Last year, I spoke of the resurgence of instrumental groups that has taken place in the past few years. And to that point, 2014 was an amazing year for such groups, with releases from the likes of SET AND SETTING, THE HELIX NEBULA, and ANIMALS AS LEADERS. This year has not yielded much return on that statement, at least not in volume. But in quality. . . well, that’s a different story, because of all the current day bands to go sans vocals, the cream of the crop waited until this year to drop their next record. And that group I speak so highly of would be none other than SCALE THE SUMMIT. The Texas-based quartet release their fifth LP, the aptly titled V, on September 18, through Prosthetic Records.
I’ve spent the last week trying to find the right words to describe this disc, running through the entirety of my vocabulary, searching for the correct eloquence, trying to employ the best of my metaphoric abilities to elaborate what is contained on this album. Frankly, I was hoping to avoid saying that the sounds stemming from this disc are borderline orgasmic, but I can’t really find much better verbiage to describe the musical boner this record will inspire. Think of the meme with Randy Marsh from South Park sitting in front of a computer, pants around his ankles, room covered in chowder, then you should have a fairly rough concept of what to expect here.
Where I found myself thinking the band had reached their apex with The Migration, I find I was mistaken. STS has, somehow, continued to push the envelope. Most noticeable is the improvement to the rhythm section. Not that anything was lacking in this area previously, but the bass and drums are more in synch this time around. Being Mark Michell’s second outing, it is clear he has come into his own, offering more technical elements and leading much more of the melody. In addition, recently added drummer J.C. Bryant also shows incredible adaptability throughout each of the ten songs. His style is subtle in it’s technicality, relying more on ghost notes and polyrhythmic movements, yet perfectly accenting the melodic passages that ensue.
In spite of my boasting of the drums and bass, V is still very much a guitar-driven disc, and has also reached new levels. Similar to the tight lock between Bass and Drums, the duo on seven strings also improved their interplay. The lead work swirls in and out of each riff, serving to expand upon, rather than play atop each piece. Further, the group finds a way to unleash some viscerally heavy riffing, yet refrains from ever sounding malicious. This reflects in the song structure and writing, being some of Chris Letchford’s best to date. While the entire collection is astounding, some of the best examples of this can be found on “The Winged Bull” and “Stolas”.
From beginning to end, you will not, you cannot, I absolutely defy you to find a moment on this disc that will not blow your mind’s proverbial load. SCALE THE SUMMIT are the pinnacle of what instrumental music should be, and they continue to prove that point with V. They create immense sounding music, full of vibrant sounds and technical prowess, yet retain an easily accessible melodic structure that won’t scare off those who aren’t of mind to prefer progressive music. If this is your first time hearing of these guys, or if you’ve already been initiated, it doesn’t matter; all that does matter is that on September 18, you NEED to pick up this disc.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM