Australian metalcore band Polaris‘ album, The Mortal Coil, is out now on SharpTone Records. The Sydney-based five-piece have previously released two EPs, 2013’s Dichotomy and 2016’s The Guilt and the Grief, but the release of The Mortal Coil is their first full-length record.
With shades of The Amity Affliction and Architects notable throughout it, The Mortal Coil is a record that clearly follows on in an already established vein. This isn’t a record that’s pushing boundaries either for the band or for the genre, but not every album needs to. It’s a very solid record, redolent of other earlier efforts without feeling derivative or formulaic.
Frontman Jamie Hails brings a fierce, desperate commitment to all his vocals which elevates the songs. His delivery essentially amounts to an uncompromising attack, a successful, full-on assault. The album opens strongly with ‘Lucid’, but it’s tightly-written second track, ‘The Remedy’, that encapsulates Polaris’ sound best, with the interplay of guitarists Rich Schneider and Ryan Siew setting off Hails’ eviscerating vocals.
‘Relapse’ proves one of the album’s highlights, with its melodic guitar and instantly memorable chorus. “But the days are getting longer, I can feel it slip away / The poison in my head’s become the poison in my veins”, Hails sings and for a song about despair, it’s incredibly satisfying to sing along to.
Occasionally the band sets a foot wrong – as on ‘Frailty’, which never seems to fully distinguish itself – but overall the record is a great listen and a promising debut. Puzzling out the lyrics will take some effort, but it’s an effort well-rewarded; Polaris’ lyrics shine in comparison to their peers. Lyrically, The Mortal Coil is a darkly excellent meditation on futility: on the fight and failure against addiction, on the impermanence of life, on the decay of relationships. On ‘Sonder’, the album’s slow-building, smoldering final song, Hails screams “the blood that tarnished the brush will mark us the same” in a line that, like so many others, seems destined to be inked onto fans’ skin.