Riff Playbooks: Polaris - Hypermania


The "Riff Playbooks" column is designed to make you a better player. By gleaning some insight into the technique, composition, and execution of these fine riffs by fine SH artists, you are bound to make headway in your own playing. We cordially invite you to steal a page from our books in order to expand your own diabolical playbook of musical wizardry (not literally though, the books are expensive to create).

In our latest Riff Playbook, Rick Schneider of Polaris runs us through the song "Hypermania", from the bands latest LP / Sheet Happens book, The Death Of Me. While still a relatively young band (TDOM being their second full length release), the songwriting in this song & on this record shows a real understanding of what can be accomplished both with technicality & simplicity, a lesson that has been hard learned over many years by capable guitarists the world over. This section of the song is a perfect example of the balance that Polaris has struck. The first riff employs some very fun passages that make use of some modest technicality, but never loose the thread of the over arching rhythm & melody. Well placed slides paired with ringing open strings create fantastic dissonant melodies, bridging the gaps within an impactful riff that punches along with the drums & bass. From this we move into a straight forward and very heavy riff, that does nothing but bounce. It’s very simple, and extremely satisfying. These are both fantastic riffs, the combination of which tells us that Polaris know how to play, and know how to write. Here's a little more insight into "Hypermania" from Rick himself:

"Whenever I'm writing riffs for Polaris I'm looking at what emotions, styles and overall vibes I can get across. For Hypermania very early on it was a mix of dissonance and aggression, and that was largely formed from the writing of the "chorus" riff. I'd never approached a riff that used such overt dissonance in an almost melodic approach - rather than just bouncing between one or two notes of dissonance I instead tried to tie a string of dissonance together to give you something that could almost sing back (after a few listens). Landing on the root chord helped to beef it up and give it some impact, but I also wanted to make sure that it wasn't too straight to conflict with the eclectic and manic nature of the song, so using off beat hits and some healthy variation really helped it all come together. It's a riff I hold really near and dear to me, largely because I don't think I can ever get away with doing that same descending dissonant chord without someone (usually my bandmates) saying "that's Hypermania".

Grab the free tab for this section right here, and check out "The Death of Me - The Complete Guitar & Bass Transcription" here.