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UNEXPECT

Experimental/Post Metal • Canada


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Unexpect biography
Though they were predated by a straightforward thrash metal band, UNEXPECT have quickly evolved into one of the Avant-garde Metal world's most forward thinking outfits. Combing operatic elements and shades of classical music with nearly every style of metal imaginable (from death through to gothic metal) and topping it off with an extremely challenging avant-garde approach, their sound must be heard to be believed. The group's seeds were planted by a thrash ground called Unepxected, whose ranks included guitarist/vocalist Artagoth and bassist Zircon. In 1996 the group expanded to add guitarist/vocalist Syriak and drummer Ben GELINAS, at which point they shortened their name to UNEXPECT and began incorporating new influences into their sound. The following year Lunorin took over as drummer, with keyboardist Merzeny, violinist Le Batleur and female vocalist Elda expanding their lineup to a whopping seven people, with whom they would record the melodic death metal influenced "Utopia" in 1998 (to be released independently in 1999). In the following years Zircon, Elda and Merzenya would all depart from the band, to be replaced by bassist ChaotH (infamous for his use of a 9 string bass) and female vocalist Leïlindel. Lunorin changed his instrument to keyboards and his name to ExoD, with Landryx completing their lineup in 2003 as the new drummer. The "_We, Invaders" EP came out on Galy Records in 2003 and showcased the band's shocking evolution into an avant-garde monster, a path fully realized on 2006's "In a Flesh Aquarium" (released on The End RecordS).

UNEXPECT are truly a boundary pushing Avant-garde Metal group, and should appeal to fans of SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM, AUGUARY, KAYO DOT and ARCTURUS, but most importantly to anybody seeking a serious challenge or shock from their musical diet.

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Buy UNEXPECT Music


In A Flesh AquariumIn A Flesh Aquarium
The End Records 2006
Audio CD$6.86
$0.99 (used)
We InvadersWe Invaders
Galy Records/Lumberjack 2006
Audio CD$127.32 (used)
In a Fresh AquariumIn a Fresh Aquarium
Import
3d Japan 2006
Audio CD$33.76
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UNEXPECT discography


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UNEXPECT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.97 | 31 ratings
Utopia
1999
4.17 | 230 ratings
In a Flesh Aquarium
2006
4.00 | 279 ratings
Fables of the Sleepless Empire
2011

UNEXPECT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

UNEXPECT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

UNEXPECT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

UNEXPECT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.56 | 23 ratings
_wE, Invaders
2003

UNEXPECT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 _wE, Invaders by UNEXPECT album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.56 | 23 ratings

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_wE, Invaders
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars WE, INVADERS is the 2nd release by UNEXPECT in the form of a four track EP . It is the transitional link between their debut album "Utopia" which was firmly grounded in avant-garde death metal and the phenomenal masterpiece "In A Flesh Aquarium" where UNEXPECT tackles every musical genre and subgenre that exists and throws it all in a pot together. This album is the half way point between those two albums. I would say that it is a little closer to the following album rather than the previous as they are already adept at fusing many styles of music together seamlessly. It just doesn't sound as busy and densely packed with EVERY type of music.

It is also clear on this album that the template for their sound is based on classical music and it sounds like these musicians are classical trained and educated because they play this everything in a virtuosic manner. The piano runs can remind you of Mozart or Chopin while the violin sounds a lot like Paganini. On the metal side it can sound like traditional, death or thrash. Since the tracks are less busy they sound more melodic in a straight forward way as opposed to a poly-melodic one. One track "In Velvet Coffins We Sleep" is a remake of a track from the debut album while another "Chromatic Chimera" is a stripped down piano version of the track on "Aquarium."

All in all this doesn't sound like it should be an essential recording but I have really grown to love this band and I find myself picking this album up a lot because it is just so perfectly done. It certainly doesn't measure up to the following albums in complexity but that matters not for it is well-crafted and an enjoyable listen with a greater emphasis on classical melodic textures with subordinating metal and other musical genres. Not a masterpiece but a very strong album. Stripped down or gussied up, UNEXPECT is a band that delivers a unique musical experience unlike any other and this transitory EP is no exception.

