Penrith Panthers, Penrith NSW
May 24, 2022

Polaris (27) Polaris/Brendan Delavere

After two aborted attempts to get this tour off the ground, rising talents Polaris finally got out to Sydney’s western fringe tonight.

Tuesday night is hardly anyone’s favourite night of the week for anything but it wasn’t about to stop Panthers’ Evan Theatre from filling rapidly with an eager and good-natured crowd.  By the time Above, Below were done, the place was more than three quarters full. The young openers showed plenty of promise and energy even if they aren’t particularly inventive but their djenty grooves were blunted by a poor mix and their vocalist could barely be heard a lot of the time. It was a shame for them because this was a huge night.

Deadlights stepped up next and didn’t get much better service from the sound. The vocals were clearer but the band still sounded like they were playing behind thick blanketing. I’m not sure if it was a policy of the club but so far the night was suffering in the pure volume stakes. Not that the band seemed to care, if they noticed at all, delivering a slick set of melodic metalcore and post-hardcore that provided a good warm up for what was to follow.

What followed was Alpha Wolf, who overcame the blunted sound issues and stormed the room with their crushing riffs and the roar of Lochie Keogh’s vocals. At last it sounded like a band was on stage, not in another room somewhere else in the building. The strobe lighting and huge LCD screen behind the stage added import to Alpha Wolf’s mighty bounce and groove as they stirred the close-to-capacity audience with savage breakdowns and blistering drumming, delivering the metalcore punishment that the night had only so far promised. Akudama caused mayhem but the entire set was ripping and with a tour of their own immediately following this jaunt with Polaris, Alpha Wolf will be indestructible.

A few years back I never thought I’d be heading out on a Tuesday night to catch a Polaris show. But they’ve come a long way and stepped up big time over the last five years and now they don’t just have the songs, they can bring it live. Vagabond opens proceedings and the band doesn’t let up from that point. Jamie Hails isn’t just a singer, he’s a frontman – leading the band into each track, stirring and engaging the crowd, stalking the stage, letting rip with a furious roar while Jake Steinhauser chimes in with a clearer note. No longer does Polaris conform to the generic sound of years ago. These guys have taken the metalcore template and moulded it into their own creation, replete with old-school metal-style lead guitar work from Ryan Siew, who almost gets his pedal board wrecked by some fool who attempts to stagedive late in the set (they failed).

Down the front it’s looking physically dangerous given how small the area directly at the foot of the stage is, and that it’s ringed by steel railings, but the mosh swells and surges, Hails conducts a wall of death and for a brief moment there a flow of punters charging up the narrow stairways to the bar area as the band leap around and bring down their chaos. Polaris is so good it’s almost difficult to remember there were three other bands on tonight. From wannabes to front-runners, Polaris have matured and grown creatively and stylistically and this evening they crushed all before them.