Unexpect – Fables of the Sleepless Empire (2011) Review
Well, it’s been how many months since I’ve written a review? And it’s really a shame, because so many good albums have come out so far this year! I’ll do my best to catch up, but it might be a Sisyphean task. Anyways, on to the review.
Unexpect is an avant-garde metal band. Well, they’re actually about 20 genres mashed up into somewhat-cohesive sound, but there’s a distinct metal-ness to their music. For people unfamiliar with avant-garde metal, Unexpect might not be a good band to listen to as an introduction to the genre. I don’t mean this in a bad way, it’s just that Unexpect packs a ton of insanity into their music, so it can end up being overwhelming. For people with the attention and patience to devote to listening to Unexpect’s music, this newest album will prove to be a very rewarding, very satisfying listen. There’s so much good stuff going on, it’s hard for me to even know where to start.
I guess I should talk about the general vibe of the music first. It’s a little creepy, a little manic, and very ADD. Their music sounds both old and new; there’s something timeless about some of their melodies (when they bother with melodies), yet there are so many experimental moments that remind you of just how damn modern and unusual this band really is. With this album, you’ll get a beautiful string melody followed by some electronic effects that sound more like noise than music, all of this layered over a deeply metal sensibility. This is not music that you can simply sit back and headbang to, both because the tempo is always changing up on the listener and because this music truly demands your full attention.
If you’re able to wrap your head around the many layers of sound Unexpect is throwing at you, you’ll notice that the instrumentals and composition are really and truly impressive. There’s some serious musicianship going on, and any dissonance is obviously artistic choice rather than lack of talent. The vocals that accompany the insane instrumentals are incredibly varied; one moment you’ll get very pretty female vocals, the next you’ll get a bunch of crazed-sounding growls. Often the different styles of vocals will be harmonized, which creates a really interesting effect over the already bizarre sound of the instrumentals. The lyrics are complete nonsense, but I feel that doesn’t detract from the music (this album is one of the few cases where I’ll say that). Seriously, don’t try to read too far into the lyrics, you’ll just end up with a headache. The nonsense of it all seems more appropriate for their music than more decipherable lyrics would offer.
Anyways, this is a really fun listen if you’re willing to put in the brain power. I thoroughly enjoyed this album, but I know that Unexpect’s sound can be off-putting and I am sure many people will disagree with me over how to rate this album. Eh, it takes all kinds in this world.Unexpect - Fables of the Sleepless Empire (2011) Review,