Polar - Everywhere, Everything (Cover Artwork)


Everywhere, Everything (2023)

Arising Empire

On one hand, it feels hard to comprehend that Polar have been around for over a decade, but on the other, it feels like their brand of increasingly high-production, atmospheric metalcore was something that was more typically birthed from bands who started out in the early 00’s. I first got on board with Polar on their second record Shadowed By Vultures, which despite its flaws, was gratifyingly heavy at a time when some bands from the scene were toning it down a bit. I’ve been less connected since that record for a few reasons, but this allows for an interesting comparison to take place. Where are Polar now? In a world where Architects and Bring Me The Horizon can fill stadiums and have No.1 records?

This is the first Polar record since 2019. The longest gap thus far. Though admittedly, that gap spans ‘the CV years’, so I won’t read too much into that. However, it can’t be lost on Polar that some bands who were once their contemporaries have become something quite different. And for some of those bands, it’s paying off (financially, if not artistically). The obvious question then is whether Polar have gone in the same direction. I would say not entirely. Though there are more melodies, less ragged guitar tones and more electronic elements of production, the band are no doubt entirely aware of the fact that their sound remains far too heavy for the mainstream. It’s interesting. When you look at the band’s “Songs That Inspired Us” playlist on Spotify, as well as Architects, Turnstile, Underoath, etc; there is also Dillinger, Every Time I Die, Norma Jean. It would take a better person than I to ascertain Polar’s ambition from this collection of artists. With regards to mainstream success, at least.

As heavy as the band frequently are, there are passages where the first steps towards becoming more palatable to Joe Public are evident. It has a similar sonic palette to Sempiternal, for example. Slick, lots of layers, heavy hitting, but softened with a sheen of modern production techniques. Female vocals even play a part. I don’t think it’s unreasonable however, to say that Polar do not have the songs that BMTH did at the time of Sempiternal. And very few do, to be fair. But I can’t help but feel Polar haven’t so much as taken a huge stride toward the more commercially-successful end of the spectrum with the intention of becoming part of that crowd, but they’ve taken a tentative, shuffling step. I can’t quite decide which is better? To have abandoned your sound drastically, in pursuit of attaining commercial success and public prominence hitherto unseen… or having stepped out of your lane slightly less so, ultimately falling into a sound that is neither fundamentally your own, nor one that is liable to be saleable in any significant way in 2023.

A more succinct writer might have said “If you’re going to sell out, sell out”. But I do think that would be unfair. Because I don’t believe that’s where Polar’s interests lie at all. I think they’re a good band, from a scene that had some unlikely breakouts and a lot of crap bands. Polar continue to make good music of its ilk. Its ilk being metalcore that garners a lot of criticism for several reasons. The most frequent of which being that it is too over-produced or compromised by its proximity to potential commercial lures. Again, I don’t think Polar are guilty of these things. I think they are evolving and progressing, I just think that unfortunately for them, they are tracking a familiar trajectory, from a similar starting point, as certain other bands. It’s just most of those other bands started a decade earlier.

But here’s the kicker…if you wish (as many do) that BMTH didn’t push further into the realm of pop than they did on That’s The Spirit, or if you prefer Wage War to Knocked Loose, then there’s probably a great record here for you. In spite of how it might sound, there is enjoyment here for me as well. It’s a perfectly decent record. It just doesn’t have huge highs or a sound that is necessarily current. That said, there’s nothing about it overtly objectionable. “Dissolve Me”, for example, has a big riff. But it’s one that I can imagine played from a stereo more than I can imagine it played from an actual guitar. On the other hand, the breakdown in “Deliverance” is huge. If not revolutionary. The record is decent. I like it. But I’m not going any further than that.