Twelve Foot Ninja + Daniel Calabro, The Algorithm & Shadowgame - 170 Russell, Melbourne, 5/4/2014

Twelve Foot Ninja’s homecoming was universally adored. Welcome to prime time, my fusion metal senpais

Opening Twelve Foot Ninja's record-breaking video Ain't That a Bitch is a bearded Karate ManChild. He's stuck waxing on/waxing off a banana-coloured Ford Laser. As a Mr. Miyagi clips him behind the ear, it inspires frenzied speed. In the blink of an eye, he's whittled the automotive relic into a sleek Lamborghini. Over the commotion croons vocalist Nik Etik; "If it never gets better than this/I'm walking out of here." A vent of frustration over bumbled organ chords from their debut, Silent Machine? Or a signpost of what’s to come?

Since 2008, they've dithered in 4th place's darkness at the alt/prog/rock/metal Olympics. Gold, Silver and Bronze, at least in the press' cloudy eye, hang around the necks of Karnivool, The Butterfly Effect and Dead Letter Circus. Come 2013, the looming ninja went prime time. It was time to headline. Headline to packed crowds. Crowds who hunger for our venerable ninjas.

Grins and wide-eyes filled the stage as '12N burst on, stripping away an inane after-image of acoustic "palate cleanser" Daniel Calabro. Rule one of making friends and influencing punters who only want you to rack off and hurry along the band they paid to see: don't deadpan and insinuate you'd "root their mums." Admittedly, he's got skill. Then, he talks down to us like we're five years old. Go away, Daniel. Go away forever.

Further still from our minds was Le French le chiptune act The Algorithm. Now I know what it's like to live in a Commodore 64's SID music chip. Try as you might, stirring up a metal-oriented crowd into frenzy tweaking knobs and huddled over an Apple MacBook is a tough gig. Looping the same four minutes of Battletoads footage helps, like prayer helps a gaping shotgun wound. A throwback Friday mash up of Daft Punk and Super Mario Kart makes one yearn for the real thing. I still have both those things gathering dust somewhere, right? Ssssank yew, vary maash.

Twelve Foot Ninja are by no means treading virgin path matching metal with reggae, dubstep with lounge. It's long, worn and bears footprints of great and pioneering musos. You can name them, go ahead and try.

What Twelve Foot Ninja rallied on side was generous servings of soul, a connection with crowd. "We're so happy to be back home," guitarist Stevic gushed. The Ninja helped us to old favourites for the faithful, such a squeezing and squeaking Portrait #1. The boys bounced and tore through it like Day 1 of Tour 1. Nik rammed home careening heights and register-bottoming scrapes, nary missing a note. Unlike some bands that ram pure flash and chops down our throats to yank out awe, '12N drive their muscle and melody harder by breaking off pieces and handing it to us to keep.

Mid-way through their hour and a bit set, Ain't That a Bitch's adipose-addled antagonist waddled out on to stage, sipping on trademark Strawberry Big M. We smiled a smile we usually reserved for in-jokes cracked between good mates, among furied horn raising and neck snapping. Can we do the Meshuggah/Wolf of Wall Street chest thump on cue? Yes, we can. All of us.

Metal bands are obsessed, at least in the press, with "doing it for the fans." Consistently, they’ll rattle off similar platitudes without ever following through. Fleeting this twin peak of fan adoration and creative spark might be, here’s the headline: In 2014, '12N have pretty much nailed it. Their next test of might: sustaining it.