Ninja Slaughterhouse slays it in the studio
A group of punks from the Sierra Tract are growing up.
Sure, Ninja Slaughterhouse still likes to slash a zombie’s head and encourage a mosh pit to boot it like a soccer ball, but the South Shore band’s second album is a harbinger of a maturing band.
Together nearly four years, South Tahoe’s favorite noisemakers on Saturday celebrate the release of “Slave My Heart.”
“We’re progressing as musicians and I think it shows in the songwriting that our musicianship has gotten a lot better,” said rhythm guitarist Chris Nungary. “We’re getting a lot more technical. It’s obviously a more serious one than our first album, lyrically and musically.”
Headliner Ninja Slaughterhouse on May 21 busts out the CD, along with new guitars, Nungary’s Gibson Les Paul and Marc “Monkey” Jensen’s Schecter.
Epitaph Records’ Heartsounds, a Bay Area group featuring Laura Nichol and Ben Murray, formerly of Light This City, will be the penultimate punkers with a ’90s flavor.
Until Your Heart Stops, also from the Bay Area, hits the stage, along with opener Melvin Makes Machine Guns from the biggest little city on Highway 80 between Sparks and the state line.
Ninja’s had just one lineup change, inserting Marone’s drummer Adam Marin last April, who was flawless during three days of recording at Santa Cruz’s Indigital Studio.
“He was one-take Jake,” said singer Chad Davis. “He kind of got a big head about that one. He did good. He’s made everything more intricate and progressive. He’s definitely made us step it up.”
Davis is unassuming (especially after shearing his dreads) off the stage, pugnacious upon it.
“I let music pretty much take me over,” Davis said. “I express what’s going on in my life and my friends’ life, and I take that, and when I get onstage, I switch. It’s kind of like going into another person.”
Marin and bassist Adrian Mills set the rhythm, along with Nungary, and Jensen wails on leads with a six-string voice that commands attention. Davis adds the lyrics, with their riddles and metaphors.
“We paid a lot of money to make it legit and sound powerful and we didn’t half-ass anything this time,” said Davis, who wrote “Let the Doves Fly,” a heartache homage to former Whiskey Dick’s soundman Paul Howell.
The emotional track is pure punk rock blues, and it raises the notion Ninja Slaughterhouse might be the best this town has had since the mid-90s when Turd was signed by a Los Angeles record company after being discovered in Rojo’s Cavern.
“In the short amount of time I’ve been a member of that band, we’ve accomplished more than anything I’ve ever done in any other band,” Marin said. “Within the first four or five months, we were recording the CD and playing some big shows with legendary bands in our eyes.”
Ninja has opened for the Dead Kennedys, the Vandals, Guttermouth and the Dickies.
With the release of “Slave My Heart,” it’s time for Ninja Slaughterhouse to be the headliner.
“We’re looking to get toured and signed; (that’s) our goal for the summer,” Nungary said. “Now that we have a legitimate album where we can say we worked hard at, we paid money for it, we’re taking it serious. Hopefully people who are interested in signing bands will see that and take it a little more serious than we’ve been taken in the past.”