Unexpect
Fables of the Sleepless Empire


4.5
superb

Review

by Dakota West Foss USER (15 Reviews)
June 3rd, 2011 | 14 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The carnival's back in town.

Five years is a long time no matter how you view it. When Unexpect's In A Flesh Aquarium dropped, I was a freshman in high school who was just getting into metal. Oddly enough, that was one of the albums that pushed me over the edge into the world of all things heavy. Whereas most bands seemed cookie-cutter to a metal outsider, Unexpect were just so ***ing weird that it necessitated multiple listens to make sure that what I was listening to was actually real. From the odd time signatures to the disorienting vocal switches and unconventional instrumentation implementations, In A Flesh Aquarium was pretty much the equivalent to getting hammered, spun around and then taking a stroll through the local carnival at night; it was confusing, scary, and fun.

But that was FIVE years ago. I'm a sophomore in college now. I fall in and out of metal and the same things don't hold the same weight with me as they used to. Through that time, I've constantly check Unexpect's Myspace for updates (remember when that was cool?), dropped my jaw when I saw them live, and given up hope that something new would ever have come out. Leave it to Unexpect to quietly drop their third full-length in the middle of the crazy hype train that is 2011, I guess. Fables of the Sleepless Empire, I'm happy to report, is everything that made Unexpect great in the past and so much more.

Let's back up to In A Flesh Aquarium again for a bit. I love that album, but it did have a few glaring flaws. For one, it was really long and making it through one consecutive listen was draining from all the weirdness and oddities. Another thing that bogged the album down was that it felt like a collection of great, great songs, but it never really felt like it came together. The opener was flawless, there's a cohesive trilogy near the end, and the finale was an eleven minute epic that was somehow weirder than the rest of the album; but maybe it was too much.

Fables, on the hand, finds Unexpect becoming more comfortable with their sound and, dare I say, less gimmicky. The opener, Unsolved Ideas of a Distorted Guest, is a good indication of what to expect from the rest of the album; by that, I mean you don't know jack-*** about it. It's somehow both a groovy and classical sounding tune that quietly underlines the excellent new bass production and the band's better use of the keyboards that has few equals. It's also weird as hell. If you were one of those people who managed to wrap your brain around IAFA, good luck here: this album is probably weirder.

After that hodge-podge of a song ends, you're treated to an album that is, more or less, flawless in its opening half. Words opens up with a jaw-dropping combination of Chaoth's unparalled nine-string basswork and Leilindel's beautifully haunting vocals.Orange Vigilantes finds the band writing probably their poppiest tune yet with a groovy, catchy....chorus? What follows suit is probably what this album will be remembered for: the one-two-three punch assault of the BTBAM-esque Mechanical Phoenix, weirdness of The Quantum Symphony, and probably the best track on the album, The Unfed Pendulum.

Each song from the album's first half is untouchable and downright perfect in every regard. The only 'problem' to be found on this album is in the placement of the tracks after the aforementioned songs. Something feels...off when the album's two ambient pieces are placed so close together, especially after the unforgiving first half. Granted, both pieces are fine but it would have helped the pacing if they were spread apart a bit more.

Other than that, there's really nothing to not like on here. Fables is everything that you liked about Unexpect turned to eleven. The wonderful bass finally has the presence it deserves, the fat that plagued their earlier releases has been removed, they've somehow gotten weirder, the instruments work together better, and this album is just littered with moments that will drop your jaw. 2011 has seen it's fair share of high-profile progressive releases, but it's Unexpect's third full-length that takes the progressive crown (so far). The Canadian outfit, unlike Protest the Hero and Between the Buried and Me, have successfully taken their sound to the next level by making an album that provides more of the better and less of the worse. With the avalanche of metal releases provided this year, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. Whatever you do, do not let this album pass you by.



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user ratings (329)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Philippe (3.5)
Crazy beyond comprehension at times, yet still somewhat rewarding....

fromtheinside (3)
imagine summary if the i wrote like this. that like it's kinda...

jitteryzeitgeist (4.5)
It's UneXpect, on all cylinders, full-bore, hatef*cking thine ears into the Devils Circus....

Maniac (4.5)
My year is complete....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Odal
June 3rd 2011


350 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Was working on this before the other review went up XD

I'm not sure how I feel about the review, but the album is fantastic. Yes, this is the best progressive release so far. It's also one of the best in metal.

As for the review, comments/criticisms/suggestions are welcome.

So glad these guys are back.

Scoot
June 3rd 2011


17816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

holy fucking ballsack this looks promising

Scoot
June 3rd 2011


17816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just listened, it sounds like a hybrid of Sikth and Cynic.



Thor
June 3rd 2011


10200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Great album.

Odal
June 3rd 2011


350 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That's a pretty good description actually. I'd say more BTBAM than Sikth though. And female vocals....and strings

Thor
June 3rd 2011


10200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

These guys don't remind me of Cynic or Sikth. Sikth vocally at times, maybe.

Scoot
June 3rd 2011


17816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Some of the bass riffs are definitely Sikth-esque.

This shit sounds pretty original though, I must say.

OllieS
June 3rd 2011


2033 Comments


I hate to sound cliche, but this band is truly bizarre.

Maniac!
June 3rd 2011


26250 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like the casualness of the review, although there are things in the review that don't really add anything to it.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2011


10283 Comments


Holy damn, son! This is right up my alley.

FearThyEvil
June 3rd 2011


12627 Comments


Have to listen to this soon I loved the last album.

Yazz_Flute
June 3rd 2011


18811 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Need to get my other computer back soon, I can't get rar files on this one for some reason.

Very interested in hearing this.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

Sound
June 3rd 2011


3903 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

First spin was quite a ride. This is shaping up to be better than IaFA.


Virium
June 3rd 2011


12 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Pretty much completely agree with the review, except I don't think it's weirder than IAFA.



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