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(58:38, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Enter Nucleon 3:42 2. Melotronical 5:26 3. A Taste of Paradise 3:39 4. Protonic Stream 8:05 5. Into Oblivion 4:41 6. Obsessical 4:24 7. Back to Sleep 3:18 8. Whispering Eyes 4:17 9. Subatomic Tears 4:33 10. Dimension Crusher 4:23 11. Echoes from Earth 4:25 12. Something Calling Me 3:37 13. Reprogramming 4:08 LINEUP: Hugo Flores – guitar, bass; keyboards, programming; vocals Jessica Lehto – vocals
Prolusion. Portugese composer and multi-instrumentalist Hugo Flores is the creative force behind FACTORY OF DREAMS, a project based around his compositions and the operatic vocals of partner Jessica Lehto. Their first collaboration "Poles" saw the light of day in 2008, and was followed by "A Strange Utopia" the year after. Two more years down the line "Melotronical" appears, and as with the past releases from this outfit it was released by the US label Progrock Records.
Analysis. As I was driving my teenage daughter to her grandparents, "Melotronical" was one of the CDs I brought along to listen to for the drive. It's a good three hour trek down to where my folks live, and I usually ease the rather boring time spent inside the metal box on wheels by listening to music. A couple of minutes into this CD I found the music to be just a bit too hectic and chaotic to suit me well when driving, but when I wanted to pop it out and replace it with another my daughter stopped me. She liked this music, very much so too, and by the time I had reached my destination I had gotten rather familiar with this CD, and Factory of Dreams got itself a major fan if my daughter’s sparse comments in between immersing herself in the music are to be believed. Like the previous two efforts by Flores and Lehto we're dealing with an album blending progressive metal, power metal and symphonic metal. This time around the progressive aspects do take somewhat more of a back seat however, still present for sure, but there's much more of an emphasis on the symphonic metal this time around. The songs revolve around a handful of contrasting elements effectively explored: lightly toned, fragile and at times ethereal passages, some instrumental and others vocalized, paired off with darker toned themes sporting massive, compact riff cascades in various degrees of intensity, at the most hectic with frantic drums as an additional feature. Layered synths float and fluctuate above the Wagnerian riffs, adding a slightly space-oriented tinge to the proceedings, while Lehto's operatic lead vocals add a stark contrast soaring on top of it all. Further enriching the contrasting elements and adding a further emphasis to the stark dramatic dynamics of the proceedings are the vocals of Flores himself, either aggressively providing additional dark tones to the bleakest or most aggressive passages or to provide a vocal contrast to Lehto, adding tension and an additional dimension to the dynamic scope of the song in question. Personally this latest instalment from the Factory of Dreams didn't really entice me. It is a very well made production, and most likely a strong effort within its field, but this is a type of music I don't listen much to myself. A few years as a reviewer of progressive music has slightly damaged my sensibilities in the metal department I guess, as what I found missing on this disc were subtle details. That is, subtle details not overpowered by massive guitars or a plethora of synth textures: too much contrast and too much drama for me. But other than that this is an impressive creation, and I fancy my teenage daughter won't be alone when falling in love with this CD.
Conclusion. While "Melotronical" is a concept album and does have its progressive leanings, this is first and foremost a creation that will appeal to people with a taste for symphonic metal as I regard it. Dramatic music with an emphasis on stark contrasts and massive soundscapes is the order of the day, fleeting ethereal ambient and massive guitar-dominated themes coming and going, the latter more often than not sporting a richly layered symphonic backdrop, with high-quality female operatic lead vocals soaring on top. Those who find such a description tantalizing should seek out this disc, and I'll be surprised if Factory of Dreams doesn't manage to increase their fan base substantially with this release.
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