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Unexpect - In a Flesh Aquarium CD (album) cover

IN A FLESH AQUARIUM

Unexpect

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.13 | 237 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Avant-Metal Madness.and Brilliance for the 21st century

Unexpect's _In a Flesh Aquarium_ is the album I reach for when I'm showing off the most (insert either challenging or f'd-up here) music in my collection. Because I think that despite the incredible insanity of their sound, this is indeed music, not random chaos. There are many extreme and avant bands that descend into noise, including my boyhood favorite Mr. Bungle. While Unexpect is probably more intense, more virtuosic (excepting the vocals, Patton is king of avant vox), heavier, and simply throws more into the boiling pot than Bungle, their music actually seems more composed. Envision Magma, Bungle, and Death rolled into one.

This band consists of 7 regular members and 4 guest musicians on this album. Three members contribute vocals, most prominently a female voice and a male growl voice, but there are also multiple short choral bursts in the gothic / Carmina Burana style found on Magma records. There is a permanent violinist, with 2 of the guests playing additional strings. While there are plenty of metal- flavored passages, there are also circus-swing bits, ambient sections, and even some electronica. Many of the lyrics are indecipherable but those with clarity are often graphic.

Anyone who has worked in very fast or very intense music knows that it is easy for the music to sound very much the same after a while if you're not careful. Once you've combined everything at once, what's left to bring up the intensity? Again, Unexpect navigates this well. They manage to impart each song with its own identity, and offer frequent, though brief, periods for the listener to come up for air. In fact, the album opens fairly linearly (for this band) and doesn't truly descend into the pummeling layers of over-stimulated intensity until 0:54. And as it turns out, the last 3 songs on the record are the most accessible. Smart planning.

Each of the musicians have chops to spare, and I suspect at most are formally trained in modern musical forms. This is just not music that could be pulled off by self-taught players. The interplay between the instruments is dissonant, angular, and the sounds are all over each other, but it's all very calculated and intentional. In that way, this is perhaps the proggiest of all extreme metal works. Similarly, this is music that demands your full attention, and still leaves you exhausted. You have to be in the right mood to grab this album, but nothing is going to scratch that itch like this.

Like many albums on this site, this is not for everyone. But if you have a taste for avant and metal, this may be the apex. Of all the spawn that went wriggling into the night after the roar of Mr. Bungle's appearance, Unexpect grew into the biggest monster. 5/5.

Negoba | 5/5 |

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