Scale the Summit
Carving Desert Canyons

To these ears, Houston’s Scale the Summit, ply an instrumental version of soaring, layered metalcore that’s basically like a slightly more progressive, post rock version of Misery Signals, Life In Your way without vocals.

Then why aren’t I enjoying this more?

Maybe of course it because I’m generally not a huge instrumental metal fan as frankly the likes of Pelican, Don Cab, Dysrhythmia, Canvas Solaris and such, despite their ability and skill, bore me to tears. However, if I were to listen to an instrumental metal band, it would be Scale the Summit as their shimmering, yet focused, if somewhat repetitive textures offer something more than either tech noodling or vocal-less post rock and droning.

The dynamics of instrumental metal are so important when trying to convey an entire album of material that lacks the emotion of vocals. And that’s where a band like Scale the Summit simply don’t endear themself to me despite the music-which swell and cascades with some sumptuous harmonies and layering. For example the shifts that occur in personal favorite “The Great Plains”, while well done, just does not seem complete without some sort of vocal accompaniment to help convey the shift. Amid the glimmering hues, you can hear a lot of Steve Vai and Eric Johnson in the more progressive solo work as heard on “Dunes” and “City in the Sky”, but I still stick to my breezier Life In Your Way comparison-just check out opener “Bloom” and “Age of the Tide”, I even here some Between the Buried and Me in there (“Glacial Planet”) – all of it gorgeous. But to me, it’s still slightly empty because of the lack of vocals. To their credit though, Scale the Summit keep things relatively short and too the point without wandering into post rock/shoegazer realms with only 7 minute closer “Giants” veering in that direction.

Again, if forced to listen to instrumental metal, I would most certainly pick Scale the Summit as my first choice, they do have a certain elegance that melds progressive and melody together that’s is rather enchanting, but on the whole I still want my vocals.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 23rd, 2009


  1. Commented by: Sandwiches

    I think it’s just fine without the vocals. Love this cd. Definite improvement over monuments

  2. Commented by: jk666

    I agree about the dynamics. Some of the repeated arpeggios get tiresome and I stop listening until there’s a slower section that catches my attention.

  3. Commented by: gaze

    name one progressive band that has a “dynamic vocalist”? Singer would add nothing to this band. People should get over it, there are enough bands out there with singers. Mix up the music collection!

    Also, not sure how a band who doesn’t have a vocalist can have a “lack of vocals”. Instrumental bands don’t have a vocalist, so being that you already knew that, mentioning it over and over is pointless for the review of an “instrumental” album. Then again there are also a ton of grammatical and spelling errors as well in this review, so its hard to tell if there was any seriousness to it.

    Not a trashing review either, definitely could tell you enjoyed it. Can’t really use “lack of vocals” as an insult though. look forward to watching this band evolve even more!

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