Saturday, 24 January 2009

Threshold

Threshold are everything I love abut music. They're everything I look for in a band: drama, passion. big heavy guitars, Gilmour solos, strong vocals that compliment the music like another instrument and layers of keyboards.

Forget Mercury May and even Lennon McCartney, Groom West is the best there is. I've always been a fan of big dramatic rock. Starting with Alice cooper and then progressing to Marillion, Pink Floyd, Dream Theatre, Evegrey and finally Threshold. They beat all the others hands down, even their modern contemporariness such as Stratovarius, Evergrey and Pagan's Mind.

Threshold are a progressive heavy metal band through and through. They're not heavy like Hypocrisy or Deicide, but they're closer to that than they are to Marillion or Pink Floyd. As a guitar writer and player I rate Groom up there with Gilmour and no one on this earth plays or writes for guitar like Gilmour (Knopfler, Clapton, May and Hendrix, although superb, cannot get close in my opinion).

Andrew “Mac” McDermott is a superb singer. I've always loved strong vocals. Until I discovered progressive metal I thought the strong female vocals in bands such as Nightwish and Within Temptation were as good as it could get. I've only seen Threshold with Mac singing once. Shortly before I was going to see them for the second time (having planned a very short honeymoon so that I could be back in time) he left the band to be replaced by original singer Damien Wilson. I have to admit that I was devastated. Mac's vocals are as much a part of the band for me as Carl Groom's guitar playing. The three pre-Mac albums, two of which featured Wilson, are not good albums musically and even less so vocally. However, Damien Wilson has performed superbly on both the occasions I have seen him with Threshold. I'm reserving final judgement until they record a new album with him, but I'd love to see Mac back in the band even more than I'd like to see Fish back in Marillion (even though I love everything Steve Hogarth did with them up until This Strange Engine), Freddie Mercury alive and back in Queen and all the members of Pink Floyd alive and back together (maybe Sebastian Bach back in Skid Row is pushing it?).

I discovered Threshold at the first ever ProgPower UK in 2006. Every band, except the head liners Therion, were new to me and I picked up all of their albums shortly after the gig. Firewind opened and blew everyone, including me, away and I expected them to have the best albums too, but it wasn't so. I spend most of the following year, including a summer working in Munich and an autumn and winter working at Canary Wharf listening to Threshold and not much else. They're that good. At about the same time I discovered Alistair Reynolds and the two go hand in hand and one always reminds me of the other.

Their best album is Critical Mass even though, like all of their albums, it's a bit preachy lyrically in places. The stand out song is Choices, but there isn't a bad song on the album. In fact there isn't a bad song on any album from Clone through to the most recent Dead Reckoning.

1 comment:

  1. I've heard and read in several places that Subsurface was widely recognised by fans of the band as a weaker album than its predecessors and it's follow up Dead Reckoning. Subsurface was the first Threshold album I heard and maybe that tints my view slightly, but it's just as good as all the other "Mac" albums.

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