Nuclear Blast (2012)
Life events have a way of propelling creativity. After the release of 2007’s “Dead Reckoning”, vocalist Andrew ‘Mac’ McDermott would leave the band and original singer Damien Wilson took over to support the tour. In August of 2011 Andrew would suddenly pass away, and Damien has marched forward on this new studio album “March Of Progress”. Given the five year break its little surprise that this represents their longest platter to date, clocking in at 69 plus minutes- but do not fear boredom as Threshold use all their dynamic, stylistic colors and waves of sonic breathing to put forth another exciting effort.
Those uninitiated to the ways of Threshold and the sextet’s distinct brand of progressive metal- their sound incorporates the lower, multipart vocal harmonies of say The Moody Blues or classic Yes with a musical interplay that uses subtle time changes or off-kilter power chord movements (be it keyboard or guitar driven) that are distinctly metal oriented. Sometimes Richard West’s quick hitting keyboard action takes over while Karl Groom and Pete Morten provide background rhythm guitar support- most evident during the verses of “Liberty Complacency Dependency”- but Groom and Morten gain the chance to provide a nice, slow solo evolution segment that proves not all progressive guitarists subscribe to the neo-classical shred motif. Often you’ll have a simpler refrain that gains momentum through the drumming or heavier guitar riffs- with Damien’s comforting melodies just having a way to sweep your brain into another galaxy. Some of his best work includes the 8 minute mid-tempo head bobber “The Hours” and shorter, almost Rush-like “Staring At The Sun”.
A lot of times progressive acts seem scared to get to the verses early in a song- not so for Threshold as “Coda” takes only a small 11 seconds to let Damien’s repetitive nature to carry this atmospheric track- the haunting ‘I will break down these walls’ reverberating every time I take in this song and the small use of effects on his voice enhancing the arrangement. Closing with the 10 minute plus epic “The Rubicon”, “March Of Progress” probably represents their most diverse and multi-faceted album to date. Threshold know that great music starts with hooks, riffs, and melodies- from there you can incorporate your knowledge and training to create outstanding material that won’t just appeal to the schooled musicians of the world.
Threshold prove time and again that you don’t have to be lightning quick and dazzling at all times to make a magnificent progressive metal record.
Rating: 5.5 / 6
Composed by Matt Coe