Hardcore can often feel like the neglected stepson of UK music. As good as it can and has proven to be, it’s just not the fertile breeding ground for stars as more mainstream-leaning branches are. And as a result, a lot of the underground bands – bands who have been given a push by certain factions of the media – have had to call it quits for the simple fact that it’s just not a workable lifestyle.
Bearing that in mind, it’s easy to see why Polar have made No Cure No Saviour. While it’s never seemed as touch-and-go with them as some other acts, there’s always been a feeling that they’ve been ploughing away with no avail. Judging by the sound of their third full-length though, it might be fair to suggest that they’ve noticed that themselves, as No Cure No Saviour is as broad and expansive as hardcore gets. And that’s really what makes it their best album to date.
The thing that impresses most about this album is that it takes the very best parts of British hardcore and metal, and represents a near-perfect coalescence of the two. The widescreen delivery and steely exterior are often very reminiscent of Architects, acting as armour plating for the hardcore heart that beats within. It makes the album feel very clinical in comparison to their hardcore peers, but it’s by necessity, accentuating its cutting nature and the power that’s exuded. Downfall‘s brilliantly melodic guitar work contributes to a true apocalyptic scope and heaviness, and Tidal Waves And Hurricanes swirls with rage in Adam Woodford’s vocals. Speaking of Woodford, there’s a real substance to his screams, a lot fuller and more rumbling compared to the typical piercing shrieks that hardcore tends to trade in. It’s a small change but a welcome one nonetheless, and gives the whole album a more overriding heft.
As a body of work, there’s a precision focus on cinematic expanse that is often absent from hardcore records. It’s here where the metal influence is at its most pronounced, with the likes of Lost Souls and standout track Until The Light built around the sort of sweeping, steadfast guitar lines that Architects would be glad to call their own, and some very While She Sleeps-esque gang vocals that ramp the scope up even further. The entire thing flows exquisitely, never feeling forced or hackneyed partly due to the added interludes. No Cure‘s gentle, frigid beats lead up to the pure brutality of Deus Ex Machina, while Cold Dark Nothing takes a more brooding approach with its ominous church bells and shimmering guitar line. Both fit the album’s sense of dread and disaster perfectly, before culminating in No Saviour, a truly phenomenal track that is masterful in its sense of power and intensity in both the instrumentation and the pained, fervent screams.
And while such a widescreen approach is undoubtedly Polar’s primary focus on No Cure No Saviour, that doesn’t mean they skimp out on the heaviness. Admittedly when they prioritise pure brutality over their expansive tendencies, the results aren’t as impressive, but they certainly aren’t weak by any means. Destroy‘s stormy pace makes for some grade-A mosh fodder, and Deus Ex Machina sees Comeback Kid frontman Andrew Neufeld pop up for some extra bite in an understated yet still beneficial cameo.
And while Neufeld’s appearance may be the star power needed to give Polar that extra bit of exposure, judging by the quality of the rest of the album, that soon won’t be a requirement. There’s no denying that No Cure No Saviour is a stunning album (even more so by the fact that it’s come out of absolutely nowhere), and though it probably won’t be the catalyst to launch Polar into the vacant position of UK hardcore superstars, it should certainly see them poke their heads above ground for a go at an Architects or While She Sleeps-style career. With the excellence displayed on this album, they definitely deserve it.
For fans of: Architects, While She Sleeps, The Ghost Inside
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘No Cure No Saviour’ by Polar is released on 6th May on Prosthetic Records.