Sculptured
Embodiment: Collapsing Under the Weight of God

Sculptured is the side project from Don Anderson of Agalloch fame. Back in 1998, The Spear of the Lily is Aureoled was a solid effort that showed promise in the Opeth, Katatonia, and Agalloch territory. This was enough to gain my interest and in 2000 the band came out with Apollo Ends, a more progressive/jazz death record, which was leaning towards a more experimental sound, almost to experimental for my taste. Some eight years later Sculptured returns with a pretty crazy, spazzed out, free form, jazzy, death metal record that is either genius, or utter confusion.

Along for the ride on Embodiment are members of pretty well respected acts including, Jason Walton (Agalloch) on bass, Dave Murray (Estradasphere) on drums, and Andy Winter (Winds and Age of Silence) on keyboard. That’s a pretty impressive line up from some of today’s more provisional musicians. The expectations for Embodiment were very high to say the least.

From the start, eight-minute track “Taking My Body Apart” gives us crazy off time drumming, melodic guitar scales, and circus tinged keyboards. This madness never stops and this is where I have issues with this CD. These guys try to fit so much into one song that there is no structure. At least if there is it’s way out of my musical realm. Great ideas are presented and then the whole thing goes astray. Now, this is really free form jazz mixed with progressive death metal, so in the end this is suppose to sound ridiculous and spazzed out, but there are points in this thing that don’t even follow musical structure. Seriously, some parts of this record could be identified as noise.

On the other hand, the more I listen to Embodiment the more I find great stuff within these five opus’s that are all longer than six minutes. Track five “Embodiment is the Purest Form of Horror” sums up the entire record and actually has parts that calm down and create an atmosphere. Slightly calm, but compared to the craziness of the rest of the tunes it’s a welcome pleasure. It’s a challenging listen when one rhythm is being presented and the drummer is just going off with random drum patterns. Keys have a Nintendo sound at times and guitars are about the only thing that sounds metal. More than enough, movie samples are used. Vocally, Tom Walling has a pale rasp that is similar to Agalloch’s vocal approach and the clean parts are very reminiscent as well. Lyrics are about religion and life philosophy. Lets just say if you’re into thinking mans metal, this is your disc.

The production isn’t as full as it should be, a lot of Embodiment sounds weak and without bottom end. Bands like this can be genius. Unfortunately, Sculptured fail to hold my attention here. This band needs better songwriting skills. A little more focus on the sound instead of complexity and this band could really blow us away. Just like Winds, Sculptured brings way to many ideas to the table and throw them all at you immediately. I would suggest checking into this just to see if it leaves you as confused as it did me. This is a record that has its flaws but holds its strengths. I’ll give Mr. Don Anderson high five for being experimental.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shane Wolfensberger
January 26th, 2008

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