Review Summary: To death, to life. Repeat.
Fans’ first taste of a matured Polaris came in the form of the group’s debut, The Mortal Coil
. The Sydney five piece turned head by use of melody and insightful songwriting that somehow stood just a little higher than the scene that surrounds it. Largely, The Mortal Coil
took this robust energy, coupled it with feisty riffs and relevant, often uplifting atmospheres. The band’s genericism was forgotten; Polaris quickly built their reputation in the best possible lights and three years later, those fans can expect more of the same. The Death Of Me
is an album firmly centred in the band’s roots, with the added benefit of a natural three years maturity. Sure, it’s still nothing new in terms of sheer innovation, but Polaris’ profound ability to meld frenetic soundscapes into heartfelt lyricism is a refreshing take on a genre in dire need of something to talk about. The Death Of Me
embraces it’s more melodic moments in equal measure to the album’s more tense, violent embraces - appealing to the genre's broader (yet definitely jaded) fanbases.
The Death Of Me
isn’t an album ruled by its moments, taking its best attributes and wrapping them into an overall package. The melancholic notes that grace the contrasting harsh noises of “Pray For Rain” only live in part of the record’s bigger picture, especially considering the band’s tendency to kick things up a notch at any given verse. The quick blast of freneticism that is “Hypermania” contrasts quickly with the melodic intervals that ride Polaris’ rollercoaster of metalcore. It’s unexpectedly refreshing, the way that The Death Of Me
dances between the nuance of an emotive-born “Martyr” and the absolute fire of “Landmine” where guitarist Ryan Siew’s talent on the strings take hold within the confining spectrum of the genre.
At the very centre of Polaris’ soundscape is the dual vocal prowess of Jamie Hails and Jake Steinhauser that offsets the group’s bleaker atmospheres with the near hopeful nuance that lull the listener into the album’s bigger picture of bleaker contextual motifs. Of these, it’s the harsher growls that stand out from the cleaner predictability of The Death Of Me
’s heavy, clean, heavy, clean formulaic structuring which slightly hamper some individual tracks. But it’s the overall depth of Polaris’ newest affair that treats the listener to harrowing anguish and frustration to the thoughtful moments of clarity and hope (even though these are fleeting in design). The Death Of Me
is creative enough to push past some
of metalcore’s more poignant tropes, but doesn’t find ways to clearly escape the framework of their lush portrait.
The production here is noticeably on point. Despite the dependency on the light and dark tonality, the bass carries clearly next to Daniel Furnari’s noble drum sections. Because of this, Polaris’ cleaner sections (including the vocals) come off overly polished, but it’s the harsher growls and ragged riffs that shine clearly, unmuddied by the usual hiccups of modern, million-dollar production.
“Creatures Of Habit” (like much of the record) is rapacious in its need for a head-banging groove, but it’s these moments which wrestle with the band’s overall genericism - typical of the scene dominated by Architects and other comprehensive “core” bands. Even the blatant positivity found throughout the melodious and breakdown heavy “Above My Head” is at odds with the album’s rather darker atmospheres. Again, The Death Of Me
’s fall-back to a done before genre soundscapes adds slight detriment to an otherwise creative display of Australian-born metalcore. When wrapping up The Death Of Me
as a complete work it’s fairly easy to see the contextual foundation to which Polaris build their music. That aside, it’s definitely not a perfect exercise, especially when these tracks are considered on an individual level. But even as “The Descent” wraps up this forty-two minute display it’s difficult to write this album off as “yet another core” record.