Polyphia – Remember That You Will Die
Released: October 28th, 2022
Clay Gober // Bass
Clay Aeschliman // Drums
Tim Henson // Guitars
Scott LePage // Guitars
Polyphia’s Wiki page currently classifies them as ‘primarily instrumental’. This is probably the best way to describe them. They have no permanent vocalist, and much of their past catalogue is vocal-free. However, this new album has no fewer than eight guest spots (out of a grand total of twelve tracks), most of which are singers adding vocal and lyrical colour to the tracks.
Beyond this, this band truly defies classification.
Maybe you could deem them ‘experimental’, whatever that means. Being ‘experimental’ in a musical context entails exploring new, different, unexpected sounds, rhythms, textures, colours… But it still doesn’t really give you a true read on their actual musical style. You can be ‘experimental’ in many genres of music.
So, all that being the case, Polyphia are a band that simply needs to be experienced to understand, and appreciate. They absolutely experiment with all manner of different sounds and styles, from prog metal to alt-rock to funk to jazz to RnB pop to hip hop and more besides (they also get pegged with the ‘genre-bending’ label, which is ultimately also pretty damn accurate), but they do so in a manner that is still cohesive, catchy and highly listenable.
As an embodiment of this concept, check out the track ‘ABC’, which features ‘trilingual’ LA R&B pop vocalist Sophia Black. On the surface, it comes across as a radio-ready, two-and-a-half-minute R&B pop track with cutesy female vocals, but if you listen a little deeper, it’s elaborate, band and vocalist squeezing much out of those 2.5 minutes, rhythmically quite complex and vocally challenging. It’s also one of the album’s best and coolest cuts (and this is coming from someone who really does not like R&B pop).
Elsewhere, there’s the more hip-hop tinged ‘Fuck Around and Find Out’, featuring rapper $not; the alt/nu metal stylings of ‘Bloodbath’, in which none other than Deftones’s Chino Moreno appears on guest vocals; the grandiose prog of ‘Ego Death’, which features the almighty Steve Vai on guest guitar, his tone and style utterly unmistakable. The latter is truly a meeting of minds, mashing of styles and a happy clash of the old and nu-school seven and eight-stringers.
Then there’s the big, fat, funky, brassy groove of opener ‘Genesis’ (featuring R&B-hip hop production duo Brasstracks), more hip hop on ‘Memento Mori’ (featuring ‘dark rap’ producer Killstation) and ‘Chimera’ (featuring rapper Lil West) and the super-catchy instrumental pop of ‘Neurotica’.
Yes, this band really does cover a ridiculous amount of musical territory on this album, truly does approach it with a ‘let’s throw everything including the kitchen sink at it and make sure it all sticks’ mindset. And, by some sort of miracle (or maybe it’s simply sublime songwriting and instrumental skill and nous), stick it virtually all does.
There is some serious hype around this band, as much as can be for a ‘primarily instrumental’ act anyway, and it is 100% deserved. Polyphia knows exactly who they are, what they’re doing and where they’re going, they have millions upon millions of hits and plays on online platforms like Spotify and YouTube, and now they attract huge names like the ones mentioned above to play with them on their album.
And, you know what? They’ve reached this position purely by writing amazing, unique music, forging their own path and remaining true to exactly who and what they are.
This album is an absolute winner. Let’s hope they tour Down Under again at some stage soon so we can see how this all unfolds in a live setting.
Polyphia – Remember You Will Die Tracklisting
1. Genesis feat. Brasstracks
2. Playing God
3. The Audacity feat. Anomalie
5. ABC feat. Sophia Black
6. Memento Mori feat. Killstation
7. Fuck Around and Find Out feat. $not
8. All Falls Apart
10. Chimera feat. Lil West
11. Bloodbath feat. Chino Moreno
12. Ego Death feat. Steve Vai