Metal Blade Records was a powerhouse of a record label in 2012. It led this critic’s lists of the year’s best rock records, best Hard Rock/Metal albums, and Best Albums overall with releases from Horisont, O.S.I., Gypsyhawk, and Trioscapes, just to name a handful. But with 2013 now halfway over, this critic’s list of the year’s best Hard Rock and Metal albums at least is being controlled by a different label. This year, Prosthetic Records leads the way in the world of Hard Rock and Metal. Holy Grail, which is being touted as the second coming of Judas Priest tops the list of the year’s best metal records with its sophomore album, Ride the Void. And now with the upcoming release of its brand new album, The Migration, Scale the Summit becomes the second band signed to Prosthetic Records to make this critic’s list of the year’s best Hard Rock and Metal albums.
The Migration is an impressive introduction to this Houston, Texas based band for first-time listeners. It’s just as welcome a return for long-time fans. The band wastes no time getting right into the swing of things with this album. Its opener, ‘Odyssey’ is a fittingly titled piece. In its roughly five-minute plus run-time, the band—Chris Letchford (7 & 8-String guitars), Travis Levrier (7-String Guitars), Mark Michell (6-string bass), and Pat Skeffington (drums, percussion)—takes listeners on a three movement opus that boasts three completely different musical emotions. Most interesting about this is that those listeners that are open minded enough will be able to close their eyes and truly take in all three movements and understand the emotion being presented in each one. It is a song that more than makes for a solid re-introduction for the band after having spent the past couple years touring in support of its previous release, 2011’s The Collective.
‘Odyssey’ as a whole is an impressive opener to the Migration. Looking deeper into the song, the transition from the song’s slower, more subdued third movement into ‘Atlas Novus’ is another factor to note in the success of the upcoming album. The transition itself is notable as it’s not the only time on this album that this happens. It is just one of so many transitions that make The Migration one of those rare albums this year, which audiences will enjoy taking in from start to finish without skipping songs. That’s not to say that The Migration is some instrumental concept album. It’s anything but. It’s just that the sequencing (along with the equally impressive production and mixing) has made this album so easy on the ears.
Getting back to the songs as a whole, ‘Atlas Novus’ is more subdued than ‘Odyssey’ by and large. But it also has its own kick. Fans of fellow experimental rock band Animals as Leaders will appreciate this piece with its controlled guitar and bass runs throughout its run time that also comes in at just over five minutes. In an odd way, it proves the old adage that less truly is more. That’s because as impressive as the song’s runs are, Letchford and company prove in the song, that some of the best riffs are ones that are not loud, shredding riffs, but softer, more controlled pieces. Drummer Pat Skeffington gets his own opportunity to shine here, too. Skeffington shows that he’s just as good as Mike Portnoy (Adrenaline Mob, ex-Dream Theater) or any other far more experienced drummer here and throughout the album. He shows that he can handle some extremely tough polyrhythmic patterns without missing a beat and even some simpler rhythms, too.
So much was done right with this album that one could ramble on for some time on everything right with this record. As already noted, it’s not just the songs, but the album’s sequencing and its general production that makes it one more record that the band’s long-time fans will enjoy just as much as new listeners. The variety of musical styles from harder edged prog-metal to a slightly progressive jazz sound to something a little softer make this album worth more than just one listen, too. It will prove with each listen to be an album that grows on listeners more each time. Considering all of this, it may end up even on this critic’s list of the year’s best albums overall. The Migration will be available in stores and online Tuesday, June 11th. It can be ordered online via the Prosthetic Records store at http://www.indiemerch.com/prostheticrecords/item/19303.
The band is currently on tour in support of its new album. Fans in North Carolina will get to see the band live in Charlotte on Saturday, June 22nd at the Tremont Music Hall. It will be joined by Intronaut and Mouth of the Architect. The show is slated to start at 9:00pm. Tickets range from $13 – $15. They can be purchased online at http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/244625?skinName=tfly&utm_medium=api&wrKey=AF9450BAA81C7D8C2DAA1CA5ED7CAC4F.
For the most current list of tour dates, all the latest news and more from the band, fans can “Like” the band on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/scalethesummit. Fans can also keep up with the band online at http://www.scalethesummit.com.
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