Rise Of The Northstar: Cartoon Fretwork

The beauty of music is that inspiration can come from a wide variety of sources, and be appropriated in ways you may never have considered.

For example, have you ever thought that crushing crossover thrash may have been inspired, not by the Big 4, but by Japanese manga movies? Sounds odd, but it’s the main source for the hardcore/metal/hip hop hybrid of France’s Rise Of The Northstar.

“We are inspired by manga,” explains vocalist Vithia. “Because it tells you to be tenacious, to have courage, it teaches you the value of friendship. All of those things are integral to the ethos of Rise Of The Northstar.”

It’s hard to know how you’d take those unusual influences and make music out of them, but ROTN are specific in their aims. “We want to be the most important and influential metal band in Japan,” Vithia enthuses. “Our aim is to invite people on a trip to Japan when going to a ROTN concert.We invite you to experience Tokyo for the price of a subway ticket.”

When bands are inspired by things that are non-music based, it’s always slightly harder to decipher how that influence manifests itself.

“Our imagery and lyrical content would be completely different without it.” Vithia states. “It’s fair to say that the entire aesthetic of the band wouldn’t exist if we didn’t have that as a basis.”

A compelling case indeed, but while there are definite echoes of the cultural landscape of The Land Of The Rising Sun on Rise Of The Northstar’s debut album, Welcame, it’s certainly not the first thing that grabs you. Instead, it’s the fleet-fingered fretwork, crushing riffs and seething, swaggering lyrical delivery that recalls everyone from Madball and Biohazard’s street hood strutting to Slayer and Lamb Of God’s brutal metallic precision and sounds… strangely, both contemporary and classic all at the same time. It’s hard to know exactly where to place ROTN, so where do they place themselves?

“Alone!” Vithia says, bluntly. “It’s the hardcore scene that gave birth to the band, but the 90s metal scene is what we pay tribute to. Bands like Rage Against The Machine are our biggest musical influences. We are a homage to their spirit, musically, whilst being indebted in our imagery and lyrical content by 90s manga.”

If that doesn’t sound like a combination to get excited about, then you are a very jaded person indeed. This is a band with big ideas and bigger ambitions.

“We hope to one day be considered in the lineage of a band like Slipknot,” Vithia says, in a manner that lets you know he really means it. “They managed to achieve global superstardom, sell out arenas and headline festivals whilst playing the most brutal music imaginable.”

Quite a task, but Rise Of The Northstar have the inspiration to take it just as far.


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