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Unexpect - In A Flesh Aquarium CD (album) cover



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5 stars Well, since I was one of the very strong proposers of this band's inclusion in the PA due to this album, I might as well give some reasons for that. After a series of startiling reviews, naming Unexpect's newest output "the new La Masquerade Infernale", "a new standard in avant-garde" how could one encapsulate everything there is to say about it in just one review? I know it's a common place to say "I don't even know where to start with this one" but the phrase really does apply here.

For starters, this is clearly not for the faint of heart; it is sublime, yes, but only for those who are ready for complexity, rawness, conglomeration of styles and many more. Imagine playing Estradasphere over Mr. Bungle while Arcturus runs in the background. Because that is pretty much the feeling you get from the first track, which is representative for In A Flesh Aquarium. Every track is a highlight, so I won't bother going track by track. Each and every one of them blows you away and you just want to hear it again to see how that was possible. One of the signatures on PA said something about not believing how such music could be created by humans referring to DT. I think it applies so much better for this album.

You get violin, 9 string bass, crazy voices and a use of clean and cookie monster vocals like you've never met before, technicality, power and even melody a lot of times. Is this a masterpiece? I dare to say yes; it is like nothing you've heard before it's progressive and it truly moves music one step ahead. Will you like it? You might if you loved La Masquerade or Of Grand Opening or Mr. Bungle. Yet again, even if you didn't like them you're bound to have THE strangest piece of music in your collection and you'll be able to brag about it to your friends. Either way, buy it, or at least try to listen to it.

Report this review (#93687)
Posted Saturday, October 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This band is crazy, I think its a must in the "avant-garde" field. Each songs have their own expression, its a pure pleasure to sit down and listen to their unexpected music. If you like weird and experimental music, you CAN'T dislike this band for sure! A must !!!
Report this review (#94382)
Posted Friday, October 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#101190)
Posted Friday, December 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars One word to summarize this album : Evolution. These guys are doing something that has never been seen before and we don't get to see that very often nowadays. Chaotic and beautiful at the same time, it is never boring. You will need many listens before "getting it". But once you do, it will seem like second nature to think that violin, piano, death vocals, opera and brutal metal DO match!
Report this review (#101254)
Posted Friday, December 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've wasted many of my valuable votes by not writing reviews, so here's my first.

After renewing my taste for the heavier side of music, I was searching for interesting "new" bands to try out. Mainly by Google-ing for Death Metal top 10s and such. The name Unexpect came at me from many sides.

I first heard "We, Invaders", then "Utopia" and finally "In A Flesh Aquarium". Wow, this band combines so many elements of music that I love.

It's brutal, it's highly progressive, it can be humourous, the musicianship is superb, it's very hi-fidelity, it's ugly, it's beautiful, etc. etc. etc.

I can't say that I prefer this album over the other two (I'm counting "We, Invaders" as an album in it's own right), they could all be parts of one uber-album!

To sum up, buy all three immediately!

Report this review (#116606)
Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I like my eggs boiled and that's it.

Yes that is a quote from some of the wackiest lyrics I have tried (and failed) to read successfully. They are completely insane. Completely. And what better to match these lyrics but with crazy avant garde prog metal?

And what else would you expect from a group that mixes clean female vocals with growling male vocals (sometimes clean male vocals harmonized with the female vocals for an opera feel) erratically, a 9 string bass, violin, keyboards, and heavy metal guitar and drums?

It is a mind blowing experience that cannot be described and do it any justice. But I will try, and fail.

Note: This is not for the faint of heart or for people who dislike what could be perceived as meaningless random noise, or for people who don't like metal (be it death, black, progressive, extreme, metalcore, or melodic heavy metal - its all here). This is very inaccessible (heck even the Mr Bungle samples on this site are more accessible than this album) and could be perceived as noise. But some tracks might be appreciated, like the classical music on the last track, but it goes into god knows what, growling, metal, and funky (not as in funk but as in this is weird sort of funky) bass lines. The violin adds to the album a lot and brings (hopefully) some stability to the quiet parts of these songs.

So is this prog? Yes it is. It grabs influences from everything. Classical music, metal of all kinds, a bit of jazz here and there, and it has an 11 minute epic, not to mention an epic that has been broken up into three tracks.

The songs are strange, the musicianship good, and overall, a masterpiece.

But I would not recommend it to anyone who does not like ambient noise, metal, and all around avant garde craziness. If you like strange stuff then this is the album for you.

Report this review (#116906)
Posted Friday, March 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Chaotic, yet awesome.

Yes, if I were given only one word to describe this album, chaotic would suit it best. This album really sounds like a mix of everything, from classic music, all sorts of metal styles, avant-garde, and of course, progressive elements. With a number of changes in the line up, Unexpect really blows with this album.

In a Flesh Aquarium really varies in styles, each songs on this album are unique and cool in their own ways. For instance, the opening track, ‘Chromatic Chimera’ would first sounds like a nu-metal tracks, and then you got all those mixed elements afterwards. ‘Desert Urbania’ have a nice piano melody in the beginning, and all of the sudden you got some growling, screaming, heavy distortion, and such. Unexpect really mixed lots of elements in their music. You’ll have clean female vocals, like in Goth metal, growling voice a la Death/Black metal, Piano, Violin, and others. Check out their epic ‘The Shiver’, while the first part, ‘Another Dissonant Chord’ sounds calm and soft, suddenly you get all those -what would you call random noises- coming right in the beginning of the second part, ‘Meet Me at the Carousel’ and then followed by some funky tunes. The epic itself closes very nicely (though I don’t think that nice is the right word here) with the last part, ‘A Clown’s Mindtrap’. Or listen to the last track, ‘Psychic Jugglers’ for another example. You get all those nice orchestral-like pieces at first, and then it turned to a random and weird sounding, but still an awesome song.

Overall, this album is really crazy, but awesome at the same times. The band’s name really stands for their music, unexpect(ed). While this album can be classified as one of progressive metal masterpieces, it’s likely clear that this album isn’t accessible to everyone, especially to people who faint-hearted. Listen at your own risk, you’ve been warned!

For those who like some random crazy stuff, this is likely an album that would suit you.

