North Kingsley – Vol. 2 EP
Released: 4 December 2020
Shavo Odadjian // Bass and Guitar
Ray Hawthorne // Vocals and Lyrics
Saro Paparian // Producer
Enjoy those new System of a Down tracks? Well, that’s not all Shavo Odadjian has been up to this year. In case you missed it, the SOAD bassist has a side-project on the go called North Kingsley and they’ve just released their second EP Vol. 2 in just a couple of months. With more of a hip-hop focus than what we know Odadjian for, you shouldn’t expect any “blast off, it’s party-time” but more of a familiar bass-line and an experimental rap flavour. If you’re open to something a little different, you should certainly check this out.
The three-track EP is produced by Shavo’s good mate Saro Paparian, who’s mixed ‘False Idols’, the opening track that features a really big special guest in the hip-hop/rap world – RZA of Wu-Tang Clan. Vocalist Ray Hawthorne continues where he left off on Vol. 1 vocally, and Shavo is immediately identifiable.
The production for ‘False Idols’ is incredible. With a good pair of cups on, the bass makes it feels like you’re listening to a ‘hip-hop of the year’ type playlist, which to me speaks volumes for the outfit in their infancy stage. Coupled with a music video (coming soon), RZA has a blistering verse that lays down another sonic layer to this already very thick track. Whilst Shavo is on both bass and guitar for North Kingsley, it’s that perpetual bass that brings a metal-head back to genuine interest and curiosity for these guys.
The mid-point track ‘Rifle in Thought’ continues with an impressive contemporary hip-hop mix, feeling like an unexpected step-forward from the debut EP – which was a great introduction to North Kingsley, however it definitely feels different to this level of refinement. Hawthorne raps really well to Odadjian on a sizzling guitar and this song reflects that immensely. I really like how ‘Rifle in Thought’ is mixed by Paparian in a way that picks up and crescendos like a metal track often would. There’s some real potential to release a nu-metal record if these guys wanted to go down that path.
Punchy track ‘Shadowbox’ brings a melodic element to North Kingsley that we haven’t heard yet on Vol 2. The extent of musical diversity on this EP is incredible. These musicians come together with a sound that screams unison and musical alignment. The song jumps in with incredibly refined bass mixes and a hip-hop ethereal that steadily builds. Hawthorne and Odadjian carry on with a bouncy verse, before a clean-chorus takes over the whole song’s atmosphere, and again leaves you wondering what else this band are capable of. If you haven’t heard North Kinglsey yet and you’re curious, give this EP the few minutes it definitely deserves. If you have heard their first EP, then enjoy the ride, mate.
North Kingsley – Vol. 2 EP tracklisting:
1. False Idols (feat. RZA)
2. Rifle in Thought
Check out our interview with Shavo chatting all things North Kingsley here