Review Summary: Twelve Foot Ninja sliced the album in halves to mixed results.
As many music lovers might know the first album Silent Machine
by Twelve Foot Ninja was an excellent record, which especially impressed with its eclecticism. Having mixed metal, funk, bossa nova and other music genres into a seemingly awkward but actually impressive cocktail, the Australians managed to set for themselves a high standard against which all their subsequent albums will be measured in one way or another. After a long wait and multiple concerts around the world in support of Silent Machine
in August 2016 Twelve Foot Ninja released their next LP – Outlier
The experimental path, chosen by the Australians for their sound, create certain limitations for the band, as in this case you need to simultaneously juggle a number of things that can be mutually exclusive. The main difficulty is to understand a route that you stick to following release of a successful album. If your only objective is high sales and new fans, then it is enough to simply repeat the effective recipe on the subsequent records, providing new helpings of what caught the listeners’ fancy in the first place. All that is required of the band is to release quality songs. Obviously, this approach only seems to be easy.
But what if there are also artistic ambitions? What if there is a desire to evolve, bringing something new to each album, something that not heard before (at least as part of their own sound)? In this case the path is a lot more difficult and entails a whole new bunch of questions. If the previous LPs already contained a mixture of genres, then what direction should they follow? Add more and more genres into the mix? Or concentrate on the sounds already employed, changing their ratio upward or downward? Or drop that eclecticism thing and turn to one genre? In the meantime, it would also be nice not to alienate the existing fanbase, but only to expand it. These are the questions I pondered on while listening to the new Twelve Foot Ninja album. It is possible that the same thoughts came to mind of the Australians as well. However, it seems they failed to come up with answers to these questions during recording of Outlier
The album leaves an impression that the band, having thought about the abovementioned, decided to chase everything at once. Hence, there is a sense of mishmash of approach. As a result, the LP ended up being uneven, and the fans (or casual listeners) got the tracks of various interest. Tentatively Outlier
can be divided into two even halves. The first half, consisting of 5 songs, is in the beginning of the album and includes the strongest set, with Invincible
being a definite high point. Here Twelve Foot Ninja demonstrated their approach at best, something streamlined on previous releases: during listening to it there inadvertently creeps in an idea that the band managed to continue the successful streak they started with Silent Machine
. However, then, maybe because of contemplations referred to earlier, maybe because they run out of steam, but the Australians seem to give up at mid-point and the next batch of songs feel weaker to what’s been before. This batch comprises the second half. There the focus gradually shifts towards the djent sound, and the remaining tracks begin to feel more monotonous and one-dimensional. Moreover, structurally the songs tend to follow the standard “verse-chorus-interlude-chorus”, and it becomes clearer why on the second half the interest starts to wane. By the end of the album (its duration only about 39 minutes) you just wait when it plays out. But don’t think that the songs are terrible. It’s just that the listener might expect something different from a Twelve Foot Ninja album.
Still despite the fact that the new LP turned out to be less successful compared to the previous album, it is too early to write the perky Australians off. Even if only the half of the songs are of high caliber, give this a chance, especially if you like Silent Machine
or their EPs. It is possible that you may find something of interest on the second half of the CD, since everybody knows music taste is a personal matter.