Released: Jun 11, 2013
Genre: Progressive Metal, Math Rock, Instrumental
Label: Prothetics Records
Number Of Tracks: 10
"The Migration" is, while a powerful piece of Scale The Summit's discography and a credit to the progressive sub-genres, a bit flawed and a bit uneven.
UG Team, on june 13, 2013 4 of 13 people found this review helpful
Sound: With "The Migration," Houston's prog-metal sons Scale The Summit braves yet another three-quarter hour of lone instrumentation. As former tour mates of Dream Theater, Scale The Summit has never strayed far from the genre's formula, with the glaring exception of its lack of vocalist. Though not altogether unheard of, the preference to leave the singer at home can certainly present challenges. Though STS has only occasionally stumbled since debuting ("Monument" was, at times, slow), there has often been less to digest in the speakers at home than those onstage. If this is the only problem Scale The Summit continues to have, it may well live up to the name.
"The Migration" traces some of the same steps as its predecessor, though sporting a rather shaky opening this time around. "Odyssey" is as big an opening as they come, but with the alternating fast and mellow segments lacks cohesion. It ends in an abrupt key change fade-out segment, playing the same riff progressively slower until the song cuts. Taken in context, the entire segment feels more like a lazy excuse to end than a natural progression. The ending feels equally disjointed, with a static effect layered on top of its opening before ditching the radio sound for the band's traditional sonic core. Moments like those tease at creativity only a couple of times throughout, but to do so at the tail end leaves a needy listener hanging.
When Scale The Summit do break from the fast-paced guitar-driven moments, they are truly at their best. Depth of instrumentation is a particular skill (one would hope so, given the lack of vocalist), with "Atlas Novus" getting things moving and "Olive Tree," while alluding to Pink Floyd's "Animals" in some moments, is as sweeping and melodic as the band gets. Mercifully adding purpose to the 5 + minute length per song at this point, the latter cut dreamy and atmospheric - also feels deliberately and very nicely put together. While STS knows how to construct an epic, they also know when to cut things short: "Narrow Salient" is prime-time raging guitar work and bright solos. As the record winds down, it does take a bit of a step backward: "Oracle" comes and goes with most of "Olive Tree"'s tricks, "The Dark Horse" is... well... dark, and as mentioned before, "The Traveler" is a pretty weak ending.
Like a good comedian, Scale The Summit's strengths are in timing and transition: they tell one joke and segue into the next. STS know how to use the accelerator and really have a fun time with the brakes, but more importantly as shown in "Evergreen," "Narrow"'s opening, and "Sabrosa" have a sense of moving from one cut to the next. Indeed, some of the transitions are better than the full-length tracks. Unfortunately, "The Migration" is book-ended with some pretty clumsy material, much of which simply feels silly and purposeless. With the limits the band has placed on itself, one would think care would be taken to avoid some of the typical pitfalls. Regardless, "The Migration" takes a few confident leaps in the right direction, reaching many of "The Collective"'s highs. // 8
Lyrics: Having saved some material typically appropriate for the "Sound" section, there is much to be said of Scale The Summit in terms of lyrics and singing. Of course, there is none of either, but what can be said of stripping away prog-rock/prog-metal (they've been classified as both; take your pick) imagery is that it allows the band to truly hone in on instrumentation. Taking advantage of the genre's love of intricate guitar work, Scale The Summit is a band that truly sets aside any doubt of the technical skill and creativity required to play the genre. Not to presume that there is any doubt over prog-metal (etc) or its place among the various types and sub-types, but as great of an opportunity as it is to hear one's favorite rock band without a vocalist, it can be rather dull. STS overcomes the "need" for a vocalist just as a classical piece overcomes the "need" to be operatic or otherwise assisted with vocal work. There are weaknesses and slow moments, but any band trudging through album after album with nothing but melody and a guitar, drum set, (new) bassist, and so on deserves commendation for the attempt alone. Scale The Summit earns it either way. // 8
Overall Impression: "The Migration" is, while a powerful piece of Scale The Summit's discography and a credit to the progressive sub-genres, a bit flawed and a bit uneven. Compared to the incredible rewarding "The Collective," it has a few kinks in the armor. However, it carries the STS name with pride and boasts moments of striking beauty and power, from "Olive Tree" to "Evergreen" and even moments of "The Dark Horse." Less thrilling are the opening and closing cuts, the former of which being especially crippling the record's potential to hook the newcomers. Casual listeners will certainly appreciate the music by its own merit, but a trained ear may less warmly receive the abrupt changes in style and bizarre creative choices in each track. Apart from that, "The Migration" is a small thrill of instrumental prog-metal and worth taking the time out for, if only after "The Collective."
