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(53:55; Melodic Revolution Records)
Here we have the second album from Thoughts Factory, a band formed some ten years ago by keyboard player Sven Schornstein (keyboards) and Marcus Becker (vocals). They were soon joined by Bernd Schonegge (bass), Chris Maldener (drums) and Markus Wittman (guitar), toured with Haken, and released their debut album in 2014. Since then they parted ways with Becker, which is probably why it has taken so long to come back with a follow-up, but he has now been replaced by Cornelius Wurth, and the band have signed with MRR (the debut was a self-release). I have not heard the debut, so cannot say how this stacks up against that, but in new singer Wurth they have a singer of considerable range, which is just what they need when they are producing music which is coming at the listener from a few different angles as here we have a prog metal band who truly know what they are doing in both genres. Two bands which are obvious influences are Threshold and Stratovarius, while Angra are also important, and there is no doubt that although they are happy to slow it down and provide plenty of light and shade, it is when they are really ripping into the material they have the most to offer. What is also interesting is that Wurth is credited with a few guitar solos on the album, which does make me wonder if he will be used as a second guitarist, as well as a singer, when they perform on stage in which case they really will be hitting into the more metallic area. Like Threshold, Thoughts Factory are a metal band coming into prog, which means they are going to appeal to fans on both side of the arbitrary dividing line, albeit the progheads must not be averse to losing their dandruff. There are times when piano is used under the guitars, and this additional provision of contrast is welcome in a band which are often very guitar and bass led. Keyboards often provide long held-down chords to provide that lightness, while Wurth has an edge to his voice which is very welcome indeed. Although I would have liked to have heard more fills and dynamics from the drums, overall, this is a very good album.
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