Review Summary: Carving Desert Canyons shows potential, but suffers from a severe repetition of sound and form.
If you’ll pardon my awful metaphor, I would consider the musical structure of Between the Buried and Me like a good cake; the metal and hardcore aspects of their music form the actual cake, whereas the melodic and atmospheric components function as the icing on the proverbial cake. Generally, these melodic components are among the most memorable sections of BTBAM’s music, due to how they stand out from the occasional monotony of the chugging guitars. Logically, it would make sense that if these are the standout elements of the band’s music, one could eliminate the metalcore altogether and come out with a better package. Let me ask you something: ever try eating icing for forty minutes straight? Thus we come to Carving Desert Canyons, essentially the sound of eating icing for forty minutes.
To be fair, Scale the Summit have a lot going for them. Make no mistake, these are some truly talented people, doubly impressive considering their relatively young age. Both guitarists, bassist and drummer all provide plenty of musical ability, and each get their own moment to shine. The problem comes down to their songwriting technique, which like icing, is great in small doses, and exhausting in long stretches.
Continuing with this terrible metaphor of eating icing, the initial minutes of the album feature the immediate highlights. Each of the first three tracks provides something interesting and new, introducing you well to the band’s sound excellently. “Bloom” conveys a sense of euphoria that is irresistible, and sums up the band’s direction in just over two minutes. “Sargossa Sea” displays the band’s more immediate metal influences, with the rare taste of power chords and even a little chugging. Of course, the highlight of the album is obviously the serene “The Great Plains”. The song is a rarity for the album, in that every single riff is compelling, and the song never loses momentum. The final tapping section is a simply sublime moment, perfectly summarizing the piece’s calm feeling.
Following “The Great Plains”, the album essentially falls off a cliff. Essentially, Scale the Summit just run out of tricks, and the album’s second half is plagued by an unhealthy amount of repetition. Part of the problem comes from the structure of the music: nearly every single riff is just a string of eighth notes with little rhythmic variety. Worse still, nearly every one of these is in 6/8 time, furthering the repetition of form. Go through and count the number of times the band use a riff that is essentially “DA-du-du-DA-du-du”, and you’ll see what I mean. The other problem is that the overall sound of the album remains constant to a fault. Even songs like “Sargossa Sea”, which try to inject other influences into the music, retains the same basic sound and mood the band bludgeons to death throughout the album. The beginning of “Glacial Planet” hints at variety, with an atmospheric post-rock tinged intro, before receding into the same exhausting series of arpeggiations. By the time “City in the Sky” and “Giants” roll around, you’re pretty much just sick of the whole formula.
It’s a real shame, because the album hints at real potential. As previously mentioned, the band is quite talented, and there’s plenty of promise in the rhythm section of the band. Unfortunately, the repetitive guitar patterns really detract from the band's sound, leading to an album that, despite a relatively short run time of forty minutes, simply can’t sustain for its entire duration. Next time boys, remember to put that delicious icing on top of something of real substance (might I recommend cupcakes?)
I don't see where your getting that it gets boring PTSS, as you can see by my rating, I find this a fairly filling album. I see 1 maybe 2 songs that don't stand out very well, but as a whole the album is great. Dunes is quite possibly my favorite song, even more so than The Great Plains.
Did you just catch this band with BtBaM too and decide to do the review? I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. I think they have much more discretion than you would expect an instrumental prog band to have.
whoops i reiterated the review in uncalculated microcosm SORRY.
I didn't read it at the point of writing, but after reading it I'm again impressed. Haven't let you know, I don't think, but sir PTSSdashiz, I enjoy your writing and taste in general. Also I love cake.