Top positive review
29 people found this helpful
on September 12, 2006
It isn't very common these days for an album to really surprise me and stop me in my tracks on account of it being so bizarre. Fortunately, I'm glad to say that this is one of those albums, and it's a very refreshing feeling. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I possess a sufficiently surreal vocabulary and a vivid enough imagination to properly translate this aural mindf**k into words.
"In A Flesh Aquarium" is a schizophrenic genre trip... only with all involved genres being turned inside out and twisted beyond any form of immediate recognition. There are possible points of reference, but they are sort of vague - certain moments remind me heavily of what Maudlin of the Well's experiments in amalgamation might have sounded like if Toby Driver and the guys had recorded them during a tour through oblivion instead of a journey through the astral realm of dreams or whatever the hell they were doing; others bring to mind what Ram-Zet might sound like if they dropped some of the melancholy and added about 200% theatrical adventurism; moments that bring to mind classic Russian folk music; and stuff that really does sound like the Cirque du Soleil gone black metal. There are even moments that remind me of Mr. Bungle and Primus, and very specific excerpts in certain songs that wouldn't have much trouble passing for The Dresden Dolls.
The vocals are all over the place. Guitarists/vocalists Syriak and Artagoth trade off raging screams, black metal-ish shrieks, and death metal-ish growls. Occasionally they will let up for some dark spoken narrative, and sometimes to harmonize in odd fashion with female vocalist Leilindel, who by the way is very adept and delivers in a voice that's scattered all over the spectrum. Very emotive, very fluid.
The arrangements are unreal... blistering metal will give way to jazzy acoustic pieces, which will give way to classical interludes that slowly build into a heavily orchestrated version of something you might hear at a circus, which will in turn diminish into a darkly ambient stretch of atmosphere... and just like that will drop back into an unrelenting metal assault, only to be broken by a solo female vocal piece backed by a cinema-scopic electronic canvas, which will again drop into spastic metal which slowly morphs into a Waltz-like section... and on, and on, and on. Dynamics are key. I'm not talking soft-loud-soft-loud-soft-build-build-explode type dynamics prevalent among bands like Neurosis and Isis, nor am I talking about the effective yet somewhat predictable genre-hopping of bands like Mr. Bungle, Estradasphere, and Tub Ring... the stuff here is everywhere all at once while never being in any one particular place at any particular time. This is an ultimate example of unbridled artistic expression wrapped up in musical form.
The playing is phenomenal and frenetic, and ChaotH's bass work especially deserves special mention. The keyboards come in a variety of different styles, from acoustic piano melodies to atmospheric backgrounds, and even all out electronic soundscapes like the tracks 'Silence_011010701' and 'The Shiver - Another Dissonant Chord', the latter being complemented by Leilindel's erratic vocals. The drumming is fast, technical, and diverse, but I have to say that the guy can get a bit out of control with the double bass at times. Violins courtesy of Le Bateleur (who has since left the band I believe) add a nice touch, but nothing really show-stopping save for a few prominent and well-placed lines that pop up occasionally.
"In A Flesh Aquarium" is turbulent, dissonant, chaotic, tranquil, somber, beautiful, theatrical, and WAY out in left field.
I love it.