Release Date: Nov. 2003
UneXpect’s first EP shows the band at their most accessible, but don’t confuse this as meaning this isn’t a highly atypical and unusually creative release.
This EP does ultimately play mostly like a technical progressive metal release with violins and keyboards rather than the outlandishness contained on 2006’s In A Flesh Aquarium.
Opening track “Novae” rides the lines between familiar UneXpect, featuring diverse dual-screamed vocals from the two guitarist, and sung female vocals, but it’s overall perhaps more melodic than you may be used to. The melodies and harmonies, especially of the violin and keyboard parts, as well as the other instrumentation, along with the symphonic, intermittent choir vocals all quite set this track apart from future works. This is not to say In A Flesh Aquarium isn’t very good in its own right, it is (though I’d go as far as to call 2011’s vastly underrated Fables of the Sleepless Empire I’d go as far calling amazing), but “Novae” is a powerful track with better melodies than practically anything on said album.
This is followed up by the considerably more aggressive “Rooted Shadows”, which is ultimately a bit darker, features more blastbeats and strays a bit further from the path of what’s generally considered “normal” in metal – with a classically-inspired solo violin at about the 2-minute 30-second mark, followed by a what I believe to be Eastern European, folk part.
One of my favorite UneXpect songs of all time, “In Velvet Coffins We Slept” is perhaps their most melodic and emotionally powerful songs. It also contains one of my favorite opening moments of any song. The violin parts that open this track are just excellent. All the guitar riffs, the bass parts, and changes in this song come off as well-considered, and the whole thing is just moving, and epic. Cannot forget epic, which is truly the ultimate way of describing this song. My only wish is the lead vocals were a bit louder in the mix.
“Chromatic Chimera” is a mostly-dissonant piano piece (re: chromatic scales), but actually winds up being quite memorable despite this. The electrified version of this song wonderfully kicks off the follow-up LP In A Flesh Aquarium as well, which is pretty neat, as it gives these releases some level of shared consistency.
UneXpect technically released a full-length 4 years before this EP, 1999’s Utopia, but that release is a band finding their voice as well as a band who clearly didn’t have enough cash to get a decent recording or mix, so to me, this is the band’s true start.
Ultimately, the band has given the world two excellent albums and an excellent EP. All well worth a listen for fans of experimental metal music.
9-string bassist ChaotH also released an EP in 2017 as part of a new band under the name Vvon Dogma I, called Communion, which, while not very similar to UneXpect, is well worth a listen as well.
Highlights: “Novae”, “In Velvet Coffins We Slept”