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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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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
5 stars 'In A Flesh Aquarium' - uneXpect (9/10)

Among all of my musical travels, I have not quite come across either a band quite like uneXpect (sic) or an album quite like their sophomore 'In A Flesh Aquarium'. They have a weird, nightmarish sound that has since become my quickest association whenever I hear the term 'avant-garde metal' being passed about. One part technical, one part dramatic, and ten to twenty parts weird, uneXpect creates a record with 'In A Flesh Aquarium' that is incredibly fun, yet also one of the most challenging records I have ever heard. A lasting contradiction in virtually every way, the fact alone that uneXpect leaves this reviewer at a loss for words should be testament enough to its quality. A sheer masterpiece in originality and exploration of chaos, 'In A Flesh Aquarium' is an unforgettable experience, for better or worse.

When attempting to describe the music here, labels truly elude. Is it thrash metal? Death metal, symphonic metal, even industrial metal in parts? Even the somewhat pedestrian term 'clown metal' seeks to explain the strange, yet utterly distinctive style that uneXpect plays, but I think the best way to discuss the music of this enigmatic ensemble would be to simply call their music 'avant-garde metal', in every sense of the word. There is not a track or minute that goes by that won't raise the eyebrow of even an adventurous listener on his first time through. Jazzy, pummeling bass licks and gypsy-tinged violins make up the highlight of this band's sound, but for the most part, the music is driven by an eclectic range of metal guitar styles, going from the rapid pacing of thrash chugging, to atonal jazz leads to higher register riffs and even some black metal sounds. The vocals are even more diverse, with both male and female clean singing through and harmonizing, and a host of different 'unclean' growlers rasping their way through some incredibly surreal and nonsensical lyrics.

The tone of the album is very dark throughout, but it is done in a playful way. In this sense, 'In A Flesh Aquarium' is much like a cult classic comedy; suited only for very specific tastes, but the tastes it does adhere to will be certain to blow some minds. Each track here maintains the same playfully malefic vibe to it, but different things are employed in each. 'Feasting Fools' is a highly thrash oriented tune, whereas the most memorable and unsettling piece 'Desert Urbania' is a piece of dark metal with roots placed in dramatic theater and gypsy music. Lastly, the epic 'Psychic Jugglers' could easily be seen as an orchestral piiece set to some twisted theatrical work for stage, making little narrative sense through the poetic yet somewhat overindulgent lyrics, but piecing dramatic effect together through the musical intensity. One issue that robs 'In A Flesh Aquarium' of its seeming inhuman perfection though is the general lack of inconsistency throughout some of the tracks here. Especially during the three part suite 'The Shiver', the music feels as if it loses some of the same majesty it first had with the first three pieces that opened up this album. Despite not being entirely mind blowing and brilliant throughout though, the sheer brilliance and unbelievable quality of the album's majority make it an undeniable masterpiece in my eye.

Make no mistake; 'In A Flesh Aquarium' is not an album for everyone, and many will find themselves turned off by the wickedly bombastic and strange direction of this crazy band. Dare to explore somewhat far into this mad realm however, and one might find some beautiful insanity waiting for them.

Conor Fynes | 5/5 |

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