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Threshold: Dead Reckoning

Behold England's answer to Dream Theater in the Progressive Metal juggernaut Threshold! Long referred to as the U.K.'s best provider of this genre it is easy to see why when the first track on the release begins. "Slipstream" draws you into the bands world by bringing levels of technical ability with dynamic vocal harmony and leads on top of a rousing chorus that has you singing with them right out of the gate. It makes sense as this is not a new band at all, but a seasoned and dynamic group that has moved on from Progressive Music leaders InsideOut and now rests firm and comfortable in the arms of Nuclear Blast Records. They groups addition to an already powerful roster offers the label fans a slightly different take on what they might be used to. Their label debut Dead Reckoning has a big and live sound to it and amid the dynamic technical skills that are showcased you find yourself continually intrigued and not bored by all the wizardry. "This Is Your Life" reminded me of "Status Seeker", an old DT song based on the way this one was sticking in my memory and it never hurts a band to find their sound calling to mind parts of a group like Dream Theater. Outside of the excellent musicianship by Karl Groom (guitars), Richard West (Keyboards), Steve Anderson (bass), and Johanne James (drums) you have the incredible voice of Andrew "Mac" McDermott. He shines across the whole recording if you ask me and for this genre has one of the best voices I have heard in some years. The key to success in a band like this is an equal mix of music and vocal expertise and Threshold shows you they are in full command of this on epic tracks like "Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams". This song brings to life a little bit of everything that the band is about as they test and push the limits of acceptable Prog-Metal Rock. The guys also have special guest vocals from Nightingale's Dan Swano on a couple of numbers and together they show that this is not your Fathers Progressive Rock. The lush structures and patterns keep the listener entertained at all times and it's a great way to remind the world that Progressive Metal still holds a lot of surprises for everyone. These guys show a great love for Metal on top of their Progressive and I think that was great to find to be the case. Grab a hold of this one and get ready for action as you stand upon the Threshold of exciting new musical adventures.

Track Listing
1. Slipstream
2. This Is Your Life
3. Elusive
4. Hollow
5. Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams
6. Fighting For Breath
7. Disappear
8. Safe To Fly
9. One Degree Down

Added: May 6th 2007
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: Threshold Website
Hits: 5176
Language: english

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Threshold: Dead Reckoning
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-05-06 06:11:59
My Score:

Threshold is still the best progressive metal band from England and Dead Reckoning marks their debut with major label Nuclear Blast, which seemed a somewhat confusing match-up at first, but repeat listens to the album have attested that the band still have full artistic control over their music, and there is no sign of regression or stagnation in form and style whatsoever.

Assessing the Mac-era albums, I have always considered Clone to be their transition to a more vocal-harmony-friendly style of prog, reaching its stylistic peak on albums like Hypothetical and its heavier logical continuation Critical Mass. The previous album Subsurface saw their entrance into yet another territory, blending the melodic signature of their earlier works with more elaborate instrumental sections defined by huge production values. The new album embarks on a similar stylistic drive. Therefore, it shouldn't be wrong to claim that Dead Reckoning, rather than breaking new ground completely, encapsulates the most consistent parts of its predecessor, adding in a bit more crunch and catchiness factor, particularly in the use of Andrew McDermott's vocals. It is clear the songs on this album have especially been tailored for him to demonstrate his vocal skills fully, exerting convincing authority over melodically enhanced harmonies.

On the other hand, while the similarities to Subsurface can in no way be denied, there are also new elements introduced on some of the songs, most notably on the album opener "Slipstream", which sees them instantly gluing an addictive chorus to the listener's mind, amidst an onslaught of crunch-filled rhythm guitars backed by Richard West's ethereal synth patch and drummer Johanne James' easily identifiable playing. James is among the hardest hitting skinsman in the business, which is why most Threshold songs are graced with a convincing slam through and through. Truth be told, it was his playing that got all my attention during the first couple of spins. The song also has the amazing Dan Swano guesting with his unique death growls briefly behind Mac; and the use of Queen-like counterpoint at the very end is something they had never experimented with before.

Dan Swano also appears on "Elusive". His growls on this one are more brutal sounding, providing a strong sense of contrast to Mac's crystalline vocals. The instrumental part of this song ranks among the album's best: it is filled with a killer unison solo by Karl Groom and Richard West, each player upping the calibre of the already mesmerizing song; and Mac's vocal part that follows Karl Groom's solo part is arguably the album's high point vocal-wise. The choice to feature Swano is a huge asset to these songs, as the subject matter of both "Slipstream" and "Elusive" are dark and menacing: the former addresses anxiety whilst the latter deals with the individual's desperation and completely lost state of mind.

