Album review: Polaris – Fatalism

Australian metalcore heroes Polaris offer a heaviness like never before on their devastating third album.

Album review: Polaris – Fatalism
Emma Wilkes

Life has been inexplicably cruel to Polaris. As they were cresting a wave with the release of their breakthrough second album The Death Of Me, their rise was stunted by the pandemic shutting the world down mere weeks after the album came out, with their native Australia imposing some of the most stringent restrictions. Heartbreakingly, in June of this year, in the same month that they stormed the main stage of Download Festival, guitarist Ryan Siew passed away aged just 26, making the title of their third album sting with unfortunate poignancy.

Although their sense of sorrow hasn’t changed, or rather deepened, the quartet have bulked up their riffs tremendously, and consequently their heavier parts are the best they’ve ever been. The fast-paced Parasites is an immediate early standout, grinding and tearing with a wild fury, while the first explosion of heaviness in All In Vain might have you fearing for your eyebrows in case the riffs sing them clean off. Elsewhere, Aftertouch seems to offer a change of pace with its balladic, synth-laden simmer before taking a screeching turn into truly abyssal territory.

There isn’t anything here quite as immediate as Masochist or Hypermania from The Death Of Me, but Polaris conjure emotion in a different way. It’s more palpable in the music as well as the lyrics, which the colossal With Regards executes especially well with its fusion of a pitch-perfect emo chorus and stratosphere-scraping instrumentals.

In less tragic times, Fatalism would still be a mighty step forwards, and ought to keep Polaris accelerating. In these ones, it comes with a sobering sadness. Nonetheless, it cements their name as one of the best of their peers. As tributes go, it's a fine one.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Vexed, Bury Tomorrow, In Hearts Wake

Fatalism is released on September 1 via SharpTone

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