SCALE THE SUMMIT “THE MIGRATION”

One might say it is advantageous for a progressive band to go without a singer. In many bands, it’s often the singer that enables stigma and label tags to be attached to the group, i.e., if your singer has a whiny, nasally voice, you might be labeled “progressive emo” (something I can die happy without ever hearing). Or if your singer only growls and screams, you’ll forever be dubbed a “progressive death/black metal” band. And, of course, not all bands want to be associated with specific labels, especially those who are just looking to write and produce music they like rather than to pander to a particular scene or audience.

I can’t imagine that Scale The Summit would ever have that problem. You can say that they fit in the metal genre because of the distorted guitars, but they incorporate so many different playing styles and tones into their music that you could just as accurately say they are a rock, jazz, new age or world music band.

And with the release of The Migration, as with their previous records, we have another example of what an extremely talented band can do when not restricted to the tenants of any particular genre. The music on this album is akin to a living organism in the ways in which it flows from one aspect to another: fast, slow, intense heavy, soaring, epic, mellow, and airy. Listening to a Scale The Summit record is more like listening to a recording of a symphony; the tracks are movements in an opus rather than songs unto themselves. And the fact that there are no lyrics serves to not only give the instruments breathing room, tonally and in the arrangements, that you don’t normally experience on other albums that have to adapt the musical structure to accommodate the vocalist. This also serves to smooth out the transitions between movements, something that progressive bands often attempt with not quite the same degree of success on so called “concept albums.”

On the whole, The Migration is actually a somewhat short album and goes by quickly. This is not a bad thing, though. It could be good for those listeners who don’t have the attention span to listen to what is essentially one long piece of music. But what listeners are in store for with this album is very much aligned with The Collective or Carving Desert Canyons; a feast for the ear-holes and as much variety in style and technical ability as you could hope to expect from Between the Buried and Me or Dream Theater (but with no James LaBrie).

The only real flaw I can come up with (and I’m reaching a bit here) is that there is definitely a sameness to The Migration when compared to the band’s earlier work, an byproduct of the limited instrumental voices in the guitars, bass, and drums on each record. And not that I view this as a fault per say, but some listeners who might have been expecting a dramatic difference from one album to the next could potentially be disappointed to find that this release sounds very similar to that last. Short of incorporating new instruments into the mix (maybe a full orchestra?), this is very likely to continue to be the case with Scale The Summit. And I somehow doubt the fans will mind one bit.

The Migration is out now on Prosthetic Records.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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