Polyphia? Yes? No? Well, some years back now it was suggested I take a listen to Polyphia’s Muse album. Memories of the album – impressive guitar work all wrapped up in a tried and trusted tech-metal formula. Move forward to September 2022 and the release of the Ego Death video, which featured Steve Vai, and if I’m honest here SV was the main reason I checked it out. Wow, I certainly wasn’t expecting that. So now the guitars are super impressive, the rhythm section totally on the money and the sound is ultra-modern, vibrant, funky and with a liberal dose of pop sensibilities thrown in for good measure.
Time to check out the album, which initially left me in a somewhat of a quandary, as although the music is of a consistently high quality throughout, quite a few of the tracks did little, if anything for me. More about them later, first let’s look at some of the tracks which did appeal, and the opening four absolutely worked. Guitar instrumental music for the 21st Century.
Album opener Genesis (no inference to the Charterhouse boys should be drawn here) is just that, a slow burning, funky instrumental which introduces the album along with the first of the ‘featuring’ artists, who are liberally employed across the album, with varying degrees of success. American hip hop production duo Brasstracks are immediate winners, adding trumpet and great brassy punctuation to Genesis. Playing God, on the other hand, is a wonderful Latin flavoured guitar extravaganza, underpinned by a deep-bass and a dance rhythm, which later segues into a contemporary jazzy funk section.
So you’ve probably gathered by now, Remember That You Will Die is not your standard proggy fare. The F(unk) word is possibly the most obvious giveaway, and with an average track length of just over three minutes, there are no ‘epic’ tracks, and finally no Mellotrons have been harmed during the making of this album. Don’t, however, be fooled into thinking that Polyphia are short on chops, as they put more into those three-plus minutes than many manage on an entire album. These four guys are absolutely the mutt’s nuts, and what they have done here is combine their incredible skills and created an album that is commercially viable, and likely the fore runner for a long and financially successful career. Bringing everything into focus is the ultra-modern production values – essential really as there’s so much happening within the mix.
Those production values are fully evident in track three, The Audacity, which also introduces the second of the ‘featuring’ artists, this time around keyboard player Anomalie. Another great guest choice and appears on one of the album’s stand out tracks…
OK, so what didn’t work for me? Well, it all starts with ABC, which on the first run through I thought ‘WTF, is this a different album?’ Now please pardon my total ignorance here, but some of the guests may well be super-stars in their own right, but they are anathema to me. First up is Pop/R&B singer Sophia Black, and if you told me she is a multi-platinum star who sells-out stadia tours, I’d believe you. Similarly with Killstation, who appears next track, or rapper $Not who follows on. More successful pairings, for me, happen towards the end of the album – Chimera with Lil West and Bloodbath with Chino Moreno. Anyway, I’m sure you get the picture, and let’s qualify this by saying the songs that didn’t work for me could well be the standout tracks for certain audiences – just not the aging and slowly balding type…
So I’ve dithered about reviewing this album, which started life as one of our shorter ADA Reviews, but the more I listened the more I appreciated just how good this album is. So regardless of my preferences, Remember That You Will Die shows the versatility of Polyphia, who look to have a guaranteed future in whatever direction they take. Checking out their download charts, it would indicate that they are already firmly established on this journey. And with 13 million YouTube views and counting, I’ll wrap up this review and leave you with the Ego Death feat. Steve Vai video…
01. Genesis (3:14)
02. Playing God (3:25)
03. The Audacity (2:24)
04. Reverie (4:02)
05. ABC (2:32)
06. Memento Mori (2:44)
07. Fuck Around and Find Out (2:31)
08. All Falls Apart (1:19)
09. Neurotica (3:14)
10. Chimera (3:56)
11. Bloodbath (3:50)
12. Ego Death (5:50)
Total Time – 39:01
Tim Henson – Guitar
Scott LePage – Guitar
Clay Gober – Bass Guitar
Clay Aeschliman – Drums
Brasstracks – Trumpet (tracks 1,8 & 12)
Anomalie – Keyboards, Synthesisers (track 3)
Sophia Black – Vocals (track 5)
Killstation – Vocals (track 6)
$not – Vocals (track 7)
Lil West – Vocals (track 10)
Chino Moreno – Vocals (track 11)
Steve Vai – Guitar (track 12)
Rafa Rodriguez – Additional Guitar (track 4), Saxophone (1)
Brady Watt – Additional Bass (track 1)
Luke Holland – Additional Drums (tracks 1 & 6)
Record Label: Rise Records
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 28th October 2022