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Scale The Summit

Progressive Metal

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Scale The Summit The Collective album cover
3.88 | 114 ratings | 6 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Colossal (3:48)
2. Whales (6:29)
3. Emersion (2:33)
4. The Levitated (3:02)
5. Secret Earth (3:39)
6. Gallows (4:34)
7. Origin of Species (2:45)
8. Alpenglow (3:58)
9. Black Hills (7:59)
10. Balkan (3:44)
11. Drifting Figures (3:10)

Total time 45:38

Line-up / Musicians

- Jordan Eberhardt / 6-string bass
- Chris Letchford / 8-string guitar
- Pat Skeffington / drums, percussion
- Travis Levrier / 7-string guitar

Releases information

Prosthetic Records March 1, 2011

Thanks to andyman1125 for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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SCALE THE SUMMIT The Collective ratings distribution

(114 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

SCALE THE SUMMIT The Collective reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Andy Webb
4 stars Where'd the adventure go?

Carving Desert Canyons, this band's sophomore album and a great favorite of mine from 2009, had me dying for more of this tasty band. The licks, soloing, and overall "adventurous" atmosphere of the music was purely infectious. This year, when they announced the release of "The Collective," I was ecstatic. To hear more was going to be purely sublime! The studio updates, little snipets of news from the bands, and anything else I could get just fed my desire for this new album. However, when they released "Whales" a few weeks before the release of the album, I was puzzled: where'd the adventure go? The band had turned to a bit more riff based, more "metal" album. However, with more and more listens, the track began to grow on me: the new style fused the bands already great uniue style with their influences of Cynic and Dream Theater into a jazzy and dynamic debut for the band. When the album came out, again I was not greatly impressed, but soon the album began to grow on me. Sections where at first cringed began to turn into boughs of joy, and the album took a turn for the better for me.

The album opens with an ambient soundscape the leads into the "colossal" track Colossal. Breaking off from the ambiance with a smashing riff and some sweeping riffing, the track starts the album off on a great foot. As we've known since the beginning these guys are no musical amateurs- they can rip out a kickin' solo any day of the week without a sweat- which is seen plenty of times on this song, and on this album.

Whales, as I mentioned in the intro, is certainly a grower. Opening with a more mellow lick, the song takes a slow entry. It takes a little while for the jazzy progressions to really get on their feet, but once they start to move, they certainly move. A very strong Cynic influence is heard throughout the song, giving a tasty dose of jazzy metal influence to spice things up a bit. Once the solo section kicks in, that's where the true power of Scale the Summit's composition can be heard. Complementing harmonies with spot on melodies with spot on rhythms with spot on low ends and high ends and everything in between, the band sure knows how to rip open a song and fill it with only the good song. Certainly a favorite of mine from this album.

Emersion drags the album down a bit. The opening is one of the most awkward musical pieces I've heard in a while, with the band trying to utilize chromatic jazz- and it doesn't work out very well. However, once the song starts to get started, it matures into a great and adventurous piece of music- even though it is only 2 minutes long.

The main purpose of Emersion in my opinion has to be as a great intro to the next track: The Leviated. One of the more jazzy tracks on the album, we hear more two hand tapping, just like the landmark track Great Plain on the last album. The song is very chill and laid back, building and receding, emerging and returning, throughout the whole thing. Overall, this is another one of my favorites for the album, displaying the bands more emotional and heartfelt side of composition.

Secret Earth is another very mellow and jazz-based track. Instituting a great dynamic between melodic noodling and heavier riffs behind it, the song starts off immediately on a great foot. The solos are heavily melody based and take you off on an adventure to secret earth. Another fantastic track, for sure.

Gallows is certainly the heaviest track on the album, kicking off with a rotary style drum solo and some fast riffing from the guitar department. An obvious departure from the bands usual style, the song serves a dual purpose of giving the album a nice dynamic and broadening the band's musical portfolio. The solo tapping section is a great solo also, utilizing some sublime harmony skills. Overall, although different from much of the band's usual show, the song shows the band that they can do pretty much whatever they want and get away with it.

Origin of the Species, although again being only 2 minutes, is another fast and fierce track. Fusing the adventure and riffing that have made this album more dynamic than usual, we can see a great trend here. Although it does not seem as original as some of the other track, it still proffers some great new sounds to their discography.

Alepnglow is another jazzy and melodic track. The song starts with a mellow lick, and breaks into a nice solo with a bit of a harder edge. Although the solos in this song can get a bit repetitive, they still can give a great case for musical dominance. Years spent at the Musicians Institute seem to have served these fine gentlemen well. Overall, this track is another great one, even if some transitions seem a bit sudden and soloing can be a bit repetitive.

Black Hills, the longest track in their discography as of yet (just about 8 minutes), understandably contains a lot of great material. The song has some fantastic dynamics, transitioning flawlessly from sweeping riff sections to mellow and ambient sections. The solos again are near flawless, showcasing this bands awesome musical prowess.

