Released: 2011, Ascendance Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Let’s get this out of the way – what can you expect from a band named Unexpect? The unexpected of course! Har, har, har…Okay, but seriously folks; Unexpect’s latest release FABLES OF THE SLEEPLESS EMPIRE is one of the most uniquely creative and innovative albums I’ve heard in ages. Seamlessly integrating elements of progressive metal, black metal, jazz, and spastic journeys into genres that haven’t even been defined yet, the album is a jaw droppingly gorgeous exploration into how fantastic “different” can sound.
The album is a less a collection of songs in the traditional sense than a complete listening experience broken into 11 acts. Unexpect strings together what would be random and incompatible arrangements and makes them into something phenomenal. Each track integrates a recipe of gypsy violins, virtuoso guitar and 9-string bass with the shared female/male vocals of Leïlindel and Artagoth amongst a web of keyboards, synth effects for a cavalcade of musical expression. It’s almost impossible to try and describe the tracks individually, as there are so many shifts and turns within most of the songs that a written depiction wouldn’t do them proper justice. That’s not a cop out, that’s being honest.
Unexpect bridges various musical “moods” throughout the album. “Words” is a sweepingly emotive track, while a tune like “The Quantum Symphony” is a more unidirectional and powerful track. “In the Mind of the Last Whale” is an ambient trancelike interlude, while the simple vocal/violin refrain of “A Fading Stance” is nothing short of haunting. I’d love to be a fly on the wall during the band’s writing sessions, because as diverse as these musical puzzle pieces may seem, Unexpect effortlessly fits them into place. And I cannot emphasize enough how ridiculously talented the individual participants of the band are. There’s no shortage of “holy crap, that was amazing” moments on FABLES; every time I listen to the album, I hear things I missed before and find myself saying again “holy crap, that was amazing.”
Unexpect’s bio labels their sound as “Cirque du Soleil goes metal amidst an acid-trip version of The Dark Crystal.” I can’t think of a better endorsement than that. You need to hear this album. You owe it to yourself to hear this album. Unexpect deserves to have this album heard and appreciated by the masses, it’s that good. Check out the band’s website and Bandcamp page to purchase a copy of FABLES OF THE SLEEPLESS EMPIRE.