Unwritten Pages is a fairly unknown band/project created by singer and keyboard player Frederic Epe. He started to write his compositions in 2005 and until 2010 he moulded them into the right form. One of the first things he organized was the artwork by the famous Swedish designer Mattias Nóren. In fact this is one of the last CD-covers Norén made before he quit making artwork for the musical industry. Well, after approximately five years of work we can finally listen to Noah, a double album full of bombastic progressive rock and metal. It's a concept album containing a story about a boy born in the ruins of futuristic Utopia City and Maria, daughter of a politician who has split Utopia in two parts. As the political climate escalates, people from both sides have to start a new life on Mars and there the boy and Maria grow up in the middle of a conflict between two factions that are unwilling to ignore their past.
On the album Frederic Epe gets help from his friends and band members Ruth Maassen and Lothar Epe (additional vocals), Michel Epe and Glenn (guitars) and Sander Stappers (bass). Moreover he's supported by some of the finest musicians in the progressive scene. Damian Wilson does the lead vocals in a number of songs and his fellow- Threshold mate Karl Groom plays some fierce guitar. He also did the mastering of Noah. Alejandro Millán (ex-Stream Of Passion) plays keyboards and finally Davy Mickers (Stream Of Passion) takes care of the drums.
And then, of course, the essential question: how does the album sound? Well, as far as the compositions are concerned they're rather good, although they fall short of the high level of bands like Ayreon or Pictorial Wand. Sometimes it sounds a bit chaotic and then it lacks coherency in the changes of the characters. It's just a pity that Frederic Epe didn't use the experience of a man like Karl Groom for the production process. Nevertheless, the music sounds well, but sometimes the vocals are recorded too loud; at other times they are too soft, so you can't take notice of the lyrics. You have to read the booklet to get the story. I've got mixed feelings about the album, although a song like In The Name Of Ishmael perfectly rocks and Deimos' Theme definitely is the ultimate highlight for me. The heavy riffing guitars on The Uranium Machine also have something special, but I think I got a problem here. Most of the music sounds nice and melodic, but then suddenly heavy guitars take over. I think these two musical styles have drifted too far apart. This is something that can be heard in almost all compositions of Unwritten Pages. Actually, the melodic softer side and the heavy guitars should meet somewhere halfway.
Unwritten Pages have made a decent progressive rock album and I expect, when they follow the road they took here, the band have the musical capacities to make a hell of an album. On Noah, they depend too much on the fantastic guest musicians. I really love Damian Wilson's vocals and Karl Groom's guitar always adds something special to the compositions. However, with a vocalist like Ruth Maassen I have ambiguous feelings. She certainly needs time to grow on you ... and on herself, I guess. The next album might be one to look out for. I hope it doesn't take another five years.
*** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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