THRESHOLD – March Of Progress

Threshold - March of ProgressThe name Threshold has popped up every now and then in my life as a music lover since they started out in 1992, but for some reason I never took an interest in the band, despite the fact that I have read about them in several music magazines throughout the years.  When I heard their song “Slipstream” on a compilation CD I got from a magazine, I was completely blown away and had to check out the album the song was taken from, Dead Reckoning, that came out in 2007. That album is, as everybody who likes progressive metal with brilliant melodies knows, an amazing record. There and then, I became a fan and it was a no-brainer that I had to check out their previous records as well. Albums like Subsurface (2004), Critical Mass (2002) and Hypothetical (2001) are progressive metal at its best. However, the band’s first records, Wounded Land (1993) and Psychedelikatessen (1994) were uneven and poor sounding and I don’t find it strange at all that it took a while for the band make a name for themselves. It wasn’t until 1998, when lead singer Andrew “Mac” McDermott replaced Damian Wilson, things started to happen for the band. Their records were more well written, produced and arranged and suddenly everything had fallen into place.

Fast forward to 2011. Mac decided to leave because the band didn’t make any money and he had a family to support. While there is probably some truth to that, it was also known that he had a drinking problem. As the band was looking for a replacement and at the same time hoping, together with the fans, that Mac would return, Mac died later that year from liver failure and with that, I think both band and fans thought the story was over. But when the shock of Mac’s death had settled, the band picked up the pieces and started bringing life back into the band, now with their old singer Damian Wilson at the mike. With that, a new album started to take shape, the first one with Wilson in 18 years and after their last four albums have been more or less magnificent, it really doesn’t matter who’s singing, expectations on this album were extremely high.

For me, it took only one spin to figure out that Threshold once again had a winner on their hands. Even though I loved this album from hello, it kept growing on me with every listen. The first single and album opener “Ashes” is amazing. A heavy, yet catchy and progressive number that follows where Dead Reckoning left off. “Return Of The Thought Police” is great and a classic Threshold song, “Staring At The Sun” shows some jazz influences within its progressive groove, “Colophon” is catchy and groovy and “The Hours” could have been on Dead Reckoning and you can almost hear Mac’s voice on this one. “Coda” is great and very Threshold. But once again I have to slag off the stupidness of bonus tracks!  When will record companies get it through their skulls that there are no need for them anymore, it hasn’t been for years. “Divinity” is such a track and I can’t grasp why!  It’s a killer track and should be in the original track list.

Once again, Threshold has made a brilliant album, the songs and the production are easily as good as any of their previous albums. However, I’m still not sure about the singer. Wilson is and has always been a good singer, but with a band like Threshold, good just isn’t enough. I miss Mac’s voice and frankly, Wilson doesn’t even come close to him. He has a tendency to sound somewhat strained at times and I’m thinking, maybe they should have hired a totally new singer altogether. But maybe, I’m a bit over critical here. Maybe I just have to get used to his voice, because he doesn’t sound bad at all.

If you’re already a Threshold fan, this album is a no-brainer. It needs to be in your collection. For everybody else, this is progressive metal, but very catchy and quite easy listening. All the comparisons to bands like Dream Theater are exaggerated, they sound nothing like each other.

A brilliant album by a brilliant band and you don’t have to be into progressive metal to enjoy this. I highly recommend this to any rock fan out there.

Jon Wilmenius (9/10)

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