Indulge me if you will on this one. I’m no Threshold fan, nor do I know any of their work prior to what this, their ninth studio album, brings to the table. So if you’re reading this as a fan knowing what to expect, feel free to shake your head ruefully as you read my thoughts. My only association with them is through Johanne James and his amazing drum and vocal work with Kyrbgrinder. I’m a casual toe-dipper in the world of progressive metal, but anytime I do so I always think I should get into it more because truth be told I always bloody well enjoy it!
So, Threshold bring March of Progress to the table, with all the progressive technicality and ingenuity by the bucket load you would expect to hear in this genre of metal and from a band of this experience.
Opening track Ashes is a great rocking opener that sets you up perfectly for what’s to come on the album. It’s probably the most straightforward track on the album alongside the beautiful ballad, That’s Why We Came, whose simplicity is its key hook alongside Damian Wilson’s power and range. Ashes by contrast has guitar melody work akin to Queen here with a superb keyboard solo. It gets the blood pumping in the right way before launching into Return of the Thought Police that goes right into progressive mode with some great riffage, vocal harmonies and once again excellent keys work.
Staring at the Sun is almost electronic in its feel, with some great off-beat rhythm work before it kicks into the solo section with good pace. It brings to mind Marillion meeting Dream Theater in a head on collision.
Liberty Complacency Dependency gives us our first monster of the album and I find myself likening it to Queensryche during their halcyon days but with a slightly heavier slant. Damian Wilson’s vocals shine through on this one. He positively soars throughout alongside some soulful guitar work from Karl Groom and Pete Morten. There’s superb shades of light and dark running throughout this track.
Colophon and The Hours share a similar feel mood wise, dripping in ethereal atmosphere and backed by some great riffs throughout. The Hours itself is pure prog metal heaven, with the bass carrying a cool electronica feel to it in places. It’s bordering on the theatrical and actually stirs memories of Les Miserables in its structure, melody and content. When Damian Wilson cries out the anthemic chorus lines it immediately draws images of Jean Valjean standing in the spotlight on the stage in the West End. It is an absolute bloody monster of a track.
Don’t Look Down I simply love. There’s some superb keyboard work from Richard West that sits harmoniously beside the guitars. It’s like Megadeth doing prog, with a neat chorus twist and chilled middle section that’s like listening to Santana before it kicks back into a good dose of melodic heavy riffage. It’s probably the one track on the album that gives just about everyone in the band a chance to shine.
Threshold finish the album off in triumphant style with Coda throwing you straight into rock-out mode with an underlying evil guitar melody. The Rubicon, however, is THE monster track of the album. This is teh daddeh as they say in internet speak. It’s epic, it’s grandiose, it’s THAT big and a fitting end to a truly brilliant piece of prog metal.
With March of Progress it’s obvious Threshold are, nine albums on, still top of their game and have produced a tremendous piece of progressive metal that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. If prog’s you’re thing and you’ve not heard Threshold before then grab this album when it comes out. You will not be disappointed.
March of Progress is available from August 24th in Europe and from Sept 11th in North America from Nuclear Blast.
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
10. The Rubicon
Damian Wilson – vocals
Karl Groom – guitar
Pete Morten – guitar
Richard West – keyboards
Johanne James – drums
Steve Anderson – bass