ALBUM REVIEW: Polar – No Cure No Saviour

Hardcore, in its branching off from the initial punk movement, lost its political motivation at some point during the mid-2000s. After a while, the only bands that delivered messages revolving around social activism and political outrage were those that embraced the genre of hardcore punk. Hardcore rather turned its attention to grappling with personal issues and struggles to find love with the occasional band embracing themes that generated some degree of moral outrage.  The genre became a tight niche that didn’t allow for much growth or movement. Bands that were not content in the rigid confines were ousted to be labelled as post-hardcore or shoved even further into a sublabel.

It was somewhere in this mess of musical elitism and close-minded brutality that UK hardcore outfit Polar was born and they emerged with Iron Lungs ­– a properly rowdy and shouty album that embraced everything that the UK hardcore scene stood for but was a release that went largely unnoticed. Their second album, Shadowed By Vultures, vaulted out of nowhere with the band leaning heavily on melodic influences. It saw them branching off into the word of post-hardcore with a sound that no longer resembled traditional hardcore. Their latest album No Cure No Saviour is an extension of this musical evolution, but the album goes a lot further than just recreating their sonic landscapes. The album plunges hardcore straight back into its punk roots as the band uses the global issues of homelessness as a catalyst to fuel the hybrid of catharsis and fury that is No Cure No Saviour.

From the get go, the album is a brutal and harrowing account of how homelessness affects people from all walks of life. Dotted throughout these incredibly personal accounts regarding homelessness are moments of despondent criticism as the band lashes out at the economic and political systems that allowed for the creation of such wretched conditions. The band even turns their eyes towards heavens with the bitter declaration that “no saviour will save us”. It is fury-laden critique as Adam Woodford spits these words out with venomous intent as he reflects a similar state of mind as that of Stephen Fry in which he can hardly believe that a deity would even allow for such hardship to exist.

Polar backs these harrowing and often violent accounts with a musical backtrack that is so varying in both its influences and sound. Polar tosses out most of the playbook surrounding traditional hardcore and only retains the most basic elements such as the massively abrasive slabs of guitar riffs and gruff vocals that sound like they’re somewhere between shouting and screaming. Polar rather draws in influences from metalcore with its technical guitar licks curling themselves around the abrasive wall of riffs in “Downfall”. In other instances, Polar taps into the post-hardcore vein that opened on Shadowed By Vultures with the sweeping melodies and technical finesse that find their way onto many songs such as “Until the Light”. The most surprising insertion is the anthemic choruses and bridges that are seemingly torn out of your average UK alternative rock songs and beaten into harrowing and cathartic entities – the brief moment of respite in “Destroy” is a prime example of this.

It is obvious that Polar are seeking for a voice in among the hundred that seems to exist in the global hardcore scene. Their focus on this pertinent and universal socioeconomic issue, which has its pestilent hands gripped tightly around the necks of the poor in first and third world countries alike, instils them with a unique voice for two reasons. The first being that they’re a hardcore band that has diverted away from the tight constraints of the genre in both a sonic and thematic sense. The second being that their lyrical themes are not restricted to any kind of geographic boundaries and thus their music is capable of relating to the numerous situations involving homelessness that are dotted around the globe. No Cure No Saviour returns hardcore to its former glory and elevates Polar above many of their peers. It is an album that should not be taken lightly but rather approached with tentative caution and attentive ears.

9.5/10

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