Polyphia
Remember That You Will Die


3.7
great

Review

by Simon K. STAFF
October 26th, 2022 | 164 replies


Release Date: 2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The GOAT returns with some unnecessary baggage.

For lack of a better term, the musicians in Polyphia are prodigies. At least in terms of style, there’s a level of genius to their work that’s almost uncharted. On the surface, Tim Henson and Scott LePage’s virtuosity make the likes of John 5 and Steve Vai’s playing look like amateur hour, but the unspoken layer of brilliance comes from their eye for detail and how they compose every song. Yes, the band’s penchant for harmonics, dead notes, hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides – executed with the most deliciously ridiculous fluidity and precision – has a freakshow allure for a lowly, common musician like me. However, this aspect of the band is just smoke and mirrors for what the main function of Polyphia’s success is: accessibility. I’ve always maintained instrumental albums are prickly projects to get right. Nobody wants to listen to some dude fret-wanking for ninety minutes with little consequence, it becomes boring pretty fast. What Polyphia does is take this Ichika Nito-esque, new-wave-guitar-God style and fuses it with hip-hop; from the hedonistic visual aesthetic right down to the rhythm and production style, sprinkling it all with these perfidiously simple-sounding and accessible melodies.

To a layman the music sounds very pretty, saturated in catchy earworm grooves and pop melodies, but to a musician who’s paying attention, they are playing at a level that brings utter ignominy to anybody watching. As a bass player, I remember listening to “G.O.A.T” for the first time and hearing Clay Gober’s slap technique and having to shovel my jaw back up from the ground after witnessing the airtight precision and cool grooves from the rhythm section. It’s truly inspiring stuff to say the least, but in short, especially when listening to the singles from Remember That You Will Die, this instrumental music has a voice of its own and transcends a lot of the instrumental genre cliches and issues associated with it. And make no mistake; Remember That You Will Die was setting itself up to be a stone-cold classic. “Playing God”’s flamenco opening, and Animal Crossing mid-section are the ingredients for a perfect song. All of the singles, with the exception of “ABC” (which we’ll get into later) are perfect instrumental songs with a bucket load of heart and character, and as we approached the album’s release date, I was feeling a wave of uncontrollable excitement waiting for the full album to come out. There was just one issue holding me back from total embrace: the tracklisting worrying stated it would have guest spots scattered all over it.

I know, I know, this is 2022 and guests are the chic thing with artists these days, but this isn’t my first rodeo. When other artists infiltrate an artist’s work it brings with it a slew of issues that have to be considered, most pertinently, cohesion. Unfortunately for Remember That You Will Die this decision has done irrevocable damage to the album. Polyphia manage to derail a potentially near-perfect project with pernicious guest-spots, from top to bottom. With the exception of the instrumental guests and Sophia Black’s vocal contributions for “ABC” – which is a cute bubble gum pop track in its own right – the rest of the vocalists destroy the bottle for the lightning to go in. Once over I got excited for anything Chino Moreno was involved in, but now I shudder at the very mention of his name. As predicted, “Bloodbath” sees Chino set in autopilot, poignantly crooning over the track and bringing what could have been great, down to a soporific slog. On top of him, we have a treasure trove of mumble rap’s finest auto-tuned hacks. Maybe it’s just because I’m not a hip, young person anymore, but I abhor this style of music and everything about it. Which, as you can imagine, makes most of these tracks nearly unlistenable. “Memento Mori” is just about tolerable on a good day, but “*** Around and Find Out” is so egregiously shocking it elicits a panic in me, fumbling for the skip button every time it comes on. Similarly, “Chimera” has the last section of the track laced with Lil West dropping a shower of *** all over the promising instrumentals.

Here’s the thing – this is just one man’s opinion, and I’m sure there are people out there who love these artists, but this is a textbook case on the risks you run when you put guests onto an album. Unless you’re HEALTH, who are seemingly infallible when it comes to this kind of thing, you run the risk of alienating a lot of people if you don’t utilise the individuals in the right way. And for me, as soon as the album gets to “ABC”, the record goes from being a smooth sailing rapture into a mixed roller-coaster ride. The guests just aren’t integrated well enough here; it's as though the songs were written first and then they decided to add the guests as an afterthought. Omit the vocal tracks from Remember That You Will Die and you’ve got seven thoroughly enjoyable rides that fuse a plethora of styles together and form a fantastic narrative. Polyphia would have been better off getting distinct instrumentalists in to lay down their DNA on Remember That You Will Die, like Steve Vai. It would have been a prudent and innocuous decision, with significantly less risk being put onto the overall quality.

