A beginner’s guide to Polyphia: album by album

Polyphia
(Image credit: Future / Kevin Scanlon)

Perplexed by the world’s most exciting guitar band’s bewildering discography? Fear not: here’s a primer that unpacks the evolution of Tim Henson and Scott LePage’s writing over two brain-melting EPs and five albums that push the electric guitar into places we have never heard it before.

This, actually, is just as eye-opening for the acolyte who has followed the Texan trailblazers since they popped their cherry with Inspire – an EP that still sounds fresh today as it did in 2013. So much for juvenilia. 

But then, once the last strains of Remember That You Will Die fade out, all listeners might just be left on the floor. Just did they do that? (The Audacity indeed, right?) 

Well, you can read about how they made Remember That You Will Die, and get the skinny on their awesome collaboration with guitar hero Steve Vai on Ego Death, but below, we tell the Polyphia story so far, album by album.

Inspire EP (2013)

Polyphia had only been around for three years when a playthrough video for Impassion started racking up some serious views as viewers watched and shared footage of a 19-year-old Ibanez-toting Tim Henson and 20-year-old Jackson-armed Scott LePage using a smorgasbord of techniques to dazzle and stun. 

Naturally, it drew great attention to the self-released debut EP’s five tracks, which – as promising as they were – would end up being just a mere taste of the guitar acrobatics to come…

Muse (2014)

After making quite an impactful first impression, the group were then able to tap players like Aaron Marshall, Jason Richardson and Nick Johnston for the genre-splicing tour-de-force of inventive guitar that became their debut full-length. 

Songs like 87 and James Franco have remained firm fan favorites in the years since, though it’s third track and Nick Johnston collaboration Champagne that’s appeared on the setlist more times than anything else they’ve written – and with good reason.

Renaissance (2016)

Album number two saw the Texans scale back on the metallic tones and riffs to create more sonic room for other influences, cross-pollinating different elements of jazz fusion, modern pop and rap into their orchestra of unorthodox. 

Tracks like Culture Shock and Ivory offer some of the heavyweight grooves we’d grown to expect, while deeper cuts like Nightmare and Amour feel thrillingly dynamic, unfolding in the most mysterious of ways.

The Most Hated EP (2017)

Taking their explosive math-rock to new melodic heights on their second EP, with ideas that often felt every bit as lyrical as the human voice, it’s easy to see why tracks like Goose, Icronic and 40oz are among the band’s most popular to date – the latter involving some devilishly wide-stretch sweeps on the clean channel. 

Anybody who’s tried getting them up to speed will probably tell you they’re not for the faint-hearted and among the most challenging from the guitar duo to date.

New Levels New Devils (2018)

For their third album, Henson and LePage went even deeper down the rabbit hole of EDM, trap and electronica – enlisting producers like Judge and Y2K to enhance their less guitar-centric influences in the most extraordinary ways. 

They teamed up with Richardson again for Nasty, as well as enlisting the talents of Ichika Nito, Mateus Asato and Yvette Young elsewhere with some truly remarkable results. 

G.O.A.T. now stands as their most-played track on Spotify– not to mention one of the greatest riffs of the 2010s – demonstrating just why they’ve become guitar heroes for a new generation in three-and-a-half unforgettable minutes.

Remember That You Will Die (2022)

The first bite from this year’s fourth full-length arrived just before summer in the form of Playing God, with Henson and LePage wielding Ibanez nylon-string guitars to fuse trap rhythms with finger-twisting flamenco parts, employing open strings and natural harmonics to cover vast amounts of sonic ground as they have so often done in the past. 

Other tracks like second single Neurotica show the pair experimenting even further with complex rhythm and curious melody, reinventing the fretboard one riff at a time and boldly continuing their evolution as modern-day masters.

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Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences. He's interviewed everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handling lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).