Review Summary: Where did the mathcore go? It’s already Spüken for.
Ninjaspy steal the crazed/bi-polar energy from System of a Down, Protest The Hero, and Twelve Foot Ninja. The result is anything but subtle. Ska, reggae, plentiful breakdowns, and audacious horns are mixed into a metalcore/mathcore tapestry. This is the way they “throw the skank down”, according to them. While their music style throws everything at the wall, this album proves a refined approach to their brazen tactics. Spüken feels less disjointed than their debut album, for the songwriting is vastly improved. It’s still packed with intensity, but well produced/intentioned chaos. Whereas their debut album had truly ill-advised, hard to listen to moments, this album is full of digestible, entertaining highlights. They got their shit together.
The lead singer/screamer brings energy into his role. His growls range from diabolical to odd, and his gusto makes or breaks the album, depending on your preference. In terms of singing though, his vocals have greatly improved after the debut. His raspy vocal tone is memorable, and a surprisingly natural fit for the mixed genres in Spüken. The opening track is a warning towards a would-be listener. Speak serves blistering harsh vocals in the chorus with an extended, unforgettable speeeeeak!!
while hitting the melody. It’s not easy notes, but Joel is no slump, whether in studio or live performances.
Ninjaspy are playing with fire. Whether it be the clear clunk of bass notes, catchy drum fills, or noodling guitars, the band’s zest is untameable. The deep, piercing groove of Dead Duck Dock has to be heard to be fully appreciated, no description will cut it. For every silly, goofing off moment such as a chorus that yells out what what what what what
, an equally serious moment is served. For instance, Become Nothing is one of the more uncompromising, crazy tunes, with serious lyrics like “become nothing, you cannot be broken down”. The band are explicitly aware that their audience needs entertainment, and a soul filling experience. Perhaps the album didn’t need so many moments with horns, perhaps it’s goofy, but the extra kick is welcome. Also welcome are the lyrics that consider the gravity of life.
For all the fun, and blistering beatdowns, the album gets less interesting near the end. The unrelenting pace is put on pause for Grip the Cage and Azaria — two rather forgettable tracks. Slavehemence then ends the album, a great track, though derivative of half the album. Still, Spüken barely gets off track — it’s the train that keeps on going. Ninjaspy have enough energy and uniqueness to show them as able to compete with similar bands, while showing their own spin. The album is fun on a level that is difficult to match, with enough soul to almost seem pulled from a different band. This is Ninjaspy, chameleon masters, and a band deserving a larger audience. Perhaps another album will never be released, but even if one isn’t, Spüken should sustain Ninjaspy fans for a long time.