Review by By Jordonna Lobese for MPM
A mix of old and new, crafty – a little P.O.D. meets Beastie Boys meets Yngwie Malmsteen. I’m digging the bucket hats and the three-quarter shorts in Rise of the Northstar’s ‘One Love’ (Track 05) video. Who said 90’s rap was dead? Fast forward to 2023, and it’s alive and well.
ROTN proves it on their newest album ‘Showdown’, which is a compilation of 10 amazing songs from this French metal and hardcore punk band with Japanese influences that has been around since 2008.
Even the Japanese pop culture cover of Showdown was designed by Vithia (vocals and lyricist).
“A punch to the face” is how their music was once described by Joe Duplantier, Gojira’s guitarist, vocalist, and lyricist. After all, Joe D. should know; since, he produced the band’s second studio album, The Legacy
of Shi, at his Silver Cord Studio in New York back in 2018. ROTN’s lead guitarist, Eva-B, has said in a past interview that, Joe D. “added some details, and subtleties that pushed the songs further.” It has been a few years since that album.
But it is obvious how the detail work back in 2018 has clearly spilled over to their newest album ‘Showdown’ mixed by another Gojira alum, Johann Meyer and mastered by Ted Jensen of Sterling Sound
Studio, who has worked with some of the best.
And in comparing their past albums and EP’s with the present, ROTN’s sound has now become recognizable with its instrumental detailing, vocal hardness, and sense of notorious song endings of vocal and instrumental ‘fadeouts’.
This album is pure ‘metalmania’ with ‘Northstar’ being repetitively shouted out in the beginning of The Anthem, (Track 1) which is a fitting lead to what is about to be served up: A massive load of Northstar. Showdown (Track 2), is fast moving and grooving.
By the time you finish listening to those two, you’ll remember the name of this band, guaranteed! But it is the emblematic drum beatdown by Phantom (drummer) and the ‘drop tuning’ of Yoru (bassist) that take center stage on Showdown’s beginning tracks. Third Strike (Track 3) is one of the speediest and
strongest songs for showcasing the works of Eva-B (lead guitar) and Air One (guitar).
Crank It Up (Track 4), the ultimate party song for new-aged ‘rap and roll’ headbangers, is reminiscent of the Kid Rock and Beastie Boys era fast-forwarded a few decades. Transitional instruments and vocals are used to take this track to another level.
Click, click, crank it up!” and yet another ‘fade-out’ ending. Moving forward to Track 6, holy shit! Can
someone say ‘moshpit’? ‘Shogun No Shi”’ will start you out banging into fellow metalheads in the pit, catching your breath somewhere in the middle, and then it’ll take you back down to earth somewhere towards the end with a badass instrumental. The ending Rise (Track 10) is the perfect closure to a magnificent journey. Wicked beginning for the grand finale.
Nice vocals by Vithia. Like Disney’s Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, this song has a penchant for speed and mischief minus the driving.
If anything were to be changed, it would be the placement of Raijin (Track 8), which is a mid-paced tune with a much slower start into the Track 9 spot. After Clan (Track 7), which is one of the catchiest and my album fave, Golden Arrow (Track 9) would fit ‘smoshingly’; because of its instrumental speed and vocal tenacity.
Then again, with ROTN artistically seasoned and with the direction of Producer Ted Jensen, I’ll trust that
they knew exactly what they were doing.
Oh, well, I’ll need to listen a few more times to figure it out. Don’t mind, don’t mind at all! Rise of
the Northstar ‘Showdown’ was released April 7th, 2023 by label Atomic Fire Records, The New Home of Heavy Metal.
Rise Of The Northstar is:
Vithia – Vocals
Eva-B – Lead Guitar
Air One – Guitar
Yoru – Bass
Phantom – Drums
01. The Anthem
03. Third Strike
04. Crank It Up
05. One Love
06. Shogun No Shi
09. Golden Arrow
10. Rise [ライズ]
▶ FOLLOW @RISE OF THE NORTHSTAR