To understand why Scale the Summit's newest release The Migration is so fascinating, you first need a bit of background:
Scale the Summit's first couple of releases (Monument, Carving Desert Canyons) codified the same formula the band works by today; they play a brand of instrumental progressive metal that, through epic melodies and huge construction, is intended to invoke a sense of grandeur and awe. It's meant to make the listener feel triumphal, as if they were somehow themselves partaking in the band's (and I'm using this word literally) awesome feat. However, while their music was good at evoking that impression, a lot was left to be desired--to put it bluntly, due to production and mixing problems, their music sounded like it should've been better than it was. So while they had the songwriting nailed, something about their overall sound was lacking; despite their talent, it sounded like the band played their music in an incredibly inorganic manner, leaving the listener feeling unfulfilled, as if they had been cheated out of the sense of accomplishment they were so entitled to. A lot of those sound issues were fixed with their last album, The Collective. While much more aurally fulfilling to listen to, it suffered from a case of lacklustre songwriting that hadn't seemed to be a problem before. Though the music sounded much better, it lacked the flair and impact that the band had become known for.
And that's why The Migration is such a fantastic album: combining the grandiose songwriting of their first couple of albums with the improved sound quality of their third, The Migration is Scale the Summit as they were always meant to be heard. Finally, the soaring guitar lines truly convey the impressive of sense of scale and accomplishment they were always intended to. And what's more, Scale the Summit are at the top of their songwriting game--over and above any sound issues, the songs here are the best of their career. Songs like "Willow", "The Olive Tree", and the lead single "Odyssey" are absolutely perfect constructions of melody and form, and even the most complex songs like "The Traveler" or "The Dark Horse", more like technical exercises than anything else, still manage to sound fantastic.
One other thing that becomes much more noticeable with The Migration is the delicate interplay woven into Scale the Summit's compositions. The way the guitarists all trade leads and melodies with one another is absolutely flabbergasting, each emerging and regressing in such a natural manner that it's difficult to notice. What's more, the individual lines themselves are incredibly intricate--while the heavily composed nature of Scale the Summit's lead guitar lines has always been noticeable, on The Migration, you can clearly hear that all of that effort has been put into the other lines as well--moments like that delicious lead bass on "Narrow Salient" just wouldn't have been possible on previous Scale the Summit albums.
Are there weak points? Not really. The few moments on the album that aren't quite up to snuff (like the awkwardly abrupt ending of "The Dark Horse" and some of the weaker riffs on "Oracle") are so few and far between that they aren't even overshadowed by the best moments; they just don't even register in comparison. Trying to exaggerate the imperfections of this album to argue for its overall weakness is like trying to argue that tax law is nonsensical because entropy of classical thermodynamics ensures the heat death of the universe--you're really grasping at straws.
Scale the Summit have finally arrived, and The Migration is as close to euphoria as two 7-strings, a 6-string bass, and a drum kit can physically produce. Instrumental rock fans, eat your heart out.
Recommended if you like: Pomegranate Tiger, Animals as Leaders, Cloudkicker
8.5 / 10
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