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 In a Flesh Aquarium by UNEXPECT album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.17 | 230 ratings

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In a Flesh Aquarium
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Fables of the Sleepless Empire by UNEXPECT album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 279 ratings

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Fables of the Sleepless Empire
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Norbert

5 stars Fables of the Sleepless Empire is the third full-length album by Canadian avant-garde extreme metal band Unexpect. Their second album In a Flesh Aquarium, released in 2006, has become one of my all time favourite albums, so I was quite excited about their next album. Fables of the Sleepless Empire arrived in 2011, so the band certainly took time for their next release. On this album we have the seven-piece band of their previous work, the only difference is that violin player Le Bateleur is replaced by Borboen. Unfortunately, this is going to be the last album featuring keyboard player Exod. Fables of the Sleepless Empire contains 11 tracks(but the last three form a quasi-suite), and has a playing time of about 55 minutes. The music is unmistakebly Unexpect, so various kinds of metal, and many other influences are melted together. Compared to the previous album the circus/carneval elements are almost completely gone, and there is more room for celtic folk, fusion and smyphonic sounds. The songs are better crafted than on their previous work, I love In a Flesh Aquarium, but with this album I realize that the band had many rooms for improvement regarding songwriting. With the more harmonic, mature and I even dare to say more accesible approach Unexpect have not not lost their quirkiness, complexity and heaviness. This is still a very demanding and wild album, which demands full attention, and easily can make one"s head seriously ache. The musicanship is absolutety amazing, especially Chaoth's wizardy on the 9-stringed bass guitar. My favourite tracks are the opening Unsolved Ideas of a Distorted Guest, Orange Vigilantes and Unfed Pendulum, but after a while i have to admit, that even the interludes are winners on their on right. Surely, Unexpect's version of progressive extreme metal is not everyone's bag, but I beleve, that in this kind of music you can hardly make a better album. I am glad owner of an autographed copy of this masterpiece, since the band's short, but memorable performance in Budapest.

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 Fables of the Sleepless Empire by UNEXPECT album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 279 ratings

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Fables of the Sleepless Empire
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by 1791 Overture

2 stars My impression in listening to this album is of a band with a lot of skill and not much taste. The incredibly busy, indulgent, über-produced music on this album gets irritating - the "everything plus the kitchen sink" approach ends in a sort of Nightmare Before Christmas style of metal (THIS IS HALLOWEEN THIS IS HALLOWEEN), and I don't know why the band was so afraid of not putting 100 layers on the music at any given second, but there's a whole lot going on that I don't feel really compliments the direction of the songs. The result is sort of like a parody of 2000's metal, like if Devin Townsend, Arcturus, Diablo Swing Orchestra, Nightwish, Sculptured, and Solefald were all playing at once. I can practically feel my attention span shrink by the second...

For what it's worth, the bass player has serious chops.

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 Fables of the Sleepless Empire by UNEXPECT album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 279 ratings

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Fables of the Sleepless Empire
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars As with their preceding album, uneXpect once again succumb to the inclination to be avant for avant's sake without showing much thought as to how to best draw out the gems and sideline the dross of their experiments. I'm not against avant material by any stretch of the imagination - I wouldn't champion Mr Bungle to the extent that I do if I were - but in the case of uneXpect I don't think the band have learned to master a skill which Mr Bungle - and Frank Zappa, and Henry Cow in their better moments, and more or less all the greats of avant-garde rock music - show a mastery of, and that's knowing when less is more.

uneXpect delight in an overbusy style of production in which soloing is layered on top of soloing which is layered on top of vocals until you have an enormous tower of musicians all jamming away, and whilst that's technically impressive it isn't compositionally interesting because the production is so dense that it's impossible to pick out and focus on any aspect of what is happening: vocals, guitars, drums, keys, everything end up conspiring to smother each other. Too often they fail to give a particular aspect of the compositions room to breathe. It's like an oil painting which has had too many different layers of paint applied to it so that the end result is an ugly brown smudge.