Balkan sees the winding down of the album. It opens slowly, and although the licking gets a little heavier, it still retains that mellow tempo at which the song with sustain through the first section of the track. Soon the track with transition into a sweeping force that quickly traverses through fields of sonic mastery, giving way to even more great output from the band.

Drifting Figures, the closing track, is a great closer. Maintaining a mellow tapping rhythm for most of the track, the song acts as a relaxing piece of music, great for letting the listener slip into a post-Collective trance to contemplate the beauty of the music they just experienced. Overall a great closer to a great album.

ALBUM OVERALL: The Collective is certainly a grower. If you are not impressed by your first listen (I wasn't), listen again. And again. The album's natural ability to wow will kick in sooner or later. Now I'm in a quandary on how this racks up against Carving Desert Canyons, seeing as the albums are so drastically different, but I think I will go for yes, this beats the great CDC, for its superb compositions and ambiances, it's great atmosphere and musical virtuosity: yes, The Collective is a very near masterpiece, and certainly the best this band has to offer us yet! 4 stars.

Review by Negoba
4 stars The Kiddos are Growing Up!

Scale the Summit are an all instrumental technical metal / fusion band. THE COLLECTIVE is their third album.

I was introduced to Scale the Summit as they opened the ProgNation tour during their Carving Desert Canyons period, and was impressed with the technicality and work ethic of the young band. While that album left me a little cold, THE COLLECTIVE is a huge step forward in musicality. Taking a page from post-rock / post-metal atmospherics (or maybe from some of the djent players like Cloudkicker), this is a much more emotional record than their previous work. Where I had mentioned that the previous album seemed to be lacking a lead element, THE COLLECTIVE features some great melodic playing and the lyricism of the guitarists is to me just as impressive as the chops that have always fueled the StS sound. While the technical aspects are still present, the fast-fingered displays are much more subdued.

With the huge influence of Animals as Leaders across the guitar and metal community, it is no surprise that StS have more odd time signatures, more clean jazzy chording, and of course the requisite multi-stringed guitars and bass. But the melodicism points back toward Sean Malone's Gordian Knot project more than the more tech-y Exivious album. Still, the Cynic ethic of meaningful high technique permeates this album. The clean two-handed work on "The Levitated" is very well done and the complex rhythms are seamless. The only possible problem is that perhaps the album is too mellow. "Gallows" is initially one of the more aggressive songs but even that track slips back into the dreamy territory of modern fusion after the initial riffage. By the end of the album, usually my attention has wandered. And for a tech metal band, there aren't alot of "Wow" moments. This is where I think the Animals as Leaders album shines, as it both impresses as well as emotes.

Overall, this is a huge step forward for the young band. The musicality has improved so much, but the genre has also moved forward substantially in the last few years. There are increasingly more and more good metal fusion albums out there, and StS certainly remain in the mix of the better new bands. If asked I would definitely pick THE COLLECTIVE as their best work. But I also forsee even better work in the future if they manage to merge the excitement of pushing the boundaries of technique with their newly evolved emotional expression.

As it is, this is a great background music album for aging metalheads such as I. I can listen to this at work or home and offend no one, but still satisfy my love of great guitar playing and complexity. It's a 3-4/5 star album, and I'm feeling generous today.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'The Collective' - Scale the Summit (74/100)

Scale the Summit is a perfectly chosen name for the now-renowned progressive metallers. Not only does their music evoke a triumphant sense akin to 'scaling a summit' or overcoming adversity; many of the band's best ideas revolve around ascending and descending scales. Five years since its release, and I'd still likely peg The Collective as the best album they've done so far. A couple of years prior to the album's release, I had the opportunity of seeing them open for Dream Theater and Zappa Plays Zappa in Las Vegas. Much like the opener Three from the prior year's ProgNation tour, they stole the show. Scale the Summit demonstrated technical proficiency and tasteful moderation far beyond their years. The Collective is a solid summation of the band's character, placing songwriting and atmosphere before technical flash at every opportunity. I cannot help but feel there is (and always has) been something vital missing from Scale the Summit's formula, but they manage to achieve a sense of purpose and emotional resonance with the tech metal on The Collective. Even though it's now been several years since they first took the stage, that quality virtually puts them in a league of their own.

There isn't a great deal that distinguishes one Scale the Summit from another; they're one of those bands that knew what they wanted to do from the beginning, and since then they've stuck with it. The Collective is cut from the same cloth as Monument and Carving Desert Canyons, but it's clear by this point the band had the time to figure out what they wanted the fine print of their style to look like. In comparison, The Collective puts greater emphasis on jazz fusion embellishments. The songwriting is generally more focused. I might argue Carving Desert Canyons had some higher highpoints, but the growing maturity they're demonstrating with The Collective has generally worked in their favour.

