Playing God

Polyphia Returns With A Chart Topping Album…And A Reminder.


Polyphia pose for a promotional photo in support of new album, Remember That You Will Die

Joseph Palos, Writer

“Genesis,” the opening track to Polyphia’s latest album, is cold, mechanic, and groovy…this is the stage Polyphia sets with their latest release, “Remember That You Will Die.” With each new album they release, the quartet redefines the instrumental music genre, and it is no different here. 

Polyphia are many things: instrumental, melodic, hip-hop, metal, traditional, and modern. It is difficult to put a label on them as they manage to change the genre from track to track at will. In this album alone, there are collaborations with artists ranging from rap artists like $NOT to Grammy award-winning guitar virtuoso Steve Vai; guest vocalists include pop artist Sophia Black and Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno. For some, this can be a bit polarizing and can be a difficult experience for individuals who are not a fan of certain genres. However, with an open mind, you may find the experience incredibly enjoyable. 

The glue holding the chaos together is the four members of Polyphia, including two guitarists Tim Henson and Scott LePage, bassist Clay Gober, and drummer Clay Aeschliman. What may come as a surprise to new listeners is that the four instrumentalists are actually playing everything heard on the recordings themselves. There is no drum machine, and there are no artificial guitar or bass lines. Polyphia’s instrumentals are incredibly tight and often extremely technical, while also maintaining a unique voice that could only be associated with them; despite this, one of the band’s biggest critiques is that they actually lack feeling. 

Recently, instrumental music has fallen into a handful of categories including classical, film scores, jazz, lo-fi, and many more not mentioned here. It is not that these are “boring.” In fact, they are quite the opposite, each exciting in its own way, and people that appreciate music would likely agree with that sentiment. However, despite the unlimited possibilities and untapped potentials that instrumental music offers, there are not many artists utilizing them, which has led to a world where many people view instrumental music as “lesser” or “background” noise. One of Polyphia’s greatest achievements has been their ability to bring excitement and energy back to the instrumental scene that has not really been seen since the creation of jazz. 

Polyphia made a name for themselves with the release of their single “G.O.A.T.” back in 2018. The track fuses together melodies akin to that of the metal genre, while simultaneously producing a very tight hip-hop-esque beat and rhythm. In a video uploaded to YouTube by Tim Henson (guitarist for Polyphia) on his channel, he states that when making “G.O.A.T.,” he took a lot of inspiration from rap music and “tried to make [his] guitar sound like a rapper.” This innovation allowed for the creation of something very special and opened up new possibilities for the band and the instrumental genre. 

Polyphia’s latest release, 2022’s “Remember That You Will Die” saw an incredible launch, debuting at number 33 on the Billboard 200 chart and at number one on the Billboard Rock chart, a first for the band. The album features incredible instrumental pieces from the quartet, both creative and brilliant, once again cementing the four-piece as true prodigies while utilizing the talents of other artists to craft a more balanced listening experience. While the addition of so many guests (the album lists eight features) may be a con for certain listeners, the quality of production and attention to detail that many have come to expect from Polyphia is still present, if not improved upon. 

“Remember That You Will Die” features incredibly tight, technical, and well-constructed instrumental compositions. It manages to spice things up and throw a curveball at listeners with the addition of a diverse, almost eclectic selection of guest vocal talents and musicians. Songs like the acoustic-based “Playing God” or heavier “Bloodbath” showcase the band’s ability to go from the vibe of an “Animal Crossing” game to channeling the spirit of Dimebag Darrell in a matter of minutes. The band’s chameleon-like abilities are on full display here, proving their adaptability and range with every song likely a result of each member’s musical virtuosity. There is at least one song on this album for everyone. The quality of the production alone is worth the listen. 

The album ends the same way it began while also utilizing the talents of artist Brasstracks to create a loop-worthy experience. With the recent release of the album’s vinyl copy, sales have continued to increase for the band. Innovative, fresh, bold, diverse, and new—these are all words I would use to describe Polyphia’s latest release, “Remember That You Will Die,” which is out now wherever music is available.