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Released: 2007, Independent
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Embodying everything from Faith No More, System of A Down, Fishbone and Sublime, Vancouver’s Ninjaspy is fairly new on the scene but seem to be making quite a name for themselves based on their independently released debut, PI NATURE. Dubbing their musical style as “skankcore,” PI NATURE is a real mishmash of styles and takes a few spins to really sink your teeth into. In fact, it took me almost six months after receiving the CD to really wrap my head around this dynamic beast. Led by the three Parent brothers and produced by Gggarth Richardson (Testament, Blessed By A Broken Heart, Rage Against The Machine) and Ben Kaplan, PI NATURE is at times disarming, at other times amusing but certainly never boring. But with so many divergent styles on board, this one will be a tough sell no matter which demographic the band aims for.
Leading off with what would at first glance appear to be a goregrind song title, “Defecating On What's Left of Our Child” rips along on Dillinger Escape Plan-like skronky riffs but is backed by a funky ska bassline from Tim Parent. Joel Parent’s vocals rise and fall from a chest-heaving metal roar to a nasally whine a la Serj Tankian. Likewise, the bassline on “Sub-Arctic Trickery” will have listeners thinking they fell into a Red Hot Chili Peppers record but the Sublime parallels rear up with a bouncy clean guitar riff. At its roots, “Hit By A Cement Mixer” is Staind-meets-Napalm Death and as strange as that sounds, it actually works. Soaring vocal harmonies are there one minute and replaced with a throaty growl the next. “Pure Sketch” is a sure-fire modern rock radio hit, as the post-grunge framework gets stirred up into a tasty seventies-inspired soul/funk soup (don’t miss the flute solo!).
Other parts don’t come off so well. With its arpeggio-laced intro and gang-shouted chorus, “Out of Tampons” might be a fun live song but the hurdy-gurdy tempo it takes is a more than subtle homage to System of A Down whose nimble quirkiness expired after a relatively short shelf life. “SOS From The SOS” (you aren’t the Dixie Chicks, so, really, a banjo?) and “Evolution of The Skid” (Madness filtered through KING FOR A DAY-era Faith No More) come off as wannabe anthems for the put-upon status quo and fall flat despite plenty of hooks.
PI NATURE is likeable on many facets but never really makes the jump to something worthy of a recommendation. The band seems to have fun with their music (how can you not love a title like “Dot.Com.Down”?) and there are a lot of hook-filled moments that many will find themselves getting right into, especially the college kegger and hipster crowd. But many of the songs seem to go off on tangents for no reason other than to make people say “oh..no…they..didn’t?!” with a resounding finger snap and neck swivel. There is no problem with being experimental and risky but Ninjaspy seems to have absolutely no identity of their own, instead relying on piecing together totally unrelated fragments of the band members’ various musical influences and calling it an album. I’m a sucker for Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate ice cream. On their own, my tastebuds do cartwheels but I don’t necessarily want to eat all three in the same bite because it would taste pretty friggin’ terrible. See the parallel?
KILLER KUTS: “Defecating On What's Left of Our Child,” “Hit By A Cement Mixer,” “Pure Sketch”
1. Defecating On What's Left of Our Child
2. Sub-Arctic Trickery
3. Hit By A Cement Mixer
4. Love Poem II
5. Out of Tampons
6. SOS From The SOS
7. Pure Sketch
8. Circle Pity
10. Evolution of The Skid
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