Arguably one of the most inventive and stand-out metal acts to hail from Australia, TWELVE FOOT NINJA have embarked on a tour that spans across the UK and Europe. Their mix of metal, jazz, and a number of other styles have shown others that genre boundaries mean very little today, and experimentation is something more bands should set out to do. We caught their show at Rebellion in Manchester to see if their genre-fusion works as well on stage as it does on record.
Hailing from Manchester, the jazz-infused quintet MASK OF BEES burst onto the stage with an incredible amount of energy surging from vocalist Vocal Bee. Their fusion of incredible jazz sections and no-nonsense heavy rock pairs beautifully, with grooves and thick riffs delivered from guitarist Guitar Bee and sax support from Sax Bee. Vocal Bee’s stage presence is as engaging as you can get for a warm-up band on a bill such as this, and added to the immersion of MASK OF BEES’ performance as they fluctuated from smooth jazz to full on, hard riffs. Drum Bee delivers a solid percussion backup alongside Bass Bee, although do to the space available on stage, Bass Bee wasn’t fully visible. Totally unpredictable in their nature, MASK OF BEES are an incredibly innovative and off-the-wall band which, after this night’s antics, must be checked out by all. Joking with the audience and chatting in between, Vocal Bee provided plenty of hype for the crowd and put everyone in a good mood for UNEVEN STRUCTURE.
Despite an array of technical failures which held them back 25 minutes, the French outfit UNEVEN STRUCTURE eventually kick things off right into devastating riffs and a fantastic light show. Vocalist Matthieu Romarin provided bellowing vocals, both rough and clean (the latter of which were mesmerising), which helped deliver powerful blows during their set. Almost reminiscent of KATATONIA vocalist Jonas Renkse, Matthieu’s haunting cleans are simply beautiful alongside ambient guitar before their material completely changes tune and becomes more ferocious and hard-hitting, with the help of precise guitar work which blew the audience away. Drummer Arnaud Verrier was the absolute highlight of the band’s set and arguably one of the standout points of the night, as he performed a seemingly flawless set, finishing UNEVEN STRUCTURE’s set with a fantastic and lightning-fast solo. His talent, alongside that of the rest of the band and their ability to create an incredibly intense atmosphere, managed to get the crowd nice and riled up for TWELVE FOOT NINJA.
Wasting no time in getting into it, TWELVE FOOT NINJA burst onto stage with Collateral to a rapturous reception. With the crowd surging forward at every chorus to Kin Etik’s almost perfectly executed cleans paired alongside grooves and thick riffs from Stevic and Rohan. Supported by strong bass by Damon and heavy drum beats from Russ, altogether it created an intense barrage in tracks such as Mother Sky. Their heavy sections, equally as well-executed as their slower funk sections, create a plethora of moods in a single track, which is incredible to witness in a live setting.
While TWELVE FOOT NINJA‘s frantic metal sections are what drive the crowd wild, their carefully-placed infusions of funk, slight bends of jazz, and various other styles, keep the audience captivated in a way that few bands are able to pull off. Their ability to distort the boundaries of genres without compromising their musical ability or becoming more of a gimmick than a band is amplified in a live setting, as their music works even better live. Their softer, more jazz-oriented sections acted as a warning for fans for the imminent barrage of riffs and drum artillery that was to come. These frantic sections were orchestrated alongside an excellent light display, with strobes flashing multitude of colours to create an incredibly active and vibrant atmosphere.
Playing favourites such as Sick and One Hand Killing towards the end went down a treat, as did the charismatic banter from Kin. Arguably one of the most innovative and captivating metal acts to come out of Australia thus far, TWELVE FOOT NINJA went all out do deliver an incredibly energetic and polished performance, which leaves us with no doubt that they’ll be filling much bigger venues in the UK from this night onwards. Incredible support from both MASK OF BEES and UNEVEN STRUCTURE made this a strong night across the board.
Check out the night’s action in Manchester from Occult Photography here: