There are some pretty heavy hitters in Australian heavy music and not one to be left in the shadows is Sydney metalcore outfit Polaris. The band’s debut EP put them on the map, enjoyed a top 10 debut and was ARIA nominated, so it is safe to say the pressure is on for their follow up ‘The Death Of Me’ which will be hitting keen ears today. The question on everyone’s lips is: Does this album deliver?
Short answer: Hell yeah it does! This album is an absolute thrasher from the very first ambient refrains and desperate screams of opening track Pray For Rain. And even though the album spans a few different sounds and influences, each song holds its own and the entire album is a collection of damn good songs.
Pray For Rain starts the album off in a furious fashion and at nearly five minutes long, it is an epic start. From there it is straight into the self-described “feral, two minute and 40 seconds aural headbutt” of Hypermania. The vocals in this song have a Matt Caughthran from The Bronx vibe and it is an assault of sound in the best way. This song was one of the first written for the album, and it introduces some of the themes that appear throughout; the anxiety and paranoia that stemmed from the pressure of following up their successful EP and living with the success it brought them.
This theme flows into Masochist; it is easy to see why this song was the first single that came off the album as it is such a highlight. The song starts soulfully with warm guitar and beautiful clean vocals but breaks down pretty quickly into the soaring, heavy chorus which asks, “Am I addicted to the misery / Is this how I’ll always be?” This song builds and is one of many that show how talented the band is. The guitar in this song is just incredible.
The build-up of Masochist leads the listener into the super intense Landmine and speaking of guitars; the squealing solo in this song is a good one. After the ferocity of Landmine is another highlight on the album, Vagabond. This song is a fairly different vibe to the rest of the album; the verses have that The Bronx/old school California punk/hardcore feel, but then the chorus comes in and it’s catchy, clean and has a nineties alternative rock feel. While this may not seem like a ‘typical’ Polaris song with only a little of the signature metalcore elements in it, it will be surprising if this isn’t a lot of people’s favourite from the album. At the end of this song is an incredible guitar solo that sounds like it stepped straight out of the 1970/80s and will be fantastic to witness live. This song is a ride and has so many different elements that come together perfectly.
Next up is Creatures Of Habit which gets back to the metalcore sound and has a Northlane feel in places, mixed with that old school feel in others. Yet again, the guitar in this song is A+.
Every good album needs a slower, emotional moment and Martyr (Waves) is the incredible example on this album. What a song. It showcases incredible vocals and has warm, rich guitar sounds. This song will make listeners stop what they are doing to soak in all of the feelings. The song says, “I’ve given up on the fairy tale” and it feels like it talks about the way sadness can leave for a bit and then come crashing back, almost drowning us.
Drummer and leading lyric writer Daniel Furnari says the album has some of the bleakest material he has ever written. “We’re so lucky to be out here doing what we’re doing, but the baggage that comes with that can be pretty heavy at times, and it’s definitely brought to the surface and exacerbated certain aspects of our mental health,” he says. “Learning to deal with that has been a big part of the journey. In a lot of ways, the album is a chronicle of what we’ve been through. There’s been a lot of good times too, but it’s not a happy record by any stretch -writing from a place of pain and struggle is a part of who we are as a band.” These themes and feelings litter the album but with catchy songs that allow the listener to enjoy them at the same time. The topics are heavy, but the delivery of them is definitely not suffocating.
While Furnari may be the main lyricist, this is a band made up of musicians who all pull their weight. Furnari himself delivers relentless drumming, and as mentioned several times in this review, the guitar riffs and solos of Rick Schneider and Ryan Siew are just exceptional. Another fantastic example of this is Above My Head which has a great bridge. Jake Steinhauser provides incredible bass, like in the five-minute closing epic The Descent which features an astonishing bass solo and his clean vocals are beautiful. His voice is so good and clean and is one that actually wouldn’t be out of place in the pop world (that is definitely meant as a compliment). Jamie Hails’ screams are as furious as always, but he also delivers some soulful cleans like in Masochist. Both the cleans and screams are so clear and crisp, the lyrics are easily picked out and don’t get lost behind the wall of noise. This is, of course, helped along by the incredible production; the sound on this album is flawless.
This has been a highly anticipated album and it delivers. These songs will be incredible to see live and you’d be crazy not to get along. Polaris is making their mark on the Australian heavy music scene and making sure it is a unique one. This isn’t just another heavy band and they definitely should not be slept on. Find out what all the fuss is about before you get left behind.
The Death Of Me is out now via Resist Records.