Polaris have been a band to watch from day one. The Dichotomy EP showed a young metalcore band that was interested in far more than adding another bland, chuggy album to the pile. Riffs, melody, atmosphere, emotion, all on display, and executed well enough to warrant a real look at the band behind it all. People began to take notice, and when The Guilt & The Grief dropped last year, the band's exposure levels exploded. It's rare to see a single EP have the effect that TG&TG did. The songs were floating around pretty much every community that talked metalcore. Just a year and a half later we have The Mortal Coil, the Sydney 5-piece's debut LP.
Riffs. So. Many. Riffs. Ryan Siew and Rick Schneider, the guitarists of Polaris, have long been the very effective driving force for the band's sound. What they put on display here is a never ending series of beautiful melodies and insanely catchy rhythms. Almost every track here is designed to make your head bob up and down. The obvious example would be "The Remedy" which may very well be the album's bounciest track. When shifting into more melodic territory the duo loses no ground. "In Somnus Veritas" is the album's melodic half way point, and several of the songs that follow it contain lead work that wouldn't be out of place on a post rock album. The chorus of "The Slow Decay" is a massive, beautiful thing. The song as a whole is probably the album's best display of the band's combination of catchy riffs and emotional melodies.
Daniel Furnari continues to kill it behind the kit. Though your ears may tend to focus on the vocals or the riffing, the drum performance is a match for the rest of the band.
Vocally, Jamie Hails (screams) and Jake Steinhauser (cleans) have always been an effective duo, and they have shown growth on each release. This is easily their best work. Jamie has settled in his mid range, making the decision to cast aside his growl entirely. One might worry that less range would make for a less interesting performance, but that isn't the case here. Jamie's shifts in pitch are subtle, but there, and he has a real talent for injecting emotion into his vocals. Anger, desperation, hurt, they all sound different, and he brings them all to the table. It's a noteworthy performance that may take several listens to really appreciate. On the clean side of things, Jake has made a stunning amount of improvement in a short period of time. While he has been solid in the past, here he sounds truly confident in his voice. Almost every track on the album gives him the opportunity to fire off a catchy chorus, and he nails every one of them. He even takes point on "Dusk to Day," and it pays off wonderfully.
The Mortal Coil contains a level of confidence not typically found in a debut album. This is a talented group of young musicians. They don't have a weak link, and what they've made together is easily one of the most memorable releases in the genre this year. Don't sleep on this one.