Artist: Rise of the Northstar
Album: The Legacy of Shi
Few bands these days use their sound and style to its fullest. Sure, a lot of bands are heavy, and just as many are catchy, and a handful even manage to be both—Rise of the Northstar fits that bill nicely—but that doesn’t really tell you much about the band, especially these days when heavy music is just a pissing contest over who has the beefiest breakdowns and thickest chugs. Instead, Rise of the Northstar have remained true to something thoroughly unique, combining their own native culture with an expert ability to tell stories and craft scintillating tracks that pique curiosity and mosh-friendly aggression alike. Enter The Legacy of Shi—the band’s follow-up full length to their previous, critically acclaimed release Welcame. The Legacy of Shi has some of the band’s most riff-heavy anthems to date, yet also features more than their fair share of nu-metallic influence and bouncy, hip-hop influenced segments with a fierce and fun cultural twist. Balancing fun and brutality with—yes, catchiness—and something totally unique, Rise of the Northstar are back with an explosive take on extreme music that you don’t wan’t to miss.
Every track on The Legacy of Shi brings something different to the listener’s ears—and, in classic Rise of the Northstar fashion, it all sounds like it could be backing music to an avante-garde, ass-whooping anime series. Songs like the lead single, “Here Comes the Boom” or “This Is Crossover” are examples of the band combining gritty riffs with pummeling percussion and some bombastic breakdowns to invoke pure violence. Meanwhile, “All For One” or “Nekketsu” are a little more “tame” in a fashion that draws from mid-90s hip-hop and strict nu-metallic stylings to create an odd, somewhat ambient twist. Throughout each song, the band’s sound is built on energetic percussion and driving bass—a combo that serves as the foundation for even the brief introduction, “The Awakening” as much as it does for “Teenage Rage” and “This is Crossover.” However, “Cold Truth” and the aforementioned “Nekketsu” are more tempered, in that their assault on the listener isn’t quite so outright. This is true of “Nekketsu” in that it’s a more sullen and somber track, meanwhile “Cold Truth” starts off with a grisly riff that quickly segues into a hip-hop driven track that draws obvious influence from some of the 90s and 2000s most infamous hip hop anthems. It’s songs like “Cold Truth,” especially contrast against “This Is Crossover” that make Rise of the Northstar one of the most off-the-wall acts in heavy music right now—one song is a metal-meets-hardcore mash-up of murderously heavy grooves and breakdowns while the one that follows is bouncy, catchy and fun with just a tasteful dash of corniness to give it a sharp gimmick to sink into the listener’s skull.
The Legacy of Shi, just as it serves as a home for a multitude of instrumental styles, is also home base for a diverse display of vocal and lyrical prowess. With songs like “Cold Truth,” the band use references to timeless hip-hop and nu-metal tracks with a vocal style that matches seamlessly, whereas “This Is Crossover,” and many of the band’s less oddball tracks feature a tasteful blend of gritty, harsh roars and quick, piercing screams. As it stands, Rise of the Northstar use The Legacy of Shi as a loose framing mechanism for modern-day storytelling that draws from culture influences native to their own history as well as pop-culture references from recent years (or decades) alike. While it’s true that the band’s vocal style doesn’t reinvent the wheel, so to speak, it matches their attitude and instrumentation excellently.
The Legacy of Shi is a fun record, and it has no problem keeping the listener entertained for its duration. While some songs are deeper and more introspective or harrowing in nature, others are pure adrenaline and others yet are nothing short of gold when it comes to entertainment. Once more—as they did on Welcame—Rise of the Northstar prove they are far from a one trick pony, bringing a multitude of influences together to create a diverse and devastating experience.
For Fans Of: Nasty, Limp Bizkit, Drowning, Anime