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Rize were considered the Japanese answer to Korn, but Alterna doesn't quite justify the nu-metal label, having that typical J-rock glossy sheen, although it's more energetic than the style's common fare. The album is as much punk-pop as rapcore: more often than not, the guitars are speedy and melodic but not genuinely heavy, and the nasal vocals would fit on a blink-182 record, though this isn't a blink clone. Alterna still carries its fair share of start-stop rhythms that may lack angst, but still have plenty of ferocity. The album, in fact, is surprisingly versatile in approach, if not in mood -- it has a pop-like optimistic all the way through, but Rize use a number of stylistic tricks to get their point across: "Pink Spider" is a Filter-styled industrial song complete with programmed drums and distorted shouting over moderately catchy riffs, and "Ten to Chi no Hazama ni Ikiru Shounen" is a unexpectedly tame jazz-pop attempt to cater to the Oricon charts. The highlight of the record is "Heiwa," which is the best nu-metal ballad since P.O.D.'s "Youth of the Nation." Though not the same mammoth hit, it still burns itself into memory on the first listen with its simple and hypnotic riff helped, rather than hindered, by the silly lyric snippets like "It ain't easy to be a mommy/It ain't easy to be a daddy." However, this is the only song on the album to last, and that's a problem. Rize remain in the shadow of bigger American acts. Their fusion of nu-metal and So-Cal punk may be flawless, but it's still derivative -- and the only thing that can save a band in this position is hooks. Those come in short supply here, and that means, that, by the end of the day, Alterna is just a spirited but dispensable soundtrack for a friendly mosh pit session.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:24
2 2:47
3 2:35
4 4:31
5 3:04
6 3:20
7 2:59
8 2:55
10 2:31
blue highlight denotes track pick