Review Summary: A legacy to be remembered
June 19, 2023. A day that will be remembered by Polaris and fans for years to come. The tragic news of guitarist Ryan Siew’s death was unexpected and a blow to the heart of the band. He will always be missed and never forgotten, his memory forever ingrained within his powerful guitar work. This is Fatalism
, the legacy of Ryan and Polaris’ crowning achievement.
, an album marked by darker themes surrounding dystopia and despair, balances Polaris’ heavier aggression and tinted melodic progressions in a gloomy manner. With opener “Harbinger,” the deep synths underlying the building guitar and drum chemistry provides a subtly haunting melody that sets the desperate tone of the record. Not long after exploding into an immersive chorus and soaring vocal phrases, the opener soon gives into an intense breakdown of instrumentation with chunky power chords, choppy groove, and unrelenting vocals. This stark contrast of melodic features against abrasive ferocity persists throughout the album, creating an ebb and flow of songwriting progression that builds and breaks down in manic fashion.
“Nightmare” and “The Crossfire” exemplify this contrast exceptionally, with beautifully constructed guitar melodies that soar over catchy instrumentation that is balanced out by moments of rapid-fire breakdowns. The latter, which has a lofty chorus of higher register vocals mixed with gritty shouts, features an extended post-chorus with intense mid-range screams, blistering guitar leads overlaying chugging riffs, and pummeling drumwork. Similarly, “Fault Line” contains heavier, aggressive verses full of chaotic riffs and harmonics and moments of phenomenal melody in the chorus and calmness of the bridge that gives room to breathe. This balance of contrast showcases the duality of Fatalism
throughout the tracks and embodies the nature of the devastating themes.
However, the balance isn’t always preserved through each track, but through the album as a whole. On the aggressive side, “Parasite” and “Inhumane” are almost entirely devoid of melodic elements. These tracks are full to the brim of intense riffs and grooves that are relentless in nature, pummeling throughout the entire duration of the songs without hesitation. Along with this abrasive progression, the manic and unhinged vocals of Jamie Hails amplify the intensity to another degree, emphasizing the dark nature of Fatalism
. On the other hand, “With Regards” and “Overflow” feature vibrant, almost happy-sounding, choruses that showcase an energetic melody that gives light to the dire situation of the album. These moments provide a breath of fresh air that open up the atmosphere and ambiance of the record. “Aftertouch” goes even further, with over half of the track being a slow burn melodic progression that explodes into an eerily dark explosion of anger, immediately counterbalanced by the massive, graceful chorus.
Ultimately, however, this balance feels all for naught. Despite the moments of vibrant melody and soaring harmonies, they are tainted by the overwhelming concept of despair that plagues the lyrics of Fatalism
. Closer “All In Vain” resembles this unshakeable feeling of grief contained within, screaming out “I have opened up the veins of the earth/And there is nothing there for me.
” These words become even tougher in context of what has happened, bringing a greater sense of devastation to an already bleak theme. Nonetheless, Fatalism
goes beyond just the theme of darkness, it is the band’s most cohesive effort and a final memory of Ryan. Beyond the dystopia remains a legacy forever embodied within the music.