Album: No Cure No Saviour
Have you heard the saying “opposites attract”? Or maybe your familiar with Newton’s third law of motion: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The world is able to carry on, it seems, due to the relationship between opposing forces. From the people we fall in love with to the forces that build the foundation for modern physics. Guildford-based UK hardcore act Polar take this principle to heart—embodying it not just with their band’s name, but with their sound and dynamic. No Cure No Saviour is the result of a cataclysmic collision between crushing aggression and ethereal atmosphere—an amalgam of brutality and beauty with a rough-but-polished finish that makes it feel familiar even in spite of its uniqueness. Borrowing from post-rock, post-hardcore, metal and metalcore alike, Polar create a catchy, creative and lethal release for fans of any end of the heavy music spectrum to find solace in.
Polar use a broad range of instrumental tactics during No Cure No Saviour’s impressive running time to make it a diverse and captivating experience. Tracks like the album’s opening number, “Blood for Blood,” see percussionist Nick Jones storming out of the gates, unleashing salvo after salvo of rampant drumming. Meanwhile, the mellow interlude “No Cure,” as well as the following song, “Deus Ex Machina” see Jones including more tactful, atmospheric drumming in his arsenal—which isn’t to say that he doesn’t open the floodgates during more intense segments of the latter track. Here, Jones works in dialectic with bassist Jonny Bowman, who adds punch to every pounding thud of Jones’ kick drum. Bowman’s primary role is to serve as Jones’ shadow—adding depth and darkness to his monstrous sounding kit—while still occasionally stepping up his sound and cutting through Jones’ splashing cymbals. “Downfall” is an example of this—where Bowman can be heard straying from Jones’ drumming to groove and bounce on his own, instead underlining the riffs and chugs of guitarists Tom Green and Fabian Lomas. From the frantic strumming at the onset of “Blood for Blood,” Green and Lomas are the deep well from which Polar draw diversity and aggression. With riff-driven onslaughts serving as the selling points for songs like “King of Kings” and “Destroy,” yet harmonizing beautifully on more the more well-rounded cuts “Until the Light” and “No Saviour,” Green and Lomas take a strong foundation of drum and bass and build a towering, metallic monolith out of riffs, grooves, chords and crushing chugs.
Often times, when a band strides the line dividing aggression and atmosphere like Polar does with their music, the vocals push the over-all dynamic one way or another—which goes to show that most bands are not like Polar. Aligning themselves with the likes of Architects, Polar are home to a varied vocal element—as frontman Adam Woodford lets off gruff, grisly bellows and soaring clean vocals, hitting just about everything in between. “Tidal Waves and Hurricanes” is a great example: Woodford uses pitched, almost sung screaming for the high-flying chorus, yet belts out harsh yells for the remainder of the song, dropping into deep growls where need be. Woodford’s vocals take the band’s instrumental dynamic to heart, as he creatively and carefully matches his style and lyricism to the mood imparted by the guitars and drums. Quicker tracks see Woodford baring fangs—as “Destroy” and “Blood for Blood” see him in a more savage light. Meanwhile, “Until the Light” and “Tidal Waves” are more varied, proving Woodford (and all of Polar) are not one-trick ponies.
Polar use everything at their disposal—down to the brilliant interludes (which truly do demand praise) and ebb-and-flow transitions—to make a sound release. Where many metalcore and hardcore acts seek out polished, over-produced end results, No Cure No Saviouris a gritty, realistic sounding record with just enough polish to make it appealing to the listener’s ears. Where the latter third of the album does seem to drag on and sound more repetitive than the opening half-or-so, Polar do keep the energy up and continue to find ways to keep the listener there, even if their attention does begin to wander. Because of this—and the release’s 40+ minute runtime—No Cure No Saviour becomes a better listen as a collection of stand-out tracks after a couple full play throughs. “Blood for Blood,” “Downfall,” “Tidal Waves and Hurricanes” and “Destroy” are bound to keep listeners coming back for more, even if some other tracks wear out their welcome after some time. Ultimately, Polar take two conflicting influences and blend them forcefully—yet tastefully–to create an engaging experience and solid listen, whether the listener prefers gritty post-hardcore or ruthless, rambunctious metalcore.
For Fans Of: Create to Inspire, Architects, The Ghost Inside, Hellions
By: Connor Welsh