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Album Review: Scale the Summit - 'The Collective'

1 March 2011 | 10:16 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

2011's breakthrough release.

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Surprises can be good things. Great things in fact. Can't they?!

The ability of some albums to seemingly come out of nowhere and grab the listener with such unassuming intent create those little gems. Ones which are stumbled upon instead of discovered as a consequence of being talked up and publicised at ridiculous and often exaggerated levels. Welcome to 2011's best kept secret.

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Scale the Summit have seemingly snuck in the back door. While fans of heavy music stockpile a list of those highly anticipated, eagerly awaited releases of 2011, these Texas metal upstarts have dropped an album worthy of similar praise and after an initial listen arguably greater acclaim.

Scale the Summit's honest, idealistic and untampered approach to music means the eventual result maintains a sense of purity and an equal amount of sincerity.

The band's unwritten motto, 'Their strings are voices' is certainly an adequate take on proceedings. Not a vocal to be heard, this instrumental album follows Animals As Leaders' take, combining any elements seen fit. Think Between the Buried and Me meets Dream Theater. This third studio release takes everything achieved on predecessor 'Carving Desert Canyons' and runs with it.

While the band may not fashion loud personalities, the music is by no means conservative. These days there seems to be a strong emphasis on placing witty or over-specific genre labels in front of the -core suffix. There is no need in this case. Call it prog, technical, experimental, the genre is irrelevant. This is music presented in its most fundamental of forms.

Standout track, 'Whales' begins with a Cynic type intro before transforming into a six-and-a-half minute dose of light, controlled prog rock that is guitar heavy. 'Gallows' employs a heavier, darker tone while 'The Levitated' is a contrastive affair mixing traditional and contemporary stylings. Other attention grabbing moments include, 'Alpenglow' and 'Balkan'.

The eight and seven string guitars respectively break away from convention to give a more textured sound. No Jason Newsted moments here as the bass is equally audible, if not most distinctive. A big tick, is the improved song writing, with each track having a discernible beginning, middle and end.

The fact that 'The Collective' has been released in such a quiet manner means the initial impression is the most fitting response. Put simply, we are not influenced to like this purely because some conflicted record company tells us to. Instead the listener will appreciate this album for its impressive delivery. Surprises are good indeed…

Articulate, intelligent and profound, 'The Collective' is a beautifully composed, fifty-minute example of how to tackle music in a clear and precise manner. A mix of short and prolonged tracks create the atmosphere and mood, while the delivery leaves the lasting interest. Absolutely brilliant!

1. Colossal

2. Whales

3. Emersion

4. The Levitated

5. Secret Earth

6. Gallows

7. Origin of Species

8. Alpenglow

9. Black Hills

10. Balkan

11. Drifting Figures