Threshold light the fuse on another explosive album. The future of quality Prog Metal is in good hands.
Release Date: 18th November 2022
Label: Nuclear Blast
Format: CD / digital / vinyl
Since their inception in the late Eighties and their 1993 debut Wounded Land, Threshold have forged ever onwards with a determined front. Amidst the challenges of line-up changes and a shape-shifting musical landscape, they’ve negotiated the storms, and their Legend Of The Shires from 2017 along with the new album, Dividing Lines both confirm how they are in as good a shape as they ever have been.
Legend… was the album that saw the return of singer Glynn Morgan to the fold, spearheaded and marshalled expertly by founder, guitarist and producer Karl Groom and Dividing Lines sees the form maintained. It’s an album that exists on a grand scale with Morgan to the fore delivering another confident and powerful performance. However, he’s not a lone ranger as the band is genuinely on fire with a hugely strong and inspirational set of songs
Whilst shifting towards heavier and darker than the predecessor, Dividing Lines is very modern Prog Metal with plenty of stirring and uplifting melodies. The dynamics are terrific and the music positively bursts with life and a vital bounce. Dividing Lines is much more robust and full of clarion calls the likes of which carry Let It Burn. Atmospheric moods punctuate the juddering Metal core and there are enough moments of variety in the writing and arrangements. Lost Along The Way is a moody extravaganza, marching along on a wash of keyboard waves but it’s the brilliant shimmer of Hall Of Echoes presents the first of several reassuringly thick stabs of organ and the sort of duelling synth and guitar lines that are actually inspiring rather than simple self-indulgence. The towering opening part might be straight out of the Gary Numan industrial songbook and sit in contrast with the melody of the hooks in the choruses.
Complex is more meat and potatoes stuff, all hefty chunks of thunder and squealing solo breaks, laced together with a seductive Morgan vocal. Richard West’s keyboards remain a strong feature of the Threshold signature in a field where their sole purpose is often in texturing the sound. His piano punctuates the swing and swagger on King Of Nothing giving a sense of symphony and he straddles the album, often upfront alongside the guitar, foot on the monitor were it possible.
Two big (ie, long) songs close out each half. The Domino Effect and Defence Condition both see the band take advantage of the expanded format where they rise to the challenge and provide a glorious pairing. The Domino Effect passes through several sections, an ambitious instrumental passage where the musical quartet becomes increasingly excited and some easy balladeering. Before things get too mawkish, the icing on the cake comes with one of those ‘less is more’ guitar solos from Groom where he has the emotion dripping from the neck in possibly the best solo on the album. A rival to his contribution to Defence Condition, where the theme of paranoia is emphasised by “how do you know who to trust?” and a mesmeric middle section precedes the solo. As the final track, the climax peaks with a suitably grandiose finale and a clean/dark vocal duet. An ominous end indeed.
While some Prog Metal is defiantly and deliberately technical and the musicianship is mind-bogglingly complex, no names mentioned, Threshold present the acceptable face of the genre. A gateway band that make Prog Metal accessible to non-believers.
A case of a band getting better with age? Dividing Lines is Threshold in rude health. And as good as it gets.