Report this review (#117794)
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I stumbled upon this band in a random iTunes excursion, and I think that I have found a true gem of music. I have listened to this album for a few months now and can safely say that-get ready- i love it. I don't understand too many of the vocals, but in this case, I feel it is ok. This music can't really be catorgorized except for the fact that it uses many different stylistic influences with odd time signatures, a lot of death metal vox, and really groovy multi-layered sections. Use of the tritone is abundant in this album, and dissonance equals beauty.

The musicianship is bar-none, with many different moods used to evoke, well, some strange emotions. The instruments are the high point of this album for me, with technical piano and slap bass throughout. I absolutely love the use of chromaticism in this album. There really isn't too much to say about this album, except that you should listen to it if you are ready for something different than Dream Theater....and I mean WAY different.

Report this review (#135851)
Posted Sunday, September 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Maximalistic Metal, Carnival Style.

Trying to describe uneXpect in a short review is more than a daunting task, considering the fact that uneXpect as a whole are nearly indescribable, in that no simple definition does them justice, in any sense. Certainly metal, but without the doom and gloom mentality, and yet, incredibly dark and weird. Many different types of metal manifest themselves in their uneXpects, music, and yet neither does it fit into any of those genres. There are growls, shrieks, screams and clean vocals, intense double bass, frenetic snares, chugging riffs, popping and even funky bass, frantic and oddly timed Piano and Keyboards, wonderful violin work, all wrapped into an avantgarde styling with no small amount of zaniness and humor as a creepy bow.

Many comparison's can, and inevitably will be drawn to the band Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Now, there are some obvious parelells between the two, namely the contrast of aggressive male vocals and softer female vocals, the odd time signatures and compositions, the weirdness and the violin. However, there line is really drawn there, uneXpect is much heavier, faster and agressive. The liberal use of keys and piano are a wonderful touch, and the obvious extreme metal influences are much more prevelant than in SGM. Certainly a unique musical monster on it's own, uneXpect push the boundries of metal as it's currently thought.

In a Flesh Aquarium is certainly a weird musical experience. While their first album seemed like little more than typical extreme metal with the occasional female vocal burst, and probably not worth a second listen or glance. But with In a Flesh Aquarium (and in reality, Novae as well) uneXpect make a musical U-Turn and come out completely different than I would have thought, considering their first release. A refreshing and unique album that quickly became a frequent listen on my iPod, and one that will continue to keep it's place among my favorites.

The album's beginning is dangerously misleading, as a quiet Violin/Piano piece, but quickly evolves (Or degrades, depending on your tastes) into a spastic and almost scary metal oriented song. Enjoy the soft spots while you can, they allow you to take a quick breather before it blasts you into another torrential downpour of extreme metal. However, the obvious difference between your average extreme metal and this becomes apparent quickly. The bass is active, audible and awesome, and some nice work begins on the violin and piano, adding a nice layer usually unheard of in this type of metal. (A note: the piano, at times, reminds me of teh Japanese Zheul band Koenjiyhyakkei) The vocals run the gauntlet of screams, shrieks, growls and clean, with the female vocals as a contrast. However, and this is more personal than anything else, the female vocals are very rarely operatic, and showcase more styles of vocals than the typical female vocals in metal, Kudos.

The meat of the music, which is obviously metal, has something that any metal head can enjoy, intense, fast and complex guitars, with the subsequent fierce drumming. The chugging riffs, and heavy distortion will make most metal heads smile, and is what makes this band so intense. The prevelant use of double bass makes for a heart pounding feel, and the sporadic snares and cymbals create an almost nervous feel. The music is generally fast, but is sparsely peppered with slow downs and softer passages. But don't be mislead, these passages are rarely soothing, in fact, though they may be softer, they are usually the most confusing and weird parts of the music, so really, there is nowhere to hide in this album.

With no filler tracks, and none that stand out as weak, this is an incredibly unique and refreshing release, sure to be welcome in any adventurous listeners repetoire. Again, obviously not for everyone, but if you are looking for something other than the typical in Progressive Metal, or even Prog as whole, this is definately worth your while.

5 Stars

Report this review (#141052)
Posted Saturday, September 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
el böthy
4 stars Fans of complexity, innovation, forward thinking, non-repetition and just about everything prog might stand for rejoice... UnExpect is here!

To start reviewing this album I must try not to fall into the cliche of "this band is the craziest... this is the weirdest... never have I heard... bla bla bla". But, man is it hard not too! For it is true! This band is indeed crazy. Just look at their line up: Two guitarist/singers, a female singer, a violinist, a keyboard player, a drummer (so far not that crazy you might say, right?) and a 9 string bass player... ok, so the only really crazy thing about the line up is the 9 string bass player... still, pretty ludacris stuff, people!

Now that I have made the band and line up introduction, I shall move on to the music. The´s quite extreme! They never stay in one place for too long and never play the same thing twice, it´s all about variations and changes in this music. To give you a general idea of what they sound like you would have to take Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, pour some Meshuggah into the mix, add two coups of Circus music, shake, not disturb, for three minutes... and leave it in the sun for a weak. Yes, I think that explains it pretty well! Seriously now, you have to listen to them to understan what they are all about. At first it´s all noise, very heavy noise. But with each listen you will find out more and more layers until you begin to get it, and once you do... wow! Be prepared to be delightfully astonished! Of course this all sounds like heaven, and it might be for some, but unless you are into really complex, weird compositions and heavy (and I do mean heavy) metal, I would advise to check out some other stuff first.

The album is divided into 10 songs, that go from 5 to 10 minutes, I will not go song by song, I will only name a few of them, which might not be necesarly the best ones (as they are all great) but I think the ones that best represent the album. Chromatic Chimera, the first track is one of the best songs of the album. Great opener, intense, shifting (well, which isn´t?) and full of intelligent melodies (I´m not sure that makes much sense... but doesn´t it sound good?). The vocal job here is incredible! Very Avant Garde I must say! Desert Urbania is my favorite track, probaby the one with more hook, this will surely become the classic song in their career. Silence_011010701 is a solo number by keyboarder ExoD (yes, they all have this kind of names) with a bit of help in the violins at the begining by Le Bateleur (see, I told you) that consists of samples and atmospheric keys. It´s a great change of scenery from the previous ultra heavy, ultra complex songs and it shows that this band can be very varied. Melomaniac trees (yes, I know, the names of this songs are great!!!) is probably the most black metal rooted song of them all. The violin is the stand out here, although not incredible technical, in fact what stands out here is the simplicity of it´s melodies, which work out perfectly! And last but not least we have the three divided track The Shiver, that goes from the anticipating build ups, to the heaviest stuff on this album, to carnaval music and everything in between. The rest of the songs, as I have said earlier, are great too, but this are the stand outs. Now, it´s not all sunshine and rainbows. The album is one hour long, there are 10 songs here... it´s a bit too much. The music is so demanding that one hour might get a bit tiring. Had they cut down two songs, and probably get them on their next album, or Ep (that would be sweet) the album might have worked out better. But, it´s not the case, and it might not even be a problem for some people, but in my book it´s an inconvenient.

