Twelve Foot Ninja
About Twelve Foot Ninja
Specializing in a propulsive and hard-to-shoehorn mix of searing alternative metal and shape-shifting, experimental rock with progressive tendencies, Aussie group Twelve Foot Ninja fall somewhere between the decibel-pounding onslaught of bands like Periphery and Between the Buried and Me, and the kitchen-sink eclecticism of Mr. Bungle. They released a flurry of singles and EPs in the late 2000s before issuing their debut long-player, Silent Machine, in 2012. After years of touring, including a streak of sold-out dates in Australia, the group issued their sophomore effort, 2016's Outlier. Following a lengthy absence -- during which time they downsized to a quartet -- Twelve Foot Ninja returned with their third album, 2021's Vengeance, which was fleshed out by a graphic novel, a video game, and an epic fantasy book.
Formed in Melbourne in 2008 around the talents of vocalist Kin Etik, drummer Shane Russell, bassist Damon McKinnon, and guitarists Steve Mackay and Rohan Hayes, Twelve Foot Ninja tossed genre conventions out the window, incorporating everything from funk bounce, classical elegance, reggae groove, jazz horns, and muscular percussion into a riff-heavy attack first heard on late-2000s EPs such as New Dawn and Smoke Bomb. Their debut LP, 2012's Silent Machine, was a hit at home, bolstered by an accompanying comic book inspired by the band's lyrics and their original tale of the Twelve Foot Ninja. This multimedia world-creation would become one of the group's calling cards, a concept later expanded upon to great effect.
Following the cult success of their debut, Twelve Foot Ninja spent several years on the road, selling out shows and winning fans in Australia, Europe, and North America in support of bands such as Meshuggah, Periphery, and In This Moment. They eventually returned to the studio to begin work on album number two. The resulting Outlier arrived in August 2016 and quickly shot to the top of Australian Artist Charts. After another international tour, McKinnon parted ways with the band in 2019, reducing them to a quartet, and the new lineup entered the studio to craft their most ambitious project yet.
When Twelve Foot Ninja returned in 2021, they were armed with not only a new album but also a video game, graphic novel, and a thousand-page fantasy tome penned by Nicholas Snelling titled The Wyvern and the Wolf. The record, Vengeance, further expanded the scope of their sonic fusion, incorporating '80s-inspired synths, a 12-piece orchestra, mariachi-styled horns, and more. With a clearer focus on harmony and traditional song structures, they also attempted their first ballad, "Over and Out," a duet with Tatiana Shmayluk (Jinjer). ~ Neil Z. Yeung & James Christopher Monger