Sculptured - _Apollo Ends_
(The End, 1999)
by: Brian Meloon (8 out of 10)
This is Sculptured's second release, following on the heels of their 1998 debut, _The Spear of the Lily is Aureoled_ [CoC #31]. Overall, I'd describe their sound as similar to Opeth, but Sculptured are more experimental, lighter, and generally less polished. The one thing that stands out as really different about this album is the prominent use of horns. They appear in almost all of the songs, and as a major instrument, not just as a background gimmick. Unfortunately, I think that the horns aren't really appropriate in some sections. Though I'll give the band credit for trying something new, I don't think all of their experiments are successful. The song structures are very convoluted, flowing from one section to the next without any obvious pre-defined pattern. Still, the transitions aren't necessarily inappropriate, they're just unexpected. In other words, you can't really predict where the song will go next, but when it ends up there, you aren't really surprised. The playing is pretty good, but there's nothing terribly technical here. The vocals are a mix of clean and grunted/rasped death metal vox. I wouldn't describe the vocals as good or bad. The vocalist isn't terribly good, but he stays well within his limits, choosing vocal melodies that still sound decent. The production is a little weak, but clear and appropriate for the music. This album took a while to grow on me, but after a few listens I began to appreciate it. It's not the greatest thing I've ever heard, but it's not bad. I'd recommend it for those seeking something a little bit different from the standard fare.

(article published 5/3/2000)

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