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Crayon Phase: Two Hundred Pages

Can you imagine waking up every day, not knowing who you are, not knowing what you did yesterday and not knowing the consequences of those now forgotten actions? The main character of this second album from German progressive metal outfit Crayon Phase (coming some six years after their debut) suffers from anterograde amnesia - a condition he is unaware of and which has never been explained to him - where every day starts completely afresh. It’s a situation taken advantage of by a crime syndicate, who use this unusual condition to hone the protagonist into a conscienceless weapon whose actions are never remembered by the very person making them. Only the writing of a diary brings things into focus and as our main character begins to unravel his life, so things begin to come tumbling down.

In fairness to Crayon Phase, it’s an admittedly unique tale and one that fits their expansive, if hardly innovative, neo-progressive style to near perfection. Since their Within My Recollection debut, Brazilian singer Raphael Gazal has joined the band’s ranks and with a voice that lands neatly between James LaBrie and Dennis DeYoung, he’s a classy addition. Each song tells a chapter of our (anti) hero’s story and as such results in some neat musical moves as the likes of the lengthy title track, “Two Hundred Pages” segues into “Turn Of Fortune”, or “The Music Box” gives way to the mini-epic, “Retrospective”.

As you’d expect, the musical interplay between guitarist Wolfgang Bähr and keyboard player Frank Wendel is one of the main focuses on an album where comparisons to Arena, IQ, Marillion and of course, Dream Theater are hard to ignore. And while Crayon Phase do more than enough to tune you in to their way of thinking, it is hard to shake off the feeling that a lot of the material here is maybe just a little too reliant on its inspirations to truly stand out from the crowd. Although that doesn’t stop the brooding and building “Procession/Empty Grave” from leaving a lasting impression, or “Salvation” to drip with the emotion that both the music and story captures.

Hopefully the next stage in the evolution of Crayon Phase doesn’t take quite so long to appear, for their second album is an impressive and crafted beast and a little more time spent in individualising their sound could be all that this outfit need to truly begin to shine.

Track Listing
1. Prologue
2. Two Hundred Pages
3. Turn of Fortune
4. Procession | Empty Grave
5. Paralyzed
6. The Music Box
7. Retrospective
8. Salvation
9. 201

Added: February 26th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Crayon Phase on bandcamp
Hits: 1664
Language: english

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Crayon Phase: Two Hundred Pages
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2020-02-27 02:31:51
My Score:

Crayon Phase is a German melodic progressive rock band with two albums under their belts; Within My Recollection (2013) and Two Hundred Pages (2019). I had yet to hear the band until their sophomore effort came my way to review.

Incidentally, this is a concept album. Our protagonist can’t remember the day before, eventually leading him to a life of crime but not necessarily his choosing. He truly doesn’t understand his predicament until he starts to keep a journal, of which its details shine some light on his somewhat desperate situation.

This is a talented group of musicians, in particular the keyboards and guitar work stand out through much of the album. Nine tracks totaling seventy-five minutes of music, rest assured there is a lot to dig into here. The first track “Prologue” is a shorter number beginning with spoken word and dramatic orchestrations setting a near ominous tone. The sound is huge as a lonely piano melody finds its way to the surface. The music builds with moody guitar riffs and beds of keyboards. Some excellent band interplay here, especially between keyboards and guitar. Next is the title track starting with lovely piano and vocals and a slightly saddened sound. It doesn’t take long for the soundscape to build with more great keyboards and guitar, all with a moody edge. The lead vocals are also outstanding whether mellow or more aggressive, it all works. Lots of tricky tempo changes will also keep you guessing where the band will go to next. On “Turn Of Fortune” the keyboards and guitar are both super catchy as this one had me humming for a few days. Whether fast or slow, this tune had me right from the beginning. The keyboards in particular are especially hook laden. On the ten minute “Procession/Empty Grave”, a moody beginning of medieval sounding keyboard orchestrations anchors the piece in centuries old footings before soaring guitar joins in and the pace quickens. The lead vocals remind me ever so slightly of Midge Ure and the band does incorporate a new wave vibe into some of their sounds. Great vocals and instrumental fireworks, this band is very tight, and another superb melody makes this an album highlight.

Crayon Phase has really impressed me with Two Hundred Pages. If you are into artful melodic rock with occasional forays into progressive metal this album should be well worth your time.

Another great release courtesy of Progressive Promotion Records.

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