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Rise Of The Northstar - Showdown Award winner

Rise Of The Northstar
by Andrew Harvey at 26 May 2023, 3:53 AM

These hard hitting musicians from France are very much on the comeback as they were recently on a hiatus, these hardcore and very well equipped individuals have so much talent to show as they are a mix of heavy metal, with hip hop influences as well as culture aspects of the Japanese. They have been led from the start by their singer VITHIA who first formed the band all the way back in 2008 as they went through some changes in the lineup, as they released their debut EP titled TOKYO ASSAULT in 2009. Then this was followed up closely by their next EP which was DEMONSTRATING MY SAIYA STYLE in 2012 and then came the release of their debut album WELCOME two years later in 2014. This together with the two EP releases certainly made their name well known as they began touring as well just before the debut album was released, travelling to China and Taiwan.

So onwards after their debut album, which was well received and certainly defined their sound as their previous two EP’s did also, they did sign a licensing deal with Nuclear Blast Records giving their debut album the recognition across Europe and the globe. Around four years after their debut album, they were ready to release another album which was LEGACY OF SHI in the year 2018, so only a few years after their debut album, the band continued on to bring their sound further on. This album followed the story of a samurai named Shi and now the band are back after another few years has passed by, their new album SHOWDOWN was set to be released last month in April 2023.

As we go straight into the new album with the first track being “The Anthem” as we hear the dropkick of true metalcore and backing vocals shouting, as we hear the Japanese signature in the vocals as well. The full band is in full swing and bass heavy riffs are active and the tempo does go from allegro to adagio or fast to slow, as the transition does well to make the contrast clear enough for the listener for this one minute intro. “Showdown” with subtle guitar riffs then the bass drops again for the body blow, heavy with rap style vocals with sustained guitar notation. Drums are looping around on a pretty cool pattern and the differences with the verse and chorus sections are very well arranged in terms of dynamics or articulation. Even the additional vocal lines when the time is right, is such a unique attribute to the style that this band has been portraying so well in their previous work.

There is even more vocals taken into account, with low end monstrous screamer notes. So now we head into the next track which is “Third Strike” comes in with a fighting heavy metal sound that reminds of those early days of SLIPKNOT and the big names like KORN or any other heavy metal band of the 1990’s or 2000’s. The sheer determination and cutting edge of every stab of drums striking through and then guitars kicking or screaming alongside drums with vocals striving for more. Then we hear the brief vocal clip of the Japanese trademark as we hear from time to time. What an awesome follow up as we head into the next track which is “Crank It Up” as the volume is literally unchanged as drums set the benchmark.

Such a wonderful combination with guitars and drums for vocals to feed on as they march on with all the varied hip hop style patterns, as the backing vocals support also. Cymbals being used as accents for vocals and guitars to jump off into the fore, showing their confidence as guitar produces those vibrato notes. Vocals are always repeating those words of the title of this track, ramping up the mix of all there is to see, so we head onto the next track which is “One Love”. Deep tone vocals are first in with guitar as they bring the drums in head on for a hip hop style section, as we hear the modern metal influences also even hearing backing vocals also gives the hint of a nu-metal element to this track. Even the breakdown section gives so much edge and bite, so much depth and intuition by drums or guitars as well as vocals.

“Shogun No Shi” shoots in with mesmerising guitar pulsating with drums also as the evil vocals come roaring back in, backing vocals also giving their unconditional support. Bass guitar really sets the tone, as that animalistic and furious vocal line is back in, the metalcore breakdown has the upper hand with guitars and drums, then sustained guitar comes in surprisingly with various tonal changes or effects. “Clan” is next up with mellow guitar starting this track off before drums come crashing in as vocals also contribute the rhythm and rhymes they have been delivering so well in this album so far. Vocals and drums set the bar high with the hip hop style section they pursue for a short time, melodic electric guitar is in there hitting those high notes. An instrumental section also is in play, as the electric guitar sings harmonically and produces a glissando effect as well as drums play to accompany the guitar.

“Raijin” bang on with the drums and guitars booming like mad, as the two vocal parts are heard, one being more sinister or obscene and the other more cleaner but rhythmic. Drums are really thumping out those drum hits and cymbals as well, there is a gradual crescendo with all instruments playing a part in this as we head closer now to the next track as savage vocals also lead the way. “Golden Arrow” with banging cymbal hits and guitar going wild with ecstatic solo work as well, we hear a mix of nu-metal rapping and bass heavy guitar parts before more sustained guitar, backing vocals also coming into the picture as well. Even drums do mimic a thrash style, certainly slamming those skins and guitars letting it rip with massive contributions.

There is so much energy and commitment in every section of this track, there is a gradual descent in volume as we now come to the final track which is “Rise\[ライズ]” as a gradual crescendo comes in with drums or guitar making this their prerogative. Then the heavy hardcore of drums are pounding and vocals speak clearly with the hip hop style it has executed so well, with backing vocals adding that extra bit of awesomeness, the drums are crunching away every strike of the skin or cymbal. Guitar does well to blend into the mix to allow vocals and drums to take command of the first section or two before a guitar solo is in there before guitar picks slowly with a vocal part over it. So the album comes to a close with all instruments coming together one last time for a climax as the album finishes on a strong point.

The album overall is incredible and such a big influence from the Japanese culture with all these heavy metal or maybe nu-metal factors do remain their advantage, it is clear that this band will go a long way with what they have achieved already, with this new album they will be remembered for years to come. The album certainly packs a punch, drums are astounding, shredding guitar parts and monstrous vocals all come to give the listener so much to take away from hearing their music. I admire these guys for the tension and atmosphere they bring to the table with their influences as well as their talent for making such good music, well done guys, loved the album.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. The Anthem
2. Showdown
3. Third Strike
4. Crank It Up
5. One Love
6. Shogun No Shi
7. Clan
8. Raijin
9. Golden Arrow
10. Rise \[ライズ]
Vithia - Vocals
Eva-B - Guitars
Air One - Guitars
Yoru - Bass Guitar
Phantom - Drums
Record Label: Atomic Fire Records


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