Unexpect: Fables of the Sleepless Empire Reviewed

Unexpect’s Fables of the Sleepless Empire came out on May 31, 2011. Unlike the last review, this did not appear on many if any top albums of 2011. This leads me to think this might be the most underrated album of last year.

You know you’re in for a treat right from the start. You get some fun funky beats right in the start of track one. Transitioning into some pretty hard thrashing with lovely violin parts. Three vocalists come in and out of the track ranging between operatic singing, standard rock singing, and creepy screaming. The end of the song turns into what sounds like an orchestral work. They really seemlessly pull all of this complication together into a fantastically coherent song. And that’s just the first one on the album!!

This is really music composition at its finest. Unexpect puts the thought in that is often lacking in many metal genres. They don’t sacrifice melody because they have some awesomely complicated rhythms. They don’t sacrifice interesting chord progressions for pounding out a single bass note.

Every aspect of the song writing is polished to the point where I’m sure they write, rewrite, edit, and trash huge portions like true professionals. All the pieces work together beautifully. They don’t force instruments to be playing when they don’t need to be (which is something that annoys the crap out of me). This creates huge dynamic ranges from almost nothing at times to as loud and big as the biggest bands you can think of.

Maybe the best part of their composition technique is that they don’t have just a single melody going on at a time. Metal often follows the pattern of guitar chords, then screaming, then guitar solo, etc. One thing happens at a time. Here we get two or three melodies going simultaneously constructed carefully in counterpoint rather than just a solo on top of some other stuff. They are given equal weight so that they complement each other.

I have no idea how to classify this band. They are mind bogglingly outside of a genre. Yet it feels so natural. They are part opera, part circus music, part theatrical musical, part orchestra, part technical-prog-death-metal, you get the idea (or you probably don’t if you haven’t heard them). Every song on this album I find extremely unique and exciting.

This album will take a ton of listens to unravel. It is certainly the most complicated album I’ve reviewed so far. It is like being inside the mind of a clown with severe schizophrenia. Somehow it is probably the most fun as well. Maybe I burned myself out on it by too obsessively listening to it when I first got it, but one day I set it aside and never came back. Because the excitment surrounding the album left just as quickly as it came I’m refraining from giving a 10.

Overall, this album gets most underrated album of 2011 and a rating of 9/10 from me.

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