Twelve Foot Ninja – VENGEANCE
Released: October 15, 2021
Nik ‘Kin Etik’ Barker // Lead Vocals
Steve ‘Stevic’ MacKay // Lead Guitar
Shane ‘Russ’ Russell // Drums
Rohan ‘Ro’ Hayes // Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Twelve Foot Ninja are one of Australia’s most exciting fusion metal bands. I’m a huge fan, and the amount of thought, effort, and detail they invest in all aspects of their music is incredible. After a five year wait, we have their highly anticipated third album VENGEANCE alongside PROJECT VENGEANCE which features a novel called THE WYVERN AND THE WOLF, and a graphic novel as well. You want it all? You got it.
But let’s get to the album! VENGEANCE kicks off with ‘Start The Fire’ which is very reminiscent of their last album Outlier, and by that I mean it’s heavy and djenty and wonderful. This track really demonstrates the depth of Kin’s unclean vocals and there’s a warped element paired with the breakdown that is going to make a crowd absolutely loose their minds. ‘Long Way Home’ has a similar format to TFN’s famous song ‘One Hand Killing’ in that it’s jazzy and heavy and it’s a back and forth between the two. They also slip in some trumpets and the orchestral element plays with an off putting element that builds tension.
If you’re anything like me, when you hear ‘Vengeance’, you’ll want to be on a mission. You know, just striding somewhere with purpose and wearing a killer fit. We hear some spacey riffs and vocals that are raw and chaotic underneath controlled melodies. This track almost warms you up for ‘IDK’ because TFN take us deeper into a weird, techno/poppy/spacey soundscape. It’s hard to explain this song’s structure because it is back and forth between heavily altered vocals and ‘normal’ cleans, but then there are some screams and djent? IDK, literally.
There is nothing predictable about ‘Shock To The System’. It is funk vibes and alien synths. With a Disney style voice-over. Yes, you heard me right. I think the song title is incredibly accurate because this is not a song I would expect TFN to create, but then in saying that, of course they would write a song like this. Not my favourite, but if TFN could take this song and create a Disney movie with it, I’m down. ‘Gone’ follows the same vein but falls into the background following ‘Shock To The System’.
With an eerie beginning of piano we’re then thrown into the thick of heavy and intense melodies and screams. ‘Culture War’ masquerades as a heavy, rhythmic song with vocals that lend themselves towards pure chaos. But then we have a Latin melody making an appearance for a short period of time, and it’s a little confusing. I’m not sure how well this blends, and to be honest, the song probably didn’t need it.
But hello, we like ‘Dead End’. It’s maybe the least ‘extra’ song on the album and is easy to listen to with a chuggy, djenty melody. Perhaps for these reasons, it may not stand out to listeners, but this is the song you’ll find yourself accidentally enjoying. ‘Over And Out’ features Tatiana Shmayluk from Jinjer, and her sweet, light vocals complement Kin’s perfectly. While this is a lovely song, I feel like it flies under the radar because there isn’t a hook, or some ear catching chorus or riff to sink your teeth into. Perhaps it’s because many of the other songs on this album are so out there that they over shadow this one?
VENGEANCE ends on ‘Tangled’ and it’s a soft love song with acoustic guitar, which isn’t an element we hear a lot in TFN’s songs. The song swells with violins, and has a delicate feel about it. This may just be the most impressive song on the album, because while other songs are experimental and push the boundaries, this song sits comfortably in its lane and is unassuming in what it delivers to its listeners.
This album as a whole is not what I expected. Some elements, such as the alien synths and splashes of Latin style jazz melodies I don’t necessarily think fit overly well. Yes, Twelve Foot Ninja are a fusion band and draw on many elements, and I love that about them, but with VENGEANCE it just seems a little too much. That being said, there are absolutely some stand out tracks that in my opinion will become TFN staples. I look forward to seeing how this album ages and grows, and also how these songs translate live, because that could be a whole different ballpark.
Twelve Foot Ninja – Vengeance tracklisting
1. Start the Fire
2. Long Way Home
5. Shock to the System
7. Culture War
8. Dead End
9. Over and Out
Revisit our interview with Twelve Foot Ninja‘s Stevic MacKay chatting all things VENGEANCE here.