CD Review: Shinobi – Against the Brave

06 Nov

Originally published at lifemusicmedia.com:

Shinobi - Against the BraveIf you were to simply cast your assumption about Sydney’s Shinobi on their biography, you’d probably be left thinking they were some ham-fisted, second-rate, sports-oriented rock band. With an ex-first grade NRL player as a songwriter and front man, you’d be forgiven for cringing at the thought of previous sports personalities getting behind the microphone; however Shinobi are thankfully far more than some passing interest of a former State of origin player. You need only hit play on their debut long play, ‘Against the Brave’, to figure it out.

Bristling with powerful melodies and heavily laden with catchy hooks, ‘Against the Brave’ is a strong release. The bio points to bands like the Foo Fighters, Shihad and silverchair for stylistic similarities and it probably isn’t that far off. The more powerful rock moments are also reminiscent of post-‘Betty’ Helmet at times. We wouldn’t be surprised if Prong had a place on the band’s playlist as well: not so much in terms of the metallic elements, but in some of the phrasing of the lyrics, such as in the track ‘Leeches’.

‘Against the Brave’ boasts more than one volume, thanks to pumping rock anthems like the ‘Stitches’, ‘Penelope’ and the title track, offset by more delicate moments with ‘The Finding’ and ‘Something’ getting a little more introspective sounding.

While the album gives you a good impression of the emotional weight of the tracks, the production left us wondering if their live show would be a better way to experience the true impact of the band. All the levels are nicely mixed and the lyrics are clear enough, but you just know that some of the most explosive hooks that should have had you up and out of your seat could have been a little better represented.

Despite that minor quibbling, ‘Against the Brave’ surely puts Shinobi near the front of the pack of contemporary Aussie rock bands. Now that front man Eric Grothe Jr has retired from his old day job and can focus all his energies into Shinobi, it’ll be interesting to see just how far this band can go.

Leave a Reply