In a nutshell, Remember That You Will Die is a disappointment considering it was well on track to being a barnstorming masterclass in instrumental music. Asinine decisions aside, this album is great when you remove the aforementioned problems from the equation. It’s just a shame we are where we are with it, because they almost had a diamond on their hands.



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user ratings (192)
3.3
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2022


18181 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Willie, please listen to GOAT and come back here. The rhythm section midway is soooo good



https://youtu.be/9_gkpYORQLU

Vinnymcscoop
October 26th 2022


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

No Aaron Marshals 1.5/5

Azog
October 26th 2022


1070 Comments


Been there, done that, still alive.

Oh well, maybe someday.

Calc
October 26th 2022


17305 Comments


the theme of your first two paragraphs lead me to believe you watch a certain youtube channel where the guitar teacher makes the same point about their music being structured similar to modern pop? maybe?

botb
October 26th 2022


17548 Comments


This band is like if dream theater level musicians wrote anime outro songs. Like a track’s worth of “holy shit these guys are real good at their instruments” followed by “ok I get it, my head is throbbing”

vult
October 26th 2022


2187 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

They can certainly be a bit extra but there’s no doubting their technical prowess.

Trebor.
Emeritus
October 26th 2022


59775 Comments


Tim Henson is ridiculously hot and that's all that matters

Vinnymcscoop
October 26th 2022


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

@botb They did a cover of the Berserk theme song "Inferno" so makes sense

vult
October 26th 2022


2187 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

And yeah ABC was certainly a decision.

Ebola
October 26th 2022


4493 Comments


Very well-written review, but the opening three sentences feel a bit hyperbolic. These guys are world-class musicians, yeah, but arguing they have "a level of genius to their work that’s almost uncharted" is pushing it. They have a distinct style that's executed with technical precision, but I think you're overselling their musical wizardry.

With that being said, you're a superb writer and I think your write-up is excellent. You're spot-on in saying that the technical skill pales in comparison to the accessible songwriting, imo.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2022


18181 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

“the theme of your first two paragraphs lead me to believe you watch a certain youtube channel where the guitar teacher makes the same point about their music being structured similar to modern pop”



I haven’t got a clue what you’re going on about lol

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2022


18181 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

@ebola



When I say genius, I’m referring to the fact they know how to make it come across really accessible. I’ve shown people who listen to music at face value and say it’s great but don’t have a clue just how technical it can be. And that’s down to the fact these guys know how to make it sound accessible and not pretentious



Edit: and thanks a lot for the kind words

Calc
October 26th 2022


17305 Comments


sorry that was supposed to be a poorly worded question. changed it for ya. you both make good points about why their music is so accessible under all the tweedles and deedles.

bgillesp
October 26th 2022


8867 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really looking forward to listening to this. My biggest fear was that they would try to fit too many varieties of ideas into this like I feel they have in the past. Your review makes me more worried, lol, but I still anticipate it being my favorite of theirs yet. They are one of the few bands who I'd rather listen to a "greatest hits" from than their albums as intended (but still I hope this album can change that)

botb
October 26th 2022


17548 Comments


Would love to hear these guys write songs and not just take turns teeing off overtop of low-fi hip hop beats you can study to

vult
October 26th 2022


2187 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

@botb you’d probably like their first two albums then, Muse is probably down your alley.

Mort.
October 26th 2022


24843 Comments


soulless wank

Manatea
Contributing Reviewer
October 27th 2022


1857 Comments


Great review.
I’m enjoying this more than I thought I would because I happened to not like ABC at all. Also Clay Aeslichman is nasty good.

botb
October 27th 2022


17548 Comments


“@botb you’d probably like their first two albums then, Muse is probably down your alley.” I’ve heard I should check the early stuff. I like Muse basically up until like 2006 and then find it absolutely unlistenable

gravityswitch
October 27th 2022


1833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ABC is a banger agreed



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