Scale The Summit - V 01Although we try to cover the metal scene pretty even-handedly here at Angry Metal Guy, some genres will always get short shrift. While our inbox gets swamped with retro-what have you, orthodox black metal, and your brutal/tech death band of the week, some genres that I like – slam, for instance – rarely make an appearance here. Another one of those genres is modern instrumental prog, a la Animals as Leaders and our band of interest, Scale the Summit. While I’ve enjoyed the group’s previous two outings, The Collective and The Migration, I’ve neglected to keep either album on rotation for very long, and thus their fifth album, V, is a welcome change of pace for AMG‘s “deathcore guy.”

V packs in good songs early on, with “Soria Moria” acting as the album’s anchor. After its very Tosin Abasi-ish intro, it begins to feel a lot more like The Migration. The band is in their comfort zone vamping on complex tapping patterns and slowly building songs up riff after riff, and though there are dud sections scattered throughout the disc, equally present are moments of subtle excellence. “Soria Moria” exemplifies this; an early heavier section falls flat, but the band quickly recover and make a clean and exciting exit, stopping the song suddenly at the top of a bright riff. Equally fun, “Kestral” explores more somber, atmospheric territory but does so very successfully, slotting nicely into the reticent ending of “The Isle of Mull.” Following the two is “Oort Cloud,” one of the album’s most interesting songs because of its comparatively dramatic shifts in tone, going from a sultry, reverb-drenched introduction into a nervous, sinking section that gets rehashed later on to include a bass solo with an almost bluegrass feel.

As is typical for instrumental acts, Scale the Summit‘s Achilles’ heel is their tendency to draw out riffs past their natural endpoint. While introducing new ideas every 16 bars or so works for a while, some extended vamps plow through a few ideas that maybe should have been cut. “Stolas” and “Blue Sun” (“I am a leaf on the wind…”) especially suffer from this, but it’s a better problem to have than the Between the Buried and Me-itis that a lot of prog bands suffer from, introducing completely unconnected sections to their songs that don’t really lead anywhere. All of the tracks on V are cohesive productions, drawn up from a few simple chord progressions or melodic tech riffs that are bright, fun, and often quite catchy.

Scale The Summit - V 02

Like The Migration, production of was handled by Jamie King, and his mixing work is just as pitch-perfect as the band’s performances. Guitar leads have just the right amount of gleam and feel very distinct from the backing guitars, while leaving plenty of room for bassist and Draco Malfoy look-alike Mark Mitchell to pluck and slap along underneath. The guitars also retain enough grit to make metalheads happy and ensure that the record doesn’t suffer from Periphery-like sterility. New Drummer JC Bryant gets slightly shortchanged in the mix and suffers the most from the album’s unnecessarily loud mastering. Clocking in at DR6, it’s a standard loudness for metal, but for music that doesn’t rely as heavily on natural distortion as black or death metal, it’s far too compressed. In my admittedly low quality 192kbps promo copy, occasional clipping can be heard and the instruments do tend to be squashed together, which does quite a bit of damage to an album that relies so heavily on guitar and bass performances that intersect rather than parallel each other.

V is a great album to end your summer and a fun sidestep from the typical metal release schedule, but it fails to quite live up to its predecessors. It’s not as loud as The Migration, but also not as sharply written, concise, or quite as memorable, and its drum performance feels a bit wanting. I don’t dislike V, and it scratches a certain itch that’s hard to get to, so while Scale the Summit‘s previous output remains a step above, V is worth the few hours you’ll spend repeating its 50-minute runtime.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Prosthetic Records
Websites: scale-the-summit.bandcamp.com | scalethesummit.com | facebook.com/scalethesummit
Releases Worldwide: September 18th, 2015

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  • Kalsten

    The video was really fun to watch. However, I know I will not enjoy a whole album like this. Make if I take it in small steps, but I rarely get very hooked to an instrumental album.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    I once saw this band described as “Protest the Hero without vocals” and that made me not check them out. I may have to rethink my position. I am a big fan of Animals as Leaders (who benefit greatly from not having a vocalist, imo) and honestly, there’s not much stuff like them, especially when it comes to quality or creativity.

  • groverXIII

    I’ve always been kind of on the fence when it comes to these guys, but with the addition of JC Bryant, thus completing their addition of the underrated Tetrafusion’s rhythm section, it’s sparked my interest. I really liked this album on my first listen and will definitely be giving it more time in the future.

  • AndySynn

    I absolutely love these guys (though I have not heard “V” yet). AAL by comparison have always left me feeling very cold and uninterested.

    • Chris Timbó

      Same here. Maybe it’s because their songs feel more upbeat and often have an optimistic feel to them. Can’t get enough of these guys!

  • Worldeater

    For me the review and the score are spot on. The phrase “bright, fun and often quite catchy” sums up my view of scale the summit as a whole. Sure they have some flaws and lack the flavor of instrumental brethren like Animals as Leaders or Blotted Science but there are times, when I am not in the mood for all too demanding music and then Scale The Summit do the trick! Bandcamp here I come!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I’m on the fence in regards to Instrumetal. I rather liked the non-vocal version of The Ocean’s Pelagial, but that was only Instrumetal to the degree that the vocals were just cut out of the tracks. Otherwise, I find myself wishing that a vocalist would kick in at some point. But, as Worldeater says, sometimes it makes for a nice change of pace.

