Ninja expand upon the vision heard on previously released songs like "Post Mortem" and "Coming for You" and create something exciting, fun, and, at times, breathtaking in its creativity.

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