Sound — 9
Scale The Summit formed in 2004, and self-released their first album, "Monument," 3 years later in 2007. They were quickly signed after the release of their first album to Prosthetic Records, and the band's songwriting and overall sound grew in sophistication very quickly. The original bass player, Jordan Eberhardt, left the band in 2012 due to not wanting to continue touring and was replaced by Mark Michell. Just earlier this year before recording started for "V," original drummer, Pat Skeffington, left the band and was replaced by J.C. Bryant who wrote and recorded all the drum parts on the album. The band still contains the two founding guitarists, Chris Letchford and Travis Levrier. The album, "V," contains 10 tracks with an approximate runtime of 50 minutes. There are no "official" singles from the album, though there has been a music video release for the track "Stolas." Jamie King, who collaborated on the band's previous album, "The Migration," returned to assist with mixing duties.
The album opener is "The Winged Bull," which really has a triumphant feel to it - it has a few twists and turns that in some parts are a nod back to early prog rock, but those moments are partially obscured by some extreme guitar acrobatics. "Soria Moria" has a rolling feel, with some overlapping arpeggios played along with a simple melody, but this morphs into something a little more involved - the lead line running through this track is my absolute favorite from the album. "Pontus Euxinus" stands out to me for the bassline. It has a lot of really good riffing mixed in there, with a catchy bass part that doesn't overpower the track but makes itself heard. "Trapped in Ice" intros with a sound like steel suspension cables being twanged, which creates the ambience for the track, but quickly moves into some quirky trills and mid-tempo riffing and a sing-a-long melody dominating the track. "Stolas," which is essentially the lead single, has some really "djent-y" moments in it, but has a groove that also is oddly reminiscent of Satriani's "Always With Me, Always With You," but with a lot more gusto.
"The Isle of Mull" has a weird vibe going on, initially using a lot of delay and reverb to create a ghostly soundscape, but it grows into a thunderous cacophony of riffing with a dash of melody. "Kestrel" seems to really lend itself to introspection, with a lot of things going on, it still feels like there is a stillness in the track. There is a "breakdown" in the track that is essentially a repeating palm-muted riff, and when the lead comes in over it, it is possibly one of the more powerful parts of the album for me, personally. "Oort Cloud" really instigates some weird alien imagery for me - partially in the song title, and then carried another step further by the actual music. Each movement on the track seems to just take the imagery a step further into the strange and alien, which makes this my personal favorite track, as a whole. "Blue Sun" had me tapping my foot pretty much immediately, and kept me engaged to the end with a lot of staccato playing and ascendant lead parts on guitar. "The Golden Bird" is almost tremolo picked in parts, but is otherwise dominated by a transcendent melody. At the end of the day, that is my takeaway from this album - Scale The Summit is always on top of their game, but this album raised the bar with much more intriguing and engaging melodies for most of the album. The mixing of the album is almost sublime, with the bass being audible without being overpowering, the percussion retains enough dynamics and doesn't suffer from blasphemous over-compression, and the guitars weave some intricate sounds for the listener's enjoyment.
Lyrics — 9
Overall Impression — 8
There are a few bands out these days filling a certain niche with more complex compositions played on extended range guitars and bass guitars, and Scale The Summit is definitely one of the leaders of the pack. "V" feels, more than anything, triumphant; each of the songs evokes emotions and makes me feel connected to the music (which SHOULD be the goal of any instrumental music, especially). Like with a lot of good classical music, the album brings up a lot of mental imagery and scenarios easily playing out in the listener's imagination along to the music. The songs stay engaging with a good sense of melody, and non-repetitive song structures - while there is some repetition, it is for returning and repeating themes, and not a part repeating as a whole. My favorite songs from the album would have to be "Oort Cloud," "Blue Sun," "Kestrel," "Pontus Euxinus" and "The Winged Bull." I honestly could name all the tracks and not be lying, but in the moment those listed above are my current favorites.