Scale The Summit
If the term 'instrumental progressive metal' fills you with abject terror, have no fear. Texan-based Scale The Summit may change your mind with The Collective, a worthy successor of their sophomore Carving Desert Canyons. Their union of genres makes for a rollercoaster ride from chilled post-rock to sludgy post-metal, all with trademark technical and melodic solos.
Picking up from where Carving left off, the band have added several new elements. Firstly, there is more variety in dynamics, such as slow calming sections such as “The Levitated”, providing a contrast to the heavy headbang of “Gallows” or the sludge feel of “Colossal”. Also, the band vary between a traditional song structure such as “Secret Earth” and a classical movement structure such as “Black Hills”.
Secondly, the band are working together more closely, but each instrument has its own moments to shine. However, you don't need a Berklee diploma to understand the music; the guitars play technically without sacrificing melody, and the drum fills aren't distracting like in some other instrumental bands. The solos easily replace the need for vocals, and are at times soulful and emotional while others are full of crazy arpeggios and scale runs. The bass is just as interesting to listen to, especially on “Alpenglow” where it miraculously keeps time with the guitar solo.
Thirdly, the production has been improved vastly and is now pristine; the bass is more audible, the solo tone is less reedy and the cymbals have been relegated, creating a better balance between instruments. The chords also sound heavier, creating powerful intros such as “Origin Of Species”.
Many comparisons have been claimed, ranging from Cynic through Between The Buried And Me to Cloudkicker, and there is some truth in each of these. However, even those knowing none of the above bands can enjoy this album without problem due to its accessibility. Despite instrumental prog being a less commercial genre, they play it in a way which has potential for getting serious recognition from many circles of fans.
Picking flaws in this album is challenging. Occasionally the album feels a lot longer than its 45 minutes, and the sudden jump from the relaxed “Secret Earth” to the heavy “Gallows” is slightly jarring, but those are minor points compared to the overall enjoyment I gained from this release. The only issue I took was with opening track “Colossal”, which was a bit too sludgy for my liking. However, it's a credit to the band if the “worst” track on a release is still great quality.
To summarize, Scale The Summit have created a multi-purpose album which can capture the listener's attention, be enjoyed as background music, even to help with relaxation. In all capacities, this album is a joy to listen to, and a testament to the band slogan: Their Strings Are Voices.
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