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Unexpect In a Flesh Aquarium album cover
4.10 | 280 ratings | 36 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Chromatic Chimera (5:52)
2. Feasting Fools (6:17)
3. Desert Urbania (7:29)
4. Summoning Scenes (7:46)
5. Silence_011010701 (5:13)
6. Megalomaniac Trees (5:57)
- The Shiver :
7. Another Dissonant Chord (3:00)
8. Meet Me at the Carrousel (4:07)
9. A Clown's Mindtrap (3:41)
10. Psychic Jugglers (11:10)

Total Time 60:32

Line-up / Musicians

- Roxanne "Le´lindel" Hegyesy / vocals
- ╔ryk "Syriak" Chapados / guitars, piano (10), vocals, co-producer
- StÚphane "Artagoth" English / guitar, vocals
- StÚphane "ExoD" Primeau / piano, keyboards, sampler
- Charles " Le Bateleur" CrÚpeau / violin
- Frederic "ChaotH" Filiatrault / bass
- Philippe Landryx / drums

- Nathalie Duchesne / violin & cello (4,7-10)
- StÚphanie Colerette / violin & cello (4,7-10)
- Benjamin Proulx-Mathers / saxophone (6)
- AmÚlie Blanchette / clarinet (10)

Releases information

Artwork: Leo

CD The End Records ‎- TE068 (2006, US)
CD Ascendance Records ‎- ASC23002 (2007, Europe)
CD The End Records ‎- TE068-2 (2012, US)

Thanks to Bryan for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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UNEXPECT In a Flesh Aquarium ratings distribution

(280 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (16%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

UNEXPECT In a Flesh Aquarium reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by el b÷thy
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!

Review by sean
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.
Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by 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

Review by Negoba
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.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "In a Flesh Aquarium" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Canadian avant garde/progressive metal act Unexpect. The album was released through The End Records in August 2006. It┤s the successor to "Utopia" from 1999, although the two full-length studio albums are bridged by the 2003 "We, Invaders" EP.

Stylistically "In a Flesh Aquarium" is female mezzo-soprano- and growling/screaming male vocals led avant garde extreme metal, featuring constant tempo and time signature changes, and the omnipresent use of violin and piano/keyboards in addition to drums, guitars, and bass. The vocal part of the music is quite varied featuring many different extreme metal vocal styles, and female lead vocalist Roxanne "Le´lindel" Hegyesy delivering a theatrical and very convincing performance.

The material features many twists and turns and the tracks often come off almost schizophrenic in nature. The tracks are 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, often dissonant, and is at times an eerie and unpleasant listen. At all times there is a claustrophobic feeling of barely controlled chaos, but Unexpect are an incredibly well playing and skilled seven piece group, who pull off every twist and turn of the music with what seems like ease.

"In a Flesh Aquarium" reeks freak show/dark carnival atmosphere and there are elements from classical chamber music and cabaret too, but the music also features plenty of heavy and fast technical death/thrash guitar riffing and intense drumming (and some pretty crazy slap bass playing), so while this is a very progressive and avant garde tinged metal album it┤s first and foremost an extreme metal album. Some of the more "regular" riffs and drum parts could well have been featured on a technical death metal release.

The album feels like it┤s divided into two parts, which are bridged by the electronic/symphonic track centerpiece track "Silence_011010701", which serves as an atmospheric breather and a compositional variation, before the second part of the album takes off. The first four tracks are intense and challenging progressive/avant garde extreme metal songs and after "Silence_011010701" is over the second part of the album opens with the sixth track "Megalomaniac Trees" and then into the three part suite "The Shiver". The album closes with the 11:10 minutes long "Psychic Jugglers". It┤s a harsh one hour long album, which will probably challenge most listeners and keep them on their toes throughout its playing time and it┤s pretty surely an aquired taste if this kind of bombastic, intense, manic, and theatrical album is something you can sit through and enjoy. It requires an open mind and the will to be exposed to the unexpected.

While the band┤s preceding releases lacked professional production values, that┤s not a problem on "In a Flesh Aquarium", which feautures a powerful, detailed, and intense sounding production job, which perfectly suits the energetic and busy compositions. Upon conclusion "In a Flesh Aquarium" is a high quality avant garde extreme metal release, and even if you are not able to enjoy the manic one hour journey, it┤s hard to argue that this is not through and through a bold statement and a high quality release. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Review by 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.
Review by horsewithteeth11
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.

Review by 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 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.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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)

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by 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.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 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 MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´w K÷mmand÷h, The Power and the Glory, Choirs of the Eye, "Supper's Ready," and "Close to the Edge."
Review by Starhammer
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.

Review by Warthur
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.
Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
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.

Review by FragileKings
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 Le´lindel 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!

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
4 stars When you get a genre as broad as avant garde metal, you are certain to encounter some interesting and weird stuff. From the more doom and chamber elements within Maudlin Of The Well, to the 80s thrash adjacent sounds of Voivod, avant garde metal is as diverse as it can possibly get. So a release such as this from the Canadian metal group Unexpect ain't quite so far away from the crumb, but what they have going for in their sound is a joyous and ever changing dark cabaret opera.

What I really enjoy about this album is how truly technically efficient it all is from so many genres, kinda like Mr Bungle's Disco Volante, but with a higher focus on metal and amping up the craziness of it all. This album feels like an hour-long panic attack, bursting through several different seams that rarely, if ever, lets up, and the band plays this to their strengths. Lots of bouncy riffs that balance between tech death, to symphonic metal, to djent, etc and etc. with drum lines that batter you in the head. It really creates an enigmatic, and really fun experience similar to stuff from Others By No One, though that band is a lot younger than this group.

I also have to marvel at the vocals. I think it isn't how they sound and sing that makes me really like them, but how they just seem to keep up with this wild and frantic music that it all just seems so impressive to me. They range from angelic singing, to rough and crazy screams and growls, to stuff that kinda made me think David Tibet of Current 93 was singing on here. All of it is just fun to me, and I think what is found here is some high class experimental metal.

My one problem with this album, though, is that they seem to throw everything at the wall and hope it sticks with most, if not all of these songs. Most of the time it works really nicely, but other times I just think there is too much going on in one song that it over-stimulates me. This album definitely won't leave you bored, but, to me, cutting the madness a bit in some moments here and not trying new things too quickly can make this already entertaining album into a freak show masterpiece.

This album is not even close to being boring in the slightest. It is one of most fun metal records I have heard, and while I do think there is sometimes a bit too much, I think overall it all just works out as a highly invigorating record that any fan of more avant garde metal should look into.

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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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#101190) | Posted by epifreak | Friday, December 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 !!! ... (read more)

Report this review (#94382) | Posted by Yann | Friday, October 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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Report this review (#93687) | Posted by Asphalt | Saturday, October 7, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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