The Legacy Of Shi
Nuclear Blast Records)
As a life-long Hard Rock and Heavy Metal aficionado with a significant interest in Asian cultures, I've often found myself subconsciously gravitating towards artists and groups ranging in diversities from Abigail, Dir En Gray, Loudness (i.e. the Michael Vescera era) and avant garde legends Sigh. Fortunately, my once comfortable level of quasi-artistic tunnel vision has since expanded exponentially, leaving me much more conscious of the auditory offerings from our Far East brethren. An unusual albeit prime example of such an act is Paris, France-born, Manga-themed (i.e. Japanese graphic novels) Crossover Metal upstarts Rise Of The Northstar. Emerging in 2010 with their debut EP Tokyo Assault and it's well-regarded follow-up Demonstrating My Saiya Style (EP) (2012), the group signed with Nuclear Blast Records for their full-length debut Welcame (2014). Now, as they prepare to unleash the highly-anticipated The Legend Of Shi, the group appears destined for a true breakthrough.
On the brilliant The Legacy Of Shi (2018), an expertly assembled eleven song collection of Hardcore, Hip Hop and Thrash-infused Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the relentlessly pummeling first single “Here Comes The Boom” and the maddeningly infectious, 'later-day' Korn-influenced laments “Kozo”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Deftly intertwining messages of hope, bravery and, perhaps most prominently, revenge via classic '80's Manga characters Kenshiro (from Fist Of The Northstar), Kawato and Seiya, the group showcases their seemingly unparalleled creative hybrid. Offering a seamless and occasionally frantic barrage of scathing vocals, blistering fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms, the group drives home each key focal point with a justifiably overconfident, chest-thumping bravado that belies the length of their relatively brief existence.
Continuing with the anthemic, emotionally-charged “Step By Step” and the oft-thunderous modus operandi “This Is Hardcore”, the airtight--to say the very least--combination of vocalist Vithia, rhythm guitarist Air-One, lead guitarist Eva B, bassist Fabulous Fab and drummer Phantom (replacing the inexplicably absent Hokuto No Kev) steamrolls ahead with what can only be described as a well-rehearsed ease. Driving home each key focal point by fully accentuating the already well-documented talents of each member, the group flexes their creative muscles early early and often. Channeling their admiration for the Deftones, post-The Burning Red (1999) era Machine Head and, of course, Rage Against The Machine, the group gleefully expounds on their obsession with 1990's American Hip Hop. Boldly engulfing the average listener amid an array of real-life experiences depicted by fictional, Japanese cultural references, their uniqueness defines them without buoying them to a single genre.
Boldly improving upon the equally ingenious Welcame (2014) and, for that matter, the woefully-underrated gem Demonstrating My Saiya Style (2012), other standouts, including the Senjō No Merī Kurisumasu-fueled (i.e. the 1983 David Bowie P.O.W. tome Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence) “Furyo's Day” as well as the equally impressive closer “The Legacy Of Shi”, effectively deliver the goods while remaining wholeheartedly distanced from their few would-be contemporaries. With acclaimed Gorjira leader Joe Duplantier (Cavalera Conspiracy, Empalot, Devin Townsend Project) helming the project at his Brooklyn, New York-based Silver Cord Studios, the group has at long last channeled the unabashed intensity of their frenetic live performances, making The Legend Of Shi quite easily worthy of the highest of critical and commercial distinctions. The end result(s), as you've almost assuredly deduced, is one of the finest 'all-new' non-compilation effort of the rapidly waning year.
In conclusion, what ultimately makes the group's arguably unorthodox lyrical and compositional approach such a refreshingly stark option is their unabashedly bold and intense dedication to re-inventing the proverbial wheel without any discernible fears of failure. The end result(s), as you've undoubtedly already deduced, of the group's more-than-considerable efforts are nothing short of extraordinary and deserve to be treated accordingly. Even if you somehow find yourself less than enthralled with their inexhaustible penchant for expertly 'coloring outside the lines' of yore, one must, at the very least, sincerely admire the group's infallible sense creativity and outright ingenuities. As a result, if you've once again found yourself in searching for a musically adventurous alternative to the painfully mindless din and galumph that is so often force fed en mass, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane catholicons for whatever it is that ails you. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
The Legend Of Shi (2018)
Demonstrating My Saiya Style (EP) (2012)
Tokyo Assault (EP) (2009)
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