Unexpect - In a Flesh Aquarium
Record Label: The End Records
Release Date: November 30, 2005
As their name implies, the only thing you can expect from Unexpect is the unexpected. I came across In a Flesh Aquarium randomly when shopping around on Amazon, and boy I am glad I blindly stumbled across this incredible masterpiece of an album. Hailing from what is fast becoming the hardcore/metal capital of Canada, Montreal, Unexpect is “a metal laboratory mixing elements of black, death, core, symphonic, progressive and melodic metal, classical, operatic, medieval, goth, electro, ambient, psychotic, noise and circus with an occasional jazzy touch”, which I had to quote from the band’s Myspace because there really is no better way to describe their music. The seven piece is comprised of a violinist, a keyboard player, a bassist, 2 guitarists/vocalists, a drummer, and a female singing contemporary dancer, who all unite to create this insanely technical, medieval style prog-metal masterpiece.
The guitarists keep the riffs up tempo and constantly switch between genres, comparable to Sikth in their sheer technicality and unpredictability. There are plenty of piano led waltzy/circus sections, often highlighted by strings, but before they become overwhelming the guitarists come back shredding the gnar. The bassist uses his trademark 9 string bass, which I can’t imagine anyone fitting their hand around, but rest assured he shreds that beast. Unlike your typical heavier-genre releases, the bass riffs really add some depth and complexity to the music instead of just getting lost in the mix. The violin and piano are utilized throughout the entire album (not just at select parts or slower parts), which is what helped this album really stand out. Imagine Sikth in medieval times with violin and piano constantly shredding AND a female vocalist singing in an opera like style over the whole mix – the end product is just incredible. The duel male vocalists go back and forth between high and low screams, oftentimes in a rapidly-spitting “scat-man” type style (I feel another Sikth comparison coming on…). The female vocals are just plain beautiful and contribute positively to the mix, helping to make Unexpect's style even more unique. Beyond all the experimental instrumentation and multiple vocal stylings, Unexpect even find room for some sampling and electronica type sections (see track 7, “the Shiver, A Clown’s Mindtrap”) to add just a little bit more complexity and progressiveness to their sound.
Going through describing this album track by track would be impossible to do, but even if it could be done it would take about all the space in the World Wide Web to accurately describe everything going on here. Some highlights throughout the album are the “call and answer” type solo session between guitar and violin towards the end of track 3, “Desert Urbania”, and the frantically paced “Megalomaniac Trees”, one of the heavier tracks on the album which also features some brass (horn I believe?). Unexpect may just be the most original band on Earth, which is why you should check them out. At least take two seconds to click the link for their Myspace below, because if you don’t, you’ll be missing out on the truly incredible experience that is In a Flesh Aquarium.