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Scale The Summit - Carving Desert Canyons CD (album) cover


Scale The Summit


Progressive Metal

3.48 | 56 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Pleasant Instrumental Tech Metal

For awhile it seemed like Scale the Summit were everywhere, opening multiple prog metal tours, and no one can fault their work ethic. I saw the tail end of their show on the Prog Nation tour in 2009, and their talent was clearly on display. The group is a gathering of young guys who clearly love what they're doing, and have really worked to achieve a high level of technical ability. They came out after their slot and were personable and easy to like. Unfortunately, I personally don't think this kind of music works terribly well live unless the sound is remarkably good, and this was the case for STS. The quality of tech metal depends on nuance and no opening band gets the definition necessary for that. Live metal is just too loud, boomy, and is rarely mixed for detail. Because I could tell that the band had some chops, but couldn't really get a good read based on their live show, I picked up CARVING DESERT CANYONS.

The album is clearly better than the live performance I saw. But it is simply begging for vocals. There's just not enough going on, not enough central lead element for the listener to cue in on. Unlike contemporary metal albums by Exivious and Animals as Leaders, these pieces come across as constructions rather than songs. There's plenty of great playing but not a real artistic point. I'm not expecting anything terribly deep. Often in technical metal, the point of a record is a "Wow" factor in terms of chops. The listener and the player share in the excitement of "Dayyummm boy, you killin that thang." But here there is no swagger or flash, though these guys probably have the chops to match up with some of the swashbucklers. For instance the track, "The Great Plains" features some of the clean tapping hand interplay, powerful harmony leads, and some slick drumwork. But there's just not enough emotion.

Occasionally the repetitive riffs slide into a post-rockish mode but that whole genre depends on dynamic ebbs and flows. This album has almost no dynamic variation. I'm being harsh, and I must admit that this is very good playing just for the sake of playing. But the young members of this band have yet to figure out the point of music, which is to make a connection between player and listener. Simply playing in a cool style with great prowess isn't enough, at least for me. Songs need a beginning, middle, and end. Setting the scene is not enough, you actually have to have an event. Luckily STS have plenty of time to learn, and I suspect that all the touring will leave a big impression on these guys before we get the next album.

This is a 2-3 star album which I'm giving a little nudge because they seem like good kids. But I'm expecting something a little better next time. Some danger, some bite, some fire.

Negoba | 3/5 |


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