Review Summary: My year is complete.
It’s been about a year since Unexpect graced and pillaged my ears. They were one of very few bands that knocked me on my behind upon the first listen. They were frantic, weird, and they all came off as psychopaths… and I liked it. In a Flesh Aquarium
was a great album, with a few fatal flaws. It wasn’t the chaotic mess that they created that was the problem. It was the fact that it was overly long and the theme of the album didn’t seem to come completely together. Unexpect fixed all that this time around.
Fables of the Sleepless Empire
is essentially Unexpect doing the same thing that they have already been doing, but they have improved in every possible way. Thankfully the classical instruments are still in play, something that almost certainly would have been a bad thing to do away with. In fact, not only are the violins and various other string instruments still around, but they actually fit in with the music even better than they did on the previous album. Rather than feeling like they are there to throw off the listener, they add depth to the music and feel needed to pull off each song. The big thing that impressed me and had me listening over and over, however, was the bass. The bass is one of the integral parts of Unexpect’s sound. The nine string bass is played beautifully, but most of all it is mixed properly so you can hear it clearly with the rest of the instrumentation. To put it concisely, the whole rhythm section is much tighter than before.
It’s not only the implementation of the strings and the tighter instrumentation that have improved, though. The vocals have gotten not only technically better, but also more interesting. The signature death metal growls mixed with beautiful female clean vocals are still there, but they no longer just rely on the fact that it’s a weird mix. The clean melodies are used much more than before, yet don’t seem overdone, which is easily done when it comes to this kind of music. As for the growls, not much has changed except that you hear a lot more high-pitched growls than before.
One thing that really bothered me on the previous album, though, was how the synth was used . It had some really nice moments where it really added to the atmosphere of the song, but most of the time it sounded like it was tacked on top of everything else. Also, songs like “Silence_011010701” came off as a waste of playtime, as it contributed nothing but needless synth noodling. On this album, however, the synth almost always sounds like a genuine part of the music. Overall the whole album is more cohesive and feels like a whole piece of work, rather than a scattered mess of great ideas and interesting instrumentation.
Fables of the Sleepless Empire
has improved on everything that was lacking before, but also improved on things that were fine already. They have taken steps forward with their brand of metal while not stepping too far out of their comfort zone or sounding like they are rehashing previous material. It is a genuine mark of improvement and makes me optimistic for their future.