Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Instrumental Interpretations Part I: Scale The Summit - 'V' (Album Review)

By: Phil Weller

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/09/2015
Label: Prosthetic Records




Stacking twisting lead lines and a jolting rhythmic vigour atop a clean cut intro reminiscent of Dream Theater’s ‘On The Back’s Of Angels’, ‘Pontus Euxinus’ endures a split personality of Animals As Leaders esque, modern, instrumental progressive rock and jazz/lounge, swinging textures. ‘Trapped In Ice’ beholds a much faster clangour, Chris Letchford’s fingers getting to know the high end of his fretboard in a blur. The song as a whole seems to be both written for and gravitating around these passages of spotlight demanding lead guitar work, the closest thing we have to a singer and a voice per se. ‘Kestral,’ seemingly inspired from the creature from whence it got its name, soars high with floaty guitars and genteel acoustic playing.



‘V’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. Odyssey
02. Atlas Novus
03. The Olive Tree
04. Narrow Salient
05. Oracle
06. Evergreen
07. The Dark Horse
08. Willow
09. Sabrosa
10. The Traveler

The Review

While aghast at the intrinsic musical complexity woven through this record’s veins, much of the insistent showboatery is lacking in that gouging, soul afflicting hook for me. In short, it’s bloody impressive stuff, but, for this writer at least, isn’t quite engaging enough  The talent that pieces ‘V’ together, like some grandiose and status affirming mosaic is insurmountable, overflowing, but from a personal standpoint, I find it more whimsical than I do evocative. But please, do not let that be a deterrent. There are so many out there who will fall head over heels for Scale The Summit’s veritable feast of technicality, of daunting arpeggios and flurrying chord progressions – for fans of the band, this is another effort in the same vein.

It all comes down to personal taste and perception. I have many friends who shed a sombre, silver tear at Titanic (Movie), at the tragic brutality of it, as it slowly but inevitably swallowed by the icy Atlantic Ocean, killing over 1,500 passengers in the process. But I also know lots of people – my sick self included – who chuckle at the scene where the ship bolts upright and those passengers with a merciful grip hurtle towards the water, knowing their time is up. It just looks like a massive slide to me. 

An instrumental band, I personally feel the lack of vocals and lyrics – one aesthetic that, with the right poetic conviction could unveil its beating heart to me – leaves these songs sounding empty. But for many musos out there who just want to get lost in some phenomenal playing that transcends time signatures like a spectre through walls of an old Victorian manor, will be left with the impression that a crooning or screaming frontman would ruin what this band has worked so deftly to produce. Personally, there’s nothing invigorating about these songs. It’s like when you pick up a book in a shop which, in theory is tailor made for your acquired tastes, but, as beautifully and sophisticatedly written as it is, the story doesn’t lure you in, the images provoked don’t conjure themselves as living, breathing entities in your imagination.

Stacking twisting lead lines and a jolting rhythmic vigour atop a clean cut intro reminiscent of Dream Theater’sOn The Back’s Of Angels’, ‘Pontus Euxinus’ endures a split personality of Animals As Leaders esque, modern, instrumental progressive rock and jazz/lounge, swinging textures. ‘Trapped In Ice’ beholds a much faster clangour, Chris Letchford’s fingers getting to know the high end of his fretboard in a blur. The song as a whole seems to be both written for and gravitating around these passages of spotlight demanding lead guitar work, the closest thing we have to a singer and a voice per se. ‘Kestral,’ seemingly inspired from the creature from whence it got its name, soars high with floaty guitars and genteel acoustic playing.

For me, though, it would work better as background music – like the crazy stuff Nintendo busted out in the 90s that would provide the soundtrack for traversing, breaking shit up or generally cutting a heroic figure in a virtual world. There, the music has a base, a reliability as, the more the game sucks you in, the more the sounds beneath it all, that genre bending underbelly becomes not just important, but integral to your enjoyment of the game. That’s the kind of purpose this music should have in my opinion. As a standalone product I just can’t submerge myself into it the way I really should – because these kind of rich and talented sonic tapestries are so often my calling.

But of course, opinions are like arseholes – you probably think I am one too – and I cannot stress enough that, while it isn’t a record that has won me over, there are legions of people that will bow down to ‘V’ and worship it for years to come. Hit play and be your own judge, jury and executioner, but from a personal standpoint, it’s that last role that is most poignant here.

‘V’ is available here



FFO: Dream Theater, Animals As Leader, The Contortionist, Meshuggah


Band info: facebook | bandcamp

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