Four of the songs, including the ten-minute epic, on the CD were written by keyboard player Richard West. It is no coincidence that songs by West also have a futuristic side to them, as they are mostly infused with brief but easily noticable sound effects, such as the intro of "This Is Your Life"; the string arrangement of the moody cut "Disappear"; and the slightly 80's-tinged "Hollow" in its use of synths that disappear under Groom's chunky guitar solo. I have always drawn comparisons between Richard West and Kevin Moore, as both of them know perfectly how to insert an atmospheric undercurrent into the otherwise rhythm-heavy compositions. On "Pilot in the Sky of Dreams", originally intended to be the album title, Threshold move through several moods, starting out with a ballad-like piano bit and then delving into a strong bass groove by Steve Anderson (who other than this serves more like a second guitarist on the album) and superb vintage keys. It is interesting to note that even Mac sounds like Genesis-era Collins, not tonally but in the way his enunciation comes through.

On the heavier front, "Fighting for Breath" is epic in its intro, growing from a single riff to a progressive metal rocker a la some songs from their back catalog; while "One Degree Down" is propelled by fierce rhythm guitars but it also has a cool unison part, and a terrific guitar outro by Groom. Being more compositionally driven, the guitar and keyboard solos are not as abundant here as on their earlier works, but fear not, the duo still lay down some terrific solos blowing the mind away.

Given Karl Groom's resume with countless bands as a producer, it would be daft to discuss the album from a production standpoint. The mix is clear as always, the recording quality alive, and the mastering brimming with power. Dead Reckoning is yet another great entry into Threshold's consistently impressive body of work.

Threshold: Dead Reckoning
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-04-10 10:10:13
My Score:

The UK's prog-metal veterans Threshold have been one of the most consistent bands over the last decade, pumping out one stellar release after another. Albums like Critical Mass, Extinct Instinct, Subsurface, Clone, Psychedelicatessen, Wounded Land, and Hypothetical, and others, have received rave reviews from both fans and critics alike, and now, after moving from InsideOut to Nuclear Blast Records, the band has put together another winner with Dead Reckoning.

In all honesty, Nuclear Blast is sort of a strange home for a band like Threshold, but it could be a sign that the metal label is opening up its roster to include more progressive type bands. Threshold's crunchy yet symphonic & hook laden music is sort of a new spin for the metal juggernaut, home to many thrash, death & black metal, and power metal bands, but my guess is it will be a good move for this group. Featuring nine solid songs , Dead Reckoning continues the trend of landmark albums for Threshold. Both "Slipstream" and "Elusive" feature a new element for the band, and that being backing death growls from the legendary Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity/Nightingale/Pan-Thy-Monium/Bloodbath). His extreme vocals fit in well with the soaring prog-metal voice of Andrew "Mac" McDermott, and these two pieces are great uptempo numbers with crunchy guitar work from Karl Groom and plenty of keyboards courtesy of Richard West. Other highlights include the epic sounding "One Degre Down", the progressive "Pilot in the Sky of Dreams", and the symphonic "Safe to Fly". Each song is melodic and memorable, with plenty of tasty playing and rock solid rhythms. Mac's vocals have improved so much over the years, and in reality he is the reason this album works so well.

While you don't get as much instrumental fireworks on a Theshold album as you do with bands such as Dream Theater or Symphony X, but like Vanden Plas, this band adds in just enough tasty instrumental bits to keep the prog-metal faithful satisfied, but the key focus is on the songs and melodies. Sure, Groom and West can shred with some fierce guitar and synth solos (and they do on occasion), but for some of the most memorable and catchy progressive metal songs around, Threshold and Dead Reckoning are the real deal.

» Reader Comments:

Threshold: Dead Reckoning
Posted by Carlos Canales Vega on 2007-06-05 12:42:23
My Score:

Just to add my 2 cents: not as awesome as Subsurface was (hardly any album is), but still very good and worthy of your hard earned money.

Threshold: Dead Reckoning
Posted by GABRIEL DE OLIVEIRA on 2007-04-26 17:47:07
My Score:

Amazing!!! Fantastic!! Wonderfull!!! No more words about!! Threshold rocks!! More metal than prog but perfect! Nothing about Dream Theater. Each band has your own sound. Each one has genius playing. Dead Reckoning is the way of Threshold make his music. His own soud. Powerfull drum and bass, melodic and agressive guitars at same time, and the vocals of Mr. Mac is incredible. Music with complexity but sometimes a simple sound. This mix make Threshold unic in prog metal scene nowadays.

Congratulations boys!! Keep fighting!!

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