Twelve Foot Ninja’s career thus far is a fine example of a strong and steady rise. Since their 2012 debut Silent Machine, they’ve sold out countless shows in their home country of Australia and abroad, broke crowdfunding records for music videos and won Best New Talent at Revolver’s Golden Gods Awards, not to mention two listener-voted awards from SiriusXM’s Liquid Metal channel. Following all this and two headline tours of Europe and South Asia, what’s left to do but drop another album and keep going up? With the release of their third album Vengeance, that seems to be exactly the plan for Twelve Foot Ninja as they dig deeper into the conceptual and visual sides of things, solidifying themselves even more as a leading band for the digital age.
Right from the start, Vengeance is a gift basket of creative twists and turns: “Start the Fire” cracks open with typical contemporary metal riffing then toggles into ‘80s synthwave and back with a touch of glorious vocal harmonies in the chorus. From there we get heavy fusion on “Long Way Home” and thick, melodic djent on the title track, seamlessly transitioning into Hiatus-Kaiyote-but-metal video game funk right after on “IDK”. These same unpredictable dynamics colour “Shock to the System” as it twists and turns from the dance floor of the future to the ballroom of old, circling back to the local venue of the present on the infectious “Gone”. Twelve Foot then opts for all-out metal (with a Latin interlude) on “Culture War” and circles back to the initial djentiness of “Start The Fire” on “Dead End” and “Over and Out”, the latter featuring vocals from Tatiana Shmayluk to dull the edge and mix it up a bit more. “Tangled” shuffles it up one last time, closing it out with a mesh of deep acoustics and heavy strings to culminate in a “Crime Of The Century”-esque ending for the current year.
While certainly not as way-out and experimental as Mr. Bungle, Twelve Foot Ninja continue to display their gift for making sounds many would think incompatible compatible. What they further reiterate through showcasing their djentprog core up front and branching off from there is that one does not have to be confined to be current and nor should they be; beyond the contemporary foundation you lay you can throw whatever into the mix if it makes sense for the song. No bend in the road on this record strikes too sharp of a contrast to where it throws off the album’s flow, regardless how unpredictable it might be on a sonic or creative level. On the whole, Vengeance is a scattered mess expertly polished and arranged into a coalescent piece of mad genius, and we can expect its purveyors to only get smarter from here.