So I’ve been sitting on this one for a little while. I wanted to give it its due. On top of that, my non DVOWR work tends to sort of culminate in a two week nightmare sprint that reviews 12 months of my work. So, a stressful time to say the least.
Arguably something that has helped me in dealing with this stress would be your boys Polaris. The Sydney 5-piece dropped their sophomore album at the end of February. This comes off their 2017 Aria nominated release – The Mortal Coil. This absolute fire punch of an album The Death Of Me, puts them in the drivers seat of Australian Metalcore. You’ve got a mix of deep and powerful lyrics, interesting statements, any one of which you could get tattooed across you. Some killer guitar riffage and drum fills. Some brutal scream perfectly complimented by the alternate singer.
We’ll briefly go through song by song, but this album is one to listen to. Maybe don’t even read this, just scroll to the bottom and grab the Spotify embed, turn it up to 11 and really just listen.
Pray for Rain – “and as the seasons pass, and winter’s numbing cold gives way to pain, we light these fires to sit beside as we pray like hell for rain”. This. song. Smacks. In doing research for this review, it was noted that this song was in the development cycle for a long time. A fair few iterations of it existed and the band struggled to get the song to where it is now. But this is a strong opening song to what is a monster album.
This is no mere introductory opening track that you get on some heavier albums. This is not a prelude. This is a fleshed out song that hits hard. Speaking of self reflection, seeing your worst enemy reflecting in the mirror, feeling cold and empty. Change. Not how we thought it would be. The running theme is that “I’ve never felt so cold” this song does anything but make you feel cold. It starts something, a fierce river flows inside the mantle of your heart. The excitement for the rest of the album. Now palpable.
A river of fire perhaps. Because that is what you get on the 2nd track Hypermania. I reviewed this a little while ago as the second single when it was released [link here]. But now, hearing this song in full context with what is around it (the songs I mean). This song is a brutal cry for help, and a powerful leap forward to fight your way out of the ground that is swallowing you whole. Read the previous review linked above. But this is one of my favourites off this album. Well worth your time.
Speaking of favourites. Not just off the album. But one of my songs of 2019. Masochist easily holds that mantle. The incredible shift between Jamie (scream monster) to Jake (melody vocal and bass) with an insane hook chorus is masterful. Just watch the video clip to give you an idea. The passion and movement that flows from Jamie while the band just powers through some incredible riffs and brutal drumbeats. There is a reason this is my favourite song from 2019. Same reason is might be yours. Similarly, I reviewed this last year when it came out. [link here] so give that a read. Still a standout song on this album as well. But it is flanked by some heavy hitters well worth your time. Luckily this doesn’t mute Masochist at all.
You say you’re happy, but are you satisfied? Landmine, does all it can to make you think about your shitty life. About everyone’s shitty life. How sometimes you do just want to explode. Key line Everybody wants to sell you something. Everybody wants a piece of your mind. Bite your tong and let the crows speak for you. Head in a hole and heart like a landmine. You’re passive, taking the world as it has come. Biting your tongue and never speaking up. But time has hit you like a freight train. Time to explode. It is time to stand up. All the heavy hearted, sing this with me. This is a call to arms. Speak up. Don’t take the shit that the hand keeps feeding you. Or are you cursed and condemned to a life of misery. As delve into the lyrics, each line gets deeper and deeper. This is a powerfully written song.
You don’t have to walk alone. To know what it feels like when nowhere feels like home. Vagabond. Probably my second favourite song off the album. Again, pairs the distinct vocal stylings between Jamie and Jake. That culminate in another stand out track on the album. Less urgency and brutality. With some similar themes lyrically. Talking about aimlessly wandering alone. Not having a safe place. Will anyone help you when you’re in this position? When my lungs refuse to breath, will you replenish the air in me? There is fear in this song. Possibly acceptance of where we are now, not where you thought you’d be. Things are different. It doesn’t sound like they are better. Evenly paced musicianship with a tidy solo to close out the track. I can’t tell if I just love the lyrics and the vocals. Or if this is speaking to me on a deeper level (which gives me cause for concern).
The night forgives and the day forgets. We paint ourselves in our past regrets. Love. Creatures of Habit speaks of love. Or at least long ago it was love. Now it is pain. Now it is war, now it is hostility. I don’t want to be your enemy. This song is a brutal take on self sacrifice and deprecation, whilst speaking past regret that has forged a rift. Personally, I don’t even think I’m smart enough to fully comprehend some of these lyrics. But one that stood out was Crush my spirit, use me for parts. This whole album feels like we are getting such a huge part of what this band is. I’d never use them for parts as I want them whole and powerful to continue doing this. but I’ll take everything they give!
Some dark and heavy stuff. Polaris throw away it all on Above My Head. We all have those drams where you’re losing all of your teeth. But do the walls begin to cave in. bury you beneath? When you wake do you wish the nightmares would come true? This is some of the imagery you get from this banger of a song. It rips in to an explosive guitar that glides over the chorus from Jake. Even as we grow, it hurts to know that some things never change. This song is a confession that you are in too deep. You’ve told people that you can’t take it. but no one listens. Nothing changes.
Then they change it up. Jump into this slow, soft spoken burner of a song Martyr [Waves]. Showcasing that this band isn’t just one speed. This is a slower and darker song that is self-reflective. Self-deprecating. But accepting that you’ve done what you could. Doing the best with who and what you are. Even the screamo parts of this song are soft, immersive. Every time I listen to this song, I like it that much more than the time before. The last half of the song is paired against a lovely guitar solo reminiscent of earlier progressive rock, with hints of glam. Serves as a great power Ballard to roll you into the soft last lines of what is a fantastic song that really does demonstrate Polaris have a lot more depth and range that you might think.
Expanding upon the previous song. All Of This Is Fleeting. Follows some similar themes and imagery. Trapped. In the life that you have. But you don’t want to let go. Faint glimmers of hope. Fear of those nightmares I spoke of earlier. This song is all chorus, and it fucking pushes you against the wall with it. again the paired vocals work so well. With some guitar riffs that remind me of a personal favourite Australian Progressive Rock outfit, Karnivool.
A pretty epic album culminates in accepting fate. The Descent does just that. Taking everything as it has been. Fighting against it where you can. The monster of this album. Is the darkness of mental health. The Descent paints imagery of an asylum. But cleverly picks out key images from previous songs. Sky rained ash, Malicious master of my destiny, flowers bloom from the snow, (winter’ numbing cold gives way to pain, shadow in the cemetery – hanging like a Marionette). This song asks you to follow Polaris down into the madness. Which you no doubt have done by now after going through this album.
Best thing to do, is take some space, and give it a second listen. Let every deep lyric crash on you like a wave, break like glass. This is a monster album, from what is fast becoming a giant of the metalcore movement. They just finished a run of shows to sell out crowds. I can only imagine the power that would come from the stage. The only reason I missed out, was I had TOOL tickets on the same night in my city.
Give this album a listen. This has been out for a few weeks; I’m already guessing it will be in my most played at my end of year Spotify wrap up. Metalcore is safe in the hands of this brutal five piece. I can not wait to see what the future brings for them, and by extension, what the future brings us, from them.