Review Summary: An instrumental journey for the metal head.
Prosthetic Records is by far one of the last places I would look to find quality progressive metal. Lo and behold, tucked away behind the tech-metal wankery and monotonous core-chug lies Scale the Summit. Carving Desert Canyon's is the Texas instrumental-prog outfit's first release on Prosthetic records and second after their self released debut, 2007's Monument. Where their debut was a somewhat cumbersome, technicality for technicality's sake affair, Carving Desert Canyons sees Scale the Summit embracing a more scaled back and refined sound.
Unlike 99% of instrumental prog-metal bands out there, Scale the Summit never over do it. Instead relying on the cold and calculated scale worship of their peers, Carving Desert Canyons is built on a foundation of technical, yet warm and flowing melodies that brings to mind the likes of Between the Buried and Me and Opeth. The album's softer moments of leisurely, major key leads create an uplifting sense of tranquility that burst into heavy sections of beautiful arpeggios, sustain rich soloing, and eight-string low end. The math-rock influence that was at the forefront of their debut is almost entirely abandoned but it still peeks out here and there. On "The Great Plains," the silky smooth lead work of the song's first half subsides into a quirky jam of Don Caballero-esque poly rhythmic tapping that closes out the track in a wondrous fashion.
Carving Desert Canyons is a massive step forward for Scale the Summit. Not only have they managed to create a sublime progressive metal album, they did it without ever having to fall back on the Dream Theater idolatry that plagues even the best of bands. To that I say, "Bravo!"