Carving Desert Canyons Review

artist: Scale the Summit date: 10/06/2010 category: compact discs
Scale the Summit: Carving Desert Canyons
Released: Feb 17, 2009
Genre: Progressive Metal
Label: Prosthetic/Red
Number Of Tracks: 8
Progressive Rock brought to a new height, very epic-ish sound and very technical playing from all around the band.
 Sound: 8.5
 Lyrics: 8.3
 Overall Impression: 8.5
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (4) 14 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8.3
Carving Desert Canyons Reviewed by: illuminatiano, on august 28, 2009
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Progressive Rock brought to a new height, very epic-ish sound and very technical playing from all around the band. Many different techniques are brought to this album, and the sound brought by 7 string guitar player Travis Levrier, 8 string guitar player Chris Letchford ( whom has a bitchin' guitar... ), bass player Jordan Eberhardt and drummer Pat Skeffington reminds me a tiny bit of BTBAM's clean sections ( the sound at the end of Selkies is a good example ). This band's theme is mainly just natured based, which also comes out in their songs, you can really hear the connection between the sound of the song to the name of the song. One word I could use to describe this type of music would just be "beautiful". I reckon if they tour with Explosions In The Sky, and perhaps even the like of Godspeed and Sigur Ros, the show would be immense. This record is a step-up from "Monument", way more organized and brought forward professionaly. // 9

Lyrics: This band is instrumental ( and damn well should stay that way ) and therefore cannot be thoroughly investigated, but it can be said that the names of the songs sound quite interesting and are at correlation with the band's theme, which is nature. Examples are " Sargasso Sea ", "Glacial Planet" and "City In The Sky". The title of the album isn't particularly that interesting, but I guess it goes well with their theme and album cover. I can also add that the lead guitar work from the 8 stringed beauty could be implemented as a voice in the band, as it really brings out the atmospheric music into epic music. // 8

Overall Impression: I will rate this album a 8 simply because I know they can do a tad better than this record. Don't get me wrong, this album is indeed fantastic and anybody who enjoy progressive music and technical guitar work should listen to it, but it seems to me that all of the songs on the album are all about the same tempo, which is pretty slow and from time to time a bit faster ( City In The Sky especially ). I want to see this band come forward with their total potential, some more fast paced music as well as their usual slow tempo. All of the songs on this album are all great, there isn't a weak link there. "The Great Plains", "City In The Sky" and "Glacial Planet" are probably my favorite 3 songs from this band. If this record were to be stolen from me, I would buy it again. This band is also very very young, and therefore I look very much forward to a new record from them in a few year's time. // 8

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overall: 9
Carving Desert Canyons Reviewed by: properpat, on march 13, 2009
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Very intellectual metal. Not necessarily over thought, but definitely well planned. Instrumental, too complicated for vocals. Lots of different techniques used in playing, though sometimes hard to hear. I saw an interview with these guys in a very popular guitar magazine and got the low down on this way-better-than-their-last-one album. On their first album they intentionally tried to make it as complicated as possible, and it showed. Yes, it was a half step shy of a technical masterpiece (and probably darn near impossible to perform consistently), but it lacked feeling and soul. This album still retains the ridiculous level of technical playing and free form song structure, but relies heavily on feeling and groove to drive the technical runs. This album makes you want to bang your head more than read a book about it lol. The style is what I like to call 'Epic Metal'. Every song is meant to sound huge and deep. Other than that all I'd really like to add is that these guys have wonderful tone and play on the neck pickup more than any other metal player I've heard. Plus one of the guitarists plays a custom made eight string guitar and is, in my opinion, freakin' crazy for it. // 9

Lyrics: There are no lyrics, and I'm very glad of that fact. Too often these days I hear singers who just can't keep up with the band they're 'fronting'. This music was meant to be heard on it's own. It tells wonderful stories and stimulates the imagination. So I guess you could say it does have lyrics, just not ones produced by a human voice box. They're more like images that flood your mind while taking the music in. // 9

Overall Impression: I can't say that these guys really sound like any other band out there. Yeah, you could probably argue all day about who their playing influences are and who they stole that technique from. But at the end of the day these guys make some great music that really jumps into a few genres quite easily and blurs the lines so much it's near impossible to tell which ones it's in lol. I haven't picked a favorite track yet, but give me time. I'm not sure if someone can really steal mp3 files and leave behind copies, but if some crazy fool did copy this album and then erase it from my computer I'd probably beat him severely about the lips and eyebrows until he cried for his mommy. // 9

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overall: 9
Carving Desert Canyons Reviewed by: opeth714, on may 13, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: I never heard this band before this album, but as a big fan of progressive music, I was highly impressed. I know a lot of people (of the few that know this band) compare them to a vocal-less BTBAM, however, I think this band stand up in their own right. The music is impressive, every member included, and they create some beautiful harmonies, and some very loud punchy riffs. The songs flow into one another, and I imagine some people would criticise the same-naturedness of each each song, but you can't have too much of a good thing right? // 9

Lyrics: As the band is instrumental, I think the instrumentalists deserve a look in! The mix of a seven string and 8 string guitar works wonders, and add in some astounding bass, and some sometimes complex, sometimes mellow, always awesome drumming, you get a very good collection of songs. I love the album name, its different, and the song titles, encompassing nature in its entirety. This band could be very pretentious about the guitar wankery etc, but I think they have the right attitude to the music. Very impressive. // 9

Overall Impression: There are some very catchy parts in every single song, and this is impressive for an instrumental band. It keeps you listening, and it provides the listener with a wide variety of emotions, I think they should always be instrumental, they have mastered it very well. Future albums will only get better, keep it up guys! // 9

