The mindblowing existence of unexpecT started 14 years ago – hard to imagine now – they just have two full-lengths and an EP. They released their first material as teenagers, it was Utopia, which featured a definitely progressive and innovative edge of extreme metal. Four years later in 2003 the grand revival came with the title of _wE, Invaders. This very EP was released and distributed by Galy Records. I don’t know whether the label company was aware of what unexpecT was going to be. But I suppose The End Records knew.
This EP was above expectations, it introduced a brand-new visionary that evolved through the years and reached its top at 2006 with the second full-length In a Flesh Aquarium. There can be numerous explanation for this phenomenon but the first two are the most trivial. Firstly, the core of the band (Artagoth, syriaK, Lunorin and le bateleur) became mature concerning their mind, their creativity and ideas. The second is that the band underwent serious line-up changes. Once Merzenya (keys), Zircon (bass) and Elda (vocals) quit the band. Lunorin became known as ExoD and took up the keyboardist position (he was the drummer during the Utopian era), therefore the guys had to find a female singer, a drummer and a bass guitarist. It wasn’t easy but back in 2003 the final and the later IaFA line-up was created. And this new group produced _wE, Invaders. The invaders came and struck upon the open-minded listener with their new, best, originally* 26 minute long material.
The cover features orange colours with cloud shapes. In the background one can observe cog-wheels. In the foreground there’s a tree and (I suppose) Novaë, the braggart of a last jest who is dressed in suit and wears a stove-pipe. Interesting though, that in the bottom, the right corner of the cover seems to have been torn – it made me think it could be originally a poster on a wall – this can be the best explanation because the paint of the orange shapes seems to be running down. But it also can symbolize grey reality which breaks into one’s dreamland or it can tell one the story of the relationship between dreams and waking up – as one wakes up the dreams disappear.
*The EP originally contained 4 tracks but in this review I will also write about a previously unreleased song can be found on the 2007 2CD release of IaFA. The first movement is Novaë which starts in an atmospheric sense (just like the next piece will, Rooted Shadows) giving the impression of Psychic Jugglers (and vice versa), the backstage of a theatre floating in Space. Church organs come in, and are played quite fast for such an instrument which is usually used in churches to accompany with slow and long sounds the psalms and etc.. However, the song is generally fast paced with its continuous blast beats borrowed from black/death metal. In the middle, the track evolves into an electronic, ambient like style which separates the first and the second & third part of the act from each other.
The vocal production is IaFA like, fast, aggressive growls, shrieks, ethereal female singing. And lest I forget: those changes in the vocals. It’s not common to change vocals during one verse and not even in one line! like the guys did on IaFA. The lyrics also tend to be IaFA ones, surrealistic metaphors, allegories which either can tell the listener personal or political or poetical messages or something else. And to make it more complex: the presence of the Siaknarf language, their invention – it’s a maze.
Rooted Shadows starts with distorted guitars giving me a vision of floating in the high air above Egypt – I don’t know why Egypt. Why not Quebec? Nevermind.
The intro-like first minute is tricky, if one listens to it too loudly one might can get scared by the sudden, dramatic volume changes. The chorus* is highly identical and can sound sample-like sometimes. *Yes, this time unexpecT dealt with different song structures comparing to IaFA. If there are choruses on IaFA then they aren’t identical or all the parts of the songs are identical, thus one cannot tell surely which one is the chorus and which is not. The real effort of this piece starts half-way through. le bateleur plays a violin solo which evolves into a medieval fair-like music, a bit “carnevallish”, and then a very dynamic and cadent metal part comes which always causes serious headbangs while the patients listen to it – no matter where and when.
In Velvet Coffins We Slept is a remake of In Velvet Coffins We Sleep known from the utopian era. Slept, not sleep – the now is something new, something better, the guys left the past behind. This very song is – as I said – a renovated version of IVCWS. The difference between them is the following: the new sound is surprisingly clearer, the song is faster, more melodic and dynamical, the violin has a bigger role and the whole production is softer in a sense. However, there is no change in the structure which is good as it is. Around the first third one can hear that the song becomes quiet and generates a vision of a starry night with blazing camp-fire using electronic effects and acoustic guitars. But then the celestial gates of the night sky and Space are elegantly opening to the worshippers dancing in the name of Walpurgis Night under the glorious black wings of the night. After this the confession bursts into a hymnal chant: Oh, sweet night we cherish you! A hymn to the Night. Hello, Goethe. Hey, Novalis.
The fourth piece is a really enjoyable piano instrumental version of Chromatic Chimera. This piano edition is also highly dynamical and it became the core of the IaFA CC. Sadly, those pretty electronic effects which appear here were cut out while making the full version for IaFA. Sometimes it sounds a bit Beethoven-like to me though. Anyway, important to note: this particular song is great example of the unexpecT songwriting sense since on IaFA one can hear clearly the accompanying piano throughout the songs which is the basis of the songs.
And finally, the previously unreleased song, Puppet’s Strange Vision. As far I can remember, this piece was originally put on ExoD’s old myspace site but some time ago he removed it. ExoD also promised us a remix of it – I’m not sure whether this one is it but towards the end there are some minor changes in the structure. Anyway, this song is one of the best proof of the songwriting and composing talent of ExoD. The track is an almost 8 minute long electronica opus. One can surely tell it’s a work of ExoD, it has many identical points. The first part is similar to Silence_011010701 with its dark, cutting sounds. The ambient effects make this song sound futuristic and urban-like which is known previously from an ExoD track, City of NOST HALL-G. The song evolves into a nearly trip-hop one when suddenly eastern bazaar melodies come in which are similar to the ones found in HiTech Gangster Market. Along with these, a definitely symphonic line approaches making the song sound movie score like. As the act gains speed and becomes filled with tension noisy trip-hop beats arrive again but they are rapidly substituted with drum’n’bass ones as the song moves on to the grand finale. This track is a highly eclectic but a great piece of ExoD’s.
Taking everything into account, _wE, Invaders is a perfect predecessor of IaFA. The evolution of the music of unexpecT can be observed while listening to their three albums, the stages are built on each other. This album was the one that showed the fans the threshold of a new era which topped during IaFA and for this reason it is highly recommended for anybody who is curious about how unexpecT evolved into a mindkiller act.
Release: 2003 Nov / 2007 Oct
Label: Galy Records / The End Records
Duration: 26:33 / 34:20*
Origin: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Official site: http://www.unexpect.com/
Review online since: 18.04.2008 / 21:16:29
1 – Novaë
2 – Rooted Shadows
3 – In Velvet Coffins We Slept
4 – Chromatic Chimera
5 – Puppet’s Strange Vision*