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Threshold - Dead Reckoning CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.64 | 215 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Threshold has been a band that has kept growing with me. The more I hear their better music, the more I like it and the closer they get to become one of my favorite ten bands. The first album that I owned by this band, 2001's HYPOTHETICAL, is still the one I like the most and I consider it a masterpiece (I even gave it a rating of 5 stars). Then I bought SUBSURFACE, which is another excellent album, almost at the same level as the one mentioned before. After that one, I got all the other albums bar their debut, WOUNDED LAND, and I have to say that they make for a very decent progressive- metal song collection. So, it was only obvious that I was awaiting the arrival of the new release, DEAD RECKONING, with high expectations. Now that I've finally listened to it more than three times, is time for me to give my impressions on the music it contains.

I will say it from the start: the album is good but not superb or excellent. I was afraid that the "cycle" that I found with Threshold's albums was going to once again prove to be true, and it did. For me, Threshold's releases always come like this: a great album followed by a lackluster, weaker one. I haven't heard their debut, but from their second CD onwards, this tendency I've discovered in the UK's band's music has been repeated without exceptions. An awful album like PSYCHEDELICATESSEN was followed by a very good album, EXTINCT INSTINCT; then, a rather insipid record like CLONE came about (which has gotten pretty good reviews, though I see it as just an average album); after that one, Threshold's masterpiece, HYPOTHETICAL, then a weak, uninspired effort like CRITICAL MASS, followed by another fantastic achievement like SUBSURFACE, and finally, DEAD RECKONING, which, although still a enjoyable experience, is nowhere near the level of its predecessor.

My biggest complaint about DEAD RECKONING is that the band seemed to have preferred heaviness just for the sake it, leaving melody out to dry. There are too many very-heavy riffs in DEAD RECKONING that at times make for a repetitive, difficult experience to swallow. Threshold's music has always been riff-heavy, but in their latest release they've taken this characteristic to the level of exclusivity, excluding melody from the final musical formula. Another aspect that I don't like so much about this recording is the lack of truly memorable songs. Whereas HYPOTHETICAL had true metal anthems like "Light and Space" or "Narcissus", EXTINCT had "Eat the Unicorn" and SUBSURFACE had "Mission Profile" or "the Art of Reason", the new material lacks a piece that can really stand at the same level with the likes of those fantastic tracks. I've always been quite a fan of Threshold's "anthemic" choruses, (a feature that turns many people away from the band), and in the new album the choruses lack the inspiration, the grandiosity, the epic feeling that many of them had in previous releases. A third element that I don't agree with in DEAD RECKONING is how the keyboards have been cast aside from the final mix; they are still there, but they aren't here anymore. That's pretty weird considering that Richard West, the keyboard player, is the main composer of the songs for the album.

A word about the growling. Well, better yet, a question about the growling: what's the point?!? I know there are no more than 6 or 8 total sentences sung in that style here, but they still feel oddly misplaced, completely absurd, and totally forced. I don't understand the reason why Threshold decided to have Swano growl a couple of verses in the album, and I think I never will. At least it's so unnoticeable that it doesn't harm the record that much. But at the same time, if it happened more often throughout the record, it would feel less awkward, more natural.

Slipstream (9/10) Without doubt the best track on the album. The main riff is very heavy, sounds like Dream Theater from TRAIN OF THOUGHT-meets-Metallica. Before the chorus we have the oddly-placed growling by Dan Swano, and after the pre- chorus, a great chorus that almost reminds us of the anthems of the past. An energetic, powerful song.

This Is Your Life (8/10) A very fast, short, dynamic song that packs a heavy punch. The chorus is good, but the main riff is a little bit too commonplace. Good song.

Elusive (7/10) Now this song is not really bad but the start is just weak, with uncalled- for growling and noise. The main verse's riff is, again, too mundane. The chorus is decent, but too un-conclusive, too un-epic, too-superficial. An average song.

Hollow (8/10) The continual onslaught of metal keeps on coming, yet in this song some of the elements of old Threshold re-surface, like MELODY, at least in the chorus; and the keyboards re-appear after being in limbo for more than 10 minutes. I just have to applaud Mac, an underrated singer whose voice may be somewhat of an acquired taste for many (at times it sounds too "hair-metal" if you get what I mean), but with time and listening to it closely, it reveals a deep, powerful energy and passion, something that helped the band make up for the lost of master-singer Damian Wilson. A good song.

Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams (7/10) Threshold's long tracks have always been their strong point, from "Eat the Unicorn" to "Ravages of Time", they have always been my favorite. But, sadly, this time around they've turned out to be the weakest link in the release. This track starts quietly, in an almost AOR vein. A plane's engine signals the start of the metal attack. The riff is nothing to write your confused friend in the island about, but then the pre-chorus seems to be the gate to a magnificent chorus like those of old. The real chorus is not that memorable, but it works. Too uninspired an epic to be given a true great rating. REO

Fighting For Breath (6.5/10) guitars screaming in high pitch, then a very heavy riff, nothing new. Mechanized voices by Mac who sounds strangely similar to LaBrie for a few seconds. Then the marching chorus, it has energy but lacks bright. I can't believe this but here we have an 8+ minute song by Threshold that actually BORED me.

Disappear (6.5/10) Just some piano and strings. Then the main riff is interesting but not too melodic. Another run-of-the-mill chorus, lacking any creativity. Not a brilliant track.

Safe To Fly (8/10) The beginning of the song doesn't sound particularly original, but this is a good track. The chorus is almost memorable, if a little too REO-Speedwagon-ish at times.

One Degree Down (6.5/10) The first riff of this song is powerful and heavy but also interesting, at last. But then the main riff is too DT-like. When I first heard this album I kept expecting this one to be the track that reminded me of the epics of previous albums, but that didn't happen. The chorus is weak, forced, sounds a little awkward. Incredible: another boring 8+ minute song by Threshold, something that was unthinkable of in all the preceding albums.

All in all, some decent tracks make this an enjoyable experience, a good metal album but nothing great or spectacular. The problem is that it lacks inspiration, it lacks the luminosity that its predecessor had.

Recommended for: Threshold fans, specially those who like CRITICAL MASS, as this album sounds very much like that one; progressive-metal fans that like their music to sound very heavy-metal and not too progressive.

Not recommended for: Threshold fans looking for HYPOTHETICAL PT. 2, people that don't like metal in general. This is not a fantastic album, it's just slightly above average.

. But, according to my diagram, the next album should be great, so let's keep up the hopes for that.

The T | 3/5 |


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