Album: Shadowed By Vultures
Number of Tracks: 11
Release Date: 10 February 2014
Label: In At The Deep End Records
We’re back to the UK hardcore scene this week as we look ahead to Surrey quintet, Polar’s February 10 release, Shadowed By Vultures.
What has to be said first is that the title of this new album certainly is not overstating itself by any means. The first 52 seconds take on the form of a beast de-personified as its percussive paws crash into the ground, setting the tone for the rest of the album. Enjoy this while you can though, because after a slight pause as the band sizes up their listener, Polar go for the kill with Blood Lines.
This aptitude at making a musical entrance is by know means something plucked from the blue, though. After one previous album and a couple of EPs of scrappy hardcore-punk, Shadowed By Vultures looks to be a real lesson in development of melody and general sound. This is highlighted particularly by the attention gained by the album’s first single, Glass Cutter, since its October release. Having been unleashed in video form by Rock Sound, the track has spent time at the number one spot on Scuzz TV and has had numerous radio plays on BBC 1, a high achievement indeed for something so far from the mainstream.
This is not unjustly earned either. Lacking in punch though the verses may be, Glass Cutter has a chorus that blossoms like blood from a fresh nose bleed, swelling, writhing guitar riffs propeling Adam Woodford’s vocals through your eardrums. Backed by a tense sounding chord pattern, Polar are certainly pushing for something a little more atmospheric than a straight-up hardcore record.
This aspect really comes into its own during Before The Storm. Acting as a kind interlude, you may be slightly thrown by the sudden presence of female vocals. Their melodic quality contrasting with Woodford’s rasping roar, really highlights the theme of fragility in the lyrics, creating a beautiful juxtaposition to the rest of Shadowed By Vultures in general.
However, for those who are worried that Polar have become too caught up in their melodic development, there is redemption in the albums’ title track. While not returning completely to old formulas, prominence is returned to the hands of the buzz and roar of hardcore guitar and vocals. Polar are in beast form once again here, galloping through the track between feverish and more sombre tempos. Overall, it’s a fine example of the band’s ability to still write relatively stripped down hardcore but with a tight quality that gives the entire composition a brutally vivid persona.
1. First Breath
2. Blood Lines
3. Glass Cutter
4. Black Days
5. Before The Storm
6. Mountain Thrown
8. Shadowed By Vultures
11. Our Legacy
It’s certainly hard for me to find fault with Polar’s latest album. The mix of neck-breaking headbangers with exceedingly more low key pieces makes sure that the listener is consistently provided with a sonic diversity. I’ve found with similar bands in the past that vocal detail can be lost to louder guitar riffs that just don’t deserve prominence, but the level of production on Shadowed By Vultures really keeps anything from becoming stale. Polar have pulled off what should be a formidable addition to the UK’s growing selection of home-grown hardcore albums, earning themselves a place on the front-line of the movement.
Look back to where it all started for Polar with their video for Tonight Matthew I Am The Batman:
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