The End Records never ceases to amaze in recent times with its assortment of talented, progressive bands that seem to flock to its representation. One of the more recent of these converts is the incredibly gifted band, UNEXPECT. Despite the band’s near incessant complications with line-up changes, this seven-piece wonder out of Montreal should astound and impress legions of fans worldwide with their recent release, In a Flesh Aquarium. It’s not every day that you hear a band combine aspects of black metal, cabaret circus music, spoken word, and classical overtones with a result that’s not only mind blowing but possibly the most ambitious work of 2006.
The band’s name could not be more appropriate as their combination of songwriting influences are put together in an utterly schizophrenic fashion, yet each song retains a cohesiveness to it that prevents it from turning into complete chaos. Apparent influences are widely inclusive from KAYO DOT and PRIMUS to RAM-ZET. Vocals also range from male shrieks and roars to lofty female operatic singing with dashes of dark spoken word thrown in for fun. This is not a “beauty and the beast” vocal style band. The first four tracks of the album (“Chromatic Chimera,” “Feasting Fools,” “Desert Urbania,” and “Summoning Scenes”) are perhaps the most listener friendly and catchiest of the bunch (assuming that any of their material can be classified as such), while the remainder of the album is more experimental with full instrumentals and the intriguing set of three songs (“A Clown’s Mindtrap,” “Meet Me at the Carousel,” and “Another Dissonant Chord”) titled collectively as “The Shiver.” The last track on the album, “Psychic Jugglers,” is an opus over 11 minutes that truly explores the gamut of UNEXPECT’s sound.
In a Flesh Aquarium never ceases to be both fascinating and intelligent throughout the entire album. The dedication required to put together such influences and combine them with incredible songwriting prowess should garner this band respect with such difficulty alone. This album receives my vote for the best album released in 2006, and anyone with a taste for heavier music wanting to try something truly different and experimental should not hesitate to give this band a try. A truly amazing work. (The End Records)