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Scale The Summit Carving Desert Canyons

Scale The Summit - Carving Desert Canyons
01. Bloom
02. Sargasso Sea
03. The Great Plains
04. Dunes
05. Ages of the Tide
06. Glacial Planet
07. City in the Sky
08. Giants
2009 Prosthetic Records

Reviewed by: Nick   //   Published: 3/29/2009

Step one: pick a Between the Buried and Me album (Alaska or Colors should suffice). Step two: run it through a filter that removes all of the slightly awkward transitions, discordant moments, and hit-or-miss musical departures. Step three: get rid of the vocalist. Step four: convert all of the chord progressions and noodling to a major scale. The result Scale the Summit, Houston's source of fine-tuned, modern instrumental metal.

The above process isn't meant to take a jab at the band; it is simply the most accurate way to describe the sound these young virtuosos have created. Scale the Summit displays a clear knack for writing smoothly transitioned, instrumental anthems that are as uplifting as they are technically proficient. These guys definitely targeted a positive mood with this record, and the abundance of feel-good moments demonstrates that they nailed their mark. It's almost as if the majority of Carving Desert Canyons' tracks would serve as a fitting soundtrack for triumphant, adversity-tackling films like Remember the Titans, Forrest Gump, and the Mighty Ducks Trilogy.

"Bloom" immediately launches into warm guitar soloing amidst layers of precise, but hardly jarring riffing before showcasing dueling leads and clean, crisp drumming. "The Great Plains" relies a bit on scale-heavy bass work and dynamic swells to consistently deliver soaring melodies. Other tracks don't stray too far from the band's obvious songwriting goal of maintaining a fluid sound and an inspiring mood. That's a plus in terms of album continuity, but Carving Desert Canyons loses some of its impact over its 40 minute duration, often causing even the warmest melodies to fall slightly short of being memorable.

There are a few elements that contribute to this feeling. The squeaky clean, Pro Tools recording and production job robs the music of some of its emotion -- even the palm muting, double-bass heavy drumming, and other metallic building blocks feel particularly candy-coated. The desire to load each track with as many soaring guitar licks and uplifting melodies as possible is oddly numbing in the same way that many more abrasive styles of metal and hardcore can wane listeners' attention if songwriting variation isn't present. "Dunes" and "Giants" manage to hint at a heavier side, but in the end, the track-to-track variability just isn't there. Carving Desert Canyons is still worth checking out for those into technically impressive music, but it probably won't stick for a lot of listeners on the fence about the idea of major-scale instrumental metal.

Bottom Line: Scale the Summit's Prosthetic Records debut, Carving Desert Canyons, is a great example of musicianship and definitely succeeds in putting an extremely melodic spin on metal's musical foundation. But its candy-coated production and brimming major-scale content create a bit of a strange desensitization. Is it possible to have too much melody, even if it is delivered in a tasteful, intelligent manner I think I might be the guy to argue yes on this one. And for the record, in the third Might Ducks installment, Charlie Conway hits on a girl who names Pantera as her favorite band, so the reference stays.

anonymous   posted 4/21/2009 5:05:47 PM
... It's a band.
anonymous   posted 4/11/2009 1:47:09 AM
pretty sure thats just one guy, not a band. facts son.
tylerd_   posted 4/10/2009 6:04:38 PM
i like it. mellow, melodic. Cloudkicker is the best instrumental metal i've heard recently.
numbsmyweiner_   posted 4/4/2009 12:14:24 AM
"im still going to beat these guys up some day" yeah, thats stupid.
anonymous   posted 4/3/2009 10:54:02 PM
"im still going to beat these guys up some day"

why is that?

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