Review Summary: imagine summary if the i wrote like this. that like it's kinda
I have quite the quarrel with Fables of the Sleepless Empire
. On the one hand I admire Unexpect's aspiration and virtuosity. They excel in the art of psychotic metal; they seem to know no limits and their fervor to expand music’s parameters are often spellbinding. On the other hand I can't go longer than twenty seconds listening to this without thinking What. The. Fu
ck? It's a dizzying adventure that leaves me more than confused - instead of stars I see: elephants, phantoms, a charizard, and Charlie Manson all vivaciously dancing 'round my head; it leads me to assume it's probably what Cirque du Soleil is like on shrooms. However, it's more frustrating than it is scary or overly dramatic; I'm actually astonished this doesn't sit nicely within my collection, somewhere pocketed between The Dillinger Escape Plan
and Between the Buried and Me
, but Fables'
M.O. is intentional madness - an unnecessary and ultimately destructive factor to their most ambitious release to date.
best qualities lie in its execution. Clearly the band spent an insurmountable amount of time creating the most abstract workings of rhythm, juxtaposing sounds upon the most fragile of foundations. This is Unexpects trademark; indulging in areas of music that few dare wander and they meander through with ease - or, at least they used to, and things allude to that comfortable territory with opener "Unsolved Ideas of A Distorted Guest". Rapid twiddling of the bass lay framework for a compelling six minute frenzy of circus guided outbursts and dense grooves mixed with hyperactive synths and vocals. We're dealing with deficient attention spans here and there’s no better caterer, but with that lack of stability comes little to no cohesion whatsoever. I can't help but feel overwhelmed two songs in and having already listened to eighty seven genres of music within twelve minutes. These plights though are not what hinder Fables
from becoming the masterpiece it so desperately desires, no, that stems from what fosters.
Too many times Unexpect dabble in areas that sound immaculate only in their grandiose delusions. "Mechanical Phoenix", for example, features one of the most promising progressions within the album a minute into the song, but that potential is squandered with multiple cheeky change ups and superfluous needs to bombast the listener from one extreme to the other, whether it be with textures or more circus noises - a shtick that's better used scarcely might I add, and it's passages like this that do more frustrating than awing. The best song on the album "The Quantum Symphony" showcases what should have transpired throughout Fables
. The transitions are smooth and the breaks between melody and madness create that effervescent voyage into Unexpect’s world like the releases of past. Unfortunately, too often are we left to put the puzzle pieces together that make up this madhouse of music and the incoherence settles in; when they've shifted gears to orchestra centered metal with jazz fusions I'm still trying to digest the dog barked lyrics that precede it. Ironically a majority of Fables
plays out this way which leads me to its biggest fault.
They do too much
at one time. A lot of Fables
is truly astounding. Their ability to even fit middle eastern harmonies alongside power math metal is a feat in and of itself, but it's reduced to rubbish when the band fail to successfully compound on any of these instances. It's even more annoying because so many songs start off on the right foot and then do a 1260 degree turn in the wrong direction; main perpetrator "When the Joyful Dead Are Dancing" serves as the poster child for this headache; exploding with strings and sharp tonal changes create the atmosphere the ridiculous title implies, but ends on the most raucous of notes; having ditched the circus (there's that damn descriptor again, seriously it's only appealing so few times) wedding sound in favor of something
that flowed into the ear sore of a closer that completely flat lines in an attempt to end epically. I guess it's only right that the album end as far from its beginning as feasible, though, and in hindsight I can laud the band for their consistency for straying way, way
off the path