Scale the Summit's collision of jazz fusion and progressive metal plant them firmly within the technical school, to the point where it wouldn't seem out of place to discuss them alongside Animals as Leaders or any one of a thousand tech-y 'djent' bands that have been popping up nowadays. With those and a large proportion of modern so-called progressive bands, technique is virtually a given, and by the point where an acknowledged mastery of sweep-picking appears to be the minimum entrance requirement for this sort of thing, flashy technical abilities aren't usually as interesting as they're probably intended to be. That's what makes Scale the Summit such a distinctive and engaging band for me; it's altogether clear they can play as fast or as flashy as the rest of them, but they don't. Instead, most of their songwriting feels oddly relaxed and moderated. Almost as were they a post-rock band with an added technical twist, Scale the Summit seem solely interested in performing within the context of the composition. A welcome exception to that often comes in the form of guitarist Chris Letchford's virtuosic-tier solos, which pop up pretty frequently and, once again, express a moderation you'd be hard-pressed to find an abundance of within this genre.

The climbing motion of Scale the Summit's riffs gives the music a permanent sense of kinetic movement- call it 'driving' on the heavy moments or 'soaring' on the lighter ones, the atmosphere is strong and omnipresent throughout the album. While Scale the Summit have carved out a style I daresay is unique to themselves, they still fall into soft/heavy dynamics, long since done to death by every progressive metal band out there. It doesn't take long listening to The Collective to notice a pattern: if Scale the Summit are playing a djenty rhythm section or lead guitar showcase, a moment of mandatory fusion atmosphere or clean finger-tapping is soon to follow. For all of their technical proficiency and thoughtfulness, Scale the Summit fail to surprise me as a listener, and that may be what I feel is ultimately missing from The Collective. The beauty and warmth is there (particularly in the cleaner moments- check out "The Levitated" if you want a perfect example and are crunched for time), but more often than not, I'm left feeling like I should be having more of a gut reaction from what Scale the Summit are doing here. The purely instrumental approach in rock or metal often risks losing that feeling of human spontaneity, and The Collective is no exception to that. Do I think Scale the Summit might have benefited from a vocalist on this album? Absolutely not, but it would have probably done wonders for the album's enjoyment and replayability to have heard a few sonic surprises, outside of their jazz and post-rock infused metal niche.

In spite of the album's shortcomings (which unfortunately plague everything the band have done to date, including 2013's The Great Migration) The Collective feels fresh and polished. It's one thing to have skill, but quite another to find an exciting and intelligent way to use that skill. Scale the Summit are one of the rare bands in tech metal that strike a balance between flash and restraint. Their unique, but ultimately limited range of sound empowers yet simultaneously hinders their ability to excite and impress me. Time will tell whether Scale the Summit ever broaden their horizons, but for the present, The Collective stands as the most enduring album they have ever recorded.

Review by J-Man
4 stars After the release of Carving Desert Canyons in 2009, Texas-based instrumental act Scale the Summit gained quite a bit of buzz in the prog metal community. Prompting a spot on the ProgNation tour with Zappa Plays Zappa, Dream Theater, and Bigelf as well as a spot on Between the Buried and Me's ticket with Cynic and Devin Townsend, you could certainly say that Carving Desert Canyons was a hit among prog and metal fans worldwide. Although that album (in my opinion, at least) feels a tad underdeveloped and immature, The Collective shows the band at their creative peak. The improvement by this band in the last two years is truly tremendous. If you generally enjoyed Scale the Summit's previous efforts, but would've enjoyed a bit more variety and melody, this is the album for you! The Collective is one of the best instrumental albums that this year has yet to offer, and is also among the best instrumental metal albums ever released.

The music here is similar to that on the previous two Scale the Summit albums, but with much more jazz fusion tendencies and melodic overtones. The Collective sounds like an extremely well-played, professional, and mature statement. If you're looking for a testosterone-drenched shredfest, you may be let down by The Collective. Songs like "The Levitated", "Alpenglow", "Black Hills", and "Drifting Figures" are all beautiful pieces of melodic prog rock, whereas tracks like "Origin of Species", "Gallows", and "Emersion" are heavy and technical, while still remaining the maturity and compositional prowess of the softer tracks. There honestly isn't a weak song on The Collective - every track is a memorable piece of instrumental prog metal. Of course, the musicianship from Scale the Summit is top-notch. These guys know how to play some of the most challenging prog metal music out there, yet still are capable of conveying power and emotion through their respective instruments. The production is also crisp and professional.

The Collective is one hell of an album, and surely Scale the Summit's most defining statement so far. If you're going to look into this band, this should be your first purchase. Seldom do I come across an instrumental album this professional, enjoyable, and all-around spectacular! 4 - 4.5 stars are warranted for this terrific achievement. This is one of the finest instrumental metal albums ever released.

Latest members reviews

4 stars After listening to their first album, Scale The Summit has delivered another excitement. The biggest appeal of this album is how it is not tiring to sit and listen to the entire album which was the shortcoming of the previous album. The playing of Chris and Travis has evolved to greater layering ... (read more)

Report this review (#512589) | Posted by csamurai175 | Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars So this is tech extreme? At first I could not believe it. I thought music from this genre is noise. But this album isn't. It has melody! It has harmonies! It isn't 200 beats per minute! It is rarely even over 120 bpm it seems. There is also no problem with growling vocals either, because it do ... (read more)

Report this review (#505365) | Posted by Formentera Lady | Thursday, August 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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