Review Summary: Twelve Foot Ninja somehow get even weirder, releasing the EP of the year in the process.
Twelve Foot Ninja are probably Melbourne’s most eclectic band. Basing the concept for their music on a story about, you guessed it, a twelve-foot ninja, and playing a meld of genres that just shouldn’t work makes them stand out. Something that is highly beneficial for the band, given the swathe of rock bands clogging the Melbourne scene. Smoke Bomb
shows Twelve Foot Ninja are as weird as ever, trying their hand at even more styles, mixing their hard rock with jazz, electronic music, funk, reggae and hardcore. The best part is, it sounds awesome.
Most of the songs found on Smoke Bomb
have been in the band’s live set for over a year, so they’re not exactly new per sae. EP opener ‘Clarion’ has been around for even longer. Given this, there is likely to be some dissent amongst a few fans wanting new material, but it hardly matters given the quality found here. In fact, ever since they first debuted it in 2009, Clarion has been the band’s best song. Featuring a smattering of electronics to go with TFN’s normal kookiness, ‘Clarion’ comes across as what would happen if Meshuggah started playing house music. Which, while it sounds bad, is a potential song of 2010.
‘War’ is the heaviest song the band has ever recorded, and is probably the most ‘normal’ track on the EP, despite featuring a gameboy sample in its intro. Resident guitar wiz Steve McKay produces some of his best work; with the riff on ‘War’ sounding like it could have just as easily been found on a Meshuggah record. Vocalist Kin Etik has improved out of sight, employing more screaming this time around to go with his already impressive range of clean vocals. ‘Clarion’ is a perfect example of this; with Kin moving from screams to Mike Patton-esque cleans in a flash. However, his best vocal performance is found on closer ‘Manufacture of Consent,’ where he adapts perfectly to the more experimental nature of the song. The ever-consistent rhythm section of Damon McKinnon on bass and Shane Russel on drums adjust seamlessly to each genre change, seemingly adept to playing anything between the funk passages on the closer to the more metallic sound found on ‘War.’
‘Child With No Enemy,’ bridges the gap between the band’s debut release and Smoke Bomb
, featuring the trademark latin/reggae/soul tinged verses before moving into a heavy chorus. The brilliantly named ‘Apocolypstik’ is one of the EP’s better tracks, with its middle-eastern tinged acoustic verses the perfect contrast to one of the catchier choruses the band has written. These two songs perfectly describe TFN’s staple sound while not being repetitive in the slightest, and managing to sound completely unique albeit a few subtle influences. Closer ‘Manufacture of Consent’ is the most experimental song TFN have ever written, featuring guest appearances by Bar McKinnon (Mr Bungle) and Ollie McGill (The Cat Empire) on quite a jazzy interlude, playing saxophone and keys respectively. The extra musicians intertwine perfectly with the heavy chorus and dance undertones, forming a very catchy track. It is this type of song that shows how fair TFN have come as a band in their very short three or so years, confirming that the band are at their very best when they experiment with their sound.
sees TFN at their absolute best, combining heavy music with every other genre of music under the sun, from reggae to electronica. While on paper it may sound like a mess, TFN make it work, creating genuinely unique style of music. Given this, and the quality of Smoke Bomb
, it suggests that, out of any of the up and coming Aussie rock bands, they are the ones with the greatest potential. Smoke Bomb
is without a doubt the best EP to come from Australia’s alternative rock scene so far this year.