Factory of Dreams – Two Albums

Portugal’s Factory of Dreams is just two people … vocalist Jessica Lehto (also in the metal bands Beto Vázquez Infinity and Once There Was) and Hugo Flores (also the leader of Project Creation and Sonic Pulsar), who plays guitar, bass, keyboards, and everything else. Drums are handled, incredibly, by drum machines (or computerized drum sample players or whatever), but it’s hard to tell this except that no human being could probably actually play these drums.

Just two people … but with the sound of … how can I describe it? An army of heavily-armored robot samurai warriors playing heavy metal axes with a choir of curvaceous silver female robots from Heavy Metal Magazine on vocals? Sounds like a group from a Guitar Hero game? Right! Very heavy prog-metal with slowish chugging chord progressions, massive overdubs (particularly in Lehto‘s vocals, but also on everything else), skittering note guitar solos, “drumming” that sounds like Mike Portnoy played back at double-speed and enough compression to make Todd Rundgren blush. The sound is as thick and dense as the atmosphere of Jupiter. How’s that for a nerdy simile? But not as nerdy as the lyrics of the albums themselves. But wait, we’ll get there soon …

I’ve heard their first and (as of this writing) latest albums, Poles and Melotronical. Both albums are concept albums in the fantasy story realm. The notes for Poles introduce the story in the following way:

The Place: A land with two sides, Positiveness and Negativeness, Dark and Light called POLES.
The World: Ruled by a Generator of Illusions, the Factory of Dreams.
The Fuel: Human minds.
The Blood: A river of emotions.
The Ignition: Your CD player.

What does it mean? Hell if I know. But who cares? The crushing guitar work and thunderous “drumming” with Lehto‘s airy, operatic vocals (in English!) overdubbed to monsterous female choirs will take you away to wherever this place is and pummel you with its strange mixture of pleasure and pain until you’re screaming, “YES! YES! I LOVE IT! PLEASE SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER?”.

Ahem. Sorry about that. This stuff does pump up my adrenaline and testosterone levels just a bit, despite the female vocals. Or maybe they contribute, I’m not sure. Ignore the the carnivorous unicorns and just enjoy it. Really.

So how can Melotronical top this? Well, it manages to. If anything, it’s even thicker and more heavily overdubbed than Poles. The speed-metal aspects have been amped up, and the “double-bass” drum style sounds like a gattling gun that never lets up its barrage. Lehto‘s operatic vocals are joined on this album by Flores‘ growling style, both as lead and as part of the supporting “choir”. The concept for Melotronical is no more grounded in reality than Poles. Again, quoting from the advertising blurb: “A conceptual CD, revolving around the evolution of an electronic Molecule into a living breathing Entity. This entity, experiences several stages of life … the finale starts with ‘Dimension Crusher’, when all hope is lost and a new Universe is idealized through ‘Reprogramming’.”

Again, whatever. The music is brilliant, and the lyrics sound epic and important as long as you don’t examine them too closely. It is a Factory of Dreams, after all, and you can’t expect dreams to necessarily make a lot of sense, though they may still be full of emotions and symbolism. Melotronical fills the bill. Oh, and one more thing … don’t expect any Mellotrons in Melotronical. This title is a combination of “melody” and “electronic”, not “mellow” and “electronic”. There’s nothing “mellow” about this album.

I’ll just admit (again) that prog-metal isn’t my favorite genre of prog, but these albums really satisfy, and without sounding even a little bit like the usual paragon of prog-metal, Dream Theater. I have heard Factory of Dreams compared to Nightwish, however, though I’m not qualified to comment on that. If it’s true, maybe I need to check out Nightwish as well. I can compare them to Epica, however. Because of the strong female vocals juxtaposed against the heavy metal guitars. But for now, Poles and Melotronical will fulfill this particular area of my musical cravings. I’m certain there’s a lot more to discover here on future listenings. — Fred Trafton

Click here for Factory of DreamsMelotronical web site


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