|Review: Unexpect - Utopia|
Year released: 1999
Genre: Avant-garde Metal
Review online: January 1, 2008
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Rated 3.29/5 (65.71%) (7 Votes)
UneXpect is a strange case. They have a legion of rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth fans who proclaim them the greatest band in the universe, but they're really not that great at all. For the uninitiated, they play a very eccentric, strange brand of music that has so many outside influences that I hesitate to really even call it "metal." We have just about everything here - Black Metal screeching, operatic male vocals, heavy riffage, some melodic Power Metal soloing, violins, and just about anything else you can think of. Hell, I'll give this band props for knowing how to play their instruments and at least constructing batshit insane, unique songs that go places nobody else has ever dared to go, but that does not automatically constitute a good band.
Utopia was their obscure debut, apparently not released on any label and very hard to find, at least before the band remastered and re-released it later. They at least showed some semblance of restraint here, so the songs are somewhat listenable and coherent. The music here seems to have a solid root in Melodic Death Metal, although there are several layers of colorful instrumentation atop that ground surface to disguise it. Bizarre riff patterns intertwine with symphonic atmospheric parts and luscious solos, riddled with time changes and progressive spices around every corner, as the vocals alternate between a maddening shriek and a clean, soothing female voice. Every member of UneXpect is talented individually, and the guitar lines are occasionally stellar, as are the female vocals, but it just doesn't do anything for me. This album is dull. Yes, despite the bells and whistles and frills UneXpect adorn just about every inch of this album with, it is still boring and monotonous as fuck. They've created an album with pomp and pride, but there is nothing here that makes me ever want to listen to them again after the album is finished. It's just too much, all of this - the songs are all buried beneath suffocating, oppressive layers of weirdness that drags them down to banality. It's a common trend on Utopia for a song to lose focus and meander off into la-la land, from where it never returns. This is not helped by the fact that this disc is far, far too long for its own good, with several tracks breaking the 7 minute mark. There's so much going on that you'll be confused, and the album will quickly lose focus and fade into the background; sort of a reverse effect from what the band intended.
Hell, though, if the band is satisfied with their brand of insane asylum music, which they certainly seem to be, let them keep making it. This band is talented, but they chose a musical path that not many others would, and unfortunately it comes off as disjointed and somewhat confused here. The oddly placed cool riff or solo brings the score for this one up quite a lot, and there are good moments scattered about, but I still can't pinpoint one entire song that could be considered anything resembling a standout. Not recommended, as this is far too weird to try and give to any select group of people, although there will obviously be those who worship this as if it were the new Messiah come to deliver us from evil and temptation. Try it with caution.
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