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Unwritten Pages: Pt.1:Noah

In what might be the most adventurous debut effort to date Unwritten Pages leader and main man Fredric Epe has given us a progressive metal treat with his epic 2 disc concept work titled Pt.1 Noah. His love of sci-fi and well crafted music blend together to create a most tantalizing tale that may enter through the ears but will challenge many more of your senses than just what you hear. The world that he has concocted musically paints a vivid picture inside your head of the horrific future depicted in his story. This is one you will slap the headphones on for and lay back, close the eyes and watch the movie that unfolds within your mind.

Enlisting some of progressive metals most dynamic performers to bring his concept to reality, Epe is aided by the likes of Damian Wilson (Ayreon, Threshold), Davy Mickers (Ayreon, Stream of Passion), Karl Groom (Threshold, Shadowland) and Alejandro Millan (Stream of Passion) among others, it is little wonder that this work ranks with and is compared to that of Arjen Lucassen. Epe has the same eye and ear for detail and it shows in the masterful work that he has given to us. Be prepared to get lost in his world as Fredric's ambitious effort will engulf you for the duration and leave you hoping that Pt. 2 is not far behind.

Dramatic, bombastic and literally a story that unfolds through each chapter or song if you prefer, this is going to be a tough sell to those who are not willing to look at this as a total package. It is not designed for the ADD crowd of today by any means. Sure you could pull some individual songs out and there are many that will stand on their own but this is a seamless work that needs to be heard in it's entirety to be appreciated. The wide ranging styles and continuous storyline makes it hard to separate. For example all you have to do is take a song like the aptly titled "Unexpected Twists & Turns" with its many genre shifts from acoustic to very metal and back again with moments that play like a Broadway show tune it flows seamlessly into the very heavy "These Haunted Days" where the vocals are at times almost narration to the story and you have songs that fits perfectly into the overall picture but may confound if taken out of context.

Not lost on Epe is the fact that keyboards are one of the most dramatic instruments there is. His masterful use of piano/keyboards adds the epic quality to the overall project. Hauntingly used in the background for amazing effect or crisply and pompously used as a lead instrument Epe maximizes the gothic feel every time his fingers touch the keys. It is his keyboard work that introduces the album with "PROLOGUE: This New World" and sets a dark and disturbing tone which is just what the story needs. He also interjects just the right amount of orchestration into the album too. The French Horn in the opening song is spot on for dramatic flair as an example.

A sci-fi geek with a love for progressive music and the talent to pull it off, now this is something that I can really sink my teeth into! I certainly hope that this is not a one time deal as I would love to see where he takes it from here. This project was 5 years in the making and I don't think I would like to wait that long for the next installment. This is such a terrific overall package and one that is easily a must have album. Any prog music lover should have it already but if not just head over to their web page and do yourself a favor.

Track listing:

Disc 1

1. PROLOGUE: This New World
2. The Boy is Awake
3. In the Name of Ishmael
4. Royalty & Conspiracies
5. Red Ashes (The Privilege of War
6. Solar Blast
7. Deimos' Theme
8. Blowing Red Ashes Pt. I

Disc 2

1. The Uranium Machine
2. Falling Stars
3. Unexpected Twist & Turns
4. These Haunted Days
5. Blowing Red Ashes Pt. II
6. Flora &
7. Life

Added: May 31st 2011
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 3519
Language: english

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Unwritten Pages: Pt.1:Noah
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-05-31 17:51:09
My Score:

The band's name, Unwritten Pages, suggests their musical vision is based on the idea that they never repeat themselves and always look for other ways to express their art. From the Netherlands, Unwritten Pages is predominantly based around Frederic Epe: he sings, plays keyboards, some percussion, and is also responsible for the storyline of this two-disc album.

Being a concept album a la Ayreon material, Frederic Epe is supported by other singers: Ruth Maassen, Lothar Epe, and the great Damian Wilson. On synths, there is Alejandro Millan from Stream of Passion while Michel Epe handles the guitars. There is another Threshold member guesting on this album, Karl Groom, who provides some fretwork. Groom has also handled the mastering duties. Needless to say, for a debut album, the lineup is stellar. Each musician portrays a different character in the story which is about two groups of people who are forced to escape planet Earth and find a new life on Mars. Though not a big problem, it would have been better to see in the booklet which singer is which character -- this way it would be easier to follow them while listening to the album.

What about the music? This being a sci-fi concept, the story may have you think there are tons of synths, electronic samples, industrial elements in the mix. Not the case at all. On the contrary, the album is surprisingly rooted in classical rock stylings. There are plenty of synths in the songs, but they never override the guitars or bass. On the instrumental front, the performances are strictly kept within the compositional framework. This is a particularly good choice as it enables the listeners to only focus on the music if they're not interested in concept albums. It is due to this feat why "Royalty & Conspiracies" stands out with its aggressive drive and onslaught of guitar riffs underneath the vocal harmonies or why the drum attack on the sinister instrumental "Red Ashes" can be enjoyed on its own merit without knowing what purpose it serves thematically.

"Solar Blast" is the first disc's centrepiece in that it somewhat recalls Arjen Lucassen's Star One with lots of harmonized synthesizers, heavy-duty bass, diverse vocals, and slowed-down interludes. The band also delves into cinematic passages, achieving film-score quality on numbers like "Deimos' Theme" or the multi-vocal track, "The Uranium Machine." This song involves a much more complex vocal mix, which I hope will be further explored on the follow-up. The background singing, the processed 'computer' sounds, and the soulful hard rock delivery is worth hearing indeed. "Falling Stars" is an experiment blending symphonic sounds with powerful drum fills, blues-tinged guitar solos, acoustic passages, and eerie bass lines as strong counterpoint vocals slowly carry it to its apex (also pay attention to the tribal hand drums at the very end).

Noah is a great start for Unwritten Pages. Let's see what they'll do in part two.

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