Rohan Hayes deploys fearsome baritone riffs and mariachi strums in this monstrous playthrough of Twelve Foot Ninja's Culture War

Hailing from Melbourne, Victoria, Australian four-piece Twelve Foot Ninja have established themselves as bankable purveyors of anthemic, tech-flavored heavy metal, and they showcase their unique sound to fearsome effect on their latest LP, Vengeance.

The third full-length offering in their catalogue – after Silent Machine (2012) and Outlier (2016) – Vengeance takes the listener on a sprawling sonic journey, traversing everything from drop-tuned riffage to ultra-tight hip-hop beats.

Among the record's highlights – of which there are plenty – is its eighth track, Culture War. Comprising three-and-a-half minutes of unbridled electric guitar riffs – and even a mariachi-inspired section in the middle – the track plays host to some of the album's most notable six-string work, and resident rhythm man Rohan Hayes joins Guitar World today to put it all on display.

Gear-wise, Hayes uses a Shuriken Variax baritone guitar – designed by the band's lead guitarist Steve "Stevic" MacKay in collaboration with Line 6 – running through a Line 6 Helix Floor amp modeler and effects unit.

Culture War is the chaos child of the Vengeance album,” Hayes says. “A personal favorite section of the album starts from Culture War's bridge (at the two-minute mark). The Spanish section evokes this imagery of a mariachi band parading through the middle of a war. Also, that contrasting machine gun riff that follows is going to give Russ [drums] haemorrhoids. 

“It’s a beast of its own to play! It’s nearly impossible to execute without this Shuriken Variax because of all the custom tuning shifts. It allows us to change into whatever tuning we want.

“Kin Etik [vocals] wrote the main riff, guided by his melodic sensibility and MIDI, completely disregarding the guitars tuning framework. The translation across to the guitar brings its challenges, but it makes for some really interesting riffs that a guitarist wouldn’t otherwise think of.”

  • Twelve Foot Ninja's latest album Vengeance is out now.

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Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at from 2019 to 2023, and also created content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.