A number of years ago during the Prog Power Europe festival, I bought an album of a band, from which I thought I had seen a clip on you-tube. It turned out to be one of those rare matches, where I liked the music from the first note on. The album was Thoughts Factory's debut Lost (2014, see review). Over the years, a friendship evolved with Thoughts Factory's bass player Bernd Schönegge and I got to meet their vocalist Marcus Becker during the Ayreon theatre show in Rotterdam, where he was part of the choir. Things seemed great and a second album would be only a matter of time.... Lightning struck when I heard Marcus left the band and the band would be searching for a new vocalist. Then, finally, Cornelius Wurth was introduced as the new frontman and keyboard player Sven Schornstein and guitarist Markus Wittmann started writing together with Wurth. When the songs were finished, the band, including drummer Chris Maldener headed for the studio to work on their long overdue second album. Every time I met Bernd at a concert, he assured me the album was on its way, but would be sounding very different from Lost. So, very curious I pre-ordered the album to find out how things worked out for the band, since one of my favourite vocalists of the genre was not present anymore.
After a few spins, but I guess within the first few vocal parts, I knew Thoughts Factory not only found the perfect vocalist, but also the slight change of musical style turns out to be very suitable for the band. The general feel is, although the band still depends on a very solid rhythm section and sometimes a trashy sparkling guitar, more keyboard orientated, more bombastic and orchestrated. During the opener Mind Odyssey, due to the vocal parts bands like a metal infused Journey or Styx sometimes comes to mind. The Burden reminds me a bit of the Thought Factory's debut, a dead solid powerhouse with great vocals. I think Elements sees more smoother parts than their previous album, the intense compositions; the instrumental Frozen Planet, including wonderful guitar and keyboard solos, the beautiful vocal laden ballad Nightfall, the almost epic The Shores Of Sand And Time and the album's final track Elements, a sublime piano laden, well-orchestrated track, including an intense guitar solo at the end. An absolute highlight are the two parts of Dawn, melodic, epic and absolutely the showcase for the great vocals of Cornelius.
Elements, the long awaited second album of Thoughts Factory is definitely worth the waiting. The compositions have changed in a positive way, gained more depth, a little more bombast. All these elements perfectly fit to the bands new voice of Cornelius Wurth. Nevertheless the overall feel remains, great compositions, wonderful musicians. Please don't make us wait another six years or for a successor. Hint; A live performance at the aforementioned PPE would be the icing on this brilliant album.
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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