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Sculptured - Apollo Ends CD (album) cover

APOLLO ENDS

Sculptured

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.50 | 10 ratings

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Trickster F.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars "Matrix Metal"

(not to be mistaken with Neo-Prog!)

Apollo Ends is Sculptured's sophomore release and the first one that essentially sums up the musical ideology behind the project. Having been surrounded by a completely new line-up of musicians, including his group mates from Agalloch and trumpet and trombone players, but, most importantly, having changed his direction and way of thinking, Don Anderson created an album that has little, if anything, to do with his previous work. One of the compositions introduced on the debut album The Spear of the Lily is Aureoled was the short instrumental Fulfillment in Tragedy, consisting of solely cello and flute, in which he originally represented his fascination with atonal music, the invention of Arnold Schoenberg. No longer satisfied with the limits set by the ordinary tonality, keys, majors and minors, Don Anderson calls his unique, unconventional brainchild "The Charles Yves Of Death Metal", and quite rightly so. So, if the usual ways of writing music are abandoned in favour of less traditional ways, then how is the music actually written? Not having been taught music history myself to be able to understand the idea enough to rephrase it, I will simply quote Mr. Anderson himself:

I use the term "Matrix Metal" to describe Sculptured because I write using a reduced version of the 12-tone technique developed by Arnold Schoenberg. I create 4 x 4 note squares (matrices) from which I develop chords and melodies. Sometimes I use multiple squares at once. The basic idea is to choose 4 notes and place them in a horizontal row, left to right. Then invert the interval relationships vertically down the left from the first note of the row. Finally, fill in the square so that all the intervals are parallel. The rule is one cannot repeat a note in a row until all the others have been played. This way I am not relying on tonality or harmony but still able to organize, in a very strict manner, the music I make. It also forces one to avoid falling into reliable and habitual musical patters.

Even those who, just like me, do not quite grasp the meaning of this songwriting way, will understand that the songs presented on Apollo Ends contain unusual structure and melodies far from traditional music. Indeed, the riffs may appear senseless to the unitiated listener, however, repeated listens will reveal that an atonal approach to heavy music can be quite enjoyable. Mark my words, some of the riffs will inevitably get stuck in your hand, regardless of sounding so bizarre and foolish (not in a bad way). The compositional work is also just as extraordinary as any part in particular - all kinds of unpredictable moments, such as a trumpet interrupting a heavy riff, so expect a lot of confusing breakthroughs, mind-boggling contrast between the clean vocals of Brian Yager and the actual music playing, bass guitar and even whistling solos and various additional surprises that form the quintessence of Sculptured's music. Sometimes when listening to the music, one can't help thinking that there are many groups playing their riffs one after another, without actually finishing them, getting the notes wrong all the time, and instead of correcting their embarrassing mistakes continuing the riff a minute after or even in duration of the next song. That may not be true, but works well to explain how it appears to one's ears. Unlike the debut, which used non-traditional rock instruments in special mellow parts, Apollo Ends, while keeping that trend, utilises trumpet and trombone simultaneously with guitar riffs and hard drumming. Despite being accompanied by friends from Agalloch on this CD, the music has absolutely no connections to their other, more well-known project, aside from maybe the raspy screams which are not far from Haughm's vocals on early group's output, so if you are looking for a group similar to Agalloch, look elsewhere. All of the songs here are solid avant- garde compositions, with thought provoking lyrics (no tragic romanticism of the debut to be found here! Whether that is good or not I will leave to you to desire) and darker, more serious moods and interesting moments. Of greater discrepancy if compared to the other songs are the two instrumentals Apollo Destroys, Apollo Creates and Summary, the former being a 10-minute long minimalistic composition divided on two parts - the first part being occupied by a droning, unmusical noise, and the other containing repetitive clean guitar playing; latter, much accordingly to its title, summarizing the album in just 40 seconds, containing fragments of already incomplete riffs and ending the album on the same note it started.

It would be safe to call Sculptured's Apollo Ends an avant-garde record, therefore, if you find unconventional compositional structure and bizarre riffs fascinating and pleasant, make this the Prog-Metal album you discover this year!

Trickster F. | 4/5 |

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