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Threshold - Legends of the Shires CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.99 | 271 ratings

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5 stars Threshold's first double album and a second concept one sees the return of the old frontman Glynn Morgan into the fold. Before anyone opens up an argument about their favourite singer I have to say that although we all disagree who the best (technically or emotionally) out of the three is, one thing we should all agree on is that Damian, Mac and Glynn have extremely recognisable tone to their voices and in that respect were all original and unique vocalists who left their mark in Threshold's history. Structurally, music picks up where The Box left off, bringing a new level of refinement into the writing.

The pastoral opening of the The Shire introduces us to the concept of the story, then swiftly moves on to Small Dark Lines, a fast paced opener in which Glynn shows off a typically rough edge to his voice.

The Man Who Saw Through Time is a monumental piece, sonically very dynamic, with stacks of prog elements throughout. An engaging instrumental section is spiced up with exquisite guitar accents, where everything flows seamlessly. A hugely relatable leitmotif binds it all together while taking us on an delightful journey.

Raw, upbeat energy of Trust the Process explodes onto the scene, sweeping you along with a heart-wrenching guitar harmonies. The richness of the passages peaks with the lavish dialogue between the singer and the backing vocals, so pleasing to the ear the entire song leaves you utterly entranced.

Stars and Satellites paints a harmless picture, other than Glynn's occasional gravelly bite. That is until the middle section thunders in - what an astonishing pounding of notes, sort of Extinct Instinct style - both progressive and eccentric. The guitar solo that follows is by far the grooviest one Karl's ever done, the whole thing's got this bounce and freshness, I wish it lasted longer.

Steve Anderson's debut On the Edge contains all the typical Threshold elements - tempo changes, melodic chorus and a coda, it's the pre-chorus that is of an unusual jazzy background.

The Shire (part II) starts off with a delicate acoustic, before opening up into a big chorus. Its deceptive simplicity masks elaborate framework underneath the main melody. Every note feels mindfully placed in just the right order.

Pent-up passion gets released in Snowblind, a tune with the most linear narrative they've ever written. As we move from one segment to another the music keeps on expanding, never looking back and evolving in an incredibly organic way. The guitar parts are fundamentally woven into the song's fabric and are some of the finest I've heard, culminating in the absorbing solo that melts into your being.

Subliminal Freeways is of a disheartened nature, while the ballad State of Independence lyrically depicts both sides of the Brexit argument. Glynn's got an appropriate rasp in the chorus and an almost feminine sigh towards the end.

Superior Machine goes back to the roots of Clone, with more straightforward metal chords and the vocals which devour the verse.

Like a misty drizzle The Shire (part III) quietly descends upon us with its melancholic yet soothing quality. Having Jon Jeary back singing gave it additional gravitas.

Lost in Translation unfolds as a timeless classic from the very first tone, portraying such majestic landscape and spilling out into the vastness of space. It flows smoothly and although grand it shows poise and light touch. It's so polished that previous albums feel crude in comparison. The guitar's answering phrase is deeply evocative and the surrounding sustained notes are simply dreamy. You feel as though the intricate instrumentals swirl all around, restoring inner peace.

The theme we heard earlier on comes back as a reprise in Swallowed, this time with the biting cynicism as the protagonist unveils the truth and sees the system for what it really is.

Legends Of The Shires is a substantial release, wherein they mastered the art of harmony further. It's propped up by a myriad of extraordinary sound effects, where even transitions between the songs add another dimension to this musical realm. Seemingly disruptive line up changes represented no challenge to this band, as the music speaks for itself regardless of who is behind the microphone. The story bears many parallels and can be understood personally as an evaluation of one's position and purpose in life, as well as through a political prism of isolation and morality. What sets this album apart is a stupendous variety of styles that gel quite naturally and create this complex tapestry that keeps the listener enthralled, as with each spin another layer of its soundscape gets absorbed. Breaking new ground whilst staying true to their sound, the innovative blend of masculine riffs with alluring melodies and profound philosophical lyrics have always been Threshold's hallmarks. 'And the wind blows'... back into Threshold's sails once more.

Threshold | 5/5 |


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