Review Summary: Funk? Ska? Metal? Dub? Reggae? Pick a genre, Twelve Foot Ninja play it.
Another band to add to the burgeoning alternative rock scene in Australia, Melbournians Twelve Foot Ninja do things a little differently. The four piece’s music is based around the story of the Twelve Foot Ninja, written by guitarist Steve McKay. New Dawn
details the first part of the Ninja’s attempt to restore balance in a world headed toward self-inflicted catastrophe. However, don’t pass this off as a gimmick, the music is great and fits perfectly with the story. Staying true to the theme, TFN play an experimental style of rock, influenced heavily by eastern music.
While they might not be everyone’s cup of tea, it goes without saying, TFN have copious amounts of potential. Opener ‘Molotov Brother’ proves this straight away with its funk and reggae influenced verses proving the perfect contrast to its Faith No More styled chorus. In fact, one of the gripes Twelve Foot Ninja have to contend with is that lead singer Kin sounds too much like Mike Patton. However, on New Dawn
, it is one of their strengths as the vocals fit the style of music perfectly, particularly in the heavier moments.
On paper, Twelve Foot Ninja come off as a mess of influences and genres, moving from a funk or ska styled verse before exploding into something one would find on a Karnivool record. This is particularly true on songs such as ‘Endless’ and ‘F.E.A.R.’ where the band move from light to dark and back again in a flash. It is however, when the band wears their eastern influences on their sleeve that they truly get their sound perfect, which is exactly what happens on ‘Beneath the Smiles.’ An EP highlight, ‘Beneath the Smiles’ brings out their ‘true ninja’ combining some more traditional eastern sounds with their already potent alternative rock sound, resulting in a monstrous track.
Backed by a very strong rhythm section in Russ (Drums) and Damon (Bass), Twelve Foot Ninja even find a place for the soul inspired ‘Portrait #1’ which is full acoustic guitars and Patton-esque vocals. Closer ‘Dark Passenger’ sees the band hitting their straps again for what is probably the heaviest song on the record, highlighting yet another set of influences ala Mr Bungle and Meshuggah.
Even if you’re not a fan of their sound, one cannot deny that on New Dawn
no track sounds the same. This works very much in the band’s favour, making even the slightly interested listener wonder where in the hell they’ll go with their next release. One thing’s for sure though, it’s bound to be different.
The entire EP is streaming at www.myspace.com/twelvefootninja