Unexpect – Fables of the Sleepless Empire

By Jason Wellwood

It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from Montreal’s Unexpect, and with good reason: they’ve been writing a new album. Now, for some bands taking over three years to create an album would be a luxury but when you’re Unexpect it’s a necessity. Combining elements of death metal, opera, jazz, progressive metal and avant-garde rock and making it work is not an easy task but Unexpect have been succeeding at it for 12 years and Fables of the Sleepless Empire may just be their best album yet. My first impression listening to the album is that both the songwriting and production have improved immensely since the previous album. Not that In A Flesh Aquarium was bad, on the contrary, it was quite good, but here the band seems to have really gelled; the parts work together instead of in spite of each other and everything is crystal clear, there is no mud at all.

‘Unsolved Ideas of a Distorted Guest’ sets the tone for the entire album with its beautiful, melodic opening that gives way to some nine-string bass funk, which blends into some metal, then to an obvious madman sing/speaking, back to some funk, into a bit of cartoon carnival music, then…put it this way: if you’re looking for a band that follows a traditional verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus structure, you are not going to dig Unexpect. This is definitely a hard band to pigeonhole and calling Unexpect a ‘metal’ band is selling them short, just like calling Fables of the Sleepless Empire a ‘good’ album would be selling it short. Using every positive adjective I could find may not do the album or the band justice but try this on: Unexpect are a collection of aural artists and in Fables of the Sleepless Empire they have created their masterpiece.

Bottom line: Unexpect have taken their song writing and performing to a new level, and it’s an astounding one. Fables of the Sleepless Empire may be a sleeper album as the band is doing all the promotion, sales, tour booking, etc. on it themselves, but I’m willing to be that it’s going to end up on a LOT of year end lists from people who know music. Not just metal mind you, MUSIC.

Well freaking done!!


Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.

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