While there are a handful of great bands leading the way for metalcore (Architects, Parkway Drive, and While She Sleeps among others), these days the genre is largely on the formulaic and linear side.
It’s a little sad when the term used to bring to mind bands like Poison The Well and Botch, but sometimes you’ve just got to accept that some things move on.
Enter London’s Polar, who are here with their fourth album, ‘Nova’, and they’ve got plenty of ideas to ensure that they stand out in an increasingly crowded circuit. The dramatic intro of ‘Mære’ entices you before leading into the crushing groove of ‘Devil’. There’s plenty of melody on show, and some weight provided with the gang vocals. In a scene where many vocalists try their damnedest to sound as brutal and evil as possible, Adam Woodford‘s screams are more of an earnest shout, which is certainly refreshing.
‘Drive’ has another gruff-sounding yet melodic chorus, comparable to Lawrence Taylor (While She Sleeps). The brief synth sections, which aren’t a million miles away from synthwave, are very welcome indeed. It’s not only a notable deviation from the established metalcore formula, but more importantly it actually fits the song.
‘Adore’ is arguably the best song on here, with a slightly more post-hardcore tinged intro. A very brief discordant bit in the breakdown occurs, which helps to keep up the intensity. ‘Prey’ is a little more on the linear side of things, but the breakdown at least offers some sort of surprise.
While this album does contain many archetypal metalcore tropes, it still manages to keep you intrigued all the way through. ‘Midnight’ has arguably the strongest chorus on here, and the drumming section is particularly strong in the middle – it’s a shame that Nick Jones‘ departure is fresh in the mind at the time of writing.
‘Brother’ makes good use of atmosphere and lower pitched vocals, with the more spacey moments recalling Northlane, and even Fightstar to some extent. The sequenced drums fit in nicely too. This song is a little on the longer side of things, and it could do without the ever-so-gradual fade-out, but its ambition should very much be applauded.
There could be more honing in on the more experimental aspects of the record, but ‘Nova’ is a solid offering that doesn’t outstay its welcome at all, and it’d interesting to see where Polar go from here.