UNEXPECT - Fables Of The Sleepless Empire

Unexpect - Fables Of The Sleepless Empire

11 songs
55:46 minutes
***** ****


Unexpect from Canada don’t label themselves an extreme metal band for nothing. Although they have been around since 1996, they don’t release new material too often. In the past they managed to challenge their audience’s ears with their records Utopia? (1999), We, Invaders (2003) and In A Flesh Aquarium (2006), and their current longplayer Fables Of The Sleepless Empire is certainly no exception to the rule. Once again the most different genres are combined in the most unusual ways that might even leave Mike Patton or Devin Townsend speechless.

The seven men and one woman more or less continue in the same vein that we are used from them, but this shouldn’t mean that their band name makes any less sense. The songs sound totally confusing and weird, making it impossible to pinpoint them to one single style. The material is richly orchestrated, with the regular rock instruments being complemented by a nine-stringed bass guitar, a violin and a viola. Leilinden’s vocals are breath taking and incredibly varied, with her quieter performances reminding partly of Anneke van Girsbergen.

The different moods that are on display are also out of this world. Sometimes the music feels like a rock opera or a musical, then there are some electronica elements, but also occasionally free jazz, avant-garde and black metal elements. It doesn’t make sense to point out one single highlight because every track, apart maybe from the two short instrumentals, has its very own distinctive charm. It goes without saying that every listening session will reveal new elements that have been undiscovered before.

If Fables Of The Sleepless Empire had been a debut, I would have given it the maximum rating. As the band is relying on their tried and tested recipes, I go one point less. Unexpect are still much more progressive than most other bands that adorn themselves with the progressive metal label. Fans of Dillinger Escape Plan, Devin Townsend Project, The Shining and the like should definitely check out these crazy Canadians.

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