Scale The Summit’s V Reaches Dizzying New Heights Of Purposeful, Progressive Instrumetal
I’ve been wrong before. Once, in the late eighties. It was quite embarrassing at the time, and I swore to myself I’d never let it happen again.
But here I am, writing this review with a sheepish smile, and happily, wholeheartedly embracing the fact that I have indeed been WRONG about Houston’s proggadilliocious instrumetal sweep-pick masters Scale the Summit. For quite some time, I had found it difficult to connect to this band’s seemingly flashy (although apparently much more purposeful/porpoiseful than I had realized) style, and found myself a bit bored on the few occasions I had (intentionally or otherwise) caught them live.
So as a result, I never made the time/effort to dig into the band’s catalog and get to know any of their studio recordings. Big mistake on my part. For while you will always get to the root of a band’s essence by seeing them perform live, in most cases you will gain a thoroughly deeper understanding of said band’s intention/context/impact by delving into their formally constructed studio albums.
From the first moments of V (which comes out on 9/18 via Prosthetic Records), I became giddy and excited like I used to get when I was a mere schoolgirl child experiencing masterful, focused, and learned musicians for the first time. My eyes widened, my ears opened up, and my everything became much more than simply willing – I was committed to the experience of this album, and I was thrilled to be engaging with it.
Case in point, here is an excerpt from the exact, verbatim text exchange I had with MetalSucks’ illustrious Editor-in-Keef, Vince K. Neilstein, while I was listening to the album:
KW: OMG DUDE ARE ALL THE STS ALBUMS THIS GOOD????? I’VE HAD TOO MANY PROG-GASMS TO COUNT SO FAR AND THERE ARE STILL THREE SONGS LEFT AHHHHHH…
VN: Haha yeah, band rips.
The truth is, I wanted to excitedly text ol’ Vincearooni (as we all call him around the MS Mansion and you should too – he loves it) halfway through the first song, and again during the second and third tracks, but something in the back of my head told me to err on the side of caution and hang back for a click, just to make sure this wasn’t yet another album that started strong then fell flat halfway through.
No fucking way. V never disappoints, not for an instant, and manages to straddle the oft-ignored-by-virtuosic-players line of balancing technical theatrics with simple, straightforward song-driven elements that anchor even the most complicated instrumental music in purpose (typically no easy feat for so many jaw-dropping yet ostentatious instrumentalists). With this album, these guitar heroes have crafted a collection of triumphant compositions that thankfully feel more like a delightfully delirious, arrestingly hypnotic experience for the ears/brain/heart than simply a master class with amazingly shreddy players.
I am loathe to call out particular tracks or moments since every time I have put this record on (and it has been many), I just get swept up in a trance-like devotion to experiencing the whole thing as a complete piece, which I suspect you will too. If you like instrumental progressive music this will probably be your favorite album of the year.