So, to summon things up, if you like extreme metal and Avant Garde, look no further, this is it!!! This is the album you have been looking for all this time. For those fo you that still can´t get into Tales of topographic oceans... mmm, might want to wait a bit!

Report this review (#141205)
Posted Sunday, September 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think this album is almost too weird (but not exactly very original), even wannabe, alternative, and maybe somehow boring, shuffling it all round and round. Avant-garde seems to be somehow popular, but this definitely has enough massive elements of avant-garde metal, avant-garde and for example technical metal, mixed with symphonic (but fragmented) female fronted metal. The vocals are very refreshing (at least sometimes, there's whole new way to sing). This is best things that has come in progressive metal field in these times, though I don't exactly like the style so much and the songs could have still some more balls (that's why I don't analyze all the songs here, they are quite similar to each other) - so i give five stars, not four. Dynamic music rules, I can't resist it, sorry.
Report this review (#142461)
Posted Saturday, October 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I once heard this band described as Cirque Du Soleil gone black metal, and I honestly don't think I've heard it described better. Unexpect's music is a sort of combination of black metal, prog, classical, opera, and circus music, and I'm sure I'm missing out on quite a few genres in there. The only bands I've heard that you could really compare them to are Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Mr. Bungle. Overall, the songs are chaotic, but in a very structured sense. It's obvious that they are a tight band. Most of the songs don't stay on any single idea for too long, and in a way, I wish some things would be repeated, but at the same time, it seems like more of a treat when you get to hear a favourite part because you know you won't hear it again. The songs are heavy for the most part, with the 9 string bass being very prominent in the mix, an advantage they have over most metal bands. I honestly don't think this album has a single bad song, though I can't pick a favourite, but that is more because I enjoy them all so much than because none stand out. If I were to pick standout tracks, I'd have to say The Shiver trilogy, Desert Urbania, and Psychic Jugglers. Of interesting note is the vocals. Unexpect has two male vocalists who do most screamed vocals and a female opera type singer. They are mainly in English, though sometimes they go into a sort of inversed French, which is very interesting. The lyrics are difficult to decipher, but seem to be written from a fantasy standpoint. Highly recommended for fans of heavy, avant garde music.
Report this review (#157927)
Posted Monday, January 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gorgeous, brilliant, technical.... Mind F*ck. all words that come to mind while this album is playing. The complexity and musical styles used are overwhelming and combine to make a dizzying array of sounds. Dissonant chaos to soothing female vocals looped over a string arrangement ALA the renaissance era of music. I've been listening to all forms of prog metal for a relatively long time and this is by far one of the best. Mix- Between the Buried and Me, a female opera singer and Nile and you might come close to Unexpect. Definately recomended. 5 Stars.
Report this review (#160323)
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars the main word i would use to describe this album(and they'er music) would be unnecessary

heres a band, that definatly have talent, they can definatly play they'er instruments to a very hugh standard, yet they dont seem to know when is enough and what sounds 'toooo much'

they sound very influenced by Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, they have pretty much the same line-up as SGM too, they have the violins, the trade off' female/male vocals and the avant-gaurde type sound, except they seem to use loads more keyboard electronic sounds then SGM who never really go in that direction

i personally am a huge SGM fan, so i thought liking this band would come natural, but listening to it is like being pummeled by noise after noise after noise, SGM know when enough is enough, they know when to slow down, when to speed things up, but Unexpect simply dont have a clue...although im sure some people would like this constant pace, others alike myself will feel drained after the 2nd track,

in my opinion this band just need to mature a lil' more

i find it hard to listen to more then 3tracks at a time

2 stars... they get 1 because they obviously have loads of ability, and another because 1stars a lil' harsh

Report this review (#162618)
Posted Monday, February 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars These traveling gypsies have brewed something so dense and alarming, that it may not be fully digested or appreciated for awhile. Suffice to say, Satan would hire this group for his next party. Whether one enjoys the music is a whole other matter, but 'In a Flesh Aquarium' is an undeniably accomplished feat of lust, inspiration and showmanship. It's as if you've stopped your car along the highway to see some little roadside show and end up strapped to a chair, forced to watch a most unnerving display of debauchery and meat-related acts that leave you traumatized but strangely satisfied. It's a real ream up the wazzoo, this one, but leaves no visible damage and will release you mostly unharmed.

The mask of heavy metal is worn but Unexpect is more like musical theater for the damned, led by guitarist/growlers syriaK and Artagoth (no real names given) as well as pianist/electrosampler ExoD, the tipsy quavers of Le bataleur's violin and amazing vocal athletics of mezzo-soprano Leilindel. Cuts as 'Feasting Fools' don't hide the band's thrash foundation but nor does it show any allegiance and 'Desert Urbania' talks back with melodies, chamber breaks, and Metallica-style twin ax assaults. Plenty of good progmetal in 'Summoning Scenes' which even sports a walking jazz aside, rusty avant-classical weeping, more surprisingly delicate piano from ExoD, and the violin shrieks of Bernard Herrmann's Psycho start multi-layered 'Silence 01101070' as it gargles through chugging mechanical works, developing into something that hints at Peter Gabriel's early electro-industrial treatments. 'The Shiver', a 3-part monster, has some impressive guitar phrasing as well as more abrupt movements, invasive procedures, stops and starts, ethnic folk, ritual killings, shastric chants, puppet shows, public sacrifices, and conversations between one person. And it wraps up with the parlour-metal of 'Psychic Jugglers' packed full of thespian staging, salon music, funk, and the inevitable howl of death.