    It’s funny, because I like Jazz, and extended Rock jams ala the Grateful Dead, but with Instrumetal I too often find myself getting bored.

    • Kronos

      On the topic of The Ocean, a lot of people seem to really love Pelagial, but I can’t for the life of me get into that album. Their previous two albums were really enjoyable, but Pelagial just seemed kind of boring to me.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Really liked Heliocentric. As for Anthropocentric, I have to agree with what AMG said in his review. Wouldn’t mind a new album from these fellows. I see they have a split with Mono coming out on Oct. 23rd.

        • Kronos

          That’s an interesting combo.

          • ImagesWords

            Pelagial might be my favorite album from them but I suggest listening to it on either best headphones you have or surround sound. I was really engulfed into the album.

    • Jeff Kent

      As I recall, Pelagial was written as an instrumental album and the vocals were added after the fact, no?

      • Monsterth Goatom

        I did some googling, and yes, that appears to be true. I won’t go into details here, but it stemmed from their vocalist’s health issues (see Wikipedia).

  • Chris Timbó

    For me, the best active instrumental band. Love these guys and will surely buy this one also.

    Have you guys heard Gordian Knot, a band Sean Malone had a while ago? God, I miss them. Two awesome albums that feel, for me, like they were released yesterday, though their last album was released on 2003.

    Indukti, when they let go of vocals, are pretty awesome too…

    Good weekend, everyone!

    • Jeff Kent

      I LOVE the first Gordian Knot album, but wasn’t as impressed with the follow up.

  • tim.o

    I find them pretty engaging; but I am not big fan of (progressive) instrumental metal in general. Other good examples are Plini and Canvas Solaris.

  • tim.o

    … but it’s a better problem to have than the Between the Buried and Me-itis
    that a lot of prog bands suffer from, introducing completely
    unconnected sections to their songs that don’t really lead anywhere …

    Hmm… it’s a fragmented brand of approaching compositions. It’s at the core of their stylistic choice; it’s not a problem. Although you may not like it.

    • André Snyde Lopes

      Just because it was intended, doesn’t mean people are going to like it. Saying something is a “stylistic choice” does not invalidate the reviewer’s opinion of it.

      • tim.o

        I agree; but you’re missing my point. I take issue with the categorical statement of their style being described as a “problem”. It is stated as a fact; not as an opinion; it’s a bit lazy. Would you make a statement like this about cubism or the particular flavor of magic realism used in The Tin Drum? Maybe it sounds like I am nit-picking or that I am overly sensitive when it comes to Between the Buried and Me. I am not; but I do like them and I don’t think they don’t get a fair shake around here at times.

        • André Snyde Lopes

          It is a problem to him. Unless you want the reviewer to write “imo” at the end of every sentence, it’s safe to assume that the review reflects the reviewer’s bias and opinion.

          I get what you’re saying, but I think it’s the reader’s responsibility to be informed and know if “BTBAMitis” is something they enjoy or not.

          • tim.o

            I don’t think we’re on the same page. Again, I hear what you’re saying, but that wasn’t my point. Let’s just leave it at that, if you don’t mind.

            Cheers

  • JohnC

    While I do agree with the previous statement of the previous albums being only fresh for a few hours, I’ve listened to this a bunch of times and I feel it’s their best album to date, hands down. I’d give it a 4.25 myself.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Definitely a welcome change of pace for deathcore guy. Was beginning to think you actually LIKED deathcore

    *elitist fapping to tech-death ensues*

    Sick review. Never really got into Scale The Summit simply because of time. Will be checking them out!

  • Noobhammer

    I’ve been listening to this album on repeat since it dropped yesterday. It’s definitely one of the best StS albums out there, though it’s not as good as “Carving Desert Canyons” I feel. For me that is their most cohesive work.

    It’s a shame that Prosthetic sent you poor copies to listen to. The version up on iTunes doesn’t feel so compressed to me, though I can tell that the bass seems a little too shoved in the back for me.

    I truly feel though that this band is one you have to see live, as it just makes the albums that much better which the memory of seeing them live. I have only been able to catch them once, and that was way back when they toured with BTBAM and Devin Townsend (who stole the show, leading to much whining and complaining by BTBAM fanatics who couldn’t appreciate his royal Township).

  • Jeff Kent

    Since we’re talking about instrumental music and Animals As Leaders was mentioned I need to give a shout out to the Javier Reyes side project, Mestis. They released picture disc EP a few years ago, but I don’t recall if it came out on CD or not. Look for it online and give it a listen. It has a proggy Latin vibe. I’d love to hear more from them someday.

    • Kronos

      It’s quite a good disc.

      • Jeff Kent

        New full length Mestis album Polysemy is out 11/6.

        • Kronos

          Nice!

  • You wot m8?

    Generally, I really like the more “non-metal” (or at least, “less-metal”) bands that get thrown up here. This band, however, is just too much for me. Too many sparkles and too much happiness.

  • SelfIndulgence

    Once again this website turns me on to some new music. I will be checking this out. Cover is very Klaatu-ish. It caught my eye right away….not that I know who Klaatu is.

  • Hróðvitnir

    Although I liked The Collective, The Migration kind of bored me. Always felt they were being prog for the sake of it, and overdoing it in the end – Between the Buried and Me-itis pins it just right, me thinks. Fun album, well written and executed but lacks some originality. The cover’s pretty cool though.