Polyphia is a young band from Northern Texas. The album is named "Muse." I say this because I don't want anyone getting confused thinking Muse have a new album called "Polyphia." Polyphia has a lot of talent and all four members are excellent musicians. Their goal on "Muse" was to merge a pop sound with progressive metal.
Let's start with the positives. The album was self-funded by the band and their families, friends and fans. The album sounds great, very well engineered and produced. Any band would be proud of the sound they achieve on their debut album. The songs are upbeat and easy to digest. I think the album itself will do well with a bigger audience than your average new band, just on the likability of the songs. It's very nice. Some of the tracks are very good; "Memory" has a nice peaceful vibe with a solo reminiscent of Brian May. Another huge plus is that the artwork is great!
But there are some big negatives. This just isn't progressive. There's nothing wrong with that, necessarily. It's more in line with Joe Satriani or maybe fellow Texans Scale the Summit. They are all great players but there isn't a lot of depth to the music, just really great playing. Technical instrumental pop maybe? The songs all have a heaping helping of sugar on top. Being upbeat is nice, but 45 minutes of sunshine eventually was too much for me.
Another negative, which many will think is a positive, is the numerous guest guitarists on the album. Over half the album has guests on it. The problem is that since Polyphia is a new band, I don't quite know what THEY sound like. For example, the first two songs reminded me of Intervals. There's nothing wrong with that, except that Aaron Marshall of Intervals is on the second track. Both songs kind of sound like outtakes from the first two Intervals EPs. Of course, that band got a vocalist and has grown a lot since then. "The Jungle" is one of my favorite tracks on "Muse," but it has Jakub from Disperse on it, and yes, I love that band. So do I love the song or the fact that he plays on it?
The biggest negative for me was the overuse of whammy bars. I don't mind some whammy bar. I used to love Brad Gillis from Night Ranger, but that was the 80s. Both "Aviator" and "Finale" use the whammy bar in such a way -- that banging of it -- which, if you do it a couple times, that's okay. The problem is that sound is the hook running through each song. It drove me insane. I almost stopped listening to the album because "Aviator" was track 3. But I decided to give the benefit of the doubt and continue. I was going to give a higher rating until "Finale" hit and the whammy bar sound came back. I assumed "Finale" would be this epic piece. It's not. I almost turned off the album because of the whammy sound. It's a shame because both songs are decent but with that damn whammy bar, they're annoying.
I think Polyphia has tremendous potential, which is why I seem to be coming down so hard on them. They are TALENTED players. My hope is that they mature and grow their sound, keep writing and push themselves further. It's okay to be progressive, if you actually are.