A trip through a constantly changing landscape with so much happening that eventually you just give in and enjoy the ride. Something like the circuses of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum or Mr. Bungle but with sharper edges and higher performance. Weird wild stuff.

Report this review (#164666)
Posted Saturday, March 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Masterpiece !!!

They're brilliant ! This album has such mix of styles, instruments and vocals that it just blew my mind away. The album is quite complex, so you'll need time to understand them, but that time is worth it. Their music is very saturated and I personally can listen to them again and again, till my head starts to hurt from all that "thought-out chaos".

I'm giving it a 5 stars ! It's definitely a masterpiece. I have heard many interesting bands with strange and interesting mix of styles and sounds, but Unexpect have made their music to sound unique and have perfectly combined all the sounds and styles in right proportions, at least for my taste.

I would recommend this album to everyone who likes technical progressive/avant-garde metal, who seeks interesting music and who wants to challenge their ears and mind. )

Report this review (#173516)
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
5 stars In a Flesh Aquarium is an album of disturbing creativity and excellence, shattering conventions with manic zeal for chaos and invention. Imagine a band of travelling gypsies, playing heavy metal with the utmost technical flair and intensity, on a vaudeville stage in an mental asylum, with Satan sitting in as a guest vocalist/instrumentalist throughout, as the world explodes all around, and you may have some idea of what listening to this album like.

For starters, it's heavy... very heavy. Every song positively roars with a unique menace, and most feature relentless fretwork and gymnastic vocals from the chorus manic throats. Leads are done by a female vocalist, whose clear voice only highlights the instrumental complexity. Expect plenty of squeals, roars, chatterings, etc. from the male vocalists, who create a cast of characters with their vocalizations.

ChaotH's bass is nothing short of earth shaking, while the two guitarists go at each other's throat with sadistic zeal. Their riffing is like a tidal wave of energy while their solos kinesthitize with hilarious logical complexity. The rhythm section is just as good, with the keys especially standing out as the most joyously insane of the bunch, playing counter melodies and harmonies which by themselves would be like the aimless mutterings of a lunatic, but when added to the whole create a delicious slice of texture.

Bottom line, the instrumentalists are amazing, and their avant garde stylings are not for the faint of heart; yet, the songwriting is VERY far from simply being noise... this is a CACOPHONY! Pandemonium itself opens full its howling gates and lets loose this madness, which, after a genuine listen commands ones attention and reveals itself as the most perfectly crafted and enjoyable symphony of chaos.

What gives this album its longevity (and appeal beyond the initial shock of its sound), is the brilliant songwriting, which keeps a growing momentum throughout. The explosion rarely abates, but when it does it is an especially smart release in the tension, shifting gears utterly to a sonic soundscape of dark synth and effects. A brilliant balance of style and composition.

In short, In a Flesh Aquarium is a must for fans of heavy music, but especially those of the avant garde. However, as one who feels that most avant garde music is more noise than music, I can heartily recommend that those normally skittish of such madness give this one a serious listen as well. It's a one-of-a-kind explosion of creativity, intensity, and insane beauty.

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 5 Lyrics/Vocals: 5 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#199050)
Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Dans Un Aquarium de Chair (In French)

Well, this is my first review on PA and English is my second language... But let's talk about uneXpect.

Post-Humans circus freaks eating cyberpunks in outer-negated-conscience is what they are as musicians...

An avant-garde taste of psycho-metallic rampage... They sometimes have a very aggressive approach, but incredibly sophisticated and melodic at the same time.

2-Feasting Fools, 4-Summoning Scenes and 10-Psychic Jugglers being the highlights for me.

I usually don't take much time on reading the lyrics, but these guys and girl are really creative and extreme to write such weird but interesting thoughts. I also noticed that they sometimes sing French words backwards, which sounds pretty good!

Their influences are numerous like: Death metal, jazz fusion, circus sounds and themes, ambiances, opera, synths, experimental.

Well, a very interesting group that clearly deserve attention from the progressive community. I'm proud to say they come from Montréal and it's good to see that they are starting to be recognized as being part of this ultimate progressive archive.

Montréal, Québec

Report this review (#200184)
Posted Thursday, January 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#209616)
Posted Wednesday, April 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Expect the Unexpected.

Is the title of a song from the sole Control Denied ( Death main-man Chuck Shuldiner´s side project) album The Fragile Art Of Existence (1998) and that title fits Unexpect´s second full-length studio album In a Flesh Aquarium like a glove.

This second album by Unexpect is female led avant garde extreme metal with lots of twist and turns, tempo and time signature changes and an integrated use of violin in the music as well as quite a few electronic elements too. While the female vocals are the most dominant vocal style on the album there are also quite a variety of growling and aggressive male vocals on the album. Nice schizophrenic mix that works wonders IMO. The songs are very complex in structure and just when you think you got a hold of where a song is going it unexpectedly changes. The music is very extreme, dissonant and at times almost eerie and unpleasant. A feeling of uncontrollable chaos ( the same feeling I get when I listen to 666 International (1999) and Supervillain Outcast (2007) by Dødheimsgard or DHG if you will). In this case this should be understood as something positive. There´s a kind of freak show/ carnival atmosphere to the music that I find very charming and the classical chamber music elements also gives the music much of it´s identity. There are plenty of heavy and fast guitar riffing and intense drumming on the album too, so even though this is a very progressive and rather avant garde metal album it´s first and foremost an extreme metal album ( there are elements from both black, death and thrash metal in the music).

The album is sort of divided into two parts. The first four songs are intense and challenging progressive/ avant garde extreme metal songs but the fifth song Silence_011010701 is an electronic/ symphonic track that serves as a variation and a breather before the second part of the album begins with the sixth track Megalomaniac Trees and then into the three part suite The Shiver. The album ends with the 11:10 minute long Psychic Jugglers. There´s not a weak moment on the album. It´s overall a very strong album.

The musicianship is excellent. Unexpect is a seven piece band and the interplay between them is outstanding. The vocals are a real highlight among many. Leïlindel is a powerful female vocalist who masters both the angelic and the semi- operatic style to perfection. The male vocals are also really enjoyable. Very aggressive and intense.

The production is really good, but I found that the album didn´t sound too good on my car stereo where the drums kind of drowned. It sounds much better on my home stereo equipment though.

