Released by: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Genre: Progressive Rock/Metal
Damian Wilson – vocals
Karl Groom – guitar
Richard West – keyboards
Johanne James – drums
Steve Anderson – bass
Pete Morten – guitar
2 Return Of The Thought Police
3. Staring At The Sun
4. Liberty Complacency Dependency
6. The Hours
7. That’s Why We Came
8. Don’t Look Down
11. Divinity (Digi bonustrack)
File this new much anticipated Threshold release into one of the must listens of the year by far if you have been a fan of the UK prog masters since their inception. If you follow the genre then you know they have been one of the most consistent bands in the progressive rock realm with such standout releases as their debut “Wounded Land” with their original singer Damien Wilson, who makes a comeback return to the band after the unfortunate passing of their vocalist Andrew “Mac” McDermott last year.
I will not mask any of my fanboy opinions on this great band, Threshold by far has been one of the most enjoyable bands to listen to since their humble beginnings. The combination of keyboard arrangements from Richard West and melodic riffs from guitar player Karl Groom had been a steady staple of the band since the 80’s. Threshold always had their own unique blend of progressive rock, even with the change in vocalists the outfit kept on getting better and delivering groove after progressive groove, haunting, intrinsic, mysterious and creating a desired product for all progressive loyal followers.
Their last record “Dead Reckoning” and the one before that “Subsurface” face planted the band’s sound with Mac, and we’re incredibly well done, it left me wanting more and seriously considering how in the hell the band was going to live up to their predecessor. Well good comes with some bad, expectations sometimes are hard to fulfill, there’s only a few number of bands that are able to keep playing the same style of music and not bored the listener, think Kamelot, Evergrey, and now Threshold. With all the developing ideas and essential rhythms that prog bands tend to fall into over time, complexity is one of the traps they seem to fall under. Most fail after some time trying too hard to make something intricate, and just cause it sounds complicated doesn’t always mean is good, but that was one of the things that Thresh had always excelled at; providing the listener with a vast and balanced curiosity and variety, keeping things interesting and pushing forward with their own style and dexterity.
Their new album “March of Progress” is based on yes a concept album, I’m not against concept albums as long as they’re well done, in this case the sound and the product is always of high quality, the message however gets too condensed in the music on MOP, I regret to report. The subject matter is interesting and this time around the fellas decided to go all George Orwell “1984” and delivery on some sort of totalitarian society control topics; hence the subject matter the likes of “fighting corruption, corporation control, etc. I have learned over time not to try to over analyse some of the progressive metal bands as the music has to sink in to you, for some it works and for others it gets convoluted and puzzling. For Threshold these topics are common as they often deal with Politics, Religion, Science, so it’s easy to dig in without hesitation. Provocative lyrics always spark an interest to me and when they are mounted with emotion they speak to the listener.
Upon first spin here I was a little let down as the songs are more diverse, a little less heavy and overall is a mix bag, some tunes work better then others. We are still listening to that same Threshold sound but diversified and not as complete as the previous two albums. The bands first single “Ashes” is transition into this new era of the band and one that is more similar to their past records. From there we have the melancholy obstructive groove of “Return Of The Thought Police” which works well after a few listens, I like the topic matter but one that has been used before in these sorta of broken society themes. Some of the songs that work better the second time around was Liberty Complacency Dependency” as it fits Wilson style of singing more in the operatic manner, and it loosely resembles some early work from Threshold, think “Wounded Land” for instance and the guitars are high soaring and melodic as hell, drums killer as usual. A few other tunes are just solid but not groundbreaking like the dragging slow burn of “Colophon” until it finally breaks free and Wilson hits the chorus to build momentum which lead to the great fret work. Some of the heavy hitters come via the mellower but glowingly antics of “Coda” and bellowing choruses in the epic “Rubicon”, these two become two of my favorites on the album after multiple spins.
The sound is varied and the results are mixed because I think the band was trying to indulge the listener by using more laid back grooves in order to accommodate Damian’s vocal style which is not as metal and direct as the late McDermott. In order to truly be “progressive” you have to mix things up and not keep the status quo, Threshold does this on “March of Progress” even if some fans may not necessarily like it. Generally speaking I would just say recommend to all, but I know some fans may not appreciate their newest effort, I’m of the old school of don’t judge a book by it’s cover; don’t do that and just grade the overall product which to me makes the record stand out at face value. Yes I’m a huge fan of these guys and I may be bias here, but so what. I’ll go on the record and admit “March of Progress” has some tunes that work better then others, and the band seemed to have been trying some new things, such as the incorporation of more stylistically progressive roots, more tuned back numbers that detour from their most prominent material of their past, aside from this the record looses steam a bit half way but then thankfully closes on a high note. Flawlessly speaking but notably reminiscent of everything that makes this great band who they are. To me there is no substitute……Success!!!
Written by Denys