MetallicA971986, on june 28, 2013 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: "The Migration" is the fourth studio release by the instrumental progressive band Scale the Summit. This is the first album that includes their new bassist Mark Michell and with his addition Scale The Summit's already intense and mature composing style grows even more developed. "The Migration" tops out at just over 42 minutes, but be prepared because those 42 minutes are packed with nonstop technical prowess and powerful melodies. The virtuosity of the four members of the band is present throughout the entire album and it shows off some very complex and impressive musical ideas without being too overbearing. In the world of progressive instrumental music fifteen to twenty minute epics are not uncommon, and Scale the Summit's to the point writing approach offers a refreshing take on the genre. Scale the Summit's writing on the album is even better than their previous releases, a feat not easily accomplished, and gives the listener a truly grand experience. The production quality of the album is top notch and feels very organic in places. While unusual for modern instrumental music the organic feel of the album really lends itself to the tone of the album and its marvelous "treebeast" artwork and theming. The album is mixed well with all parts of the band being heard distinctly in the mix. Overall the sound of the album sounds more intense and heavy than Scale the Summit's previous releases with the same melodic composition and technical prowess that the band is known for. // 9
Lyrics: Scale the Summit is an instrumental band so they have no lyrics instead, "their strings are voices." Even without lyrics the music clearly develops ideas that are easily understood and felt. The whole album has a very organic theme that is brought to life through the actual music and artwork of the album. The song titles are really the only words at all connected to the music and they provide a hint to the feeling of the songs. However the music is not strictly defined by the titles as all of the songs develop many themes and melodies which do not have strict interpretations. // 9
Overall Impression: 01. Odyssey: the opening track of "The Migration" comes in strong with a heavy sound that really sets the tone for the whole album. "Odyssey" is a bold statement with some very heavy breakdowns and intense riffing that gives it a lot more of a heavy feel than Scale the Summit's previous releases. The song ends with a clean section that flows well into the next song.
02. Atlas Novus: a spectacular blend of the intricate tapping Scale the Summit is renowned for with the tight rhythmic elements that the bass and drums provide. Overall it is very melodic and is very different from the opener but fits well with the clean outro of "Odyssey." The melodies in this song are very well written and layered; the sound is ambient but powerful.
03. The Olive Tree: the intro to this song is very cool; the ebow part gives an interesting change of pace from the previous songs. The song has a looping feel with riffs being played and elements layered in, almost reminiscent of some of Cloudkickers work, but with more melodic elements. Overall the song has a very groovy feel that is interesting and captivating until the songs end.
04. Narrow Salient: The song comes in strong off of the back of the "Olive Tree" and explodes into a djenty riffing section that screams for head banging. After this heavy intro the song continues to build with several impressive solos by the bass and guitars. The song has an intense feel through the whole three and half minutes and ends with a very strong section that is extremely heavy.
05. Oracle: it is a step away from the very heavy and intense "Narrow Salient" and has a strong melodic feel at the very beginning. Out of the melodic intro comes a heavy breakdown section that leads into a groovy melodic interlude that really showcases how tight the band sounds rhythmically throughout the album. The song hearkens back to "Odyssey" in its sound as it almost gallops to a close.
06. Evergreen: Delicate harmonic work by the bass provides an ambient and thoughtful feel that is very organic and it flows well into "The Dark Horse."
07. The Dark Horse: Powerful and epic feeling from the get go, this song is heavy and shows off Scale the Summit's metal muscles as it goes from intense riffing and breakdowns to some very djenty elements where the band is rhythmically very in sync. Towards the end of the song a melody develops that is still heavy, but has very interesting, almost jazzy elements to it.
08. Willow: The bass intro develops a mysterious air that is carried well into the song. This transforms into a sweeping almost dark melody that gives the song a very different feel to the other songs on the record. About halfway through the song, led by some very massive, epic feeling drum work, heavy riffing brings the song into a section where it begins to feel more light and uplifting with the same strong riffs repeating underneath intense melodies.
09. Sabrosa: A poignant piece of guitar work that while short gives a very strong theme of hope. The melody is simple but very beautiful.
10. The Traveler: The last song on the album starts with a whimsical melody that is the theme for the rest of the song. The development of the simple theme and then the way Scale the Summit expounds on it reveals the utter brilliance of their writing style. The songs opening melody is very simple, and yet it lies at the heart of the heart stopping, absolutely jaw dropping riffs that come out of it. The Traveler is a great closer to the album as it is six minutes of just outstanding musicianship, in which the band pulls out all the stops in a fast paced, fun, blaze of glory.
Favorite Songs: "Atlas Novus," "The Olive Tree," "The Traveler" and "Willow."
If this album were stolen I would be happy that someone else was being exposed to this fantastic album, and then I would immediately go buy another copy, if you enjoy progressive instrumental music this is a must have.
This album is fantastic in its thematic melodies and complex musical ideas. It is a foray into the world of the purely transcendent in which words do not hold power and music alone tells stories. Scale the Summit accomplishes much through their sheer talent both in composing music with a grand scope, and the actually technicality they use to pull it off. // 9