In a Flesh Aquarium is a very challenging listen and some people will probably never find the charm in an album like this. Don´t expect the music to be accessible. It´s taken me many listens to fully appreciate this music. I must admit that I started out being rather skeptical about the whole thing but In a Flesh Aquarium has really grown on me to the point where I´ve begun to view it as one of the most important progressive extreme metal albums in recent years. I had the intention of giving the album a 4 star rating but as I listened to In a Flesh Aquarium a couple of extra times in a row before writing this review it really dawned on me how unique this album is and I think I´m gonna have to give out a deserved 5 star rating here. This is mandatory listening for fans of progressive extreme metal if you ask me. A really essential and highly recommendable album.

Report this review (#220123)
Posted Sunday, June 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
2 stars I was surprised to find out this band was from Canada. I guess the simple description for these guys would be Avant-Garde Metal. The only band I really thought of while spinning this disc the last few days was SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM, only UNEXPECT are 10 times more extreme and bizarre. The mood swings are from one spectrum to the other, as are the tempo changes as they stop on a dime and switch directions often.The vocals are male and female with the male growling quite often. I actually got a headache while listening to this the other day (haha). Truth is that this music is difficult for me to enjoy, it's too all over the place for my tastes. I love the bass playing, the violin and heaviness. In fact the female vocals are excellent as well, but it's just so over the top. Sure it's entertaining and very impressive, but it's just not that enjoyable to these ears. I guess i'm just not up to the challenge that this recording puts out there. Are you ? Fans only.
Report this review (#220849)
Posted Friday, June 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars First off, I don't want to start this review by saying this is one of the most challenging pieces of music I've ever heard or how nuts the music is, but it's hard not to. I can however say this is one of the best tech/extreme metal albums I've ever heard and one of the most multi-layered pieces of music out there.

The music is very avant-garde, yes. But this is first and foremost a tech/extreme metal album. Although there are multiple genres of metal, including black, death, progressive, symphonic, and even some power metal. But there are also so many other genres that get thrown in, including folk, classical music, jazz, circus music, gypsy music, crying babies, noise, and things that almost sound like they're coming from the mouth of Mike Patton himself. I'm probably forgetting about a dozen or so genres of music, but you get the point. This is a very eclectic album. UnExpect (apparently that's how the band spells their name) is also fronted by a female vocalist, who happens to have quite a powerful, operatic voice. She is backed by two male vocalists, who range from almost gibberish-type shouting to death growls. They certainly don't make this any more accessible. And in this hour-long journey, there is little breathing room to be found, except for "Silence 011010701", and the first part of the multi-track epic called "The Shiver". Most of the time the band is content with sonically pummeling the listener, as well as multiple genre and rapid tempo changes. No riff last for more than a few seconds, but each one seems to outdo the ones that came before it. This really is some pretty remarkable music. And yes, it actually is music here, not random chaos. It took me several listens just to get over that fact, then about as many to begin to realize what was going on here.

I put this review off for so long because I wasn't sure if I'd want to give IaFA 4 or 5 stars. But this is one of the most original/chaotic/f'd up albums I've ever heard that I can't not give this 5 stars. If you like tech/extreme metal or really bizarre avant-garde music or don't like music that has any trace of accessibility, then you owe it to yourself to check UnExpect's second album out. A masterpiece of avant-garde female-fronted metal.

Report this review (#223291)
Posted Friday, June 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Pessimist
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 Leïlindel'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, Leïlindel 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 Leïlindel. 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 Leïlindel, 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: Leïlindel 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.

Report this review (#243678)
Posted Thursday, October 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars I am speechless about this band's musical skills but what makes them truly stand out is the great song writing! If I would try to describe the members of the band you would probably think that this kind of mix can never work, but that is of course wrong and Unexpect is here to prove it!

I believe that I had this album on my play-list for over a month before the compositions finally started to settle in which means that the music is very challenging but that's just the way I like it! It's true that the album features growl/guttural vocals which might increase the challenge even more, I know it did for me. The only advice I can give is to listen to it actively and you will be rewarded with some of the most extravagant metal albums out there.

When I heard that the Dream Theater - Progressive Nation 2009 tour would feature Unexpect as one of the supporting bands I bought the tickets to the local show without a single hesitation. After all, how often can I expect to see this little-known Canadian band here in Sweden? Unfortunately the band didn't get the live treatment they deserved by only allowing the seven band-members to use a narrow edge of the stage with second rate amplifiers and only getting allowed to play a 30 minutes gig. Truly a pity because non of the Dream Theater/Opeth fans at the venue seemed to like that short performance except of course for the awesome 9-string bass performance from the bass player ChaotH! To tell you the truth they had all the right not to enjoy it because anyone who had never heard these compositions before would find it challenging especially under the conditions I mentioned.

In a Flesh Aquarium is a solid release that might be a bit challenging for fans of the classic progressive rock-era but it's a must have for anyone who likes avant-garde metal music.

***** star songs: Chromatic Chimera (5:52) Megalomaniac Trees (5:57)

**** star songs: Feasting Fools (6:17) Desert Urbania (7:29) Summoning Scenes (7:46) Silence_011010701 (5:13) Another Dissonant Chord (3:00) Meet Me At The Carrousel (4:07) A Clown's Mindtrap (3:41) Psychic Jugglers (11:10)

Report this review (#262949)
Posted Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Finally! This is the album I´ve been looking for. For over half a decade I´ve been going thru this site in search of music that could offer me more... And now I´m quite certain that I´ve found the ultimate band.

unexpecT offer here on their second studio album the craziest, most chaotic and most beautiful music in the history. says that during his career Frank Zappa covered more or less every genre in music - here we have unexpecT who do the same in one album. Bands guitarist singer Syriak said that the albums name In a Flesh aquarium refers to the human body. And the music that can change completely within just a couple of seconds refers to the way human mind can go thru all kinds of within few seconds. So I guess if you wish to put this music under some genre that genre would be omnimetal. Seeing as the basis of the music is clearly metal, but during the album you get leanings towards just about every imaginable style of music.

9-string bass is now my favourite word!

I can´t really effectively further explain this music. All I can say is that just about anyone on this site should try these guys and the gal out coz this music is really something else. And to me that is what progressive rock is all about. Getting to hear things that can´t be heard anywhere else.

