POLARIS is an Australian metalcore band from Sydney that outgrew the underground scene and swiftly rose to international acclaim. After the successful EP “The Guilt & The Grief,” they released their debut album “This Mortal Coil” in 2017. With this incredibly well-received debut (it even reached Australia’s Top 10!), they deservingly put their mark on the metalcore scene. Lots of international concerts and festival performances later, including supporting big names such as ARCHITECTS and PARKWAY DRIVE, they have made a solid name for themselves all over the world. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that fans have been highly anticipating the sophomore album that will be released on 21 February 2020, titled “The Death of Me.”
It cannot be denied that the stakes were high for POLARIS. How do you top a debut album that was both impressive and memorable? Well, apparently by keeping a part of the existing formula going while adding innovation in the form of newfound maturity. Somewhere in between tours, the band somehow found the time to focus on writing some new material. Songwriter Daniel Furnari creates by drawing a lot from personal experiences, which makes for a deep, emotionally raw style still apparent in this second album.
This album is no walk in the park. It’s dark, unforgiving, and will drag you down into its depths if you let it. Songs like “Masochist” and “Martyr” deal with difficult introspective themes such as self-hatred and punishment, by breaking taboos still often conveniently ignored by contemporary society. The second single “Hypermania” is an anxiety-ridden ball of chaos, lit on fire by its sheer all-consuming emotionality. I might come off as dramatic, but this is a dramatic album, leaving you emotionally drained after listening. This is an anthology of deeply complicated feelings that you can either embrace fully or not at all, and I must say it left me dumbfounded.
The musical style is one of unrelenting speed, violently aggressive riffs/drums, but also cautious experiments in leaving the metalcore spectrum. All of this is complemented by the harshly raw screams of Jamie Hails, who nearly literally spills his guts. The band decided to add bassist Jake Steinhauser’s screams as a gripping contrast, and as surely as it worked live, it works in the studio as well. Just listen to “Hypermania,” which is a rarity for POLARIS since it has no clean vocals at all, and you’ll catch my drift. Another one worth zooming in to is “Landmine,” which is as explosive as the title would suggest, and leaves you on your knees, gasping for breath.
Both the tracks individually and the album as a whole carry so many nuances, leaving something refreshing to be discovered every listen. “Martyr” is an example of a song that really drew me in. In contrast with other material, the band ventures into a rather unknown territory by choosing a different way of storytelling than they are used to. Instead of a raging fire, this is more of a dark pool of water the listener is being submerged in, with its close to other-worldly clean vocals and seemingly prog-infused guitar work by Ryan Siew.
To sum things up, this album has levels of variety that keep the listener constantly engaged. POLARIS dives into every emotion with sheer precision and utter determination, grasping its true essence. With “The Death of Me,” POLARIS firmly planted their musical roots deeper in the scene while blossoming into a more mature version of themselves. It seems like the constant touring hasn’t overwhelmed them, and turned them into more seasoned musicians, who managed to turn their own experiences and inspiration into this gem of an album.
1. Pray For Rain
6. Creatures Of Habit
7. Above My Head
8. Martyr (Waves)
9. All Of This Is Fleeting
10. The Descent
Jamie Hails – Vocals
Jake Steinhauser – Vocals, Bass
Rick Schneider – Guitar
James West – Keyboard
Ryan Siew – Guitar
Daniel Furnari – Drums