Over the course of three full-length albums (including this year’s Fatalism), Australia’s Polaris have put up numbers and racked up accolades that are difficult to ignore. Having recently scored a #1 debut in their home country of Australia with Fatalism, the roots of the band’s obvious talent run deep – in fact, back to their first two EPs, specifically 2016’s The Guilt & The Grief. It was the band’s early work that showcased one with clearly emerging talent, separating themselves in a genre and scene that often churns out clones of whatever is popular at the time.
It hasn’t all been easy for Polaris, though. In fact, tragedy struck earlier this year, when guitarist Ryan Siew suddenly passed away. One of the scene’s most gifted guitarists, Siew’s enthusiasm for his instrument was infectious – and his talent was jaw-droppingly through the roof. A key part of Polaris’ quick rise to prominence, it was in November of 2013 that they announced Ryan Siew joined the band as their new guitarist. And it did not take long for Siew, who was just 15 years old when he joined Polaris, to make his presence known. The Guilt & The Grief made a sizable impact upon its early 2016 release, accelerating the timeline to stardom for the band.
If you want to know how much of an impact Siew had on aspiring guitarists (and many, many established ones as well), you need only visit Siew’s YouTube channel – or even the official YT channel of Polaris themselves – to see the plethora of comments from those who Ryan inspired. It would take days to read them all, most likely. And likewise, if you want to hear the musical impact Ryan had on Polaris, Fatalism is a great place to start. Balancing melody with darker themes and more technical & atmospheric music has always been a strong suit of what Polaris are trying to build, and it’s no different here. Few songs are more THICC than “Inhumane”, which is pummeling yet also groove-laden in its execution. From a technical perspective, however, it’s supremely impressive – with a dizzying solo that will make any lover of heavy music blush.
One thing you can’t do is ignore what Polaris has accomplished in their decade together so far. Besides the aforementioned Fatalism hitting #1 in Australia, Polaris have also seen their international audience rise exponentially – especially their recent North American headlining tour, which saw Polaris performing in some of their biggest venues to date in North America. Along with reeling in over 1.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify as of the publishing of this article, 2017’s “The Remedy” is (somewhat) surprisingly one of the biggest recent metalcore songs at least where Spotify is concerned, having racked up over 43 million streams on the platform to date. Now, it’s an imperfect barometer of how popular a song or album might be, but it’s still a telling one considering Spotify is the most-popular music streaming service in the world. It’s also a great example of, even when the band was more unproven than they are now, their impressive songwriting early on. After all, turning a song that’s essentially the adage of “old habits die hard” into something that’s both catchy and a signature song is not easy.
Where the future of Polaris lies is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure. Ryan Siew’s spirit will undoubtedly watch over anything Polaris decides to do in the future. And their present success and accolades are both very hard to ignore, too.