I will now go plant some megalomaniac trees on my backyard - see you later.

Report this review (#265843)
Posted Saturday, February 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars An extremely rewarding extreme metal album.;)

I read many positive things about the second full length studio release of these Canadian musicians, which seems to be their breakthrough before purchasing it. At first listening I found most parts of In a Flesh Aquarium rather annoying, but the keyword to get Unexpect's music is patience, and you have to really focus on the music. After a few listening sessions a new world opened, new layers came to light, and after about a dozen listenings I can safely say that this is my favourite extreme metal album I have heard so far. Unexpect's music is first of all metal. Really heavy metal. But with a very quirky, avantgarde approach. They melt prcatically almost all kinds of metal, and there are electro/ambient passages here and there on the album. The violin and the piano often softens, and enrichens the music. Unexpect doesn't really sound like any other band, sometimes they remind me a bit of Death, a bit of Cynic, a bit of Arcturus, and sometimes even a bit of Magma(they even have some lyrical parts in a made up language), but the final rsultis quite unique. To be honest I don't think that the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum parallels are that strong. There are some similarities in the line up, and in the avantgarde attitude, but SGM(another excellent band) is an avant/experimental rock band with some metal elements, while Unexpect is an extreme metal band with an avantgarde approach. It would be a very long affair to give about each song a detailed description. They feature more twist and turns than the entirety of many so called progressive metal albums. All band members are outstanding at what they do, I enjoy the most the "overstringed" bass by Chaoth and the violin by Le Bateleur. Unfortunately, the latter mentioned muisician quit the band, but I hope that they have worthy successor in the person of Borboen. The vocals are very versatile, from the soft female voice of Leilindel to the brutal vocals by Syriakh and Artagoth, almost anything can be found here. I like these metal "pen names", only the name of Hupogrammos from Negura Bunget is a "superior" name to these ones.;) I have to make a special mention about the first part of The Shiver which is sang in my native language. To be honest, the Hungarian spelling in the CD booklet leaves much to be desired, but the pronounciation is surprisingly good. It was really special to hear it at the first time. It was really "unexpected" through listening before reading the booklet. Of course, an album like this one is not for "everyone". Bur you know, great music is not for "everyone"...;)

Report this review (#269669)
Posted Friday, March 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars Twisted carnival avant-garde metal mania is the specialty here. The name of the band is perhaps fair warning, as they showcase a wild degree of individual ability but work out some of the busiest and most hurried compositions I've ever heard, all characterized by haphazard changes. With the wild female vocals flying all over the place like a banshee, In a Flesh Aquarium may very well appeal to those musical masochists who call themselves Koenjihyakkei fans. I found myself pausing the music after almost each track just to afford myself a breather and ensure I didn't get a headache. Lovers of incoherent extremeness and sonic chaos will find a funhouse in this one- a roller coaster from hell with broken tracks and perilous turns.

"Chromatic Chimera" Dissonant and madness-inducing, the first track demonstrates the band's penchant for quick shifts and discord. Just when I felt I had a handle on the direction of a given passage, the band takes a sharp turn and the track becomes something completely different. The barking and growling clash with whatever everyone else is doing, and the musicians clash with each other. However, the bass and violin pairing (slapping and popping on the former, cheerful notes on the latter) make for excellent terse interludes.

"Feasting Fools" More frantic, seemingly nonsensical mayhem ensues, with jarring rhythms, copious amounts of thrash guitar, double bass drumming, and frenzied vocals. Unexpectedly, there's a dark chant in the middle, followed by more theatrical vocals.

"Desert Urbania" Light piano provides a brief respite before a barrage of growling and sputtering drums accost the hearer. It adopts a dark cabaret visage when it isn't in onslaught mode.

"Summoning Scenes" Biting disarray is this time juxtaposed with calm guitar and violin passages, providing a much-needed lull.

"Silence_011010701" Spooky, alarm-like strings screech and wail in the beginning of this bizarre, atmospheric piece. Delicate keyboards rise up with a snare, electronic drumming, and an orchestral sound to create something relaxing and actually enjoyable.

"Megalomaniac Trees" After the pit stop, it's back to the hellish circus of sudden tempo-changes and auditory pummeling. There is a wonderful riff that stays consistent for a while, and a sweet violin soars above it. It's one of the better songs for me, anyway.

"The Shiver - Another Dissonant Chord" The only other delicate moment of the album, this features eerie keyboards, deep, rumbling bass, and light vocals.

"The Shiver - Meet Me At The Carrousel" By this point, the exhaustion of the album sets in, and it's difficult to tell this apart from the other nonsensical blasts of sound that permeate the album.

"The Shiver - A Clown's Mindtrap" The final part of this tripartite song is less difficult to follow, but still not easy to swallow. The tone of what sounds like a bagpipe concludes it.

"Psychic Jugglers" Barking and jumbled business flails all over the place. At eleven minutes, it's almost nauseating.

Report this review (#283577)
Posted Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars This is some great modern proggy metal. A year or two ago I was going thru the streaming songs on PA to look for music I would like but haven't yet heard. Besides some metal bands I was already familiar with, the only metal song that caught my attention was "Psychic Jugglers". I loved it. I had to hear this album. I still haven't heard their first album, but In A Flesh Aquarium was right up my alley. This sounds like a cross between Mr. Bungle, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and System Of A Down. Since I like all three groups this was a bonus to me.

The band members have names like Artagoth, ChaotH and ExoD. Cool. You get your typical guitars/bass/drums mixed with some keyboards and violin. There are both male and female vocals. The male vocals are generally of the growling/grunting variety, while the female vocals are, uh, more 'normal' I guess. The music is usually heavy and unpredictable. Sometimes there is a circus/carnival feel to it. Once in awhile there is some jazz, classical or trippy synth parts.

The three-part "Shiver" is all good, but my favourite part is "Meet Me At The Carrousel". I like the slowed down piano at the end of "Desert Urbania". "Silence_011010701" is the mellowest part of the album. It's an instrumental and is one of the best parts on the album. I like the Aphex Twin-style programmed beats at the end. I still think that the last and longest song "Psychic Jugglers" is the best one here. Lots going on in this one. It's hard to describe the individual songs because they keep changing so often.

