Review Summary: A fantastic display of mid-late 90's progressive-tinged alternative rock, Japanese styled.
Thanks to artists like Luna Sea and hide, alternative rock was beginning to become the dominant sound in (then) modern visual kei music. Gone was the early, punk movement which was launched by groups like Kamaitachi, Color and By-Sexual: a new style was becoming dominant, and bands that did this style were instant stars. A perfect example would be La'cryma Christi. La'cryma Christi formed in 1994, originally under the alias of Strippe-d Lady. The group would live in obscurity for the next two years, until they adopted the alias of La'cryma Christi. As soon as they did this, the band released two indie EP's: "Warm Snow" & "Dwellers of a Sandcastle" (which shared the same track listing), and broke some mainstream ground for their melodic and technical style of alternative rock. In 1997, the group were signed to Polydor Records, and released their debut full length album, "Sculpture of Time". Alongside their second album, 1998's "Lhasa", "Sculpture of Time" would be their best selling album to date, breaking the Oricon's top 10 at number 8. The sound on "Sculpture of Time" is as impressive as the sales, as the young group show off their signature style of balancing light and dark elements to create a visual masterpiece that many still admire today.
The album starts off with "Night Flight", which opens with a carnival-like sound, with giddy guitars are around. The band then smash through with a hard hitting, heart-in-throat style which the band would be later renowned for. The song would be a perfect example of the previous given description... a mixture of dark and light elements. With frontman Taka's crooned vocals, the track ends up being a great album starter. The next track, "Nangoku", ends up being one of the album's best tracks, which follows a progressive, droned sound, with Taka effectively jogging alongside the chugging style of "Nangoku". "Sanskrit Shower" follows a sludgy style, with tons of wah-wah's all over. It essentially ends up sounding like an apocalyptic boogie-like track, with some minor funk elements combined with bleak elements, effectively making an impressive track. "Ivory Trees" is a mellow track which follows the uplifting, nostalgic alternative style of Luna Sea. Nothing too original, but nothing to snark at either, as the track's shear melodic factor outweighs all possible negative aspects. "Angolmois" is an interesting track which revisits the slightly apocalyptic sound of "Sanskrit Style", and cranks it up to full blast, with angst spraying all over the place. The pitch black atmosphere of the track adds a damn good contrast to the album's current "upbeat" style, and is a breath of fresh air for the album.
"Letters", to work as a contrast to "Angolmois", is an upbeat styled track, balancing a seductively smooth orchestration from the group with a fun, jumpy style. A good track, but slightly dimmed in quality in comparison to the overwhelmingly bright spots of the album thus far. "Henseifuu" is the album's epic moment, stretching to almost 8-and-a-half minutes in length. The track winds up being a smooth, ballad-like track without all the complete sappiness entailed. A nice track that impressively shows off the group's more progressive side. "Nemuri Gusuri" is arguably one of the album's most technical moments which follows a choppy levitating sound, which ends up sounding like the soundtrack to a late night insomniac. A great listen, nonetheless, but probably nothing that will stand out in the listener's mind. "The Scent" is another huge bright spot for the album, akin to "Nangoku", which follows a nostalgic execution like "Ivory Trees", only done more cleverly, with over amplified guitars battling with light acoustics. An addictive listen, and one of the most rewarding tracks on the album. The album's final track, "Blueberry Rain", is another highly enjoyable listen which follows a cleverly done progressive sound, equipped with a dreamy band execution, with Taka singing strongly along the bouncing rhythm. A witty track that works as a pronominal closer to the fantastic album.
In short, "Sculpture of Time" works as an intelligent capsule of what visual kei was all about in those days: alternative, nothing more, nothing less. But what made La'cryma Christi different from the competition in those days (and even today) was their sheer musical ability, which could craft an enjoyable album for music lovers of all ages. "Sculpture of Time" is, undoubtedly, one of the most creative visual kei bands to surface in the 90's, and is undisputedly one that remains as fresh as the day it came out.