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Unwritten Pages - Fringe Kitchen CD (album) cover


Unwritten Pages


Progressive Metal

3.88 | 5 ratings

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4 stars Dutch band UNWRITTEN PAGES first came to prominence in 2010 when they signed to US label Progrock Records and released their debut album: A double disc thematic feature called Noah. "Fringe Kitchen" is the sophomore creation from this band, a single disc only this time around and without the notable star aid surrounding their debut effort as far as guest musicians are concerned.

And it appears that the brothers Epe and their companions have made good use of the two years that separate their first and second production. The name of the game is progressive metal, no alterations there as far as general tendencies are involved, but the band appears to have honed their sound and scope to emphasize the strengths of their contributors this time around, as well as avoiding some of the more well explored territories of the progressive metal genre as an additional bonus. Or to put it like this: While fans of bands lie Dream Theater will indeed find familiar details on this production, I find many of the compositions and effects used to be closer to the likes of Canadian trio Rush this time around. And if anyone should ever wonder why some people point out the importance of Rush to the development of progressive metal as a stylistic expression, this is one of the albums I'd pull out to document their influence.

The opening cinematic effort, as brilliant as it is in it's own right, is an exception however. More of a cinematic creation with voices and cosmic sounds establishing a distinct mood rather than an opening statement of the band's refined direction. But from second track Asylum Tragedy and onwards Unwritten Pages invites us into their universe anno 2012 with style and the occasional natural swagger that naturally develops when a band produce material of the highest quality and can feel the magic flowing. Asylum Tragedy and Perfect Incentive the two occasions I'd highlight as the highlights of this production in that context, a perfect blend of calmer passages and harder edged, energetic sequences. Slightly unpredictable as is often the case with material of the highest quality, and compositions well planned to utilize the lead vocals as much as possible too. The vocal duties are credited to the Epe trio on this production, and while I haven't checked which of them handle the individual parts on this disc I generally found them to be pleasant, struggling slightly when the instrumental backing gets to be too demanding, as in final piece Auxiliary Influx. By and large the songs have been set up to emphasize their vocalists good sides however, and the aforementioned two songs are among the best in that department too, which adds an additional sheen to compositions that in creation and performance already are of the highest quality.

As this production unfolds the associations towards Canadian trio Rush grow steadily stronger. First and foremost due to the guitars, as the hard edged compact riff patterns used makes it hard not to get associations towards the likes of Alex Lifeson. And I'd suspect that the main guitarist of Unwritten Pages also have a bit of jazz knowledge, as I often caught myself associating towards funk and jazzrock too, but more in the faint traces and resonance department rather than a strong and distinct vibes one.

Otherwise the compositions are well made in terms of balance throughout. Calmer passages and pace-filled energetic ones come and go, as elongated features dividing the compositions into a few distinctly different parts or placed side by side in a nifty, logical and well flowing manner. Impact riffs and majestic arrangements are used sparingly and to very good effect, up to and including an instance where the portal to the dark and bleak universe of doom metal opens for a brief one-off visit.

If Unwritten Pages are among the bands that manage to establish themselves properly and carve out a good and long career out of their love of music, I suspect that their debut "Noah" will be referenced as the promising and ambitious first effort and "Fringe Kitchen" as the follow-up disc that showcase a talented act that show a fine and distinct positive development. To the point that I'd recommend fans of progressive metal in general to investigate this production, as I'm pretty sure that Unwritten Pages anno 2012 is a band that will be found interesting to the greater majority of fans of this style of music.

Windhawk | 4/5 |


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