Saturday, May 20, 2023

Sculpture - Sculpture (1999)

Sculpture was another band of German hopefuls within the Gothic metal niche, and while the band name and cover art to their sole, eponymous debut might seem rather obvious and bland to those who follow the stuff, they definitely made up for it with a production that would rival whatever their peers like a Darkseed or Crematory were putting out. Of course that makes a lot of sense, since half this band was involved in those, in particular Stefan Hertrich doing the vocals and Lotte on the keys and guitars, and if you're a fan of either, then this is something you'll probably want to check out at least once. At MOST once. I'm not saying that it didn't deserve to be swept under the rug, but it's a curiosity that it was ever really green lit, I guess the members' bands were doing better for Nuclear Blast than I'd have thought.

Lots of synth-work, brazen and big bass lines, and a sort of poppy 80s new wave blood that courses through the songwriting veins. Guitars are simple but loud, and if you dug Stefan's grainy Goth vocal slice through his mainstay, then you'll feel right at home listening to this, it could have just as easily been a new Darkseed album and I wouldn't have known the difference, other than perhaps the more prominent use of the keyboards. The tunes are all fairly dynamic, with some different riffing styles and structures, but the one thing they lack is a real payoff when you get to those choruses, you almost always feel like the way they've written the verses and riffs deserves a little something more when you arrive at those critical junctures. In fact, they can get considerably worse...

An example would be "Deniers" which throws a shitty slap-bass line right in the middle of a driving Goth metal song, or its silly mid-90s Metallica lead guitar. That last comparison is not alone, because I think "Bring Me Down", their compilation song, also has that big, bluesy guitar with a riff and tone that sound like some of the more rock & roll Metallica. I've often through Stefan reminded me of James Hetfield's voice with a little post-Gothic Nick Holmes, so make of that what you will, but it doesn't really benefit this album. In fact, I almost feel like the more synth or pop driven pieces like "I'm Free" are just better than the heavier tunes, but even there the lyrics are very simple and dumb as they are on most of these the end, Sculpture has a big production worthy of its constituents, and about 50% tolerable ideas, but it never hesitates to snag defeat from the jaws of victory.

Verdict: Fail [4.5/10]

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