UnexpectIn A Flesh Aquarium
Rating: 4.5/5.0
Band website: http://www.unexpect.com
Label: The End Records

In ages past super-grindy sporadic insanity was really the territory (should I say.. TERRORtory!! *cough*) of grind bands and then, more recently, it became part of the ‘metalcore’ scene as bands like Into the Moat and Between the Buried and Me began co-opting the sporadic nature of super tech bands into their sound. Apparently, however, Unexpect missed the memo that you need to either be grindcore or have a sentence for a name to sound like they do. And how do they sound? Aside from sounding totally awesome, they sound like “sporadicore meets how-Arcturus-wanted-to-sound-but-never-had-the-production-for meets Mr. Bungle/Primus.”

But really, In A Flesh Aquarium is probably one of the freshest things I’ve heard in the metal scene in a long time. These silly canucks have really managed to piece something together that is both creative and progressive while being terribly heavy and managing to avoid ubiquitous metal cliche. They blend a fine variety of creative instrumentation with a vocal approach that involves about 3 vocalists (from the sounds of it), including death growls, black metal screams and female vocals–but they don’t just rely on instrumentation and differentiated vocals define their sound; they write truly interesting and innovative music. They combine in jazz elements as well as sporadic grind stuff and they occasional nod towards good old-fashioned Norsky black metal and older goth stuff like Moonspell or Theatre of Tragedy. This dark, near goth, feel that they create is often offset by a grind aspect and then re-built with subtle violin melodies and female vocals or keyboards. Somehow all of this is seemlessly built into a sound–probably the most impressive part of the whole project–somehow they manage to make all of these sporadic influences part of a cohesive whole.

The album flows very well, though because of my admittedly poor (read: no) experience with French a lot of the lyrics are pretty much gibberish to me. There is a sense of insanity that permeates the whole record and doesn’t need lyrics (a conveniant blend of English and French) to get across. Each song is individual, but the whole album is definitely a cohesive point of excellent heavy metal writing. However, this is definitely an earphone album, if one ever existed. Because of how much differential instrumentation there is, the number of changes in voicing, etc., it sometimes is very hard to follow unless you’re listening to it very closely. The intricacies will be totally lost on you if you don’t really give it a serious, close listen. Those who have the patience to do so will be greatly rewarded by one of the best albums to have been released in the scene in a very, very long time.

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