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On genre defying debut Silent Machine Melbourne’s Twelve Foot Ninja established themselves as one of modern metal’s true outliers, with the record’s near unclassifiable fusion-metal jams earning them legions of devoted fans worldwide who bestowed upon them the moniker of The Next Big Thing. On appropriately titled follow-up Outlier Twelve Foot Ninja distance themselves from the pack again, melding elements of prog, djent, funk, Latin, jazz, salsa, reggae, acoustic, bossa nova and alt-rock into a varied yet cohesive metal assault.
Armed with more musical ideas than most bands have in a lifetime and a level of technical proficiency to realise them, Twelve Foot Ninja waste no time asserting themselves on Outlier, with opener One Hand Killing providing a chaotic blend of heavy genres that serves as a microcosm of Outlier as a whole. As djent riffs lock in with funk filled grooves and jazzy piano passages, Kin Etik’S soulful vocals serve as the glue that holds it all together, delivering an emphatic high.
The funk meets prog-metal riffage of Sick follows, as Steve and Rohan re-establish themselves as guitar-wielding sensei before the brooding restraint of lead single Invincible hits, lodging itself in your brain, courtesy of the most readily accessible chorus Kin has penned yet. A simplistic song by Twelve Foot Ninja standards, Invincible is itself an outlier that has the potential to become an anthem of self empowerment for the metal loving masses worldwide.
The groove-filled Oxygen follows, with its laid-back vibe and soul-filled vocals destined to inspire some nocturnal activities in fan bedrooms worldwide. The major pentatonic scale lends Collateral a distinct Asiatic influence in the verses that serves as an unexpected but effective counter to the explosive djent/metalcore storm of that powers its chorus, with Kin’s vocals holding a Mike Patton-esque flavour as they build from croon to roar.
Post Mortem and Point Of View continue the unpredictability with flamenco guitar juxtaposed against thunderous metalcore on the latin flavour of the former, and horns, organ, piano and drummer Shane’s fusion beats lending the latter a lounge vibe. The sitar meets Sepultura on the diverse Monsoon delivering the metal/samba/hindustani mash-up the world never knew it needed. The monstrous Adios is as close to a traditional stomp as Twelve Foot Ninja offer, (which is to say it’s still pretty varied) before Dig For Bones momentarily reveals Twelve Foot Ninja’s not-so-secret weapon: bassist Damon via a slappin intro, before incorporating pretty much every musical genre you can think of up to and including 8-bit, in a dizzying finale.
There’s so many ideas explored over the duration that it’s hard to explain exactly what Twelve Foot Ninja have unleashed with Outlier, as there’s nothing in the world to accurately compare it to. That sentence alone should translate as mission accomplished for the band and must purchase for heavy music fans worldwide. The Twelve Foot Ninja is on the march.