Review Summary: A progressive metal band that doesn't have to feature the fantasy and over the top lead work, Threshold brings out their best work yet with killer songs like Narcissus, Light And Space, and Oceanbound.
Threshold is one of the few progressive metal bands who can record an album without going into a guitar frenzy every song. They are a band that differs from most other bands within their genre, basing more of their sound off of 80s bands such as Metallica and Queensryche. Threshold's 2001 album Hypothetical
serves as their magnum opus, the album tht defines the band. Ever since the orgin of the band, they had slowly been drifting away from a keyboard led sound and by this album they had come to the perfect mix of guitar driven and keyboard driven music. What comes off of this record is some New Wave of British Heavy Metal guitar lines that are all progressive influenced, and some nifty keyboards to top it off. While this band is different to the rest of the progressive metal world, the show strong similarities to such bands as Iced Earth and even other power metal bands. The big difference is Threshold is much tamer, without the sky-high vocals and dueling keyboard/guitar lead lines. This is what seperates them and puts them above the generic list of power metal bands and makes them a relatively fresh progressive-sounding band.
The opening track Light And Space
is a great combo meal of what Threshold is all about. Quick guitar lines, strong vocals, and the keyboards playing alongside the music instead of overtop of it. The guitar duo of Karl Groom (lead) and Nick Midson (rhythm) never lets up through the entire song, with hard pounding verses and a soft chorus in which lead singer Andrew McDermott takes center stage. Even after just one song it easy to see how strongly Threshold wears their influences. What tends to be the bands main downfall is the similarities between songs and how its not exactly the new thing on the block. Oceanbound
and Long Way Home
, while both strong upbeat tracks like Light And Space, share the exact same tonality of Eb Minor through the whole song which doesn't help much to seperate them from the rest of the album, especially when the whole album is written in the same key. But Oceanbound does a good job at times to put itself above the rest, with a guitar riff during the second verse that serves as a perfect match to the vocal melody over top of it, and the emotional bridge shows a brief softer of Threshold.
But one big thing about Threshold is that when it comes to a whole song being softer, they can do it right. Sheltering Sky
is a fine example, beginning with a very solemn piano intro with brief acoustic chords that give a strong familiarity of Pink Floyd's Welcome To The Machine. The haunting verse displays Threshold's strength in presenting atmosphere, in this particular case, the feeling of an empty road and despair. The most beautiful part shines through during the chorus with McDermott's voice shining through and strong lyrics to cap it off "You gave me a sheltering sky/But I reached for the stars
". There are two big epics on the album, The Ravages Of Time
. Between the two is clear that one of them is stretched out for the sake of progressiveness, and that would be The Ravages of Time. It shows a very promising start with a brutal intro and an intense verse, but once things cool down it trudges through the rest of the song in a slow and dull verse festival. It also fails to help the song that like the rest of the album, it too is in Eb minor, leading to no variety between songs.
But the big epic is Narcissus
, the final track of the album, and well placed it is. Beginning with a standard metal riff and solo, it segues into a dark verse that unlike our previous epic, it works well with several volume swells from the lead guitar fading in and out for extra atmosphere. Anyone who had listened to the seven tracks before should have a good image of what an ideal Threshold epic should sound like, and this it. Brooding verses building up into a huge chorus, the most memorable on the album. Then leading into a quieter bridge that starts back up with a solid instrumental section and then ending with one final go around into an even bigger chorus with a stunning outro. Someone could practically imagine the song. But that is the problem with Threshold. The songs just don't get enough variety, over and over again it is the same old metal riff with a different sound around it. It is like meatloaf, no matter what you put on it, it is still meatloaf.
But luckily for Threshold, they actually can write decent riffs and can come up with good keyboard lines for them, bringing in not meatloaf quality music, but more of your prime rib instead. Clearly their well had run dry on songs like Keep My Head
and even Turn On Tune In
, but the rest of the album remains fresh long enough to give an enjoyable listening experience. To anyone looking to enter the world of progressive metal or even power metal, Threshold is not a bad start. But don't expect a new favorite band with these guys.