The guys at Haji’s Kitchen have been cooking it up for a while now, releasing their self-titled Lp in 1995 and Suckerpunch in 2001. Whether you’ve heard of them before, (which you probably haven’t) doesn’t really matter. The band has since been through numerous line-up changes and they’ve taken a completely new direction with their new material.
The sludgy and raw grunge elements have been replaced by modern, polished progressive alt metal. And the stuffy, slow rhythms have been replaced as well with greater atmosphere and accompanying sense of grandeur, especially in the newly included ambient passages. The “djent scene” seemed to have particularly made an impression on them, even so, that they contacted Daniel Tompkins, former TesseracT singer and made him a full-time guest vocalist (I too am confused). The djent stylings are most apparent on the epic eight minute instrumental Sidhartha. On here they resemble Animals as Leaders more than anyone, utilizing atmospheric Djent riffing with occasional Middle Eastern influences and some electronic samples, plus they also shamelessly rip off Animals as Leaders’s Tempting Time at the five minute mark(although it’s arguably the best song on the album).
Despite this I wouldn’t be too quick to classify Haji’s Kitchen as a djent band. The music isn’t defined by constant shredding we have grown accustomed to expect from djent outfits, but rather relies on groove with the perfectly audible bass guitar being given a large role to play. At their most minimalistic they even sound similar to a band like Chevelle. The band doesn’t try to be brutal and shock the listener by trying to exceed the speed of light and changing tempo every one or two seconds. Rather they are focused on making good songs, while still being able to show their proficiency at a slightly slower tempo, though honestly the lack of variation in tempo can become a problem.
Tompkins who appears on all tracks except the instrumental Sidhartha, is given plenty of space to shine, more so that he’d ever gotten in TesseracT, where he had a hard time keeping up to his fellow band mates and often failed when trying to reach for a harsher vocal performance . The big choruses have been seemingly tailored for him, and he proves himself a very capable vocalist. Screams saying ‘’Gay!!!’’ that ensued from the respectable metal community when TesseracT’s One was released won’t be necessary here, thank you.
Twenty twelve is comprised of only eight new original songs and note that at least two of these are remastered and one is nothing more than a forty-six second interlude, so it’s questionable if this can be regarded as a full Lp. It is doubtful whether djent fans will be satisfied with this album, and the same goes for fans of the band’s previous outings. But it is ultimately a very solid release from a band, who clearly know what they’re doing, even if it’s not what others would want them to.