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 Fables of the Sleepless Empire by UNEXPECT album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 279 ratings

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Fables of the Sleepless Empire
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Puppies On Acid

5 stars Take avantgarde/experimental metal, throw is some touches of black metal, circus & cartoon music, violins, math-metal, and a whole lot of absolute, utter chaos and you have the latest offering from Unexpect. Complex, technical, crazy, intense.....that's pretty much what this album boils down to. If you don't like overly technical metal, this probably isn't for you, but if you do, be prepared to be amazed. They took the complexity of In a Flesh Aquarium and turned it up to 11. Also on display here is at least 4 or 5 different vocal styles. I also thought the production was pretty spot on, everything came through clear in the mix. Which is impressive considering how much is going on. Never a dull moment throughout the entire album, I highly recommend it.

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 In a Flesh Aquarium by UNEXPECT album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.17 | 230 ratings

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In a Flesh Aquarium
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Fables of the Sleepless Empire by UNEXPECT album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 279 ratings

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Fables of the Sleepless Empire
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by bartosso

5 stars "Demon of the Opera: or, Surreal Rollercoaster: or, Mercy! My head is on the edge of overheating!"

This is an intense piece of avant-garde metal. I mean INTENSE. Unexpect's third full length record is an unrelenting beast, spawned by Ascendance Records. On its musical way it has devoured such genres as klezmer music, symphonic black metal, opera, electronic, jazz, classical chamber music and some other tasty styles that stood on its way. Oh my... It seems it's about to devour... YOU!

Such a dense and complicated record requires a crystal clean production. So, if you're looking for a fuzzy sounding and discordant avant-garde, you won't find it here. FotSE is a perfectly produced album with an impeccable sound. Every instrument (vocals, violin, guitars, 9-string bass... wait, what?!) has its space in the mix and thereby is easily distinguishable in the wave of sounds this crazy bunch bombards us with.

A book could be written about the music played by Unexpect. I must admit that on the first listen I was completely overwhelmed by its diversity and intensity. While the album may seem a bit inconsistent at first, its strange coherence becomes apparent with time. Unexpect are unbelievably talented songwriters and skilled musicians. Their mix of dark cabaret ambiance, modern electronic spices, chamber orchestrations, extreme metal impetuosity and progressive virtuosity, seems to be performed without effort. While sometimes I get an impression of thematic overload, the fact that it's a well-flowing album is undeniable. Most of all though, I think there's something that makes this intricate music surprisingly accessible. It's either beautiful vocal lines by the frontwoman Leilindel or Unexpect's great talent for thrilling passages. Well, both of them I guess.

Extraordinary. Intense, intriguing, technical and... brilliant. List of adjectives goes on and on. With this almost perfect creation, Unexpect has proven that virtuosity doesn't have to deprive the music of soul. That should be an important lesson for some leading prog metal bands. I can't help but admire these people, admire them for creating this exacting, surreal and emotion-provoking journey. I'm happy I've set out on it.

TRACKS BY RATINGS: 10/10[masterpiece!!!]: Words; Mechanical Phoenix; In the Mind of the Last Whale || 9/10[fantastic!]: Unsolved Ideas of a Distorted Guest; Orange Vigilantes; The Quantum Symphony; When the Joyful Dead are Dancing; Unfed Pendulum; Until Yet a Few More Deaths do us Part || 8/10[great]: Silence this Parasite; A Fading Stance ||

-- Originally posted on METALMUSICARCHIVES.com --

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 _wE, Invaders by UNEXPECT album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.56 | 23 ratings

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_wE, Invaders
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars '_wE, Invaders' - uneXpect (6/10)

Although 'Utopia' was the official beginning of this crazy Quebecois metal project, '_wE, Invaders' is the first time we get to hear the most recognizable incarnation of the band. While 'Utopia' was full of promise, weirdness, and bright potential, there were flaws in the execution that set it apart from the latter work, as well as a different lineup than the one we know today. As brief as this mini-album is, '_wE, Invaders' is an important mark in the development of this band; a stepping stone for their more involving work to come.