If it wasn't for the piano, violin, synths and female vocals I don't think I would like this half as much. I like the overall unpredictability of the music here; none of that verse/chorus/solo stuff. I wish more metal that gets labelled 'prog' sounded like this. I also wish these guys would put out another album already. Apparently they are touring right now. One of these days I'm gonna have to hear their first one too...but I doubt I will like it as much as this one. Highly recommended to fans of Bungle, Sleepytime and SOAD. 4 stars.

Report this review (#308087)
Posted Wednesday, November 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars There comes a time in every reviewers life where he loves an album so much, that he puts off reviewing it in fear he'll get sucked into the dark realm of 100% subjectivity. This is the album that does it for me. I don't have many reviews at the time of writing this, but I've had this situation. But here it is, my review of Unexpect's "In A Flesh Aquarium" album.

After hearing so much about the French-Canadian band Unexpect a few months ago, I decided to pick up this album then. I was always picky about harsh vocals so I was reluctant, but I heard many great things. Also, I love some good old fashioned weirdness, so why not give it a try? It couldn't be that bad, could it?

On my first listen, when Chromatic Chimera came on, an unusual question was posed: "Is this one of the greatest things I've ever heard, or one of the worst things I've ever heard?" What was it? Two growlers and a female going completely insane over a cacophony of guitars, drums, bass, and violin? I didn't know what to think. Unfortunately the album didn't survive past the first song for me, so I put that one away for a while.

Since I'm not one to put away an album and never listen again, I gave it another chance. Still a little overwhelming, but I survived the whole album that time. I didn't approve of it this time either, just too much happening. Too much going on. However, little did I know that it had fully captured my interest without me realizing it, because I kept playing it over and over and over again. After a couple weeks, it solidified it's position amongst some of the greatest albums I've heard in my life.

What genres do we find here? Death metal and black metal for starters. But here we also have some circus music, a little bit of operatic and classic influence, and some jazzyness here and there. If this thing isn't avant-garde I don't know what is. If you were to compare them to other bands, lets say the crashing presence of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum mixed with the influences of Diablo Swing Orchestra fused with the absolute insanity of Koenjihyakkei.

Now that description certainly won't do this album justice, as that's just a jist of what they are like. I have never heard a band that could come at you with so many different melodies, themes, tempos, or even genres in a matter of seconds, yet not make it feel completely irregular and not have any changes that just feel uncalled for. They also make every song the perfect length, never overstaying their welcome, and every song seems fresh. This is an album guaranteed not to bore. I would do track-by-track reviews as I normally do, but they're all so great it's hard to make a point in doing so, so I'll decide not to.

This album isn't for the faint of heart though. And if you don't like metal, don't touch this one with a ten-foot-pole, as there is no chance of you ever liking this one. If you do like metal and you're ready for one of the heaviest and most challenging, yet rewarding albums ever, feel free to tackle this one. I did it, and I'd call it one of the best musical decisions I've ever made.

Report this review (#424371)
Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
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.

Report this review (#455027)
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars OMG!! What a WILD ride is this amazing album! It sounds like an super-amped up Cirque de Soleil performance of Danny Elfmann's soundtrack to Tim Burton's "A Nightmare Before Christmas." I can barely imagine the on-stage performance of this music! It can only be surreal and theatric! Suffice it to say that this is music unlike any other. Period. While I may not be listening to this album regularly, I can say that I will never find it boring! With all due respect: This is the kind of music, while not really my cup of tea, that makes listening for new stuff worthwhile. These guys are pushing all boundaries, going where no one is going, and keeping the progress in progressive music. Kudos galore. This is creative stuff--hugely entertaining. BIG smiles! Thank you!! A masterpiece on a par with Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh, The Power and the Glory, Choirs of the Eye, "Supper's Ready," and "Close to the Edge."
Report this review (#457934)
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars "...miiicroscopic DUST!"

Your worst nightmare. Brought to you courtesy of Leilindel and Messrs. SyriaK, Artagoth, ExoD, Le Bateleur, ChaotH and Landryx.

The Good: The first time I listened to this album I was blown away. The second time I listened I was indifferent. Then it lay on my shelf for a while gathering dust before I decided to give it another go after seeing these guys at Progressive Nation 2009. Two years later, after countless listens, I now consider it to be somewhere between excellent and a fully-fledged masterpiece.

Whilst there are lots of bands out their that try to make their compositions as 'mental' as humanly possible, a lot of them lack substance and just devolve into an unintelligible mess. Unexpect on the other hand successfully manage to blend crazy with coherent and intricate with interesting. Whilst it does take patience and concentration to fully appreciate, it's also well worth the effort.

In a Flesh Aquarium plays host to a whole menagerie of genres including death, thrash and prog metal, classical, opera, ambient, jazz, electro and gypsy music, somehow all blended together into sixty minutes of sheer musical panic. Despite all the brilliant moments of madness found throughout the album, for me the standout track is the intensely dark and ambient interlude, Silence 011010701.

The Bad: Definitely won't be everyone's couple of tea.

The Verdict: Mr. Bungle on acid.

Report this review (#457981)
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars uneXpect's In a Flesh Aquarium is even harder to review than the most avant-garde works of Mr Bungle and Frank Zappa (the two primary influences on their music that I can detect). As with Henry Cow's In Praise of Learning, the band's dedication to experimentalism above all other considerations has resulted in an album which is highly inaccessible - and whilst some listeners may find the effort to penetrates its mysteries to be a rewarding one, others may feel that it's too much effort for too little benefit. In short, this is one of those albums where you really shouldn't pay attention to any reviews: track down some samples and listen to them, you'll know if you want to explore further.
Report this review (#708556)
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars Like a musical Frankenstein where vast amounts of musical ideas are sown together ever so carefully with the greatest of diligence until one day they emerge from the lab as a completely different organism all together. This album intrigued me from the getgo and after several good years of listening to this I have to conclude that this is one of the most unique and demanding avant-prog extreme metal releases that I have ever had the pleasure of focusing my attention on. Far from the chaos that many write this off as after an initial listen, this music is indeed a complex and structured musical edifice.

