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Unexpect - In a Flesh Aquarium CD (album) cover

IN A FLESH AQUARIUM

Unexpect

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.14 | 230 ratings

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The Pessimist
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Well I think this is a very important album to listen to, even if you end up not liking it. It is a fantastic example of how avant-garde and diverse extreme metal can get, and it's without a doubt at the top of its game. This album has many elements and styles within, all chopping and changing in the space of a few bars some of the time. But I think the most standout styles that wrap up this bizarre album are of course an everpresent sense of classical harmony and blackened death metal, all conjoined in a very avant-garde fashion, with dissonance and chromaticism being prominent compositional tools. Now in plain English: it's f*cking crazy deep, with, despite what you may hear at first listen, something for everyone. Even non-metal fans.

Now to review a few important tracks.

The albums opener should always be a good one, and Chromatic Chimeras is a fantastic one. It starts off quite gentle with some nice tinkling piano and a few vinyl scratches here and there. But that is merely temporary. A straight drum roll builds the tension and the song finally explodes into what this band is all about: complex guitar lines, choppy basslines, the tightest drumming to come out of Canada, terrific vocal parts, a VIOLIN and a piano part that knows its place. And all of this fused together with unpredictable and intricately woven arrangements and never getting dull. It pretty much sums up the entire album's ethic in 5 minutes.

The second track Feasting Fools is probably my favourite overall, plainly because I enjoy the apocalyptic melodies the vocals dish out, from the choir and Le´lindel's angelic tones. Now she is a different story: her voice is basically the thing that brings the most beauty to this music and takes it to a brand new level for me. Yes, I am a sucker for a female vocalist, but a female vocalist in metal? It makes this album a dream come true, and because she is highlighted in this song with a stunning part to play, makes this song a dream come true. Strongest on the album for me. It is also worth mentioning the accapella chanting section, for all you fans of Magma and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum out there...

Desert Urbania is another strong track, mostly for the end. It really is quite a treat all the way through, and the intro isn't too shoddy either (once again, Le´lindel is phenomenal), and is one of the most progressive moments on the album. I'm not going to spoil it for you by giving every detail, but it is well worth a listen. To some, the ending to this song is one of the band's greatest moments. I'll leave you to be the judge of that.

The Shiver suite is a great number, but I feel it is slightly weaker than the rest. However, some really great ideas are thrown in here, and I will give a quick overview. It also conatins one of my favourite moments from the album.

1. A Clown's Mindtrap: This is basically a quiet buildup to the next track, and is very nice with some gorgeous harmonies from Le´lindel. We also hear some processed beats that add a positive touch to the song. Nothing much else to mention here other than it's an atmospheric number, and the calm before the storm, so kick back while you can because it gets a lot more interesting.

2. Meet Me At The Carousel is, in essence, mental. Very extreme, very brutal in places, and very bizarre melodically and atmospherically. The most extrem and weird song on the album, this is basically where all the substance in this short suite is kept. If you are a fan of technical music, do not hesitate to play this track!

3. Another Dissonant Chord: My very favourite of the suite, and maybe the most down to earth heavy song on this opus. I suppose the reason I love it so much is that it's so operatic with the choir and male vocals playing a major part. The bass is also very nice and high pitched, which is unusual in a metal band. But the thing that makes this song for me, and probably makes the whole album worth buying on its own, is the beautiful ending. It start with a lowly violin/cello section playing some baroque-esque sequence. Then the vocals come in over the bass, and the guitars come in finally, mimicking the bass line. And do we even hear some cheeky bagpipes coming in? Yes we do. Please listen, it is utterly fantastic, and I can't express it into words effectively enough.

I think that covers my favourites, and the most important elemts in the album. As mentioned above, my personal favourite element is the female vocalist Le´lindel, as she is one of those ladies whom you instantly just fall in love with her voice. The drums are also refreshing as they are the best I've heard in a while.

The only thing I'm disappointed in is the fact that all the musicians have their places to show off throughout the songs: Le´lindel in Feasting Fools, Landryx the drummer on Summoning Scenes, Le Bateleur the violinist pretty much everywhere, Syriak and Artagoth the guitarists in almost every riff and ChaotH the bassist on the penultimate track. Yet the keyboard player ExoD has really disappointingly simple parts. He is clearly a very capable player, otherwise he wouldn't be in Unexpect, but he seems really reserved and for no reason really. Still, this fact doesn't detract from my love for the album, so I'm still giving this work 5 stars. A masterpiece and rightfully placed in the progressive metal charts.

The Pessimist | 5/5 |

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