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Today we’re gonna talk about one of the most awesome instrumental releases, which I won’t analyze too much because this album contains a wide array of different musical and stylistic details, which you can listen over and over again and always stumble upon something new in this piece of music. Also, forget about everything you’ve been listening in the genre of instrumental progressive rock because these young folks have given us a completely new and coll sound, which I’m very grateful for. If you don’t want to read the whole review, then I’d recommend you to listen to this album immediately because you’ll most probably not be disappointed, even if you don’t dig guitar-driven music that much. This album is worth listening to just because it offers an example of effective combination and collaboration between technical and melodic aspects. In other words, it is hardly the case, when progressive and highly technical music can be defined as highly melodic. But not this time.

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This is Polyphia – an American instrumental band, which has initially become famous because of YouTube and its magic of macing certain videos go viral. Long ago, the band has decided to make a playthrough of their debut album, record it on video and upload on YouTube. Eventually, the video has become highly viral and that was the first significant boom of their popularity. Basically, that’s why we’ve got pleasure of talking about their music now. And to be honest, I’m really grateful to the Internet its ability to distribute good content on a massive scale.

However, for me back then, this band was not really that interesting and did not really matter much because of an array of reasons, which I’ve shared with you in previous reviews. Also, it was the time, when Animals as Leaders, Protest the hero, Periphery, TesseracT etc. were one of the pioneers making melodic progressive metal interesting and highly popular among the masses. In this regard it is worth remembering that these bands were highly criticized by the “true” metalheads saying that it’s too pop for progressive metal to be melodic and include clean vocals. Nonetheless, I’ve got distracted. Let’s move on to the actual review.

As for the newest release of this band, I really could not miss a chance to review it because of two reasons. First, having seen Yellow-flannel review by Fantano, I’ve figured out that I might need to give this album a listen too. Second, and most important, my subscribers on Russian-speaking channel highly requested this album for review and advised me to listen to it because of its complexity and melodic diversity.

And yes, their new album New Levels New Devils, with its stylish cover art, immediately grabs you by the hand and drags you to the aforementioned technical and pleasant atmosphere created by guitar sound. Yes, I forgot to mention the conceptual meaning of the album and analyze its lyrics. That’s because there’s almost no lyrics except the track So Strange, where we can hear Cuco’s vocals. Nonetheless, in majority of cases, the instrumental albums don’t even need the inclusion of vocals to sound awesome. The albums of Dance with the Dead and Aphex Twin completely prove that. Furthermore, there’s very-very much going on in terms of musical content without the vox.

The only thing I was afraid of, when listening to this album, it started off immediately being so awesome and very similar to the signature riffs of Buckethead that I started thinking that that sliding and somewhat funk-ish riff will be interrupted by the cliche rhythmic patterns on 7th or 8th open string following a highly syncopated rhythm. Basically, that was the major stylistic thing that pisses me off a lot in contemporary progressive metal. However, it was never the case for this album and I’m really grateful for that. Finally, we’ve found a band in 2018 that is capable of delivering a really pleasant and groovy and technical sound without using cliche prog-metal riffs. Instead, we can hear highly-progressive riffs, arpeggios and chord progressions played on clean sound that are being followed by different transitions, bridges, etc. In general, you gotta hear this stuff for yourself, so I won’t tell you about what’s happening in every track of this album in more detail.

I’ll tell you this. Every track is clearly and perfectly balances and structured, as it has its own versions of verses, choruses, bridges, different transitions, which is quite a rarity in progressive rock and metal, as well. From my own personal listening experience, I’ve stumbled upon progressive songs that flow almost endlessly, they change the riffs, chords and progressions, without creating a common theme of the tracks. I believe this is because such tracks are more focused on delivering more aggressive tone or creating more aggressive atmosphere or simply astonish the listeners with musical complexity. Here, there’s nothing in music that can be defined even close to aggressive; instead, every instrument sounds clean, lightly and gently. This in particular will allow you to listen to the album easily and enjoy it, even if you avoid listening to any kind of rock/metal music. A perfect example for this is the track Death Note, which is centered across one funky chorus, which is highly complex but groovy, polyphonic but really easy to listen to. And this is the case for every other track on the record because all of them represent really complex time signatures, rhythmic and melodic patterns, but they won’s sound too bizarre for listeners, who’ve never heard similar music.

Also, I cannot say that the music of these guys is too repetitive and/or monotonous, which was the case for the last works of Animals as Leaders, where one track sounds okay, but the rest of the tracks sound the same. Here, every track is unique from its own perspective because they draw from different music genres. That’s why, despite the fact, that in general this is an instrumental rock album, there’s much content inspired either by funk or guitar jazz or flamenco or even indie music. As you can see, it’s quite hard to describe the album and its awesomeness.

Therefore, I really recommend you to give it a listen. And from me, I’d rate it 5 out of 5.

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