IN A FLESH AQUARIUM has the density of a black hole while providing layers of accessibility all strung together and then like a wormhole taking you to completely different galaxies at the speed of light with occasional oxygen breaks for sanity's sake. This album demands constant attention in order to follow the succession of a plethora of sounds and ideas that come and go like a school of fleeing fish chased by a band of hungry barracudas. One listen or even twenty will hardly suffice to grasp this demanding project that is perhaps one of the most complex pieces in all of rock history being more akin to ambitious symphonies by classical legends like Prokofiev or Rachmaninoff in terms of complexity than anything in rock, metal or most of the other genres they use to weave this sonic masterpiece.

UNEXPECT is a breath of fresh air in a musical world that tends to favor complacency over completely unfettered artistic expression and evolution. They expand their sonic tentacles into so many musical genres and reel them in until they become so intertwined in their configuration that just like physical chemistry they have fused enough different particles together so successfully that it could now be considered a new element on the musical equivalent of the periodic table. What do we call this strange musical beast in which lies the sum of various parts including progressive, technical death, black and melodic metal as well as classical, dark cabaret, opera, jazz, funk, electro, ambient, noise, circus and gypsy music? Just like a newly synthesized element that tends to go under a generic name, we have no vocabulary and simply call it avant-garde metal although experimental eclectic metal might be slightly closer to describing this sonic stew.

This is quite the treasure trove for the musical ambitious (and lovers of 9-stringed basses) and guaranteed to intrigue and bewilder. To surprise and perplex. It has the brutal aggressiveness of death metal while it also has the sweet sensual vocals of Leilindel and melodic violins. It is contrast. It is a musical federation. It is utter madness that is domesticated but not tamed. Fiercely independent and proud, UNEXPECT went where no other band was looking. Although other bands have tried to incorporate so many genres, few have succeeded. Mr. Bungle certainly achieved that lofty feat but precious few other bands have managed the successful amalgamation that constitutes a separate species. UNEXPECT have emerged as a band with an ambition that actually surpasses that of Bungle and pulls it off for those patient enough to explore the intricacies of this demanding and seemingly inaccessible fusionfest. Highly recommended for those who love a musical 3-ring circus of the 21st century which continues to reward the listener in as many different ways as the sounds incorporated in its mix.

Report this review (#1113407)
Posted Sunday, January 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars This Montreal band uneXpect must rank near the top of weird albums in my collection. I stumbled across them on MMA while checking out top-ranking Canadian albums, which included mostly Rush and Devin Townsend. I had never heard of uneXpect and decided to give them a listen. Whoa-ho! I knew right away that this band was going to be a challenge to listen to. So I bought "In a Flesh Aquarium" partly because it was their highest rated album and also because it was the only album available on Amazon in Japan for a normal price. Someone is selling the "wE Invaders" EP for something like $2,500!

First, if you don't already know, uneXpect is essentially an avant-garde metal band that combines thrash, black, progressive and symphonic metal styles with a bit of traditional metal thrown in. Add to that some excellent classical piano used frequently and some violin with strong gypsy music tendencies, and some industrial sounds sprinkled with bits of circus type music and a trio of voices that are comprised of clean female vocals and male vocals that go from growls and snarls to shouts and System of a Down-like Tasmanian Devil whatevers. And now perhaps you can begin to imagine what this band must sound like.

There is simply nothing in my collection that comes close to this although if this album were a mountain peak then partway up we might find bands like Suspyre, Disillusion, Dark Suns, or even a bit of Haken. When the mood gets mellower with piano and touches of industrial, and female vocalist Leïlindel sings slowly and clearly, I'm reminded a bit of some White Willow. I've read reviews elsewhere that mention bands like Arcturus, Ulver and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, so if you're familiar with those (I'm not) you might also have a clue about uneXpect's sound here.

It's not easy to describe the songs or the music well. All the styles I mentioned about are mostly mixed together in nearly every song. The image that comes to my mind most often is a kind of horror puppet show where the scary puppets look like they are ready to slice your face open but are actually just having fun singing their bizarre songs. Maybe like a "Nightmare Before Christmas" deal without any suggestion of cute or adorable spooks. There's a feeling of insanity and intensity as the songs careen from musical passage to passage, often changing in only four bars. You can have a symphonic metal segment that is threatening to veer into thrash while a tasteful piano plays along or a quick exchange of shouts and growls while a violin swings and swerves over blasting double bass drum kicks and some progressive guitar riff is flying out like bats from a cave at dusk. A song may suddenly break into a bass solo, a violin solo, a piano solo, a frantic sax solo, a circus music segment, an eastern European folk bit, or absolute chaos and cacophony. Then you might abruptly get a dose of intense metal polka swiftly followed by voices calling and chanting, or some other seemingly incongruous and totally unexpected musical motif. For about 4 to 8 bars. Then it changes again.

It might sound like complete swill and truthfully to some people it does. Ratings I encountered went anywhere from praising this album to blue heaven with upwards of 92% scoring, to middle ground ratings with comments about some excellent songs and several failed efforts, to the album being a complete heap of rubbish. Some reviewers claimed the band had tried too hard to be avant-garde and simply thrown haphazardly together a grocery list of ingredients. Others say it is all done well but doesn't sound original. As for my opinion, I find the album an excellent listen in part because it's so crazy but also because the actual playing is achingly top notch and it is incredible that so many different sounds can be woven together to make an insanely wild collection of music. I admit that at moments I wish the vocals wouldn't sound so much like a death comedy musical, but on the other hand, that's part of the charm of the album.

Regarding the individual songs, I've read people praising "Chromatic chimera", "Desert Urbania" and "Psychic Jugglers" but being less kind to other tracks. I actually found things to like in every track, including the sometimes maligned "Feasting Fools" and overlooked "Summoning Scenes". Special mention should also go to "Silence 011010701" for its industrial sound and powerful symphonic conclusion.

This is not an album for everybody. There are no "Living After Midnight" sing-a-longs on here. It's intense, ultra-busy, and possibly even exhausting. It might take to you ten listens to enjoy or only one. Or you might hate it. I'm rather impressed with it and can enjoy playing the album from front to back or pulling selected tracks off for daily mixed playlists. If possible, I'd like to get one of their two other albums. Hail to the mad marionette musical masters of Montreal!

Report this review (#1493397)
Posted Saturday, November 28, 2015 | Review Permalink

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