More than four years of waiting for new music from Scale the Summit officially ended this week. That is because the progressive rock/metal group released its latest album Friday in the form of Subjects. The eight-song album (the band’s seventh) is an interesting new offering from the veteran group of musicians as is evidenced through the album’s musical arrangements. This will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical content make for their own interest and will be discussed a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is key in its own way to the whole of this album’s presentation. All things considered, they make Subjects a successful new album from Scale The Summit that is also among the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.
Scale The Summit’s latest album, Subjects, is an impressive new offering from the veteran prog rock/metal band. Its success comes in part through its arrangements. The arrangements in question show clear growth and change from the band this time in comparison to the band’s existing catalog. For starters, every arrangement is accompanied by a vocal track for the first time ever. The addition of the vocals to the songs makes the songs comparable at times to works from the likes of Leprous, and at others to songs from Leprous’ InsideOut Music label mates, Haken. The instrumentation and general arrangement of each song meanwhile is generally shorter, but does not sacrifice the talents that the band members – Chris Letchford (guitar), Kilian Duarte (bass), and Charlie Engen (drums/percussion) – have exhibited on each of its existing albums. There are even some arrangements featured this time out that are actually mainstream accessible, not the least of which being ‘Dissemble.’ The song runs more than six minutes, yes (six minutes, six seconds), but there is something in the combination of the instrumentation alongside the vocals of guest singer Eric Emery that gives the song a little bit of an emo sensibility. It really shows itself as a possible radio single. ‘The Land of Nod’ is another of the album’s entries that comes across as a possible single. The band maintains its prog approach here, but there is something in the control in the instrumentation and in the vocals from Courtney LaPlante that makes this song have a certain mainstream accessibility, too. When all of the arrangements noted here are considered along with the rest of the album’s arrangements, that whole makes the album’s musical content reason enough in itself for audiences to hear this record. The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements makes for even more reason for audiences to take in this record.
The lyrical content that accompanies Subjects’ musical arrangements is important to note because, again, it marks the first time that any Scale The Summit record has featured any lyrical/vocal content. That has already been mentioned. The lyrical content featured here seems to present itself in relatively accessible fashion. Case in point is ‘Dissemble.’ This song comes across as being a song centered lyrically on the all-too-familiar topic of a relationship. That is inferred as Emery sings to a woman about how she looks before at one point stating, “Remove the mask on your face/You Don’t need to run…Pull yourself back if you’re ready/To be awoken/And unbroken/While you free fall.” The additional mention of “scars that define you” comes across as a metaphor for the emotional “scars,” adding even more to the inference that this song is a love song of sorts. That seeming accessibility and unique fashion in which that familiar topic is delivered is a clear example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content. It is just one example of that importance. ‘Form & Finite’ is another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content.
The lyrical content featured in ‘Form & Finite’ is delivered by guest vocalist Mike Semesky. The lyrics are rather difficult to decipher sans lyrics to reference. Sadly that is because of the song’s production. However, from what little can be understood, the song’s lyrical content comes across as being somewhat existential. Add in the fact that it is delivered is what seems like such a simple fashion and it becomes that much more engaging. When this seeming theme, that featured in ‘Dissemble’ and the other songs featured in this record are considered together along with the very fact that they again mark the first time the band has ever used vocals in any record leaves no doubt about the importance of the lyrics. Keeping all of this in mind, the pairing of the album’s lyrical content along with the album’s musical content gives reason in itself for audiences to hear Subjects. Moving on from there, the last of the album’s most important elements is its production.
As noted in the discussion on the lyrics, the production does impress for the most part. However, there are moments throughout the album in which the vocals are washed out to a point by the instrumentation. The vocals blend in with the instrumentations in those cases, leading to some trouble deciphering the lyrics. Thankfully, that does not happen in every one of the songs. To that end, while it does pose a problem at points, it is not enough to doom the album. Throughout the rest of the album, the instrumentations and vocals are more well-balanced. The end result in those moments is engagement and entertainment for audiences. Overall, the production is laudable enough that it combines with the album’s content to make the whole maybe not the band’s best work, but still a unique presentation and mostly praiseworthy addition to Scale The Summit’s catalog.
Scale The Summit’s latest album, Subjects is an interesting new addition to the band’s catalog. That is due in part to the musical content featured throughout the album. That content shows clear growth and development from the band. Of course, that is likely because the band’s lineup has changed once again for this album. Guitarist Chris Letchford is the band’s only original member in this record, which would make understandable the change in stylistic approach here. That approach is more accessible for hard rock and rock audiences than that in the album’s predecessors. The lyrical content, where it can be deciphered, makes for even more interest here. That is because this album marks the first time that any STS album has ever released an album with any vocals/lyrics. The lyrics that listeners can decipher range from the accessible to the seemingly philosophical. That range is itself also reason enough for audiences to hear this record. The production of the album’s overall content puts the final touch to its presentation, completing that work. While not perfect, the presentation does strive to bring out the best of the album, and mostly succeeds in that effort. Taking that into consideration along with the impact of the content itself, the whole makes Subjects a successful new offering from Scale The Summit. It continues to show why this band is one of the elite names in the prog rock and metal community. Subjects is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Scale The Summit’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/scalethesummit.
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