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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 Le´lindel. 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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In A Flesh AquariumIn A Flesh Aquarium
The End Records 2006
Audio CD$8.26
$1.89 (used)
Fables Of The Sleepless EmpireFables Of The Sleepless Empire
Audio CD$239.49 (used)
We InvadersWe Invaders
Galy Records/Lumberjack 2006
Audio CD$45.98 (used)
In A Flesh Aquarium by UNEXPECT (2006)In A Flesh Aquarium by UNEXPECT (2006)
The End Records
Audio CD$28.40
In a Fresh AquariumIn a Fresh Aquarium
Import
3d Japan 2006
Audio CD$37.07
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UNEXPECT discography


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

3.14 | 36 ratings
Utopia
1999
4.17 | 245 ratings
In a Flesh Aquarium
2006
4.08 | 292 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)

3.62 | 26 ratings
_wE, Invaders
2003

UNEXPECT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Fables of the Sleepless Empire by UNEXPECT album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.08 | 292 ratings

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Fables of the Sleepless Empire
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by SoundsofSeasons
Prog Reviewer

5 stars With production quality at would make Steven WIlson blush, Multi-layered wall of sound that would blow Devon Townsend's ears back, and technical skill that any musician can appreciate (such as myself) this is an album and a band that take music to new heights. I rarely have to put so much attention into music to soak up every tone with my sponge- like brain.

As a musician myself (10+ years drums/ 10+ years piano) this is one of those bands that put me in my place musically. Humility comes with experience, but this is just embarrassing. I can see that some may find this music pretentious. That there is too much going on at any time. If you feel that way, then we will not agree on my review. I wish to listen to an album over and over and find new things that tickle my mind. I actually find this album more accessible and focused than the previous, but with a larger spread of tonality.

The previous album was amazing in its own way, but it could be difficult to pick one song from another. That isn't necessarily a bad thing if that is what you are into at the time, but this one cuts the fat on the hyper- psychotic. It still has that but in chunks that lead into times for breathing with great pacing. I don't find an album perfection unless the pacing is perfect, and that is hard to do. Also, if an album when it is over makes you feel like it just wasn't quite long enough that is a good thing! The length is just right.

If you are a musician, you can see just how far the rabbit hole goes with this one.

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 In a Flesh Aquarium by UNEXPECT album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.17 | 245 ratings

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In a Flesh Aquarium
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

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!

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 Utopia by UNEXPECT album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.14 | 36 ratings

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Utopia
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars If you're like me then you started listening to UNEXPECTED's twisted mangled musical melodies beginning with either "In A Flesh Aquarium" or "Fables Of The Sleepless Empire." In my case i began with the last and worked my way back in time finally arriving at the debut UTOPIA which i hesitated in even checking out because of the almost universal critique that basically pans it. Well, finally arriving at this debut with nowhere to go except wait for a new album, i have to say that i was totally taken aback by how much i like this. True that it is not the fully formed musical madness of the aforementioned masterpieces but taken on its own terms and comparing it to any metal of 1999 leaves this album in a very interesting place for its time AND it's one that i actually find myself listening to on a regular basis. It is basically UNEXPECT Light, that is an album that already showed a genre blending prowess but instead of incorporating every known genre in the universe into the mix, this one took a more conservative approach. In fact, this album reminds me of what the Japanese avant-garde metal act Sigh was doing at the same time or at least the closest thing to it.

UNEXPECT was already mastering the art of blending the classical influenced black metal that reminds me of early Ulver with its often operatic vocal tradeoffs with black metal riffs crossed with a healthy dose of death metal growls, riffage and intensity. There is also plenty of traditional metal influence in the mix as well. There also exists lots of progressive metal riffage as well. On board with all the metal influence is a generous dose of Chopin inspired piano runs and to a lesser degree at this early stage the gypsy folk violins but they do appear here and there. While the female vocals on this album contributed only on this debut by Elda are mostly kept in the back of the mix, she does take the lead at times. The songs are generally quite lengthy and go through many changes but there are much more recognizable musical patterns at this stage of the game and for anyone who finds their later works much too busy and impossible to comprehend, they should start here to hear where they are coming from and how they evolved their sonic chaos into the craziness it would become. The music on UTOPIA is roughly 80% extreme metal with classically inspired melodies mixed with traditional metal. The gypsy influences are minimal and the violin plays a subordinate role for the most part.

I've fallen for this band but i am finding that the debut album is no exception. I have read countless gripes about the horrible production. I have the 2006 remastered version which i don't find outstanding but it doesn't sound horrible either. I have not heard the original recording so all i can do is suggest to try the newer version if that was a reason for not liking this. Musically this is really beautiful. It doesn't seem like a mess at all. The compositions are well thought out and they flow very nicely together. The lack of future busyness ensures that this is a smoother listen and one that can be listened to less attentively to unravel its mysteries. In fact, there are no mysteries which makes this a great place to begin to appreciate UNEXPECT's unique take on making avant-garde metal. To me this sounds like a more aggressive version of what Akphaezya would create later on and i would guess that this was an influence for them. Despite this having a running time of 65:34 i always have to listen to the entire album once i put it on. This is a mildly avant-garde metal that will appeal to those who love that style of metal that retains the dominance of the melody. Guess i'm in a lonely room with this one :P 3.5 rounded up

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 _wE, Invaders by UNEXPECT album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.62 | 26 ratings

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_wE, Invaders
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

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 | 245 ratings

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In a Flesh Aquarium
Unexpect Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

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
4.08 | 292 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
4.08 | 292 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, Řber-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
4.08 | 292 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
4.08 | 292 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 | 245 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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