[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(84:35 2CD, Progrock Records)
Prolusion. UNWRITTEN PAGES, from The Netherlands, apparently started out by chance, with a science fiction story that started developing a life of its own and sent creative trio Frederic Epe, Michel Epe and Glenn out on a quest to craft a rock opera suitable for it. From 2005 and onwards the album slowly took shape amidst a continuous struggle to finance it and follow the whims of the muses guiding the creators, with notable musicians such as Karl Groom and Damian Wilson adding their input as the project evolved. In 2010 what one might assume is the partial end result came in the shape of the double album "Part I: Noah", subsequently picked up and released by the US label Progrock Records.
Disc 1 (43:49)
TRACK LIST: 1. This New World 5:35 2. The Boy is Awake 3:41 3. In the Name of Ishmael 7:35 4. Royalty & Conspiracies 6:31 5. Red Ashes 3:01 6. Solar Blast 6:45 7. Deimos Theme 6:57 8. Blowing Red Ashes-I 3:44 LINEUP: Frederic Epe – vocals; keyboards Sander Stappers – bass Davy Mickers – drums Michel Epe – guitars Glenn – guitars Karl Groom – guitars Damian Wilson – vocals Ruth Maasen – vocals Lothar Epe – vocals Ali Jemail Gamy – percussion
Analysis. Holland is a country you can associate with a lot of different topics, be it their dams, their great painters throughout history or the rather liberal legislation they have towards milder varieties of mind enhancing substances. In progressive rock circles one might argue that Ayreon is amongst the most well-known projects surfacing from this country, and the success of its creator Arjen Lucassen in this endeavor has inspired countless others to craft elaborate rock operas for the last decade or so. Unwritten Pages is another addition to this part of the progressive rock universe, and making their initial effort a double CD production with a name strongly indicating that more is yet to come certainly speaks volumes as far as ambition is concerned. And it certainly is a well-planned creation that unfolds in the first half of this opening chapter of what might or might not be the initial step of a longer saga. The compositions change and alter extensively, corresponding to the different roles and scenarios that unfold, in effect crafting a rather eclectic musical tapestry for the proceedings. The science fiction nature of the storyline is underscored by frequent utilization of space-tinged, fluctuating keyboard textures; digital strings provide the backdrops for the reflective, atmospheric moods, and also add dramatic tinges to the heavier hitting dramatic parts of the compositions when needed. Galloping riffs, riff cascades and lighter wandering guitar excursions cater for a great deal of variety throughout, and most tracks are set up with at times starkly contrasting themes that craft a good and stable level of intensity. In style, I'd place this act somewhere in between the aforementioned Ayreon and German proggers Sylvan, undeniable prog-metal in general, but with frequent ventures into musical realms many would describe as neo-progressive. But while the planning is impeccable, the execution doesn't quite manage to be top notch on this first CD. Many songs come across as musical backdrops for the storyline more than anything, intriguing and interesting if you follow the lyrics closely, but less appealing as musical works in their own right. First and foremost due to the nature of the contrasting elements used, where abrupt changes from one theme to one of a vastly different nature are used much more extensively than transitional phases or by using subtle elements transporting the listener from one mood to a new atmosphere. As a total listening experience I found this approach more distracting than enhancing. Most numbers do contain quite a few intriguing themes and motifs though, and on efforts like Red Ashes and Solar Blast the music and lyrics blend together really well, where the eclectic and contrasting elements of lyrics and music meet in a very well and at times brilliant manner, the chorus parts of the latter among the most breathtaking experiences on the first half of this production.
Disc 2 (40:46)
With "Part I: Noah", Unwritten Pages have launched their initial effort with a fairly ambitious rock opera. And while not quite the finished article, this is a rather enjoyable effort. If science fiction-based concepts and progressive metal sounds like a good mix to you, this is a double CD that just might be of interest, especially if you are the type of person who will listen to the music with the CD booklet in hand, following the lyrics and the story explored with close attention.
Conclusion. With "Part I: Noah", Unwritten Pages have launched their initial effort with a fairly ambitious rock opera. And while not quite the finished article, this is a rather enjoyable effort. If science fiction-based concepts and progressive metal sounds like a good mix to you, this is a double CD that just might be of interest, especially if you are the type of person who will listen to the music with the CD booklet in hand, following the lyrics and the story explored with close attention.
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]