REVIEW: Scale The Summit – The Collective

54151_478942666224_41752021224_5896022_7664442_o

Artist: Scale The Summit
Album: The Collective
Genre: Metal
Label: Prosthetic

I have to admit I was somewhat surprised when, playing this album for the first time, no one ever started singing. (No internet in work means postponed research, ‘kay?) Yet, from the off, I found The Collective to be a rich, ambitious, and very rewarding experience that ought to add Scale the Summit to the prestigious pantheon of instrumental bands who need no lyrics to foster a loyal fanbase. In this immensely enjoyable, thought-provoking album, their layered music is put to sublime effect to create an absorbing and memorable experience – a particular treat if one is partial (as I am) to instrumental film scores.

The album is heavy on atmosphere, with a clear thread of melancholy evident throughout. In this sense the lack of words is almost an enhancement, as it allows you to develop a personal feel for the music and set your own story to it as the album unfolds. The opening track, “Colossal,” lives up to its name with an exquisitely executed, restrained tentative into the unknown. For all the heaviness of the guitars, it feels almost otherworldly, as the intensity gives way to softer verses, a lone guitar taking precedence over the others. Emersion takes a similar path, switching from harsh and powerful to a more focused, self-aware rhythm. It’s shorter than a lot of the others and quite visceral in its immediacy.

“Whales” is a song of contradictions – it opens sleekly, but this refinement gives way to lots of fervour and urgency. There’s a glistening solo as the song becomes quite bold and intensive in its latter stages, before stripping down to its roots again. The contrast between this ethereal denouement and the more impassioned midsection is striking. This is a theme evident throughout, as in “Gallows” also, a thunderous initial wave becomes tinged with reflection and portent. For every chug of menace, there’s a brief respite of light guitar styling that seems to meditate in a way on all going on, as if a pause to help further exposition in the unspoken story. “The Levitated” is a dainty and concerted affair, while “Secret Earth” emerges from a cloudy introduction to reveal a brilliant, vocal solo.

“Black Hills” is another standout. Founded on a gentle, accessible rhythm, were there lyrics it could be a properly alluring and feelgood affair. Yet, it manages to twist and turn numerous times throughout its near-8 minute length, swooping from a robust, rallying cry in its verses to a more fragile and resonant midsection, feeling almost like multiple songs in one. The initial bombast becomes more defiant and rebellious, and though the length does mean it rambles a bit towards the end it’s a notable achievement.

“Balkans,” the penultimate track, feels very much like the triumphant climax of all that has gone before. Unlike many of the other songs, it’s relatively short, quite pensive and understated. It feels grim on occasion but this only serves to highlight the ardour of feeling when the song abruptly terminates. “Drifting Figures,” the final composition, is as the title implies a meandering, tangential piece. It’s similar in tone to “Balkans,” but perhaps less insistent. It ends abruptly also, as the music suddenly stops and a simple twang sounds the end of a fascinating album.

The Collective is most certainly a stunning affair, very much worthy of your attention. The lack of lyrics may alienate some but is not in any way a reason to condemn it. The album is beautifully conceived and realised and a vivid, sprawling experience. The internet has alerted me to the prospect of a Scale the Summit tour with Fair to Midland which is, quite frankly, mouth-watering – an onslaught of exquisite, tempestuous music for those who prefer their listening a little more profound.

Score: 9/10
Review written by: Grace Duffy

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

Latest posts by James Shotwell (see all)

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.