Rise of the Northstar: Welcame

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Rise of the Northstar: Welcame
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Rise of the Northstar: Welcame
Hardcore, Rap, Thrash Metal
Repression Records
September 22nd, 2014
Release length: 51:14
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Rise of the Northstar is relatively new French act whose music is largely inspired by Japanese culture, anime, and mangas. Anyone familiar with either of those three will probably be aware of the band’s name baring resemblance to Fist of the Northstar, a martial arts series that has become a phenomenon in that neck of the woods, as well as holding a strong cult fanbase across the globe. For 2014, this five-piece Hardcore/Thrash Metal outfit have been picked up by Repression Records to issue their debut full-length album, Welcame. But will this be something fans of both worlds can enjoy, or is this more for those who appreciate the New York Hardcore scene only?

Before even diving into this release, there are a few things that need to be discussed first about the musical direction of the group. While there are some Thrash Metal and Crossover elements scattered throughout the effort, much of the music is heavy on the Hardcore. However, the vocals and lyrics are all handled as rapping with a rougher Reggae accent to fit the aforementioned genres. This is vital to know because most marketing and promotional material labels this band as a new Thrash Metal act, which they really aren’t when you break it all down. “What the Fuck” starts off exactly like an eighties Thrash Metal introduction, on par with the slower material from Annihilator‘s Set the World on Fire album, jumping in with blistering material that treads the lines of furious Death Metal before landing on that Hardcore groove with ease. The riffs do have a hint of Crossover Thrash to them as well, and the tighter punishment behind the chorus even finds the vocals carrying a hint of latin flare similar to early Soulfly or Ill Nino.

A lot of you may have already quit reading before finishing that paragraph but, admittedly, “What the Fuck” is one of the few cliche songs of the album, not to mention really puts the high compression on the cymbals on display with how washed out they end up. Fortunately the rest of Welcame has a lot more going on to hold your interest. “Welcame (Furyo State of Mind)” brings in some turntable effects as well, coming off more like if Beastie Boys retained a Hardcore sound after their initial Metal phase, and it’s just full of enthusiasm that grabs you right away. The tight guitar solo just past three minutes in brings a more traditional Slayer aggression to the mix, a temporary Thrash influence that gives way to a rich and beefy breakdown to wrap things up nicely.

“Samurai Spirit” relies more on the deeper bass riffs and infectious drum patterns that start the main verses with more of a typical Rap presence, but shortly after you are greeted with a pretty commanding groove that only continues to grow into the chant-heavy chorus that is only gimmicky in the “sah-sah-sah-sah-sah!” that comes towards the end of it. But if you’re looking for the thrashier material, there are a few songs that exhert a great deal of aggression along those lines such as “The New Path.” This one follows closely to the Crossover Thrash guidelines with some Punk vocal harmonies during the chorus over some solid gang chants that incorporates some So-Cal influences along the lines of Suicidal Tendencies with a Madball touch now and then.

For the most part, there’s very little here that actually doesn’t kick ass in one way or another once you clear the less than engaging “What the Fuck,” but there is one rather large chunk that hits about half way through that makes you wonder if the band is going too far with incorporating various styles into the mix. “Bosozoku” is fairly generic due to the traditional Punk elements that lend nothing new, though some of the early Heavy Metal riffs that do appear from time to time are well appreciated. There’s also some further issues with the drums that sound as though they cut out like a damaged cassette. “Tyson” is a relatively short track that ends up more like an extended breakdown after the unimpressive minute and fifteen second build up. Even when the pace does finally pick up, you are cast back into a bland breakdown that trudges along. “Simon Says” isn’t bad in theory, but it does suddenly cast the album in more of a Wu-Tan Clan direction against a the aforementioned early Soulfly style that sounds as out of place as the aggressive “wikki-wikki wile-wah” that hits during “Authentic,” as if channelling Will Smith from the Wild Wild West film’s theme song.

Consider, if you will, the modern Vanilla Ice decided to do New York Hardcore and pretend to be Snow (the guy who did the song “Informer”) but only really writing about anime and you get the general idea of this release. The amount of styles and even regional elements that are incorporated as well as they are is actually surprising, especially for a French group. New York Hardcore, Thrash Metal, Crossover, Punk, even some Metalcore at times speak volumes of this group’s ability to transcend genres to make something wildly enthusiastic and incredibly fun. Sadly, not even track or experiment ends up a winner, finding about half to go off the rails and become something largely different than what Rise of the Northstar seem to initially set out to do with this effort. Other than that, the biggest opponent to the album’s impact is how atrocious some parts of the drum kit sound most of the time. But if you go in with an open mind and try to look past that issue, Rise of the Northstar‘s debut album Welcame will be an exciting experience that will leave you wanting more, but after a few times through find you skipping past certain tracks.


01. What the Fuck – 5:56
02. Welcame (Furyo State of Mind) – 4:27
03. The New Path – 4:05
04. Samurai Spirit – 3:42
05. Dressed All in Black – 4:52
06. Again and Again – 4:40
07. Tyson – 3:07
08. Bosozoku – 3:51
09. Simon Says – 3:30
10. Authentic – 2:50
11. Blast ’em Al – 10:15
Initial Pressing Score: 6/10

Rise of the Northstar
Rise of the Northstar

Digital review copy of this release provided by Clawhammer PR.