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Sculptured Apollo Ends album cover
3.50 | 10 ratings | 2 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Washing My Hands Of It (5:33)
2. Above The 60th Parallel (6:10)
3. Snow Covers All (7:17)
4. Between Goldberg (6:44)
5. Apollo Destroys, Apollo Creates (9:51)
6. Song To Fall On Deaf Ears (6:27)
7. Summary (0:40)

Total Time 42:46

Line-up / Musicians

- Don Anderson / guitars, vocals
- Brian Yager / vocals
- John Haughm / percussion, vocals
- Jason Walton / bass
- Burke Harris / trumpet
- Clint Idsinga / trombone

Releases information

CD The End Records (2000)

Thanks to Trickster F. for the addition
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SCULPTURED Apollo Ends ratings distribution

(10 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(60%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SCULPTURED Apollo Ends reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Trickster F.
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!

Review by ozzy_tom
3 stars To be honest I know almost nothing about real death metal and I wouldn't be able to find a difference between death metal and black metal even if my life depended on it! Seriously. However a few years back I discovered that I kinda enjoy progressive version of those styles, especially if the bands playing it have some retro elements (e.g. use old style keyboards), have many melodic elements, not too much growling and not too many anti-Christian/satanic lyrics (I am a Catholic, so you know...). Well, Sculptured met most of my requirements (except for the last one because their third album unfortunately went too far lyrically for my taste).

So let's focus on their second, the least appreciated album - "Apollo Ends" from 2000.

1) "Washing My Hands of It" (5:33) - from the very beginning of this record Sculptured shows that they are not a "normal" death metal band. Actually we have to wait for one minute before we even hear any vocals cos the song begins with an instrumental introduction full of irregular guitar riffs and...a trumpet! Yup, they actually use a trumpet and trombone on a theoretically death metal album. Very special. After that we find out that "Washing My Hands of It" is actually a very catchy heavy metal song with both raspy growling and (dominant) clean vocals. Thanks to this the music is very special and memorable. The only pity is that the last minute is just full of boring voices sampled from some news broadcast or a movie.

2) "Above The 60th Parallel" (6:10) - another great track full of battles between clean and harsh vocals (but in fact both are pretty melodic). The guitar solo sounds like pure 70s hard rock and a trumpet solo is a nice surprise too. It is probably a terrible thing for lovers of real death metal...but I can actually tap my fingers and feet while listening to it, it's so frigging catchy.

3) "Snow Covers All" (7:17) - much harder than the two previous songs. Many atonal, experimental guitar riffs and growling, but there are still some more melodic fragments and another trumpet solo. Actually the second part of the composition is much better than the first one. Many fantastic instrumental sections there, and even some whistling! More clean vocals too.

4) "Between Goldberg" (6:44) - this one starts in a similar vein like the previous song. Then quickly becomes very melodic again and the trumpet/trombone mostly dominate here. Not too much growling. But sampled voiced in the middle are annoying again. The final trumpet and classic hard rock solos will surely scare off all the death metal purists who managed to survive so far...

5) "Apollo Destroys, Apollo Creates" (9:51) - here the real troubles arise. 10-minute long epic? No way! First 5 minutes are full of atonal, pseudo-experimental rumbling noises. Awful stuff! But later we can witness a truly nice guitar solo that soon becomes surprisingly mellow. Black Sabbath used to include such peaceful interludes on their classic albums. Very nice but a little repetitive and somehow out of place.

6) "Song To Fall On Deaf Ears" (6:27) - return to the familiar territory. I love the contrast between growling and clean vocals, as well as the choir-like singing from the third minute. A great finale with another classy electric guitar solo.

7) "Summary" (0:40) - a short instrumental with a couple of ideas already developed in other songs. So, yes, a summary.

Overall, "Apollo Ends" is not a masterpiece but it's not lousy either. It's not as good as the other two albums of this formation because of a couple of problems: no keyboards, short duration, wasted 5 minutes in the 5th track and some of the motiffs were a bit too similar to each other. So if you are new to this kind of music, better start somewhere else, but if you already know the other two albums of Sculptured, you should definitely get this one too. If you like this kind of "extreme" but still melodic and, at the same time, experimental music, I suggest you also check out: Ansur, Death Organ, Solefald, Sigh, Borknagar and Vintersorg.

Best tracks: "Washing My Hands of It", "Above The 60th Parallel" and "Song To Fall On Deaf Ears".

3.5 stars from ozzy_tom

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