Reviewed: December 2022
Released: 2022, Rise Records
Reviewer: Simon Wiedemann
Polyphia are a mostly instrumental Texan progressive rock band. Since forming in 2010, they have released two EPs, four studio albums and numerous singles. They found fame when their song ‘Impassion’ went viral on Youtube, and their success has only grown since then. The group have been influenced by all genres which makes complete sense when you read what’s coming up, but most of their influences come from pop and rap music. Which is a bit weird for proggers, isn’t it? The band began with a heavy shred style, but over time they matured into a more melodic act. Their latest album ‘Remember That You Will Die’ was released on 28th October 2022 through Rise Records.
Wow, who’d have thought a mix of everything from jazz to funk, to dance music, pop AND rock and sometimes even Spanish music could come across as so natural sounding?? Impressive, flashy and extremely musical, too! If that wasn’t exciting enough, there are guest appearances from abundant and varied artists. First up is Brasstracks providing R&B influences and brass instruments! (Another genre to add to the list??) Second is Anomalie, a keyboardist providing a mixture of jazz fusion shredding and genuinely sweet and chilled notes. Third is Sophia Black. Similarly, I don’t know who she is, but whoever she is, she sings vocal melodies that are just as cool sounding as the band. She certainly has a very note-focused style which fits the energy of the backing nicely. Fourth there’s Killstation (again, a bit of a new name for me but the internet tells me he’s a hip hop artist. Another genre to add to the list??) His vocals are more simplified, a little blander let’s face it, but I guess the young partiers who aren’t quite so serious will appreciate them.
Fifth is $not who sounds similar to the last guy. Perhaps not so surprising, as they are both somewhat unpleasant names. Lil West appears later on providing more hip hop (it’s not my favourite genre, but at least it doesn’t spoil the vibe the musicians create. It doesn’t improve it too much in my opinion, but it could be worse). Excitingly, Chino Moreno of Deftones sings in ‘Bloodbath’ and Def’ are my favourite band ever! His style is somewhat… overemotional, so you may want to prepare yourself for that. Personally I don’t think his performance is anything special on this album, but he does create some intense dark, yet mushy moods. Steve Vai is the greatest rock/metal guitarist of all time in my opinion, so surely his contribution could only be a success? Yes, his lead playing fits the ostentatious and funky rhythm playing very well! It’s not really the kind of stuff you get on Vai’s solo albums, so the song ‘Ego Death’ is definitely worth checking out.
Wow, a good two paragraphs just mentioning the guests. That’s a lot of guests. Let’s see if I can come up with more writing that is focused on the music on the whole. So… I do like the instrumental tracks, but personally I preferred the tracks with singing in, in particular the one with Sophia Black. (Oh no, I’ve mentioned a guest musician again. Writing this is tough). Objectively are the sung tracks better? Maybe not. But still, there’s something ‘feel good’ about hearing someone’s voice, even if the instruments are often damn expressive. So yeah, any sane person would think this album would be a complete and utter mess if he or she found out the sheer number of styles that are constantly merged with each other. The range of guest musicians is almost equally as crazy. The hip hop singing wasn’t for me QUITE so much, but it was still pretty good. In lesser albums, I wouldn’t dream of saying it spoiled things in any way. Get this album, now!