Polaris – ‘The Death Of Me’

By Dave Stewart

There appears to be something in the Australian water that helps produce solid bands. There’s a seemingly ever growing list of acts appearing from the land down under, all of them slaying audiences over the globe with effortlessly infectious songwriting, full of big riffs and even bigger hooks. Sydney’s metalcore giants Polaris definitely fit that description, bursting onto the global scene with a string of powerful material including their stunning debut full length ‘The Mortal Coil’ in 2017. 2020 sees them return to the metalcore spotlight with the release of their second album ‘The Death Of Me’, dialing up the intensity to deliver yet another glistening gem.

This record picks up exactly where the last one left off, continuing to deliver punch after devastating punch of hard-hitting metal power. Album opener ‘Pray For Rain’ may initially lead you to believe that this is a slightly more relaxed affair, but the feeling will only be temporary. Out of nowhere, it erupts with huge riffs, courtesy of guitar duo Rick Schneider and Ryan Siew, bursting through the mix and practically forcing your neck to bang your head. It starts strong, and there’s plenty more where that came from.

There’s the anthemic wails and soaring choruses of ‘Masochist’, the full-force onslaught of ‘Creatures Of Habit’, the technical and sombre movements of the elegant epic ‘All Of This Is Fleeting’, the thunderous and unrelenting juggernaut ‘Landmine’ – it doesn’t provide any opportunities to relax or recover. There’s opportunities to bask in lighter moments, sure, but they’re temporary. The captivating and contagious guitar work just keeps on coming, as do the vocal hooks, digging themselves deeper into your brain with every passing moment – and this is just a mere scratch at the surface of this record.

‘Above My Head’ is a stunning collection of beautiful yet aggressive layers, each one contributing to the overwhelming weight of the music. Front man Jamie Hails and bassist and vocalist Jake Steinhauser are operating at their best here, putting what is collectively one of the most impassioned and catchy performances on the record. They also demonstrate their prowess on the poignant and heart-wrenching ‘Martyr (Waves)’, delicately suspending warming melodies over an ever developing musical landscape. Drummer Daniel Furnari demonstrates a phenomenal amount of feel in his playing here too, acting as the catalyst for the shifts in the surroundings by flaunting his impressive grasp on dynamics and pace.

‘Hypermania’ is a full throttle crash course in fast paced metalcore, tearing through endless frantic movements with unbridled fury and potent, seething venom. It’s the shortest song on the record by quite a way, but it does everything that it needs to in 2:42 and leaves your stomach grumbling for more. The real diamond of the record can be found in the album closer ‘The Descent’ though, bringing proceedings to an end in the most masterful and grandiose of ways.

The guitars are all gigantic, the pounding drums driving them even further skyward where they’re met with the staggering vocals. Hails and Steinhauser demonstrate great balance between the light and the dark here, spitting fire in all the right places before battling the flames with tidal waves of emotion. It ends after a calamitous breakdown, suddenly coming to a halt and leaving you sat in silence, in awe of what you’ve just heard. They’ve done it again.

There’s so much animosity and rage contained within this album that’s powerful enough to conjure up those feelings in you as you listen. But despite that boiling brew of bitterness, it somehow manages to make you smile throughout. As tempestuous as the record, is there’s something so undeniably fun about it. The big bouncy riffs, the pit-hungry breakdowns, the catchy vocal melodies and patterns – they’re all characteristics that come as part of the genre, but the way they’re delivered here is spellbinding.

Metalcore is not dead. Polaris have got a very firm grip on the flag that’s flying for it. If you’re a fan of this genre and you’re into bands like August Burns Red, Architects and Beartooth, then this album will soon integrate itself into your most played. ‘The Mortal Coil’ sewed the seed for Polaris’ success, and ‘The Death Of Me’ sees that seed begin to flower and blossom into something beautiful. A vigorous and triumphant belter from one of Australia’s finest exports.

DAVE STEWART

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