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Threshold - March of Progress CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.04 | 474 ratings

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4 stars That's it, it's the end of the world as we know it! Topsy bloody turvy! Yours truly, famous for having a huge collection devoid of any Dream Theater, Mastodon, Tool, Messhugah, etc? and looking at the Tech/Extreme prog-metal section of PA and going, what is this? has finally decided to give the chugga-chugga a chance. Up to now, my prog-metal was revolving around Roswell Six, Queensryche, Ayreon, Mastermind, a single Shadow Gallery album , a single Iron Maiden recording and Opeth's very soft "Damnation". Pfff, limp, I know. Well, I always felt that metal was like jazz and blues, it needed to be a live experience to be truly enjoyed. So I decided that in my golden age, I was going to prove to myself that I can rock, hard and long (LOL) with headphones on. So I got hooked up with a few vids, read a few glowing reviews and really liked "Ashes" as well as "That's Why We Came", certainly enough to pull the amazon trigger. I knew of Damian and Karl from their associations with the more neo-heavy prog scene but the rest were revelations, especially drummer Johanne James kicking some serious butt. The mail was particularly rapid as my CD arrived within a few days, here in the country music hotbed that is Calgary (stop giggling, you silly cowboys) and I wasted no time in getting cranked up and harassing my neighbours with torrential guitars. So I downed a case of Red Bull, swallowed 12 Viagra pills, united 'March of Progress" with my vintage Danish Bang & Olufsen system and my girlfriend's funeral is now set for mid-week!

The terrific "Ashes" pummels forth, slicing through the sweltering synths and getting all bothered up, the guitars hammering fast and hard, with Damian Wilson soaring like some leather-lunged oil-rigger on speed. There is nothing innovative here really, nor is it particularly scary, just tightly played prog-metal of the highest melodic content possible. In fact, it comes across like Maiden with a keyboard player! But what do I know, being such a novice at this type of head-banging stuff. I deeply enjoyed the wah-wah solo from Groom or is it Morten? a trait that is sorely missed in the more conventional neo-symph-crossover shrines that I pray to. Any music fan would enjoy this opening blast.

The more mid-tempo steamroller "Return of the Thought Police" is not only a highly reflective piece with serious subject matter but the music is nuanced enough to attract the simpletons as well as the technocrats. The dual guitar hammer solidly, the keys bubble and the drums pound mercilessly. 'I promise you', he says!

"Staring at the Sun" is lethally sharp and honed, as if a condemned man is looking up at some out of control guillotine and wondering when the basket will fill with his blood. The keys offer both eerie piano and bubbling synths, bullied by the screeching lead guitar solo that punches ahead. Damian Wilson can sure sing high notes, BTW!

"Liberty Complacency Dependency" is shorter on melody and more focused on blasting away in a different style that I find has always been my difficulty with metal (it's too smart for its own good at times) , somewhat in contrast to country in that it's not smart enough for its own good! I understand that this style is more attuned to the dedicated rockers out there.

"Colophon" is a more like it, a moody rocker that shuttles forward with interesting breaks, some piano and clanging guitar providing a different doom-laden vibe. By this time, I find myself tiring from all the pummeling. Thankfully, "The Hours" comes to the rescue, a cinematographic epic that transcends the power rock formula by offering a more diverse palette of sound, thrashing guitar onslaughts notwithstanding. Damian is more down to earth here, mellifluous and yet bold, a studied exercise in prog-metal singing. The instrumental break buzzes with dual guitar electricity and a hint of classical symphonics, a track that I enjoyed very much.

The video for "That's Why We Came" is what hooked me, an ultra-stimulating melody that sticks from the very first note, reminding me more of Roswell Six's classic first album. Wilson again displays intense versatility. A real cool melody that could have easily been on an Arena album, standard melodic genius and perfect delivery.

The tortuous "Don't Look Down" is a sly little devil, starting out quite conventional (Read: boring) before evolving into a sensational level of contrasting sections , alternating between heavy and light, complex and accessible, stop/starts on a dime, shifting riffs and blustery axe solos. A bloody whirlwind that took me by surprise. I did look down, in shame, blast!

Peter Morten's comp "Coda" is described as a Judas Priest-like tune (I don't know Judas that well but I do like leather, lol), machinegun-like attack, careening drums, explosive bass and a rather hysteric vocal. Hmm, not bad, maybe I should check out Priest, wot? Definitely, off the beaten path.

The 10 minute epic "Rubicon" is the final nail in my ignorant coffin, a sublime piece dedicated to that moment in everyone's life when indecision is relieved by the urgency to act, a decision to throw caution to the wind and take the plunge into uncertainty. Julius Caesar did it ("alea iacta est") in 49 BC, crossing his XIIIth Legion and thus forcing Rome's hand, passing the point of no return. This is the 'prog' part of prog-metal, using historical inspiration to write thunderous music. A bloody brilliant church organ segment really highlights the imperial bombast, as centurion Damianus Wilsonus bellows to the Coliseum faithful, thumb raised upward. The torrential guitars bluster, like a victorious legion returning from battle.

This megalodon album has sharp teeth, primal yearning and a relentless temperament that has ravaged my misgivings about prog-metal, offering a tantalizing platform to admire the lethal attributes this genre occasionally provides.

4 Evolutionary strides

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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