'_wE, Invaders' is a four track effort, with one song being a re-recording of a track from 'Utopia', and another that would eventually become fleshed out into a track from the band's magnum opus, 'In A Flesh Aquarium'. In almost every respect, uneXpect have tuned up their act and delivery; that's not to say that 'Utopia' was shabby by any mark, but over the years in between, uneXpect have fermented into a truly excellent band. The sound- as one might expect- is a bridge between the more traditional blend of metal on 'Utopia', to the who- knows-what of 'Flesh Aquarium'. As far as EPs in general are concerned, '_wE, Invaders' stands out for its depth as a listen. Despite only working with four tracks, much of the sound is dense and chaotic, with various vocal gurgles often fighting to lead the band onward. Violins are an important aspect of uneXpect's sound as always.

As far as the songwriting goes, 'In Velvet Coffins We Slept' is undoubtedly the album's highlight. A song that I first heard on 'Utopia', uneXpect gives their classic track a new once- over, with a sense of production and tighter performance more fitting of such a complex composition. The band shows many of their dimensions here, going from melodic black metal sounds to a brittle folk interlude, all within the course of one mini-epic. 'Novae' and 'Rooted Shadows' are more typical uneXpect tracks, with 'typical' meaning 'strange' and 'insane' in this case. All the same, for their weirdness, they are not too surprising to hear, and don't tread outside of the band's comfort zone, save for a few experiments with electronics. Lastly, the EP closes with a piano rendition of the song 'Chromatic Chimaera', a piece that many fans will more likely associate as the opening track on 'In A Flesh Aquarium'. Truly, it only feels like a shadow of the latter version. Despite being a quirky and technically accomplished piano composition, it lacks the dynamic and depth that I feel the full-band version would later bring to the table.

'_wE, Invaders' is certainly a worthy listen for any fan of Canada's avant-metal darlings, although it feels dwarfed by the band's full-length material, including their debut 'Utopia'. All the same, it is a necessary piece of the band's development into the jaw-dropping act they are today.

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 Utopia by UNEXPECT album cover Studio Album, 1999
2.97 | 31 ratings

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Utopia
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Utopia' - uneXpect (7/10)

Nowadays, uneXpect (or Unexpect) are the darlings of avant-garde metal. Their latest album has met incredible reception, and their second work 'In A Flesh Aquarium' is considered a modern classic. As some of the most chaotic and innovative musicians I have ever heard, uneXpect have already set their legacy in stone, and may be considered to be one of the most talented acts going on today. 'Utopia' is the band's all-but-forgotten debut. Much in the way maudlin of the Well's 'My Fruit... Psychobells' is overlooked in favour of its stronger successors, 'Utopia' appears to be unknown, even to many of the band's fans. Obscure as it is, 'Utopia' delivers the band's signature style in a rawer, less defined form. As one might expect, 'Utopia' does not hold a candle to the two albums that would follow, but the band's potential and talent is evident.

When describing uneXpect's style, many terms come to mind. This Canadian act draws sounds from death metal, black metal, gypsy folk, circus music, and makes for an absolute mind-boggle of a listen. This sense of insanity is what largely defines uneXpect's work, and makes it special. 'Utopia' shows uneXpect playing in a less chaotic gear, although there is plenty of forward thinking. The music is a crossroads between black, death, and symphonic metal, with growls, Cradle of Filth-esque rasps, and female clean vocals all making themselves heard, sometimes in unison. The music is technical and weird, but both of those elements are not quite as bombastic as they are in later uneXpect material. The production is functional, but admittedly does not do the busy sound a fair justice.

The band's musicianship is very good, although the highly ambitious nature of uneXpect's music seems to be slightly out of grasp in regards to their recording abilities. On future albums, every element of this band's makeup would be improved upon, but that does not rob 'Utopia' of being a strong listen in its own regard. There is plenty of the weird and wonderful to digest here, as long as listeners do not expect the same polish that they are used to from this band.

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Thanks to Bryan for the artist addition. and to Rune2000 for the last updates

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