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Unexpect - In a Flesh Aquarium CD (album) cover

IN A FLESH AQUARIUM

Unexpect

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.17 | 230 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

epifreak
5 stars If I had to summarize this album in one sentence (I don't have to and am, in fact, encouraged to do so in as many sentences as possible; however, this seems like an appropriate place to start such a review, so here goes:) If I had to summarize this album in one sentence, it would be: "This album is the stuff mental disorders are made out of." I often hear the term controlled chaos bandied around (Mr. Bungle anyone?) and have generally found the term fitting; however, that doesn't begin to describe this band. Over the course of just over an hour (1 hr 6 minutes according to winamp) this album manages to brutally beat, disorient, pan-fry, and gently caress the listener, often simultaneously. After a listen, I often find myself confused, exhausted, and having loved every minute of it.

Ultimately, that's what it comes down to. This band blasts creations of such hideous beauty that no sane mind could have conceived them.

But enough of me waxing poetic. The skinny on this album is this: The album is a brilliant work of progressive insanity and should at least be given a listen. You can find .mp3 files on the band's myspace and weboage, since this site doesn't have them yet. It is not, however, by any stretch, an easy listen. On first hearing it, my brother commented that it sounded like random noises, which is an easy first impression to draw; however, I promise you that if you stick with it, this album will change your perceptions on what music can do.

Track by track review:

Chromatic Chimera: The album begins with a piano figure, apparently digitally edited, with some violin before launching into the bizarre first line, "Microscopic dust." This particular song is a bit more "random" feeling than several of the other tracks on the album. Any song structure is difficult to find, and the rapidity with which it changes pace can be offputting; however, after a few listens, you get past this. Although the song has no apparent structure, the rapid-fire changes feel.....correct. Ultimately, this song is an extremely appropriate (read: in no way sugarcoated) introduction to the album, as any still listening after this song are probably already hooked; whereas, those who will not be inclined to enjoy the band are spared that doubt that accompanies an easy introduction.

Feasting Fools: This song is a little more normalized than Chimera, sporting a more easily followable progression, albeit an odd one. This definitely shows off their black-metal feel, with the main line following the "trem-picked single note runs" format so common in that genre. Rather than evoking the typical dread that comes from black metal, though, this song conjures a more twisted circus feel, being almost jolly despite its persistant heaviness. About midway through the song, the music backs off as a spoken part initiates. As I discovered while driving to school, this is a dangerous track to listen to in the car. Each band member speaking, often simultaneously, from a different angle creates a strongly disorienting feel. I nearly swerved off the road during this section until I became used to it.

Desert Urbania: I suppose this is as close to a single that this band will get off of this album. From the concert footage I've seen and the like, this seems to be the album's "promo" song. It starts with another piano line, adding in bass and drums before a decending twin guitar part signals that the song is to go into high gear. Much like Chromatic Chimera, this features an almost operatic feel, with multiple vocalists entering for quick intertwining lines to hypnotic effect. The song then slows down to an almost folky feeling interlude, which is definitely not in English (Given that the band is Canadian, French would be my guess). Overall, this is possibly the most structured song on the album. While it does switch freely around, including several unrelated bridges, there is an easily recognizable verse and chorus.

Summoning Scenes: This song seems to keep building up to....something. This speed-fiend tune spirals upward, constantly seeming to pick up speed, though I believe the tempo never changes. The song keeps building in intensity until about the midpoint, where the speed backs off, allowing you to catch your breath, and resolving some of that tension. Then, it's straight back up the intensity curve.

Silence: Okay, so I'd like to open by saying that I've never liked techno-ish pieces. 99 times out of 100, I prefer something sounding organic; however, this track has probably managed to become my favorite on the album. It's so......wrong. While it's definitely a musical break from the speed and intensity on the last few tracks, it plays up the "something's terribly wrong here" feeling, until it launches into a gorgeous ending. I never thought I'd say this about a piece in this style, but I would love to see an album in just this style.

Megolomaniac Trees: Okay, so I have no idea what the hell this title is about, nor do I even begin to follow the beginning. After the ending of Silence, this track follows like a slap in the face, bringing you back from dark fantasy to harsh reality. Everything about this song is harder than should be possible. I suppose it's due to the sudden onset factor mixed with never allowing the listener to catch his/her breath, but this song exhausts more than the rest.

The Shiver: This is a 3-part epic, which I'll tackle as one. There is exactly one thing you need to know about this epic: Leïlindel. Leilindel is the group's female vocalist who you've been hearing intermittantly throughout the rest of the album. Prepare for her to completely steal the album with this song. From the delicate electronic beauty of A Clown's Mindtrap, to the massive Another Dissonant Chord, this song is Leïlindel's to make her plaything. A Clown's Mindtrap: absolutely beautiful. If the rest of the song is a cobra swaying to the music of the snake charmer, this song is a delicate butterfly until.... Meet Me at the Carousel: The start of this song is possibly harsher than Megolomaniac trees, but the song itself isn't particularly harsh. More, it's bizarre. Everything feels strange and alien, as if one were transported to be instantly transported to a universe of Lovecraft's creation. Another Dissonant Chord: When I said massive, I meant it. This reminds me of any song given the full symphony orchestra and concert choir treatment. Built around a wall of sound that must be heard to believe, we get Leïlindel's next heartmelting moment. When she takes the main line, it is a sound, the pure beauty of which, I have never heard.

Psychic Jugglers: The only flaw I can see with this song is that I can never seem to give it a fair review. It directly follows Another Dissonant Chord, and so, winds up suffering from the same problem in Opeth's Deliverance (Master's Apprentices overshadows other perfectly good tracks). Besides that, by the time I reach this song, my mind is already sufficiently blown that I can't take on any more sensory input. Overall, I am relatively certain that this song lives up to the same standards on the rest of the album; however, I have a hard time telling.

So there it is. My take home message here is this: Get this album yesterday, or even better, the day before that.

epifreak | 5/5 |

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