Shane & Ryan Flynn
Rise of the Northstar: Metals Most Popular Unknown Band
When you see a band that has a track with over ten million streams on Spotify, you'd usually be correct in assuming they're fairly well-known in the United States and much of the Western world. There is a very rare set of exceptions however when a band, usually not from the United States, manages to cultivate a fanbase just in their home nation and achieve a fairly large amount of success in a small bubble. Perhaps the greatest example of this can be seen in France's Rise of the Northstar. Begging in roughly 2009 in the underground French Hardcore scene, Rise of the Northstar, often shortened to ROTNS, have established themselves has the second largest metal band in France after Gojira despite having never played a single show in the United States of America. If you closely follow the core scene on social media you will rarely if ever see ROTNS mentioned and most fans seem to have next to no awareness of the group. So how has this underground group managed to do so well in YouTube views and Spotify streams? They've had an image and plan since day one. From their band name to their merchandise and aesthetic, ROTNS has founded the group on Japanese culture and imagery going as far as including Japanese subtitles in all their music videos, which endeared them to Japanese fans instantly.
Imagery aside, the band also came up with a style that made them immediately recognizable. They are very hard to categorize as far as a genre. ROTNS brings a little bit of everything to the table from trash with shredding solos, hardcore at it's purest, groove metal, 90's hip-hop, and the occasionally parts taken from the heavier side of core music. While the lyrics can often come off a little silly as English is not their first language, they manage to possess a charm with a strong positive attitude largely focused on the Japanese honor code of respect. ROTNS were one of the very first bands to bring back the 90's aesthetic that's insanely popular in heavy music at the time of writing this. The group has created a mysterious and special charisma without doing many interviews or press promotion further adding to their unique aurora.
It is worth noting that for their most recent record the group signed an American deal with Sharptone Records and recorded in New York City with Gojira frontman Joe Duplantier so perhaps they will finally start to see some growth in North America but to this point they've miraculously achieved this all primarily in one country. If you watch their music videos you'll get a grasp for the fantastic creative mind this collective possess. Even though early in their career the band was lumped in with the European thug beatdown hardcore scene, in actuality they've always had a sense of honor and dignity with a powerful concept that puts them head and shoulders above that scene. If ROTNS were American I have no doubts they'd be one of the most buzzed about core bands but due to a language barrier and lack of North American touring presence, the group remains largely unknown outside of their bubble of France. Rise of the Northstar is truly a fun, interesting, innovative and proficient band and I hope one day they will achieve the worldwide success they deserve.