Reviewed by Adam Smith
Polar appear to be walking down the same road While She Sleeps were 4 or 5 years ago, positioned on the cusp of the UK’s alternative elite. Shadowed By Vultures needs to elevate the Guildford mob to the next level and, if there’s any justice in the world, it will. The record is a crushing effort, raising the bar significantly from 2012’s Iron Lungs.
First Breath is a short, crunching introduction while Blood Lines is the perfect representation of Polar’s new, monolithic sound; incorporating huge riffs with snippets of sublime melody. Glass Cutter follows, reinforcing the outfit’s new metal-influenced sonic assault.
While Polar’s previous releases were commendable outpourings of hardcore angst, none of them boasted a flagship track to define their identity but, in the shape of Black Days, the band have truly landed. Soaring melodies merged with Defeater-esque melancholy make for a truly exceptional effort.
Before The Storm is the main example of Polar’s new confidence, blending melodic female vocals with atmospheric soundscapes in the vein of Deftones. It’s a risky experiment, but it truly pays off with remarkable results.
The title track is one of the few on this album that underwhelm, lacking the punch of the rest of the album and straying into self-indulgent territory. Thankfully, Our Legacy ensures the album ends on a whirlwind of earnest, monstrous hardcore.
Whether Polar can ascend to the level of While She Sleeps or Bury Tomorrow is unknown, but Shadowed By Vultures certainly gives them a fighting chance.