POLARIS – The Death of Me

POLARIS – The Death of Me

It’s been a while since I reviewed a metalcore album, chiefly because nothing interesting caught my attention, that is, until this 2nd full length from the Australian progressive vein of the genre. "The Death Of Me" is an excellent release with very interesting and often unusual song structures, and with creative strength pulled from multiple genres for a very mature and memorable effort.

The band was formed in 2012 in Sydney, Australia, and Polaris debuted with "This Mortal Coil" which was met with enthusiastic critical response. They play a blend of metal and hardcore but there is a number of things which make them unique. For example, instead of employing one vocalist to do both screams and cleans, Polaris has Jamie Hails screaming (and sometimes growling) similarly to Howard Jones (ex-Blood Has Been Shed, ex-Killswitch Engage, Light The Torch) and Jake Steinhauser (rhythm guitar, bass) singing cleanly a’la Chester Charles Bennington (Linkin’ Park), Matthew Tuck (Bullet For My Valentine), or Breaking Benjamin’s Benjamin Jackson Burnley, with the result that each sounds unique and distinct, as if two additional instruments, since they tend to blend cleverly with the riffs and melodies. Another unique feature of Polaris is that the aforementioned Steinhauser, Rick Schneider (rhythm guitar) and Ryan Siew (lead guitar), who have considerable skills, form a monstrous triple guitar attack which, combined with the pummeling of the fabulous Daniel Furnari (drums), sometimes sounds like a literal machine gun, such as on the opening "Pray For Rain" or the singles "Hypermania" and "Landmine". Lance Prenc’s and Scott Simpson’s thunderous yet clear production emphasizes these characteristics perfectly.

While most of this excellent music is metal/hardcore somewhere between early Bullet For My Valentine and Howard Jones Killswitch Engage, with the standard screamed brutal verse/melodic epic clean chorus plus sometimes solo, first, even within those songs there are plenty of transitions, breakdowns, melodies, solos, etc., second, there are some songs in different veins, such as the hard rocking "Vagabond" recalling Anthrax’s "Volume 8: The Threat Is Real", the progressive "Pray For Rain", "All Of This Is Fleeting", "The Descent" or the balladic "Martyr (Waves), the nu-metallish alternative laced with deathcore akin to Deftones’ "Adrenaline" and Slipknot’ "Iowa" as on the aforementioned "Hypermania" which clearly references Darkest Hour’s "Stand And Receive Your Judgment", or how about All Shall Perish’s "Wage Slaves" in the conclusion of the volatile "Landmine"? But my favorite is hands down "Creatures Of Habit" where "Gone Forever" God Forbid verses meet perfectly balanced In Flames’ "Reroute To Remain" (think "System"). Finally, I appreciate how some of these lyrics speak directly to my life right where I am as I listen to it, such as on "Martyr (Waves)" about playing different roles for people around you according to their expectations until you’re divested of all energy and life, or the so familiar words "malicious monster of my destiny what is it that you want from me?" in the fantastic "Desperate Times" Killswitch Engage-sque progressive closer "The Descent". There’s so much to sink your metal (and non-metal) ears into, to but, once again, mention "Martyr (Waves)" with its fantastic string arrangments or "Landmine" math metal that would make Between The Buried And Me or Meshuggah simultaneously smile with delight and green with envy!

For all the accolades, I do give it 5/6 points because, after 4 revolutions, I feel as though they didn’t really push the progression far enough and because "Creatures Of Habit" is so perfect it has no equals on the album. But Polaris, you have my attention and I expect even greater things to come from you on future endeavors.

As for you, dear reader, if you like metalcore but are tired of the genre endless cookie cutter tendency, this one may just bring you back.