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Threshold: Critical Energy

Threshold has always been a class act, making tasty (and tasteful) progressive-metal with commercial appeal. The band's six studio albums released over the past decade exude a high level of musicianship and intelligence without getting too lofty or pretentious. That's why it's surprising to hear singer Andrew "Mac" McDermott tell at least one member of the audience to "shut up" on the two-CD set Critical Energy, recorded in Holland on June 6, 2003. Maybe you need to take his comments in context; if so, the accompanying DVD should clear things up.

For now, though, his behavior is only a slight blemish on an otherwise impressive document encompassing Threshold's entire career. The most electrifying performances here include "Falling Away," "Oceanbound," "Paradox" and an acoustic version of "Clear." Notably absent, however, are such Threshold classics as "Turn On Tune In," "A Tension of Souls" and "Sheltering Sky." Mac's voice, usually razor-sharp in the studio, sounds more primal live and gives added bite to these 18 songs. Despite his stints of arrogance, Mac proves himself live on material previously handled quite well by Damian Wilson, and accomplished lead guitarist Karl Groom (who continues to get most of the credit in Threshold) keeps everything together without pulling any guitar-god histrionics.

Hypothetical from 2001 remains the band's smartest and most enduring album, but Critical Energy serves as a dynamite starting point for new listeners and offers an alternate take on the band's music for established fans. (Expect InsideOut Music's final Threshold reissue, 1997's Extinct Instinct, to hit by the end of March 2004.)

Track Listing
CD 1
1) Phenomenon (6:06)
2) Oceanbound (6:24)
3) Choices (8:40)
4) Angels (6:47)
5) Falling Away (7:09)
6) Virtual Isolation (6:10)
7) Innocent (4:21)
8) Long Way Home (6:06)
9) Fragmentation (7:00)

CD 2
1) Clear (3:41)
2) Life Flow (3:53)
3) Narcissus (6:03)
4) Sunseeker (5:25)
5) The Latent Gene (7:56)
6) Light and Space (6:15)
7) Sunrise on Mars (5:29)
8) Paradox (9:25)
9) Sanity's End (10:16)
Total Running Time: 117:14

Added: March 8th 2004
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Score:
Related Link: Official Threshold Web Site
Hits: 2384
Language: english

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