The Migration was released just over a month ago, but Scale the Summit – a progressive metal band focusing on the instrumental work of its members alone – has been around since the early 2000s. Since the attribution of a vocalist to a band can add a certain amount of uniqueness to one's overall sound, is this band still able to carry a certain uniqueness and continue writing music that stands apart from others alike? For a band that's been around for about nine years now, it is a real task to progress as a band, while making sure veteran fans aren't feeling divided by any changes or lack thereof within a new release.
The first thing to be noted about this album is that it gives off an adventurous vibe from the song titles to the songs themselves. With titles like “The Traveler” and “The Dark Horse,” the type of adventurous mood of each song seems to be captured quite accurately by its title. Does this album reflect any other unique growth for this band; growth reflecting similarly to that of the winding, soaring tree of their chosen album art? There is a lot to be considered when deciding to take on the difficult task of instrument-focused music in 2013.
When it comes to instrumental music, especially in the metal realm, a band must often bring something new to the table each time an album comes out without losing what they want to represent as a whole. One must also consider that lyrics engage the mind on a whole different level, and with the exclusion of such a feature, there is risk that drums and guitar alone could possibly become mere background music. There are many unique traits to this album that attempt to disallow this possibility from ever occurring. The guitarists have always been in the spotlight for Scale the Summit. They are equipped with many technical tricks, but their use of these tricks somehow manages to portray more than just their technical skill. When given careful consideration, perhaps the guitars themselves are the missing voice throughout this instrumental album. Longer tracks such as “The Olive Tree” progress from something soft into something faster and ever-changing, while shorter songs like “Sabrosa” remain soft and gentle, reflecting a totally different voice throughout the album. It's nice to see that there is a “voice” incorporated in some way or another that allows for an understanding of what the music is looking to portray.
Regardless of the album gaining attention from its musicianship alone, the attribution of Between the Buried and Me's Jamie King as co-producer certainly adds a level of interest. This addition has raised the albums level of quality up by far, considerably making it Scale the Summit's most well-produced album to date. With instruments needing all the attention they can get to shine, it was important that each instrument was not left over-ridden by another or important detail has not fallen flat.
It is hard to pinpoint whether or not this album has brought something new to the table since personal outlooks toward instrumental movements can differ one's particular opinion. These opinions are dependent on whether you like instrument-focused bands to keep up on a sound they've emerged with, if you don't mind that their progression may only offer slight changes (such as the overall mood of an album as Scale the Summit has done), or if you prefer an album to shift entirely to offer an experience of a new set of traits in comparison to their previous releases. Nonetheless, with each track of The Migration having this ability to be read as emotionally charged and capturing a style that is their own, Scale the Summit has managed to come up with an album that does maintain a level of standard and enjoyment within the genre (despite some over-analysed skepticism from myself in respect to what defines instrumental metal as a whole).
For Fans Of: Between the Buried and Me, The Human Abstract, Dream Theater