When you have an album in your personal top three of 2014 and there is no review on our website yet, it really is a shame and therefore I want to introduce a bunch of nice musicians that in a way have been the progressive rock scene's best kept secret. Best kept secret might be a little too harsh for Thoughts Factory, because numerous people already have bought their self-released album; Lost-an album that is very impressive and has a very professional sound. The band originally started in 2008 as a studio project by vocalist Marcus Becker and keyboard player Sven Schornstein. Soon Bernd Schönegge joined with his bass guitar and ideas for compositions. After a search, finally guitarist Markus Wittmann and drummer Chris Maldener closed the ranks somewhere in 2011. Now the road to playing live and recording could start, with a final result in their debut album Lost.
The traditional five piece definitely leave a positive mark when you listen to the album, which starts with Awakening; a composition that has a long instrumental intro, influenced by Dream Theater's theatrical melancholic parts filled with massive drum sounds and room for the guitar as well as keyboards to excel. About halfway through the song, the atmosphere gets mystique, with smooth keyboards in the background and we get to hear Marcus' voice for the first time. When you hear his voice there cannot be any doubt why this excellent vocalist has joined The Epic Choir, to perform The Human Equation in a Dutch theatre later this year- absolutely breath-taking. Marcus' vocals take you from Awakening to the following The Deep Forest; first of the three real epic compositions of the album. Although the music is powerful, melodic and symphonic at the same time, Marcus' vocals remain relaxed and never have a forced sound, which results in a very pleasant session of listening. As an extra during this song an acceptable form of grunt was added to the intriguing music. Sven Schornstein is credited as the album's songwriter and that shows in the multi-layered keyboard parts that form the base of most compositions, like Desperation. These keyboard parts are balanced by strong guitar riffs, which have an incredible sharp and clear sound. During this song, the keyboard/ guitar combination sounds perfect and the additional bass adds the extra cherry. As a tip I would like to recommend to listen to the fierce riffs at the end of the song- goosebumps! Emotion in optima forma is the short piano/ vocal combination Light. No words needed I guess, just listen. Voices From Heaven is the second epic on Lost; with what begins as a fine hard rock arrangement, turns into progressive rock when the retro sounding keyboards take over. During this song it becomes obvious; Thoughts Factory are very much influenced by Rush, as some parts have a very strong resemblance with the music of my all-time favourites. Not the worst band to have as an influence I guess, but Thought Factory blends all their influences together in a style of their own. Another strong point of the band is the way vocalist Marcus gets doubled to create more depth in his vocals. Voices From Heaven sounds like Dream Theater could have sounded in the seventies, but with a more up to date guitar sound. A song that has found its way around the internet is No Way Out, played many times on YouTube and a perfect song that represents the music of Thought Factory. For me personally, this is the song that triggered me in the first place; wonderful vocals, melodic keyboards and a guitar on full speed. I guess it was the guitar riff that caught me; trashy filthy and catchy, in combination with the bass and piano/ keyboards. A bit different is The Mire; a dark piano-based composition that has a slow pace and features another fine vocal part. The album's final composition is a sixteen minute monster; Death Of A Dream, turning a bit more to the theatrical side of Thoughts Factory and filled with multi-layered keyboards, strong guitar melodies and a spoken word part; guested by Chris Schlindwein. The combination of guitar, keyboards and vocals is positively insane.
When I listen to Lost, it seems to grow on me each time I listen and it does makes me wonder why Thoughts Factory was not noticed by a major record company. What makes this album brilliant is the combination of the whole package, strong compositions, played to perfection by very talented musicians, topped with a super sounding voice. Well,..and riffs; massive, impressive guitar riffs that blow my mind!
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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