Scale the Summit



by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
February 11th, 2011 | 12 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Monument - noun. An object, such as a post or stone, fixed in the ground so as to mark a boundary or position.

Scale the Summit are one of those special bands that appear just ever so rarely. True innovators of style, masters of their craft, and pioneers of musical fusion they exploded onto the musical stage with 2007's Monument. Unfortunately, it wasn't until around 2009 when the band was announced alongside Bigelf as replacements for Pain of Salvation and Beardfish on the Progressive Nation tour that they gained much recognition. While part of this is simply due to publicity, Monument really makes you wonder how Scale the Summit hadn't been recognized for their abilities in the two year gap between their first release and perhaps their biggest tour.

In all honesty, Monument is an album that lives up to its name - both as an object built worthy of glorification and as a marker along the path of innovation. The album succeeds by drawing on the three primary musical sensibilities that Scale the Summit particularly excel at: metal, prog, and jazz. Yes, that's right, jazz - that musical style so often referenced as an influence on everything from Technical Death Metal to R&B. You might even say it's bantered about far too loosely by most critics. But here, I think it's an extremely valid and authentic point of analysis.

You see, this is where Scale the Summit manage to stand out. Not only do all members of the band invoke thoughts of the jazz rhythms of the old masters in their sound, but they elaborate on that ideal of jazz improvisation to create what becomes the soul of their sound. Bassist Jordan Eberhardt and drummer Pat Skeffington call down the jazz spirits in their smooth, yet constantly evolving and thoughtful rhythms, while guitarists Chris Letchford and Travis LaVrier hold a musical conversation through their guitars with that jazz sensibility of letting the music flow naturally to establish not only a tone, but a mood (the end of "Rode In On Horseback" comes to mind in particular, here).

Of course, if jazz is the soul of Monument, then progressive music is its heart and metal is its exterior. Grooves, odd time signatures, epic build-ups that culminate in aural satisfaction, and incredible solos tapped, swept, and picked are all signatures of the progressive element that weaves itself around that jazz core here. And, of course, that metal shell is not to be ignored either. The blistering speeds at which all of the musicians can move - be it Chris, Travis, and Jordan navigating the fretboard with incredible ease while managing all of the duties their right hands can think of or Pat's ability to fly through double bass rhythms while setting his kit on fire with his sticks - cannot be ignored. And the same is true for the distorted guitar tones and overall pacing of many of the songs.

While I wholly believe that metal is mostly an afterthought for Scale the Summit, it's worth noting that this offering is significantly heavier and faster paced than 2009's Carving Desert Canyons. If metal is the skin the package is wrapped in, consider the layer here double of what's on Carving Desert Canyons. The sound is far more raw, leaving the atmosphere less refined. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - it's great for a change of pace, as differences between the two albums give each their own identity, while maintaining a distinctly similar sense of style and direction.

Monument's main (and, for the most part, only) shortcoming is the tendency for some tracks to repeat themselves, or to get caught in a groove for a bit too long. While Scale the Summit show here that they have essentially always been an astounding group technically, musically, and functionally, this is also the shard of evidence that tells us that this is a band that is still evolving, leaving Monument as the signpost in the ground that reads "If you think this is good, just look ahead."

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Comments:Add a Comment 
February 11th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

I guess I overlistened to Carving Desert Canyons, and this is a great treat to have to still enjoy Scale the Summit in such a situation. Love this album and would probably rate it a 4.5, but I feel it's a little weaker than Carving Desert Canyons.

Very pumped for The Collective.

February 11th 2011


Nice review, pos!
I haven't been able to listen to this album a whole lot, but Desert Canyons is a pretty solid album.
Saw these guys live and talked to Chris Letchford at the merch stand; almost got him to sign my wallet, but decided against it...

February 12th 2011


Haven't heard this one but their second album is great.

February 12th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

Carving Desert Canyons is better stylistically and in terms of overall direction and

songwriting. It's the band maturing another 2 years, really, which gives it a jazzier, more mature,

and more developed feel.

Monument is heavier, brings more aggression, and feels more raw. I think each have their merits

and both are different listens.

Josh D.
February 12th 2011


I have a 3 song demo with tracks off of this from a show they had shortly after moving back to town. I should listen to it.

Josh D.
February 12th 2011


You are.

February 13th 2011


Definitely prefer CDC, although this has its merits as well. I guess I like the more polished sound.

Digging: Jeff Rosenstock - POST-

February 15th 2011


Great masterpiece, even if I prefer CDC more, I'm psyched for their new album.

February 19th 2013


Album Rating: 2.5

this blows

October 1st 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

At first it just seemed all over the place but the pacing grew on me. Some really tasty grooves going on in a few of the songs. One somewhere in Wolves that I really liked.

April 25th 2016


Album Rating: 3.0

Production is utter shit and it feels self-indulgent a lot of times but good for a first effort.

May 29th 2017


Album Rating: 2.5

decent jazz fusion metal.

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