Metal is on the move. Gone are the days of hardcore screams, heavy drumbeats, and solos that seem to go on forever. Here come the days of intricately layered riffs, clean cut melodies, and absolutely no singing, whatsoever. And Texan 20-somethings Polyphia are leading the revolution. With more guest appearances than a top 40 pop album (and quite a few influences from that genre too), ‘Muse’ is a record all about showcases: it’s proving just how damn talented every single artist involved is in every carefully picked note.
Starting off with some ocean sounds and a soft harmonic beat, 87 gracefully eases us into the album, gradually building up to some shredding that shows off the band’s young talent right from the start. This is a song for summer, so let the endless floating riffs take you high above the clouds. Now comes the first guest appearance with track Sweet Tea, which features guitarist Aaron Marshall of Intervals. There are some grittier riffs underneath the sweet poppy layers of scales that adorn the track like twinkling lights. Champagne (feat. Nick Johnston) speeds things up a little, with crescendos falling like waterfalls. This is melodic metal at its finest—who needs vocals when you’ve got music like this?
Aviator (feat. Jason Richardson of Chelsea Grin) hits the overdrive, producing chills only to be burned off by the searing, scaling solo. But it’s the drumbeat that takes precedence in The Jungle (feat. Jakub Zytecki of Disperse), keeping the song locked down and heavy while the melodies dance around it in tight formation. The solo here is much more deliberate, staccato, contrasting sharply with the other harmonies, while perfectly complimenting the drumbeat. Memory inspires exactly what you’d expect from the song title—it will take you down dark, twisted corners of your subconscious with its lullaby-esque synths and winding melodies reminiscent of Santana. So sit back and fall into reverie for the next three and a half minutes, until you’re rudely awoken by the aptly named Mood Swing. Deep, brooding, and utterly haunting, this is a mood swing you won’t forget in a hurry.
Moving back into more upbeat territory, Hourglass (feat. Nick Sampson of I Am Abomination) weaves a story of times gone past, complete with a ticking metronome of sorts, counting down until the next spectacular solo. And don’t get us started on the stories James Franco has (kudos on the name, gentlemen). Wild, unexpected, and completely classy—all the things you’d expect from such an illustriously named track. Straight off the back is Baditude (feat. Mario Camarena & Erick Hansel), which you can argue is exactly what is spilling over from the previous track, making this just as punchy and vibrant, guaranteed to get you rocking out on the dance floor. Who needs to chill out for a second? Because we sure do, and that’s why closing track Finale is the ideal… finale. It combines all the slow, pleasant melodies with hard-hitting, fast-paced metal to round off the album, and remind you just what this band are capable of. Well done to a band who have managed to produce eleven beautifully composed metal tracks, while completely misstepping that common mistake of sounding like every other instrumental metal band that seem to flood the internet. Well done.
Polyphia – ‘Muse’