Scale the Summit

The Collective

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Instrumental metal will always have a more limited appeal than metal with vocals, but Scale the Summit's particular brand might have more crossover potential than that of their shred-happy peers. This quartet -- two guitarists, bass, and drums -- writes proggy compositions that gradually unfold, rather than brief heads followed by endless wanky solos. They're much more about two-guitar interplay, and even expressive rhythm section work, than about mere showboating. This is a crucial strategy that permits their albums -- not only The Collective, but its predecessor Carving Desert Canyons, too -- to be listened to from front to back without the listener growing weary. A piece like "Drifting Figures" lives up to its title: it's a multifaceted composition, starting out as a spacy ballad with repetitive figures from one guitar balancing long notes from another, as the bass performs jazz fusion-ish loops beneath and the drummer goes tastefully wild, but then picks up speed and becomes more rockin' -- and that's typical of Scale the Summit, not only the complexity and multi-stage writing, but the smooth transitions between sections and between tracks. The Collective is a cohesive aesthetic experience, meant to be heard from beginning to end, and listeners with the (relatively minimal -- it's only 45 minutes long) patience to do that will find themselves amply rewarded.

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