The final song I will be evaluating is by another artist that has solidified their presence in my song rotation. Ever since watching them live at The Zoo in Brisbane, Twelve Foot Ninja have been a solid recommendation of mine to anyone seeking a quirky take on the alternative metal genre. The band is currently working on their second album and I for one am excited to see what they come out with.
The song I will be evaluating today is the genre bending “Ain’t that a Bitch”. The song is number 11 on the band’s debut album, “Silent Machine”. This song achieved the record for largest amount raised for a crowd funded music video with a whopping $52,600 donated.
Genre wise this song is a little fluid but always eventually finds its way back to a heavy ‘djent’ style of guitar based alternative metal. It may swing from jazz to funk from verse to verse but the important phrases will be driven by heavy guitar synonymous with the alternative metal genre. The song is in performed in a 4/4 time signature, perhaps a little strange when compared to other alternative metal artists who are often experimenting with odd time signatures. The song is also performed at a standard 120 beats per minute, perhaps a little slower than what would normally be present in the genre.
Will it ever get better than this? If it ever gets better than this If it never gets better than this I'm walking out of here. Cause I've done everything I couldn't, Everything I wouldn't, Oh yes, I've done everything I couldn't, Everything I wouldn't Spitting poison, With a head full of piss, Then you raise the stakes, By raising your fist, I could waste my time on giving a shit, I'm walking out of here. Cause I've done everything I couldn't, Everything I wouldn't, Oh yes, I've done everything I couldn't, Everything I wouldn't Without you, I wouldn't have found my strength, Through your abuse, I learned to love myself, You'll imprison somebody else, Who'll think he can save you, But the shoe won't fit, Ain't that a bitch? Bitch. Will it ever get better than this? If it ever gets better than this, If it never gets better than this, I'm walking out of here. Cos, I've done everything I couldn't, Everything I wouldn't, Oh yes, I've done everything I couldn't, Everything I wouldn't Done everything I couldn’t. Everything I wouldn’t Oh yes, I've done everything I couldn't, Everything I wouldn't How you loathe yourself, And everybody else, Has been scratched to death, You're a fucking mess, Your liquid friends, A damsel in distress, Is it hard to breathe with my hands around your neck?
Structurally this song is the least standard of the three that I have looked at. There are two often recurring phrases, deciding which was the chorus was a little bit of a struggle but the final structure fits fairly well. This is indicative of the alternative metal genre, where standards are tested and often reformed to suit the song in question.
Lyrically this song has a storytelling element. It details the experience and struggle of an abusive relationship and the lead up to finally severing ties with said relationship. I find that the way the song builds throughout gives this feeling of escalating confrontation which ties in well with the lyrical content.
Alternative metal is a very broad genre but has some key defining points. Usually the vocals are clean with there being some screaming or growling in certain points. The song is driven by aggressive distorted guitar whilst being backed up by a powerful, well produced drum sound. These are also the defining points of this track, despite the changes into other genres the song is rooted in this alternative metal sound. If anything it is the production of the track that makes it fit into the confines of the alternative metal genre.
If we take a look at the instrumentation of this track it is all over the place. There are of course the standard elements required for alternative metal; guitar, vocals, drums and bass, but there are a few elements that are a little strange. There is a piano part that plays a predominant role in this specific song, there are some latin inspired percussion hits and during Verse 1 and the Outro there is a synthesized organ sound to accompany the piano. These are not particularly prominent alternative metal instruments.
The ubiquitous piano section of this song is quite pleasant. It is clear whilst being a little darker than I would have expected. It moves through the mix, sometimes being at the forefront, then being pushed to very much the middle of the mix and then entirely being removed for the heavy sections of the track. It really helps with the dynamics of the song, the change from Bridge 2 to Verse 3 is an excellent use of dynamics. Panned fairly center throughout the entirety of the song.
The vocals for this track are very well produced. They are rich, powerful and clear without being sibilant or sizzly. The vocals change a little throughout the track, with harmonies being added in certain sections for emphasis and effects being used for the same reason. There are a few sections where double tracking is present, not just for the main vocal but for the backup harmonies as well. The harmonies are heavily affected with reverb and are panned wide. The main vocal is panned center for quieter sections of the song and are slowly widened with reverb and panning when the heavier sections are at play.
The guitar sound that has been achieved for this track is a unique one. Through the use of digital amplifier modelling the guitar sound changes from section to section. There are 3 main guitar tones, 2 are used for the softer sections of the song and the third is the distorted driving alternative metal guitar. The guitar tone in Chorus 1 is bright and articulate, maybe a little too much so as it is bordering on being a little too strident or harsh. Panned fairly center. The guitar tone in Verse 1 and the Outro is mellow and mid focused. Gets lost in the mix with the piano. Hard to focus on. Center again. The heavy tone present through most of the song is quite detailed for a distorted guitar, it is aggressive and full without being too bassy, which can often be the case with an alternative metal guitar sound. Wider stereo image than the other guitar sounds. The use of these different tones helps again with the songs fantastic use of dynamics.
The bass for this song is undeniably important but also quite undefined. I struggle to hear the bass and find myself feeling it more than anything. The quieter sections are the best place to try and listen to the bass. It is a bloated and opaque sound. It seems that the bass is there to add extra weight to the guitar sound. It may be due to my listening situation that I am struggling to hear the definition of the bass, being that my monitors are small and can’t reach the lower frequencies that this bass tone can go.
The final component of this song is the percussion. The drum sound is quite frankly, fucking huge. The kick is ever present, hard and sturdy. The snare has a nice texture and cuts through the massive amount of other sounds present in the mix. The toms are tight and powerful, really give across a great sense of energy. The cymbals are probably the weakest part of the drum sound, they are muffled and lack transparency when all of the other elements are at work in the mix and by themselves are still thin and sibilant. The drums would definitely have been recorded close mic’d for every drum and sounds may have been replaced with samples for the kick drum.
The drums are panned from the perspective of the drummer, meaning the higher pitched the tom is, the further left it will be panned and generally crash cymbals will be on the left and ride cymbals will be on the right. This is a point of contention amongst some producers as to how the drums should be panned. Drummer or audience perspective. I have found that panning from drummer’s perspective is preferred as the regular listener would generally not notice or care, but drummers will find it a little odd to hear things back to front.
The drum sound is what anchors this song in the alternative metal genre. The song changes guitar tone and genre frequently, but the drum sound stays the same giving it the power of an alternative metal song despite the other changes.