Since the explosive release of their debut album in 2017, Sydney’s metalcore titans Polaris have enjoyed a meteoric rise in the metal world to establish themselves as one of metalcore’s most powerful forces on a global scale. The band have defied challenge after challenge – that little thing called COVID that derailed their tour of their ARIA-nominated second album – and every time have emerged triumphant with a unique take on metalcore that is both crushing and accessible, receiving an abundance of accolades and widespread renown for their trouble.
But to say the release of their stunning third album ‘Fatalism’ comes as bittersweet is a huge understatement. The recent shock passing of guitarist Ryan Siew just two months ago sent ripples of sorrow throughout the metal world, and fans near and far felt the weight of that terrible heartbreak. ‘Fatalism’ is as close to perfect as a heavy release can be on its own merit. But in light of this tragedy, the album’s ability to reach deep into your soul and find the light in the darkness is even more pronounced, significant and profound.
Fear, desperation and the helpless rage that comes with feeling powerless – these are raw rivers of emotion that bleed vividly throughout the entirety of ‘Fatalism’. This album was written in a period of isolation in the Blue Mountains after lockdowns eased in 2022, in response to the blind confusion of the past few years to make sense of a senseless world.
The resignation of loss of control, the terror of the unknown and the aching, very human desire to find meaning in the black is apparent from the first note of melancholy opening track Harbinger. This track begins at a slow creep, with Jake Steinhauser’s solo heartfelt clean vocals soon giving way to the ferocious harsh vocals of frontman Jamie Hails and evenly paced, darkly ominous guitar chugs. Then album single Nightmare crashes in with its ridiculously catchy grooves, and the anthemic chorus spells out the thoughts that probably every human being shared at the height of the pandemic – “We’re living in a nightmare / a pre-apocalyptic wasteland / is there no one who can save us if we refuse to save ourselves?”. The breakdown hits incredibly hard in this banger, keeping the listener on tenterhooks, feeling torn between wanting to rage at the injustices of the world yet paralysed by the futility of trying to change what we cannot control.
The feral Parasites is 3 minutes of blistering, frenzied chaos, alternating between The Prodigy-esque hyper EDM passages and hefty hardcore breakdowns. The most recent single Overflow follows for a more mellow change of pace at first, and the choruses of this track are almost unbearably emotive – these guys sure know how to write melodies that sear themselves into your mind. It unfolds as something of a heartbroken love story – “I can’t stand to see you like this / ‘cause it’s more than I can take”.
This segues nicely into With Regards, which is imbued with some distinctly emo/pop-punk flavours in the clean choruses that echo A Day To Remember, whereas the racing heavier sections have a Parkway Drive vibe. Steinhauser’s exceptional vocal talents really get the chance to shine in this track. We’re midway through the album for next single Inhumane, which brings the aggressive grooves back with startling impact, their raw intensity channelling fellow Aussie metalcore outfit Alpha Wolf. There are some beautiful descending lead guitars in The Crossfire that are quickly consumed by Hails’ colossal screams and impeccably tight, driving drums from Daniel Furnari.
Immersive djenty guitar chugs beset by futuristic synths announce Dissipate, and these lead up to the filthiest breakdown in the album so far – the kind where all you feel like doing is throwing down hard. Then with the gentle Aftertouch, we get a moment to breathe with some muted, spacey piano and intimate serenading from Steinhauser, and this builds to the climax of the track in the form of wall-of-sound guitars and anguished harshes from Hails.
Fault Line begins with a chunky melodic guitar riff that echoes Memphis May Fire, and the anthemic chorus features some very rousing lyrics – “Say a prayer before you run out of air / we’re heading straight for a fault line / if only we could open our eyes” – before yet another absolutely crushing breakdown section. All In Vein closes the album with a final defiant surge of blistering metalcore energy, driven by phenomenal drum work and impressively intricate guitar shreds, to hammer home the emotional maelstrom that has hijacked our senses for the past 45 minutes.
‘Fatalism’ is, without a shadow of a doubt, a masterpiece; the magnum opus of a band truly poised for greatness. Every track on this release seizes your heart with an iron grip, reaching to your core and highlighting the very human truths that lie there, and it is simultaneously confronting and comforting. With this album, Polaris have perfected their unique formula for aggression made accessible, tempering raw fury with introspective intuition as well as demonstrating impeccable technical skill and masterful songwriting. What an indomitable legacy to honour the late Ryan Siew.
Destroy All Lines, Resist & triple j Present
‘FATALISM’ AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2023
W/ SPECIAL GUESTS AUGUST BURNS RED, KUBLAI KHAN TX & CURRENTS
THURSDAY 7 SEPTEMBER – METRO CITY, PERTH (18+) *SOLD OUT*
SATURDAY 9 SEPTEMBER – MARGARET COURT ARENA, MELBOURNE (LIC/AA)
SUNDAY 10 SEPTEMBER – HINDLEY ST MUSIC HALL, ADELAIDE (LIC/AA) *SOLD OUT*
TUESDAY 12 SEPTEMBER – UC REFECTORY, CANBERRA (18+)
WEDNESDAY 13 SEPTEMBER – BAR ON THE HILL, NEWCASTLE (18+) *SOLD OUT*
FRIDAY 15 SEPTEMBER – THE FORTITUDE MUSIC HALL, BRISBANE (LIC/AA) *SOLD OUT*
SATURDAY 16 SEPTEMBER – HORDERN PAVILION, SYDNEY (LIC/AA)
With thanks to Dallas Does PR