If Pennywise from the film It were to front a band, it would probably be Twelve Foot Ninja.
I say this not to cast aspersions on their frontman’s looks, but purely because their sound shifts its shape drastically throughout Silent Machine and at times really sounds like something such a jolly circus performer would dream up. The stuff of nightmares. If you have coulrophobia (look it up), you might want to skip this one.
A highly flammable concoction of deep Meshuggah-y grooves coupled with the insanity of Mr. Bungle, Silent Machine crams in as many hidden assassins and booby traps as it can. The copy I’m reviewing is a bonus edition of the album – the original version was released last year. This includes two extra tracks, which are acoustic renditions of songs entitled Manufacture Of Consent and Apocolypstik.
Lyrics range from the introspective to the bizarre and threatening, matched by music which suits the bill entirely; what might be sinister carousel music mutates into a fully automated death machine – and then back again in the blink of an eye. The track Mother Sky is based around a bouncy reggae-styled beat and a catchy chorus. The song Vanguard takes a similar approach – until the band decide to push you off a cliff into a storm of whipping, elasticated riffs and waves of bass which pound you into the rocks below.
It sounds like a bit of a cop-out of commentary, but the best way I can describe Twelve Foot Ninja’s music is simply: “very listenable.” Lame, I know, but it helps – despite all their experimentation which keeps the music interesting and dynamic, they toe the line in the sense that song structure doesn’t deviate too much from the expected and there’s a lot of chorus hooks which pull you face-first into the song and don’t let go.
I should also say, there’s a definite debt to Mike Patton to pay here; I’ve already mentioned Mr. Bungle (hence the wacky carousel music), but I’m also reminded a lot of Faith No More by the music, and Patton by the vocals. That’s not a bad thing; Patton is awesome – but at times the impersonations become a bit tired and I wonder what lead vocalist Kin would sound like had he not been so drastically influenced. There are hints of Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects too though, which shine through in the insane screams of Myth Of Progress.
Listen to the opening track Coming For You here:
The above is one of the best tracks from the album, twisting through samba rhythms, funk and death metal with the dexterity of well… a ninja.
Things are wrapped up with Luna, which from a gentle start builds up into a tense climax of existential wories. Then there’s the acoustic bonus tracks, which are a nice addition – but for those who already own Silent Machine might not be all that wanted. They’re good, and there’s no doubt about that. However, Luna feels like a great closing point and these tracks disrupt that.
Silent Machine will tick all the right boxes for fans of modern avant-garde and progressive metal.
If you don’t already own it following its original release, now’s your chance.
For Fans Of: Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, Meshuggah, Periphery, Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects.