Rise of the Northstar
Too many influences and bad ideas was never going to end well
So, if you believe everything you read, then you, like myself, would believe that Rise of the Northstar are a young thrash band. Now, I’m sure that anyone who listens to this album expecting thrash metal to blast from your listening device of choice is sure to be pretty pissed off in about 50 minutes time because Welcame, the debut long player from Rise of the Northstar is anything but thrash. It’s clear their style is undoubtedly root in the New York (U.S.A.) hardcore scene but there’s more than a few occasions here where that comes into serious question thanks to a directionless mish mash of influences that pop up when you least expect it, some of which are legitimate “What the fuck?” moments for sure.
Now there is nothing wrong with colouring outside the box or bringing in influences or styles that enhance the music that you’re recording but in the case of Rise of the Northstar, I’m not convinced that the hardcore scene is ready for one dimensional, uninspired lyrics that swing randomly between the ramblings of Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst and boring repetitiveness of Soulfly’s Max Cavalera, over generic hardcore riffs that are at times mixed with sound effects a-la Cypress Hill. If nothing else, it’s unique, that’s for sure.
Within the first minute and a half or there abouts of the opening cut “What the Fuck” there’s gentle melodic guitars a-la some kind of thrash interlude the bursts into pure metalcore before settling into an undeniable hardcore groove. There’s even some Biohazard-esque groove and gang vocals here but nothing can save the track from the generic and unoriginal chorus. At least the title track is stronger over all but those aforementioned Cypress Hill like squeals are just flat out unnecessary.
The biggest problem with Welcame, which is the band’s first long player after two EPs and a demo, is its lack of originality. All too often it sounds either one of too many rehashed ideas from other artists that ultimately show little or no originality, or, the songs are a directionless mix of styles that suggest the band really don’t know where the fit. There are some ideas that stand tall and remind me of the likes of Hatebreed and Downset. But for every strong riff and every good idea, there just seems to be two or three times as many things that work against it - unnecessary effects in songs, terrible, cheesy Soulfly like lyrics and these things are the tip of the iceberg.
The thick sounding production, courtesy of Zeuss - who has worked with Madball, Hatebreed and Emmure amongst others - is absolutely huge as you’d expect. But even that cannot save the album when the band see fit to deliver Busta Rhymes like “woohaa’s” (in “Again and Again”), sound like Morris Minor and the Majors’ “Stutter Rap” (with “Samurai Spirit”) or Soulfly (on “Simon Says”). It’s not an album of boring ideas but one of too many bad ideas in the space of fifty minutes. Maybe hardcore fans with a sense of humour might warm to this but I suspect the rest of it will see this for what it is - a steaming pile that really isn’t’ worth your time or effort.
Nuclear Blast Records/Universal Music Australia