CD Review: Twelve Foot Ninja – “Silent Machine”

Review by Billy Geary
Just about every time you think music is becoming stale, over-saturated or downright boring, there’s always a band ready and waiting to put your faith back in music. Twelve Foot Ninja are one of those bands. Forming in 2007, Twelve Foot Ninja quickly rose to prominence, releasing two EPs packed with genre bending moments of reggae, metal, funk, dub and hardcore, sometimes within the same song. Their debut album, Silent Machine shows the same tendency, with added heaviness and polish.

After the first few verses of opener ‘Coming For You,’ for those new to the band one thing is immediately obvious, Twelve Foot Ninja aren’t afraid to mix contrasting genres mid-song. In fact, they thrive on it. ‘Coming For You’ is vintage Twelve Foot Ninja, blending reggae and metal, with a smattering of electronics evoking thoughts of Mr Bungle and Tomahawk. Throughout the record, the comparisons with various Mike Patton projects will inevitably continue, however to pigeonhole Silent Machine in such a way would be unfair to the band.

While the quintet tend to deviate into a myriad of genres throughout the record, their roots lie in crunchy hard rock, topped with Kin’s commanding vocals. The title track, along with ‘Vanguard’ both exploring pseudo lounge and latin music before returning to some of the best choruses on the album. Elsewhere, the slower ‘Shuriken’ fades away into dub-step like ‘wobs,’ whilst single ‘Mother Sky’ features some of the heaviest guitar riffs the band has written. The addition of guitarist Rohan Hayes has improved the band’s sound tenfold, ensuring the heavier moments on the record have that extra crunch that really fills out the band’s sound.

‘Myth of Progress’ sees Twelve Foot Ninja head down a more straightforward path compared to the majority of the album, with dashes of hardcore and a big rock chorus. While parts of the Middle Eastern infused ‘Kingdom’ wouldn’t be out of place on a record by The Tea Party, with Steve MacKay showing just how talented a guitarist he is. At the other end of the spectrum is the surprising closer ‘Luna,’ showing the more subdued side of the band. Furthermore, ‘Aint that a Bitch’ has an element of pop and reggae to it, before exploding into a wall of guitars towards the end of the song, resulting in one of the best tracks on the album.

Furthering the band’s claim for being one of the more forward thinking heavy bands in the country is their chosen release model for the album. By releasing a track and accompanying comic that follows the song’s lyrics, the model has been a very effective way of getting punters to buy music again. Not to mention comics, all featuring the plights of the Twelve Foot Ninja, are absolute quality. In addition, the drip-feeding of a new track each week has only increased the anticipation of the album even more, and for good reason.

Put simply, Silent Machine is a world-class heavy album from our very own backyard. With growing support from overseas band such as Periphery and Fair To Midland, it can only be a matter of time before Twelve Foot Ninja start getting heard overseas as well. Such is the quality of Silent Machine, one can imagine international interest growing even faster from here on out.