Sound — 8
Listening to a band like Scale the Summit, it becomes evident that we're probably listening to the next generations of Vais and Satrianis. With as many virtuosos that have come upon the rock/metal scene over the past few decades, those who are at the top of their game might not get quite as much acclaim as, say, Eddie Van Halen or Yngwie Malmsteen would have back in the 1980's. That being said, the members of Houston's Scale the Summit are deserving of plenty of attention, particularly with their latest record "The Collective." With 11 tracks that are completely instrumental it's safe to assume that Scale the Summit does have an uphill battle in gaining widespread notoriety, but the songwriting and chemistry is something that at the very least their musical peers should recognize.
Scale the Summit is not one of those bands that feel the need to jump between crazy tempo changes or genres within the course of one song, but the quartet does inject subtle transitions here and there. In terms of guitar playing, the team of Chris Letchford (7 and 8 string) and Travis Levrier (7 string) seamlessly blend their parts together creating lush, complex arrangements. With the 8-string element, there is certainly a comparable sound at times to Tosin Abasi's own playing, but Scale the Summit never dives too deeply into the groove metal aspect that is expected with Animals As Leaders. Instead, they favor mellower compositions that emphasize layering, string skipping, and phrasing.
Throughout The Collective, sophistication via phrasing is key on tracks "Colossal," "Emersion" and "Black Hills." You do get hints of a more metal approach on a song like "Gallows" with its double bass pedal intro and heavier riff work, but it always returns to a brighter, more streamlined playing style. Letchford and Levrier's textures and layers are at their best on "Secret Earth," which blends the two player's varied parts like clockwork. "The Collective"'s main issue is that it is so lovely you might desire a little more dissonance - whether that mean more gain effects or otherwise to break up the perfection.
Lyrics — 9
"The Collective" is a completely instrumental album.
Overall Impression — 9
In terms of skill, Scale the Summit should be gaining the sort of attention showered upon so many other virtuosic players. You can certainly hear elements of Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson within tracks like "Alpenglow" and the eight-minute epic "Black Hills," and the Letchford/Levrier team have the ability to restrain themselves from throwing out all their tricks at once. For the average rock listener, Scale the Summit may be a bit much to take at first. But on the other hand if you're interested in the technique and sound associated with the 8-string guitar, The Collective is a must-have addition to your music catalog.