Unwritten Pages is progressive metal outfit based in the southern parts of the Netherlands. Whether this is a band or a project is a bit murky, but all seems to revolving around the compositional skills of one Frederic Epe. “Fringe Kitchen” is the name of their second album, so let’s take a look what it has to offer.
These Dutch gents seem to follow the Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree school of progressive metal with a bit of Psychotic Waltz and Dead Soul Tribe thrown in for good measure. The emphasis is clearly on adventurous compositions and creating a certain atmosphere. Some hints of Devin Townsend’s “Terria” are certainly there. Tracks like “Asylum Tragedy”, “Perfect Incentive”, “Cloud Infinite” and “Terminal Defect” are multi-layered and engaging and they’re fine manifestations of Frederic Epe’s considerable composing skills. All the musicians involved know how to hold their instruments, but their collective technical prowess never becomes pointless or self indulged, thus preventing “Fringe Kitchen” from becoming a boring and utterly pointless Dream Theater-styled prog bonanza.
Having said that, there’s certainly room for improvement, especially in the vocal and production departments. Lothar Epe is a talented vocalist and he’s competently supported by Frederic and Michel Epe, but that doesn’t mean he’s the next Russell Allen or Damian Wilson. My biggest gripe with “Fringe Kitchen” is the unbalanced and often shaky production. The emphasis in the mix is on the guitars and vocals, but they often smother the drum and bass parts. This is quite a shame, because the creative drumming by John Macaluso (Ark/TNT) is one of the distinguishing features of this album.
“Fringe Kitchen” is quite an enjoyable prog album with some excellent compositions, but sadly this release is partly spoiled by the rather low production values. There’s also room for improvement in the vocal department. If Unwritten Pages manages to overcome these obstacles I’m sure they have the potential to become of one the finest outfits within the Dutch progressive rock and metal scene.