Sleeper Album of 2012: Twelve Foot Ninja’s Silent Machine
Ever since Periphery guitarist Jake Bowen sent us a link to Twelve Foot Ninja’s video for “Mother Sky” I’ve been hooked. I watched that video at least three times that day, and the creepy kabuki girl imagery therein quite literally infected my dreams that night. I listened to all the samples the band had on their website and eagerly awaited the release of Silent Machine. I bought the album as soon as I could and I’ve been jamming it ever since; might’ve listened to it four times this past weekend alone.
OK, so the band name is silly and the whole ninja angle is goofy. But, good God, this band is talented as all fuck, and their songs are absolutely unstoppable and instantly memorable. They’re heavy without being dumbed down, catchy without being cheesy, and they blend seemingly disparate styles in a seamless way that doesn’t feel like “Hey, look what I can do!” Silent Machine is expertly produced; it sounds fantastic. Layer upon layer of audio production goodness continues to reveal itself with each subsequent listen; underlying arpeggiated acoustic guitars, dense vocal harmonies that are fun to hum along to, subtle keyboard textures and sound effects, etc. And, as noted before here and elsewhere, vocalist Kin is the icing on the cake, his versatile croon invoking voicesmiths as talented as Mike Patton. When do we ever hear glowing reviews of a vocalist in a metal band these days? Usually vocalists aren’t even mentioned at all, they’re an afterthought.
There are a few mis-steps (for example, the dubstep womps at the end of “Shuriken”). The base elements of djent-style guitar chug and (occasionally) nu-metal can be a little grating, but they almost always work well within the context of the song. For the most part it’s hard to find any fault with this album, and I recommend it to anyone who likes good songs written by stellar musicians who don’t feel the need to prove their chops and brutality every step of the way.