Though the full-length debut from Twelve Foot Ninja first started making serious waves here in the States just a couple of years ago (likely thanks to a few extremely well-done music videos), it’s actually been nearly four since Silent Machine was initially released in the band’s home of Australia. Needless to say, it’s been a long time coming for the fusion metallers. The wait is finally over though, with the follow-up set to hit stores everywhere at the end of the month.
The hype for Outlier began almost a year ago, when the Melbourne-based quintet unleashed “One Hand Killing” to its followers. The lead single, which also happens to be the album opener, is a massive track with a thundering rhythm section at the forefront. A funky breakdown even takes hold towards the end, before a slap-happy bassline and piano pattern finishes things off. “Sick” keeps the groovy guitar and thunderous rhythms going strong, while foot-stomping drums come in on the second single “Invincible” to complement a vicious guitar lick and symphonic undertones throughout.
There are many high points on the record, from the tribal-like outro in “Oxygen,” to the horn-heavy jazz-esque “Point of You,” to the two tracks with heavy Eastern elements: the sheer brutality of “Collateral” makes for a fine contrast with the Oriental vibes underneath, but a darker mood and the occasional odd meter in “Monsoon” really help pinpoint where its inspiration comes from (the title helps too).
As for the lows from Outlier, though they are solid tracks in their own right, nothing really stands out about “Post Mortem” or “Adios,” particularly in comparison with the rest of the album. Still, the two tunes are not bad at all, and anything they are lacking is more than made up for with the closer. “Dig Bones” features a constant change in keys, but most impressively, a video game sampling which is used just as prominently as the key change. Naturally, “Dig Bones” finishes the record on yet another high note.
On their latest effort, Twelve Foot Ninja has foregone quantity in favor of quality, something that makes their already impressive sound that much more impressive. Their sophomore full-length is definitely an improvement from Silent Machine, and as a result a better release overall. Now, there are certain highlights from the latter (namely “Coming for You” and “Mother Sky”) which likely may not be eclipsed at all by their more recent counterparts, but the general sound is quite a bit more dialed in this time around, leaving for less weak “weak links” and a smoother sense of continuity. Technically, Outlier is more than proficient; it’s a coherent blend of the intensity of prog.-metal in concert with a wide variety of influences from across the globe. Add to that a frontman reminiscent of the great Mike Patton, and it will truly be tough to top this one.