Some bands are very laid back in their approach to releasing their music. Especially the jazzier and progressively minded ones. And sometimes you wonder where this is all going. Then others just give you this impression at first, just to drop a sneaky karate kick to the back of your head. And let loose with a vengeance on a colossal Alternative and Progressive Metal stage.
Spüken, the new full length of the Canadian metallers Ninjaspy, will do exactly that for you. Chaotic and somewhat unhinged grungy-punk energy outbursts included.
But the first item that really got to me was the somewhat bizarre and strangely fascinating album cover. What on earth is this woman regurgitating? Are we playing a cosmic joke on the trusty fan base? And by the royal WE I mean the band. ‘Cause in other languages the word spy means puke or spew. And with some fantasy, you could turn Spüken the same way. Nice try, fellas, should that be the case. And it would fit with the album cover and the overall comments the band made.
And in truth, Ninjaspy spew their fare forward straight from their first track Speak in best jazzy, progressively laden fashion at first, churning into skittish metal just a moment later. I just get a kick out of their screechy turn from a somewhat organized tune to Hardcore hell in a second or so.
Now, the second track Shuriken Dance really takes the cake with a confusing medley of elements and rough-hewn Hardcore grinding away at ye. Shuriken were – by the way – some of the Ninja’s weapons of choice. The little things they flung about the countryside to quietly maim their adversaries.
Now, this track is already at the top of the hit list for this record. A close second would be the very intense and screamy Brother Man, the follow-on track. This song embraces a whole new set of styles and quirky turns of events. And I think, I’ll stop right here trying to describe them on styles too much. Because you can’t. The band calls their record a style bender and – indeed – I would concur.
Now, the fact that the highest scores on the tracklist hover at the very top hint at a severe lack of quality later in the material to follow. Methinks, too, that collecting songs over a decade and then play them out in a new record after all this time may have some after-effects.
Like too much booze after a long night. That explains the mixed bag that we are presented with after four tracks or so. And – lo and behold – after a chaotic, but still powerful Dead Duck Dock, things head downhill relatively fast.
This is also when the lyrical mayhem hits new lows. For instance, take artistically woven barf bags like “This is for your tightly clenched asshole” in Become Nothing. Or the silly chorus line ending in “…whatwhatwhatwhat…” in a track called – well – What. This may have been the moment when they should have injected new material to spiff things up some.
Well, things look slightly better starting with Jump Ya Bones. And for sure take on some serious steam with Azaria and Slave Vehemence. At this moment all this primeval style chaos of Lovecraft-esque proportions again comes to the forefront. I daresay, the band has not spared themselves any level of difficulty to fuse all these musical styles, from ska soundalikes, over reggae injections, jazzy interludes to Heavy Metal and Hardcore. And very aggressive notions at that, too. I am not surprised at all that fans report Ninjaspy to be absolutely stunning on stage.
So, to sum this up, Spüken really delivers a mixed bag of goodies. With some tracks of surprisingly good quality and others in serious need of repair. Or more, in serious need of replacement.
The album – in a way sounds – like a string of stage performances thrown onto a compact disc. And this is what the record really is, given that the album is a selection of the sum of all parts of 10 years of labor.
A perfect style bender, the album sports a few impressive and surprisingly brilliant spots, whereas others should have been left out. A checkerboard of sorts, if you will.
Yet still, Spüken is far from the vile mainstream, and the band is not afraid to experiment. And you won’t find many bands out there that go that route, with exceptions as always.
So, whilst there is room for refinement, I already look forward to future material that I am sure they will – in time – bring forward.
Record Rating: 5/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Facebook