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MELOTRONICAL

Factory of Dreams

Neo-Prog


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Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 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.

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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Send comments to Windhawk (BETA) | Report this review (#437417)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Portugal's Factory of Dreams' "Melotronical" is Goth Opera Metal featuring very strong speed metal blasts that are quite devastating at times. These are balanced by dramatic breaks with symphonic keyboards and piano motifs. The loud Devin Townsend style male vocals of Hugo Flores and counterbalanced by the beautiful operatics of soprano siren Jessica Lehto. Flores also plays everything on this, guitar, bass, keyboards, programming, the lot.

'Enter Nucleon' just pummels with hyper speedy blasts of distortion and majestic operatic vocals with the aggressive shouting of Flores. They make their presence felt here. It is followed by ambience on piano, and some gorgeous vocals of Lehto. When the blast beats stop for a sec and the make vocals crunch in my heart jumps. It just stops and starts with jolts that crash through the silence unmercifully.

Next on 'Melotronical' is a piano intro and some lovely chiming keyboards. It is dark and creepy atmospherics and Lehto's vocal intonations are nice. A grinding distortion warns us it is about to have an outburst of metal and then the riff locks in. I like the way she is singing over herself here. The duo are multi tracking themselves throughout. On 'A Taste of Paradise' a massive ultra fast metal riff grinds or a few seconds. As fast as I have heard for a long time. And the double kick drumming must be programmed.

An esoteric atmosphere of synth pads and acoustics begins 'Protonic Stream'. I like this part, very dreamy and ethereal, especially the spacey effects and echoed keyboard chimes. It feels a bit vampirish when Lehto comes in with vocals. Sounds exactly like Tarja-era Nightwish. Jessica's opera vibrato is sweet to the ears. She sings over herself often on harmonies and then the male vocals bring in a heavy feel. When it softens again it is a pleasure to hear the lovely female vocals again. When the time sig changes there is a rather creative musicality created.

'Into Oblivion' is a very beautiful song with Jessica taking centre stage caressing the ambience with sweet soprano. The metal crunches in soon and brings in the darkness. At this stage it is apparent that this is exactly the type of music of recent years that can be lumped in with the female lead metal of Within Temptation, Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, Epica and After Forever. I actually like these bands quite a lot but they are easier to listen to as they are actual bands with all members playing not just one man shows like this with a gorgeous opera singer thrown in for effect. That may sound harsh but I can't imagine how this band would play live with only one musician and an opera singer. The programming at times is overbearing and this is very formulaic music.

'Obsessical' begins with chiming keys, low distorted metal guitars hammering, and then a really good vocal from Flores. There is very fast speed metal in places, breakneck percussion, broken by keyboards and Jessica's high octave soprano work.' The guitars are too dirty to make out any brilliant riffs.

'Back to Sleep' has an ominous feel with thumping echoes and angelic vocals. Jessica sounds heavenly on the vocals here in the quietness of the soundscape. 'Whispering Eyes' is another slower song but with blitzing metal speed blasts. Both these songs really appealed to me especially Jessica's sensuous vocals. The balance of light and dark is perfect.

'Subatomic Tears' is a moderate tempo song with extreme blastbeats of percussion and riffing. Jessica is overpowering on opera as the riffs seem to grind on four chords. The sound in places is very techno programmed and the drum frenzy is simply ridiculously fast. It sounds like a swarm of angry hornets, in fact reminded me of "Ziltoid The Omniscient" for a moment. 'Dimension Crusher' is not the 'Planet Crusher' of "Ziltoid" but has the same type of speed blasting, the same type of make vocals, and is just as humorous. The real difference is of course Jessica's tones. She is beautiful in the quiet sections. I love the Lene Lovich high pitched squeals in this one.

'Echoes from Earth' begins with tribal drums and some layered female vocals. It breaks and chimes along for a while and I like the melody on this. Everything else sounds similar on 'Something calling Me' for a while then we get a cool retro synth and operatic vocals. This is a weird combo but it made me take notice. The song is 'Reprogramming' and it has some innovative music. It caps off a fair album designed for the Gothic metal fanbase.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#618630)
Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, this album was a complete surprise to me - I couldn't believe I hadn't heard of it before. Quickest way to describe this band - Bizarro is to Superman what Factory of Dreams is to Nightwish. In a good way. There are a lot of sound related similarities to Nightwish I hear in this album, such as the style of keyboards and how they are mixed with the other metal elements, the singer often sounds like Tarja Tarunen. But the composition is what is surprising in this album. Vocal harmonies play a big role, and this band often will add in some odd dissonances on top of standard vocal harmonies. Another technique they use is to underlay a somewhat common sounding melody with rapid-fire kick drumming and rhythm guitars that often feature changing time signatures. These techniques take something that could be merely another female fronted symphonic metal act in the vein of Nightwish, and make the music incredibly interesting. This is going on my shortlist of albums to listen to again very soon.

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Send comments to dtguitarfan (BETA) | Report this review (#758898)
Posted Saturday, May 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Melotronical' - Factory of Dreams (8/10)

For all of the purported ambition and willingness to innovate to be found within progressive rock and metal, it's all too rare that a band's music will prove to overwhelm or surprise me. Perhaps it's a result of we as listeners having been desensitized to a lot of it; after all, when everything is extreme, ultimately nothing is. Regardless, Factory of Dreams' style of operatic space metal has hit me like a freight train, racing across some vast and cosmic terrain. Even entering a crowded genre as it is, Melotronical still manages to knock me over with one of the most over-the-top, bombastic and balls-out sounds in progressive metal I've ever heard. Moderation and subtlety are indeed alien concepts to Factory of Dreams' third album, and while the unrelenting hyperactivity undoubtedly makes it something of a love-or-hate-it affair, Melotronical has the potential to wow even the most seasoned prog metal veterans.

