Scale the Summit – The Migration
Release Date: June 1, 2013
The Migration is the latest release from the up and coming progressive instrumental band, Scale the Summit. Although there are many instrumental bands that have risen in the past few years, only a few have really stood out. These include Mendel and Animals as Leaders as well as a few unknown bands that many just don’t know about. Scale the Summit has recently made my list of favorite instrumental bands as I have been spinning their newest album for quite some time, and I have to say that although it isn’t my “Album of the Year”, you may still see it on my end of the year list.
Scale the Summit are new to me, but that doesn’t mean that they have a small fan base of any sort. Recently, over the years, they have gained quite the following. This is contributed by the fact they were noticed during their playing of sets on the Progressive Nation 2009 tour. With their growing popularity and their ever evolving sound, they finally produce one of their best pieces to date, The Migration.
The Migration can be looked at as some sort of loose concept album, at least in my opinion, and draws energies from said concepts to form a very emotive and moving addition to their discography. When confronted with a “concept album”, I’m always ecstatic to hear how a band will be able to keep me captivated and tell me a story at the same time, instead of throwing similar styled songs in my face which end up pretty hit and miss for the most part.
Scale the Summit don’t waste any time getting things started, by throwing “Odyssey” all over you in a frantic but elegant fashion. I’m immediately intrigued at the sound, because it isn’t your standard “progressive metal” tone that many new bands are coming out with (chugging and constant sounding the same as everyone else). The use of scales and the refreshing songwriting style are key points of this album. I really love the airy guitar section as you near the middle, which is somewhat reminiscent of one of my favorite instrumental bands, Chimp Spanner. The ending is quite different from the rest and slowly settles into the next piece, “Atlas Novus”.
“Atlas Novus” is more toned down, but doesn’t let off of the technical aspect of what this band is all about. Mark Michell’s bass work is amazingly audible. Although it comes off as simple work, there are moments in this track as well as many others in the future that just blow my mind. The production work in this album will also be another characteristic to note. If “Odyssey” didn’t feel like a journey, “Atlas Novus” hopefully changes that for you.
“The Olive Tree” is a favorite of mine, as it is one of the best examples of a “journey” track that I have ever heard. The amount of “exploration” and emotion depicted in this song is amazing. The exploration being the emotions and thoughts that the band is able to transcribe into your mind not just with their technicality, but how they are able to make music feel like an adventure.
“Narrow Salient” is another immediate favorite that showcases more of that amazing bass work from the new bassist (as mentioned above), Mark Michell. I just don’t have any bad things to say about him in this release. Of course, I don’t want to come off as that is the only thing I like about the album. Chris Letchford and Travis Levrier are amazing musicians as well, but I feel that these guitarists already have that recognition as they are the forefront sounds you’ll hear on The Migration. Pat Skeffington is an amazing drummer as well, keeping the energy flowing on his end and adding the necessary “oomph” throughout.
Another positive I’m digging is the fact that the band puts in transition points in the album to give the listener a break from all the technicality and keeping up. “Oracle” and “Willow” really help divide the mood and keep the album from getting boring with what people may call “guitar wankery”. Also, I find these songs to be very sullen and almost saddening in a way. This further proves how emotive (I know, I’m using that term quite often) this release is and why it should stand out from the others of the like.
The Migration, overall, is an album that everyone should give a chance regardless of what type of music you affiliate with. I don’t see what people could not like about the album, but I guess if you’re more into having vocals be a big part of the band, or you’re just not that guitar oriented, then you may just not dig this. I, myself, really like how these guys have evolved from past releases and it is refreshing to find a progressive band put “life” into their music instead of just showing off with how awesome they are with their guitar or how many chugs they can pull off per minute. Scale the Summit prove themselves well and I’m hoping that they are able to keep up this momentum with future releases.