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overall: 7.3
Carving Desert Canyons Reviewed by: travislausch, on october 06, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Scale The Summit are a pretty perfect example of both everything that's right and wrong with prog metal today. Released in early 2009, "Carving Desert Canyons" is an album brimming with joyful noise, and right from the opening strains of "Bloom", you sense that this is an album meant to be played through headphones on a brisk forest hike in the mountains. The playing is about as tight as it gets. In fact, I'd say the instrumental quartet is probably the tightest crew this side of Dream Theater, and they flaunt it endlessly. The album's only "quiet" moments come in "Sargasso Sea", which has some fairly Tool-esque rhythm guitar strains, and "The Great Plains", which wouldn't sound out of place in just about any post-rock band's canon. Other than that, the band's sound is full of relentless guitar, drum, and bass parts, often sticking with rhythms of straight eighth notes. Because of this, the guitars sound like musical exercises at times, as in the tracks "Dunes" and "Age Of The Tide", and while it's obvious that the band is attempting to be "tasteful" by playing tightly composed parts rather than shredding with reckless abandon, the album's best moments come when the band ditches their usual strictly composed eighth-note waltz rhythms and plays with a bit more attention to phrasing and flow, like in the solo of "Age Of The Tide", and the slower lead guitar sounds in "Glacial Planet", the former of which also contains the best tightly-composed melody on the album, in the fade-out of the song. The latter half of "City In The Sky" also features a dual (or duelling) guitar solo from both Chris Letchford and Travis Levrier which is among one of the more life-affirming moments on the record. Sadly, things turn for the tepid in "Giants", which features none of the playful joy of the rest of the record and instead comes off as nothing more than an assemblage of scales and stock arpeggios. So while the playing style is brilliant on this record, and the band has obviously decided to abandon the "reckless shredding" of most technical instrumental progressive metal bands, the moments of brilliance and playful invention on this album seem somewhat overshadowed by the kind of overabundance of caution this album displays. The production is crisp and clear, and while the bass isn't very prominent for most of the album, when it is, it's among one of the most musically interesting sounds on the album, and bassist Jordan Eberhardt gets the coolest solo on the album during "City In The Sky". But I can't say enough about their drummer, Pat Skeffington, who, despite having a very loud sound with a bit much reverb for my tastes, plays with the kind of abandon needed in this band, and could give Mike Portnoy a run for his money. It honestly feels weird to say this, but this is a band that might actually benefit from showing a bit of reckless abandon more often. I rate this album as a 7 out of 10. Definitely promising, but still lacking in a few key areas, in my opinion. // 7

Lyrics: There are no lyrics to judge on this record, as Scale The Summit are an instrumental band with no vocalist. The closest thing to lyrics are the song titles, which seem to fit the moods of the music quite well. "Bloom" is an appropriate title for the introductory song, as it does sound like the "blooming" of this album, busting out of the gate with a really joyous major arpeggio. "The Great Plains" does feel very much like a walk through a field at night with a cool breeze at your back. In many ways, as well, not having a vocalist is a bit of a boon and a bane for this band. While not having a vocalist definitely fits into the style of the songs, and the band themselves feel that having a vocalist would take away from the songs, one would have to wonder how the band would sound if there were a singer present to temper the band's tendencies to write a lot of tepid arpeggios and rhythms, as there's a lot of potential "verses" and "choruses" on this record that kind of sound a lot like Cynic or Between The Buried And Me (appropriately they toured with both bands recently). Since I feel that holding back on having vocals in their music has possibly contributed a bit to their instrumental sound being somewhat uninteresting at times, I'm going to give this a 7 out of 10. // 7

Overall Impression: Overall, this album compares pretty well to some of my favourite instrumental and technical metal bands like Behold... The Arctopus, An Endless Sporadic, Cynic, and Between The Buried And Me. They definitely wear their influences on their sleeves quite well, as Cynic's trademark guitar sound makes many an appearance through the proceedings, and Between The Buried And Me's straight-eighth patterns also seem to have left a mark on the band. Again, while there are so many promising moments of brilliance on this album and, strangely for an instrumental metal band, a few bona-fide earworms that will refuse to leave your head for a while, I can't help but think that the band's insistence on remaining tasteful could have been ironically less tasteful on the part of the musicians than simply releasing another "shred-y" album would have been. When this band rocks, it ROCKS. And it's a definite improvement over their debut, "Monument", in that there are recognizable riffs and melodies that even border on being outright catchy at times, so I can only imagine that with more time, the band could easily grow into one of the more highly-esteemed instrumental rock bands of our time, possibly being revered as the new Steve Vais or Joe Satrianis of our generation, but they need to put a lot more work into it in order to truly succeed at making a great instrumental record. The best songs on here are "The Great Plains", with its rolling guitars that provide a totally different tone to anything else on the album, and "City In The Sky", where even the more "tepid" moments outshine some of the good moments in other songs (the chug riff at 1:37 is pretty boss). One thing I should mention is that if you decide to make an effort to buy this album, do yourself a favour and buy the official tab book from their website as well, since it works pretty well as a learning resource for techniques, as not many of the song's parts are too terribly fast, and this could be a great resource for anyone wanting to learn sweep arpeggios and more creative uses of guitar tapping. You also get a bunch of stickers and a bottle opener with it (and I got a handwritten card from Chris Letchford telling me to "keep practicing and good luck", which I thought was ADORABLE) I'm going to give the overall impression an 8 out of 10. I bump up the score one because the potential in this band is so obvious that they feel they have to ram it down your throat, and one can only hope that as the band releases more albums, they'll gradually mature into probably one of the best instrumental prog bands of our era. // 8

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