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Polyphia – Muse | Album Review

Texan instrumental troupe Polyphia drop their debut full length, ‘Muse’. Find out what HTF thought here.

Credit: Album Artwork

Polyphia are a young Texas based instrumental prog rockers with big riffs and bigger dreams. Their debut, crowdfunded full-length ‘Muse’ is a testament to this. It is a testament to the young band’s instrumental ability and song construction nous.

It’s also a bit boring.

If you’re into the shred stylings of guitar maestros such as Guthrie Govan, there’s a lot for you here. The quartet are undeniably talented. The guitar work throughout is dexterous and innovative, Climbing and descending riffs, tapping, rapid fretwork, it’s all here in ample supply. The drums are of a similar top notch quality, with the flexible and intuitive cymbal work standing out as a major plus, and the constantly shifting rhythms locking in with some excellent meandering, grooving bass guitar passages.

Opener ’87’ kicks in with some synths, programmed drums and the sound of waves. The guitar tone is a little grating and a bit tinny, but the riffs are interesting, with a lot of start/stop elements and a mirroring bassline. There’s complex guitar work, some frantic kick drum pounding and dreamy background synth layers. Morphing into a slower, moodier, cymbal heavy section things build up, layer by layer, with triumphant guitars and a general air of positivity. ‘Sweet Tea’ showcases the band’s occasional pop tint to their songwriting, with an infectious, grooving and upbeat rhythm. The main riff slowly expands out, is solo’d over, climbs, builds and changes. The group are perhaps best at this, taking a theme or riff and expanding upon it in an organic way.

Sadly, things become increasingly formulaic. Each track is a set of anchoring riffs that seem to merely serve as a showcase for their guitar (and more rarely, drum or bass) solo talents. The sheer volume of both solos and tracks (11 in total) seem to dilute whatever potency the formula initially contains, and it becomes very difficult to tell individual songs apart. The only real change of pace, ‘Memory’, is a considered, delicate series of picked guitar lines and glockenspiel/piano backing that verges on post-rock territory. But it is almost immediately stamped over by the hobnailed boots of an obnoxious guitar solo.

It’s a shame to discredit the obvious talent possessed by the band. Taken as individual bites or tracks, they are impressive little slices of prog/shred. Taken as a whole, however, it becomes a showcase of almost masturbatory fret fondling.

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