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unexpecT: In a Flesh Acquarium

What do you get when you combine Frank Zappa, Mr. Bungle, The Jesus Lizard, Thinking Plague, Arcturus, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Dimmu Borgir, Into Eternity, and Jean Luc Ponty? Common thought process would say "well, a big @*%!-ing mess!", but in actuality all the styles of these acts put in a blender might sound a little like Canada's Unexpect. Their new album on The End Records, In a Flesh Acquarium is avant-garde metal at its finest and most bizarre. In fact, it's pretty easy to predict that most listers have never heard anything so off the wall, progressive, yet lethal, as this album is. With operatic female vocals, male black & death vocals, violin, keyboards, thunderous guitar riffs, shredding lead guitar solos, acrobatic 9 string bass, and nimble drum work, the music of Unexpect has a lot going on at all times, with hidden treasures uncovering themselves upon repeated listens.

The way the band mingles the soaring vocals of Leilindel with the extreme black and death vocals of guitarists Syriak & Artagoth is instantly what makes this album, but once you get used to that dynamic the sheer complexity of the music takes over. Keyboards, mostly piano and some synths, weave around crushing power riffs and dexterious solos, while whispy violin floats in every so often and the gymnastic lead bass lines from Chaoth are literally all over the place yet help hold everything in place. Each song is like a wild, chaotic journey, but one that is so intoxicating you can't help but be dragged in by this musical car wreck. A song like "Summoning Senses" helps break up the manic intensity a bit, this one a proggy & jazzy delight featuring gorgeous female vocals, violin, bubbling synths, acoustic guitars, and plenty of atmosphere. This trend continues on the ambient instrumental "Silence_011010701", but once that is over get ready for more Zappa inspired weirdness mixed with tecnical metal thunder.

This is really a unique listening experience, but don't expect to instantly warm up to In a Flesh Acquarium. As with many avant-garde albums, it will take a few spins before the insane time changes, varied use of instrumentation, and myriad amount of vocal styles starts to sink in. When it does, you'll be hard pressed to stop hitting the replay button. The bar for avant-garde & progressive metal just got raised folks.

Track Listing
1. Chromatic Chimera
2. Feasting Fools
3. Desert Urbania
4. Summoning Scenes
5. Silence_011010701
6. Megalomaniac Trees
7. The Shiver – Another dissonant chord
8. The Shiver – Meet me at the carrousel
9. The Shiver – A clown's mindtrap
10. Psychic Jugglers

Added: October 16th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Unexpect Website
Hits: 4977
Language: english

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unexpecT: In a Flesh Acquarium
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-10-16 06:21:15
My Score:

The band Unexpect is a unit of musicians that truly defy as many of the conventions possible when it comes to the thoughts of what genres can successfully work together. The seven member group performs an eclectic brand of Extreme Metal that includes, and is not limited to elements of Gothic, Progressive, Black Metal and even some Spoken Word pieces. The whole thing comes off like Dimmu Borgir meets Frank Zappa, on a visit to Broadway - and while I am sure that this sounds like a mess to you, it is anything but that and instead a truly complex and "out there" piece of music. The angelic voice of Leilindel is countered by the demonic growls of guitarist Syriak. The other members of the band are Artagoth (guitar/vocals), Exod (keyboard/sampling), Chaoth (9 string bass), le bateleur (violin) and Landryx (drums). I was fortunate enough to catch the group performing live when they opened for the Gathering on that bands visit to the States and I remember watching in jaw-dropped awe as to what was happening on stage. Not only does the band manage to do this stuff in the live sense with ease but Leilindel also acts as the bands Enchantress as she adds the beauty of dance to the live show as well. Having enjoyed the piece as a whole I found no particularly favorable track over any others. It is the king of CD that should be listened to in sequence to be honest for this will allow you a little better understanding of the overall complexity that they are delivering on it. I viewed this as controlled insanity in some senses based on the drumming and guitar work being blistering fast and suddenly stopping on a dime and then switching gears and styles, only to begin the first vibe once again. Whew, was all I could say after my initial listen. As a listener to some Progressive Music and a lot of Metal genres, I admit to needing at least four turns of the opus and can advise that some fans will find this a bit much for the senses. This conclusion comes from the album being everywhere it can at some times and come off as a tad confusing unless you are paying attention.

The End Records is raising the bar in their signing of bands like the Unexpect for they prove that the realm of Metal music is as limitless as the number of bands who are willing to experiment with it. Those who enjoy this might also want to check out Giant Squid, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Stolen Babies all who are part of The End Records artist roster as well.

unexpecT: In a Flesh Acquarium
Posted by Duncan Glenday, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-08-24 16:48:09
My Score:

Holy Moly, Mother Mary, this record is out there!

This is where Mamga meets Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, it is where Squonk Opera meets Children Of Bodom, it is where Broadway meets dark metal. Here, performance art intersects with dark goth music, and modern avant garde opera (yes, the classical kind) enthusiastically breeds with modern Scandawegian metal

Expect this release to feature prominently in many album-of-the-year lists ... and also to be in many lists of the worst records - because for most people, In A Flesh Aquarium will be a love-it-or-hate-it affair, with no room for ambivalence. This is avant garde metal that is more Prog (capital P deliberate) than any metal acts you're likely to hear for a long time - this is progressive in every sense of the word.

Many people will never 'get' In A Flesh Aquarium, many more will learn to appreciate it after many listens, and for a few demented reviewers it will take just one track to fall head-over-heels for its eclectic mix of classical and brain-melting discord, its very operatic, psychotic ingenuity, its unique eccentricity, its wonderfully innovative attack on anything that dares call itself metal.

It's even a stretch to call it metal, although we'll use that label only because of the limited amount of controlled death-metal growling, and a rhythm section that revolves around double-bass and heavy power chords and a 9 (yes, that's a 'nine') string bass guitar. But you could just as easily call it heavy RIO or post-modern opera. This is as operatic and avant garde prog as it is metal. We'll have to invent a new genre for this stuff - perhaps thinking man's metal, or Metal In Opposition - MIO - metal's equivalent of prog's Rock In Opposition genre.

At first blush the instrumentation sounds chaotic and uncontrolled, but it's actually as tight as a drum, very technical, an exercise in modern composition. Besides the metal lineup there are piano, clarinet, cello and sax and lines, there are occasional electronic and choral female vocal effects, and dissonant violins thread their way through the mix in a discordant satire of anything approaching old fashioned melody. The female vocals are an important component of the music, and provide a stark contrast to the wild demonic growls.

If there's a criticism, it's that after an hour the over-the-top theatrics seem to go on a bit, and a few more approachable moments would provide a welcome breathing space.

Based in Toronto, Canada, the band's name is unexpecT (note the odd capitalization) and they take whacky stage names in the same way as the Norwegian black metal acts do. So the lineup is Syriak, ChaotH, ExoD, Le Bateleur, Artagoth, Lélindel, Landryx (again, note the odd capitalization.) And the track titles are off the wall too - with song names like "Feasting Fools", "Silence_011010701", "Megalomaniac Trees" and "Another Dissonant Chord". So they're apparently marketing themselves to an audience that will be impressed by that sort of thing. The more grown-up prog and metal listeners will ignore the theatrics and focus on the otherworldly music itself, the pure classical discipline, the tension and the drama, and with tense anticipation, we will watch the challenges that unexpecT has presented to the metal world.

So The End records has found another genre-defying band. It's always a pleasure to watch that label - they have a knack for discovering glittering gems like this one.

Get this CD - and file it next to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum in your collection.

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