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Polaris - "Fatalism' Album Review


Tracklist:

1. Harbinger

2. Nightmare

3. Parasite

4. Overflow

5. With Regards

6. Inhumane

7. The Crossfire

8. Dissipate

9. Aftertouch

10. Fault Line

11. All In Vain


Australian metalcore heavyweights Polaris are back three years after their heralded album 'The Death Of Me' for their third full length studio album 'Fatalism', released September 1st via SharpTone records, what will be the final release featuring Ryan Siew as lead guitarist, who unexpectedly passed away earlier this year.

The album starts in typical Polaris fashion with ‘Harbinger’, which opens with a dark electronic soundscape that gradually gives way to the full-blown instrumentation that we have come to know from Polaris, punching you in the gut from the get-go with Jamie Hails’ trademark screams bouncing beautifully off his own cleans and those of guitarist Rick Schneider, whose guitar work alongside Rian Siew is absolutely phenomenal.

Next up comes the album’s second single ‘Nightmare’, a brilliantly brutal effort that is a perfect encapsulation of the band, transitioning from heavy breakdowns to more intimate, stripped back sections. The talent of the band is on full show, with drummer Daniel Furnani and Bassist Jake Steinhauser providing one of the best foundations for Siew and Schneider to leap from, and Hails’ screams cutting through like a samurai sword, especially in the song’s choruses and breakdown, which also contain/give way to some amazingly intricate riffs from Siew.

‘Nightmare’ gives way to potentially my favourite track on the album; ‘Parasite’. It is the shortest track of the album, cocking in at three minutes and sixteen seconds, however it is crushingly and unrelentingly heavy from the first note to its dying moments, forgoing the more progressive/post-rock elements for a pure metalcore masterclass. The second verse in particular punches with such a fervent aggression, I can already tell this is going to cause complete and utter chaos in the band’s already pandemonic live shows.

Third single ‘Overflow’ follows, which is a phenomenal showcase of Hails and Schneider’s clean vocals, providing a slight reprieve from the outright aggression of ‘Parasite’, showing more introspection whilst still showing hints of aggression, especially within the breakdown which shows some fantastic synergy between the entire band, which continues into the final verse, with amazing moments of call and response between clean vocals and screams.

Polaris’ trademark emotion fully shows in ‘With Regards’, which from the immediate opening fools you into thinking it would be a ballad before the unmistakeable riffs start up just moments after the clean vocals. I absolutely love the dynamic in this song, with the transitions between sections marked in the switch between clean and screamed vocals, and the screams over the guitar solo provide a spectacular emotional build that is difficult to match.

First single ‘Inhumane’ then comes crashing in, beginning with perhaps one of the best basslines I’ve heard from Steinhauser. It is an absolute powerhouse of a track, rife with aggression (in particular Hails screaming “Doesn’t that sound sadistic?” at the tail end of the second verse), an amazingly technical guitar solo with brilliantly prog-y glitch effects on the guitar and a punishing breakdown; it is everything you want from a lead single and is placed perfectly at the mid-point of Fatalism, and from my experience at Download Festival, fits beautifully into their live set.

‘Dissipate’ begins with a dichotomy of a While She Sleeps-esque winding guitar riff that appears throughout, blended with the signature punishing guitar work that we have seen consistently from Polaris over the past ten years. More amazing electronic soundscapes, breakdowns and anthemic cleans round out the track, providing yet another highlight in a stupendous album.

‘Aftertouch’ slows things right down with a more contemplative effort, forgoing the outright fervent aggression seen on the majority of the record for a slow burn track that builds over its four-minute run time whilst still showing the immense talents of each member of the band and not feeling sluggish.

Penultimate track ‘Fault Line’ clocks in as the longest track on the album at just over five minutes. Yet again, it shows the mastery that the band possesses, seamlessly flowing between each section, I feel like this would be the perfect end to a main set in a live situation, as it encapsulates everything we have seen from the band up until this point. It almost feels like a journey through 21st Century metal, with an opening riff reminiscent of early 2000s Nu-Metal a-la Linkin Park, with nods to the beginnings of modern metalcore in the mid to late noughties all the way through to the present day and the newer style of metalcore that Polaris have played so well throughout their ten years as a band so far.

Finally, we come to ‘All In Vain’, which begins by one again by showcasing those amazing dark electronic soundscapes, punctuated with amazing fills from Furnani before the entire band comes crashing through with Hails leading the charge. It is yet another punishing track, and provides a fitting end to Fatalism. To say this is closing out the album on a bang is a massive disservice, this is a nuclear explosion.


Polaris only continue to gain traction with 'Fatalism'. It is a showcase of how insanely talented the group is, and serves as a fitting tribute for Siew, may he rest in peace. I found myself in danger of repeating myself throughout writing this, but I feel in this case it is a good thing, as Polaris have remained consistent throughout the entirety of this record, creating something that is uniquely and unmistakably Fatalism.




Review - Gordon Rae

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