Today’s review was written by our reader Caleb McIntosh of the band Issachar (which also includes our very own Paul “Uncle Muscles” Meisner on guitar). Be sure to check them out on Facebook! They’re about to step into the studio next month to record their debut EP. Be on the look out!
Scale the Summit
04. The Levitated
05. Secret Earth
07. Origin of Species
09. Black Hills
11. Drifting Figures
In my opinion, both of Scale the Summit’s previous albums (2007’s Monument and 2009’s Carving Desert Canyons) are easily comparable to many of the string quartet pieces written by Haydn or Mozart. If you are looking for extended range music that is “heavy as balls” you might as well stop reading here. The musicians in Scale the Summit aim for one thing: beautiful music.
Admittedly, instrumental music as a whole has grown briskly over the past decade. The rapid advance of technology allows musicians to collaborate and share ideas easily. With such great competition and two great albums recorded, Scale the Summit needs to prove that it can continue to evolve the signature “Adventure Metal” into something long lasting. This signature sound is easily identifiable. A brief listen to tracks like “Drifting Figures” or “Alpenglow” will stimulate instant identification from anyone who is familiar with the band. Contributing to this is the fact that The Collective picks right up where Carving Desert Canyons left off; the song structure and general sound is nearly identical. Songs tend to begin with a flurry, quickly settle into a soothing pattern, and then head for a crescendo with accompanying guitar solos. However, songs like “Colossal” and “Whales” are more reminiscent of modern Post-Metal music in both sound and structure.
Fortunately, the hints at different genres aren’t the only changes from the norm. The band has altered their songwriting to accommodate a darker and more atmospheric sound. Accordingly, the use of extended range guitars is a bit more prevalent in this album than in past releases. A good deal of the expected repetitive technical riffs accompanied by major scale leads have been exchanged for more dynamic sections relying on lower voiced chords. Bass lines have also changed slightly and carry more of the sonic burden in some places. Nonetheless, the bass lines in tracks like “The Levitated” and “Emersion” showcase the punchy emphasis that fans will expect.
Another factor which bears mentioning is the mix of the album. Recording with Mark Lewis, who has worked with the likes of DevilDriver and All That Remains, has most certainly paid off. Although I personally feel that the album is missing the “huge” sound that guitarist Chris Letchford wanted, the mix is extremely clear and pristine. The album is simply a joy to listen to through studio monitors and even through the reprehensible speakers of a MacBook, the instruments do not intrude upon each other in any way.
I won’t pretend that there is no validity in the comparison of Scale the Summit’s music with elevator music. I also won’t pretend that I wouldn’t mind if a number of the songs went on for a greater period of time, but I feel that the larger number of shorter songs allows the band to express more of their ideas without restricting the creative process. Overall, The Collective is a solid album full of refinements that only slightly modify the formula. If you find their style predictable and boring, this album changes nothing. Yet from the viewpoint of an avid fan, this album adds a tastefully matured chapter to what I sincerely hope will be a very long book.
Scale the Summit – The Collective gets…