V review by Scale the Summit

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  • Released: Sep 18, 2015
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (17 votes)
Scale the Summit: V
0

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
N/A

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.

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    a drummer
    Really digging this one. I like that Chris seems to be doing some different things and stepping out of the comfort zone. As much as i enjoy Scale the Summit, i've always felt that a lot of their music sounds alike, especially their leads, and i'm not getting that from this one.
    Mahoru
    I can agree, I've loved everything they've done to date, but it's true the last couple albums sounded a bit more "familiar", while still being excellent. This is a welcome change and probably their best work to date IMO, on par if not slightly above Carvin Desert Canyons for me. The Isle of Mull or Oort Cloud are some of their best work yet.
    travislausch
    That's definitely a bigger issue with their older works. They've been slowly maturing on their sound.
    vppark2
    Another thing to note: Jordan is also the current bass player of The Contortionist. So he definitely wanted to continue touring lol anyways good album overall. I still have to give it a few more listens, but it'll definitely end up on my album of the year list.
    travislausch
    NO idea why you're getting downvoted for this, dude. +1 for pointing out Jordan's involvement with a pretty killer band, and the props to STS. "V" is definitely making my list as well. Definitely turning out to be one of their most overall solid albums so far
    PatrickMarc
    They all play such nice instruments, and play them so well! Good review.
    travislausch
    One of Chris' new guitars is actually a reasonably-priced 7-string, too. As in, not too much more than $1000USD. Even though they play Strandbergs and whatnot, they're not above playing something within the grasp of the commoner
    Kevätuhri
    I think it's silly to give the lyrics 9 without any explanation. If you really have nothing to say about the lyrics (or the lack of lyrics), I think it would've made sense to give the lyrics a more neutral score, like the average between "sound" and "overall impression", not bumping up the score for no reason at all. I know there really isn't much to say about an instrumental album, but some explanation on why the lyrics are still worth a 9 would be nice. Like why do you think that their songs work as instrumental pieces, and what keeps the interest up without any vocals.
    godzillarissa
    The average between "sound" (9) and "overall impression" (8) is 9, though, when rounded. But I agree. I'd like the "lyrics" section used for discussion of why they are/aren't needed and how the record works without them.
    Kevätuhri
    Oh right, you can't give halves, didn't think of that. Kind of undermines my point, but even still a simple N/A is a bit dull.
    travislausch
    I wrote a review, which isn't up yet, that pretty well explains why I gave "lyrics" a 9 despite there not being any. To sum up my feelings on it, sometimes, a conscious decision not to have any lyrics is worth all the marks of there being good lyrics. And the thing is, I gave the other two categories high marks. If I gave a 1 or 5 or whatever, it would have brought the average down and people actually do read those ratings. I'm sure that was the thinking on this one. I think that with how instrumental metal is becoming more and more popular lately, the "lyrics" section should become optional or absorbed into the rest of the reviews.