Nuclear Blast Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Any time that a form of music that was once "in vogue" is primed to make a comeback into the spotlight, it faces one major hurdle: How do musicians inject some level of new blood into the genre without forgetting the roots that first made it popular? It's too easy to just re-strap on the instruments and pretend that things are the same as they were before... but if that's done, not only does the music sound out of place, but the genre is almost sentenced to a quick publicity death.

Leave it to the German metal quartet Sculpture to figure out just how to do it. Injecting a bit of Gothic and progressive flavors into the mix, and you have a self-titled debut album that, quite frankly, is often fun to listen to.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band - vocalist Stefan, guitarist/keyboardist Lotte, bassist Hans and drummer Thomas - have a very natural sound to their music, almost as if they have been playing together since metal's birth cries were heard. Unlike many metal bands, Sculpture adds something unique to their music: texture. Proving that you don't need to play guitar solos at 800 miles an hour or have the volume cranked up to eardrum-splitting range, Sculpture seem to carve out their own unique niche.

The opening tracks, "Over" and "Deniers", set the tone for the whole album very well. "Deniers" often had me feeling like I was listening to Manowar in their heyday, but Sculpture never lost their own unique signature at those times. Stefan's vocals prove their power comes from solid delivery of the lyrics without needing to resort to usual metal vocal trickery, while Lotte's guitar and keyboard work shaped the mood of the tracks well. (It's also interesting to note that, had I not read the liner notes or the press kit, I never would have suspected that this was a German band.)

From tracks like "I'm Free" to "Why" to "Spring Of Wonder," Sculpture remains an album that highlights the best of the heavy metal genre while redefining the scene. The songwriting, performance and production levels of quality always remain high, even though the listeners may find themselves emotionally drained by the end of the album. "Whatever" and "Down The Ages" are by no means bad tracks, but they do come at the tail end of a musical journey that asks you to comprehend a lot.

If any one band is going to help to redefine what heavy metal is as we approach the next millenium, Sculpture is definitely at the top of the list to lead the charge. This album is a refreshing change of pace, and is one that you're sure to have difficulties removing from your CD changer.

Rating: A-

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nuclear Blast Records, and is used for informational purposes only.