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Threshold: Legends Of The Shires

There can't be many bands who've changes singers six times and yet only had four vocalists. That's a boast UK progressive metallers Threshold can make, bassist Jon Jeary (who returns for a short vocal cameo on this new album) passing on the mantle to Damian Wilson before the band released their 1993 debut. Wilson only stuck around for one album, Glynn Morgan taking the helm for the underrated Psychedelicatessen, before Wilson returned for 1997's Extinct Instinct. Off he popped again as Andrew 'Mac' McDermott became the first of the band's singers to front more than one consecutive release, the now sadly deceased vocal master the voice of five albums between 1998 and 2007. Amazingly Wilson's third tenure took in the band's two most recent releases, 2012's March Of Progress and 2014's For The Journey, before he left once again with differing stories behind his departure told, depending on which side of the argument you hear. So who is the band's new singer for their 11th album, Legends Of The Shires? Well, the new man is another 'old' man, Glynn Morgan entering the fray for a second bite at the Threshold cherry. It's fair to say it's not an opportunity he's going to waste.

Strangely however, with the band laying down early demo guide vocals for all their singers to adhere to, Wilson often sounded like Morgan and Morgan in turn sounds like 'Mac' and vice versa (or something like that). However, what that has always allowed is an amazing continuity for the band no matter who fronts them, something even more prevalent when you factor in the outfit's trademark use of synths to occasionally boost the vocals.

However, Morgan may, in the final analysis be more 'Mac' than his is Wilson, evoking a sound that suddenly reminds of the albums that allowed the band to truly break through, Hypothetical and Critical Mass. It's no bad thing and with the music seemingly keen to explore the deeper, progressive roots Threshold did back then, for older fans of the band, there's a reassuring familiarity to Legends Of The Shires. However, this isn't a simple retreading of old ground, instead it's a band who seem to have recaptured the sound that fits them best and allows them to truly illustrate their majesty. And if ever there was an album to do that with it is the 83 minute, two disc concept piece that they've revealed here. With fourteen tracks in all, and nine of them reaching over 5 minutes (and two over 10), there's little restraint shown, although neither is there much in the way of needles extravagance.

Varying between the riff heavy explosions that have long been their calling card and some tender moments that reveal a more introspective side, everything from the bristling "Small Dark Lines" with its hooks, synths and heavy guitars, to "State Of Independence" and its considered guitar solo, piano and, yes, still some biting riffs, hit the spot. Good though they were, it's almost as if the last two albums from the band never happened, while previous dalliances with the likes of growls etc have also been left by the wayside.

What of the concept? Well, to quote River Song… "spoilers!" The band giving away very little in hope people will find out for themselves, while promo downloads of the album didn't come with lyric sheets. However, unlike its name may suggest, this isn't yet another troll (sorry) through Tolkien's world, instead seeming to be more about the evolution of a land's culture and means of supporting its inhabitants, and also about the journey of those people themselves. It can be deep and heavy stuff, without ever being overbearing, which in itself is impressive.

There's a lot to get to know here and, in truth, the occasional section could maybe have been edited down to make a more concise, instant album. However that didn't seem to be the point this time round, an intentionally old school prog approach finding Threshold simply revelling in what made them come together in the first place. It's worked a treat.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
CD 1:
1. The Shire (Part 1)
2. Small Dark Lines
3. The Man Who Saw Through Time
4. Trust The Process
5. Stars And Satellites
6. On The Edge

CD 2:
7. The Shire (Part 2)
8. Snowblind
9. Subliminal Freeways
10. State Of Independence
11. Superior Machine
12. The Shire (Part 3)
13. Lost In Translation
14. Swallowed

Added: September 22nd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Threshold online
Hits: 3084
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Threshold: Legends Of The Shires
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-09-22 06:48:51
My Score:

British progressive metal veterans Threshold have never seemed to have much consistency when it comes to the vocalist position, as they've seeming had a revolving door of mostly the same names for much of their career. Damian Wilson has come and gone more times than we can keep track of, recently departing once again after nearly a decade back in the role for the third time, and Andrew "Mac" McDermott , who fronted the band for a strong period in the early 2000s, passed away in 2011. Rather than scour the earth for a new vocalist, the band reached out to Glynn Morgan, who sang for Threshold in the mid '90s for their Psychedelicatessen album, a long forgotten gem in their catalog. Along with founding member/guitarist Karl Groom, keyboard player Richard West, drummer Johanne James, and bassist Steve Anderson, the band have created this new double CD concept album, titled Legend of the Shires.

While still a 'metal' album, the band have upped the prog quotient here a bit, lengthy, adventurous numbers like "The Man Who Saw Through Time" and the daring "Trust the Process" sitting quite comfortably alongside memorable, crunchy fare such as "Small Dark Lines" and the groove laden thumper "On the Edge". West's majestic keyboard tapestries adorn the dramatic "Stars and Satellites", a tune that bristles with super metallic riffs from Groom and Morgan's soaring vocals, while the headbanging fury of "Snowblind" also allows for some tasty guitar & keyboard interplay, those prog elements once again coming to the forefront. Other highlights include the instantly catchy "Superior Machine" (another fine vocal display from Morgan) and the prog epic "Lost in Translation", the latter a great example of how symphonic textures can complement a kick ass, complex progressive metal song. West is the star of this 10+ minute gem, laying down all sorts of '70s & '80s styled prog keyboards, and even tosses in a blazing duel with Groom for good measure. James and Anderson also get plenty of room to shine, making "Lost in Translation" a truly glorious track for the entire band to shine.

Honestly, this line-up is clicking on all cylinders here on Legend of the Shires, a near 90-minute double album that does't meander and keeps the listener engaged throughout. Glynn Morgan's return is a fantastic one, and let's hope he sticks around and helps Threshold continue on with their upward trajectory. Highly recommended.

» Reader Comments:

Threshold: Legends Of The Shires
Posted by Progger on 2017-09-17 16:17:36
My Score:

Threshold are easily up with the best and most consistent progressive groups, they know what they excel at and top quality songs are what they always deliver.

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