How does the third studio album from Sydney's metalcore legends stack up?
“For us, fatalism is the resignation to the idea that you have no control over certain things, that some things are almost pre-determined and inevitable,” Polaris drummer Daniel Furnari said in a press release upon announcing the band’s new album, Fatalism.
He continued to say that the idea of resignation often sounds like “a negative and almost fearful notion. But one of the reasons I was drawn to it as a concept and as an album title was that there’s almost a freedom in that idea, too. Once you can accept that there are certain things you simply can’t control - it’s actually very liberating.”
So, did the Sydney metalcore legends manage to distil their ideas around the record into musical format? Indeed, they did.
Fatalism, the third full-length offering from Polaris, opens with the slow-burning Harbinger, a warm-up for what’s to come on the album and likely the band’s opening track on their upcoming Australian tour.
Jake Steinhauser’s singing compliments Jamie Hails’ wicked screams, as the first number from the last set of complete songs written with the dearly departed Ryan Siew sets the scene for the remainder of the LP – more curveballs are to come.
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Parasites opens with an industrial synth and bass pattern before Hails, mixed a bit lower before unleashing his typical guttural yells, takes over. It doesn’t take long for the superb guitar playing of Siew and Rick Schneider to take place, mining endless ideas of riffage before launching into a headbanging breakdown led by Hails commanding, “I hope you choke”. It’s as epic/heavy as it sounds.
After the heavy nature of Parasites, Polaris switch tunes on Overflow, a song that recalls the melodic nature of US emo/alternative band Balance & Composure. Don’t fret, though; there’s still heavy moments throughout the track – they arrive when you least expect them.
On The Crossfire, Schneider and Siew share gorgeous melodic – possibly finger-tapped? – duties that open up and allow Hails to remark on “unmarked graves” and Steinhauser lamenting “a better tomorrow” “with nothing left to leave behind”. Dissipate follows with a similar intro but with a crushing breakdown immediately following. Next single alert?
The longest song on the album, Fault Line, makes use of every second of its runtime, clocking in at five minutes and five seconds. Opening with an ominous synth pattern, the band’s pair of guitarists showcase what made their chemistry so phenomenal.
“Let us fall!” Hails screams alongside Steinhauser’s comforting singalong vocals and then cues a riff-filled breakdown that platforms Polaris’ ability to structure a song that always goes in directions you never quite expect. There’s a running theme here, isn’t there?
Fatalism closes with the synth-heavy number All In Vein, which allows Furnari to let loose – he has some of this track all to himself before the rest of the band kicks in. While All In Vein doesn’t feel like a “closing track”, per se – what does that mean, anyway? – It’s the kind of song that only serves to make you replay the album. Besides, Hails and Steinhauser’s promise that “nothing is guaranteed” goes full circle and meets the album’s goals.
As well as Overflow, Fatalism was led by two other singles, Inhumane and Nightmare, and they both rip as hard as they did upon release within the context of the album. Inhumane, the first offering from Fatalism that we heard, is wicked from its bass intro through to the keyboards, Hails’ distorted vocals in the first verse, and straight to Siew’s beautiful solo.
On the other hand, Nightmare is a more “formulaic” single – the kind of song you hear from all sorts of metalcore bands, not a bad thing, it’s comforting in that way – with an unforgettable chorus that will rile up new and old audiences.
“We want people to feel a sense of connection to something outside of themselves when they hear this album,” Furnari said in that aforementioned press release. “There’s a certain peace that comes with accepting that there are some things larger than yourself and redirecting that fear.”
Do Polaris achieve that larger-than-music goal? This reviewer headbanged, enjoyed the ride and felt the existential crisis the band unleashed on Fatalism, so yes.
While Fatalism doesn’t break the mould of heavy music in Australia, it certainly elevates Polaris to new levels. On their third album, we hear a band reach new artistic peaks, perfect their melodies, improve singing from two vocalists, and listen to 11 top-tier tracks we won’t forget anytime soon.
It’s an impressive follow-up to 2020’s The Death Of Me – longtime fans won’t be disappointed by Polaris’ evolution, and new fans will be won.
Shout out to Lance Prenc, who co-produced the album with the band and mixed and mastered Fatalism), and Alpha Wolf guitarist Scottie Simpson, who handled vocal production duties. Both of them helped capture the essence of what Polaris aimed to achieve with Fatalism, creating a great collection of songs that will rock our socks off when their upcoming Australian tour begins next week.
Fatalism will be released on Friday, 1 September, via Resist and SharpTone Records. You can pre-order/pre-save your copy of the album here.
THURSDAY 7 SEPTEMBER - METRO CITY, PERTH (18+)
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 - FORTITUDE MUSIC HALL, BRISBANE (LIC AA) (SOLD OUT)
SATURDAY 16 SEPTEMBER - HORDERN PAVILION, SYDNEY (LIC AA)
Tickets via Destroy All Lines.