If I described Melotronical as a 'space metal opera', many reading this could certainly come up with their own ideas about what the band and album might sound like. Although details would vary from listener to listener, some elements would be very common to the listeners; among them, a larger-than-life atmosphere, chugging guitars, epic vocals and one foot in the space electronic genre. Factory of Dreams doesn't circumvent any of these preconceptions surrounding operatic space metal; instead, the music draws in common tropes from this niche genre, and amps them up to a ridiculously high standard of energy and bombast. While space metal regulars like Ayreon and Dol Ammad could each make a strong case in terms of comparison, I'm often reminded of Devin Townsend, and his often-overwhelming eagerness to amp up his music to the 11th degree, creating a wall of sound that can't be broken through and entirely calculated, the listener's attentiveness be damned. Although Melotronical was released in 2011, the album's 'calculated chaos' style of orchestration reminds me of two albums that came out the year after: one being Devin Townsend's loud-and-epic Epicloud, the other being Wintersun's polarizing Time I. With regards to the latter, some readers might recall the debates surrounding Wintersun, whether the overly dense orchestrations and symphonic arrangements verged on the realm of genius, or simply got in the way of the traditional hooks and grooves other listeners were left craving for. Given a comparable distribution, I would not be at all surprised to have seen listeners debating the same thing about Melotronical.

Ultimately, Factory of Dreams may often sound like the music could use a breath of fresh air at times, but I also know that the sound wouldn't have had as much of an initial shock and impact on me had there been a greater degree of restraint. Although the constant drive and chugging rhythms can serve to desensitize the listener to the orchestral intensity sometime before the album has finished, Factory of Dreams have been more than up to the task of balancing out this approach with detail, dynamic and plenty of compelling ideas. Even the album's mellow moments- which often dive into prog electronic territory in the style of pioneers like Tangerine Dream- feel loaded with wall-of-sound textures and cosmic Easter eggs. Surprisingly, almost all of this is the work and performance of one man, Hugo Flores. Although an operatic soprano is lent here by Jessica Lehto, Hugo has been responsible for all of the instrumentation and orchestrations. The fact that Melotronical has been forged from what is essentially a one-man band is all the more impressive. Nothing here sounds like it has suffered from the imbalance of 'solo artist syndrome', and even the drums- often the weakest point in one-man bands- sound wild and exciting in spite of being artificial.

Although the sure highlight of Factory of Dreams' sound on Melotronical is their intensely cosmic ambiance and mind-boggling orchestrations, the vocals are worthy of note on their own. While I imagine it would have been a hard time squeezing proper vocals into music this bombastic and instrumentally busy, the vocals here really work. Although Jessica Lehto's floaty soprano doesn't sound unlike many other female vocalists in the symphonic and gothic metal genre, the vocal arrangements are kept quite busy themselves; harmonies and complex melodies are commonplace here, and there's even room for the occasionally catchy hook. All impressions look towards the guitar as Hugo Flores' flagship instrument, but the guitars are what stand out the least here. Even the programmed drums manage to profit from the music's manic pacing, and while all of the orchestrations seem appropriately mixed together in the final production, the guitars lose their independent bite amidst the chaos. After having finished the album, I don't remember any particular riffs or moments where the guitars shone beyond their traditional role as a rhythm-keeper.

Indeed, Factory of Dreams is a band that has me wondering still where Melotronical would sit in terms of quality when compared to other albums and artists. For one, the atmosphere and scope of the music is menacingly impressive, infectious even; it's impossible to put this album on without being enveloped by it. The sheer energy of Factory of Dreams' cosmic style simply demands the listener's attention without question or distraction. It's as densely composed as a neutron star, and prospective listeners who don't give it the full due are robbing themselves of the potential this album has to impress and even shock. At the same time, I have a difficult time picking out particular highlight tracks from the album, much less distinguish the songs apart. Like a progressive metal summer blockbuster, Melotronical feels absolutely larger-than-life in virtually every way, and while I know the album could have benefitted from some counterbalance in the way of moderation and knowing when to hold back, the way Factory of Dreams have conjured the essence of space metal and amplified it to galactic excesses deserves to be experienced by prog and symphonic metal fans alike.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#1125704)
Posted Saturday, February 01, 2014 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars First off this kind music cannot be categorized as a neo progressive sub genre as the style is like a metal music ...or you may call it as nu metal or space metal with bands like Within Temptation or Evanescence. At fisrt listen I thought it's gonna be something like Nightwis especially the operatic nature of Jessica - the female vocal. The fundamental trouble with this album is the use of "everything electric and programmed" that makes my ears torn apart as the sound is really awful let alone the music. Maybe the music is quite good in composition but as everything is electric then it really troubles me at the end. I dunno ,....maybe I am an oldtimer prog rock fan so it''s hard for me to listen to 'plastic' sound like this even though the songs are not bad at all actually. Only the instrumentation that makes everything looks and sounds terrible to my ears. If this album is rerecorded with full manual band using real guitar, real keyboard, real drums and real bass guitar like Rickenbaker ...maybe I would rate differently. In fact I cannot afford to continue this album exceeding track 4 because my ears cannot afford to absord a very ugly drum sounds that are completely programmed. It's not good at all, my friends ...

I tend to give a one star rating but then I do not want to penalize the musicians with only one star despite they have worked hard to write a good composition. This album has one fundamental flaw and it's very critical to me: everything is programmed. Not good at all. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#1169349)
Posted Friday, May 02, 2014 | Review Permalink

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