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Threshold - Dead Reckoning CD (album) cover

DEAD RECKONING

Threshold

 

Progressive Metal

3.62 | 174 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars After being floored by the masterful recent 2012 album "March of Progress", I eagerly sat down to be mesmirised by more of Threshold's power metal with astonishing musicianship and awesome vocals. Unfortunately "Dead Reckoning" does not measure up at all. This album does have some excellent songs but are not as consistently masterful as their latest album. It is sad that vocalist Mac passed away after this album, as he has incredible range and injects real power into the songs. It is hard not to be moved when I hear him sing "This is your life, this is your world and everything that you've been trusted with is small in your eyes". I could have done without the annoying growls of Dan Swano that thankfully was only on two tracks. His interjections are worse that Mike Portnoy growling with Dream Theater.

Let's talk about the songs themselves. It begins with the uplifting riffer 'Slipstream', a real fiery opener, then moves to more mainstream sounds on melodic 'This is Your Life', and 'Elusive', that has a strong riff from Groom with Mac's wonderful vocals, and especially features extended lead and keyboard tradeoffs. Nothing though so far is outstanding, just decent melody driven songs and some nice instrumental breaks.

'Hollow' is one of the shorter tracks, beginning with haunting atmospheres, piano and breaking out into melodic heavy rock. The harmonies in the chorus are easy on the ears, but I love about this are the rasping riffs and the memorable chorus. It is the first shining moment on the album that just jumps out, although it is nowhere as heavy as the other tracks.

Time for a prog epic and it comes with 'Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams' clocking almost ten minutes. It begins with a slow measured temp and more heartfelt vocals, very sad knowing Mac is no longer with us. The lead guitar break is soaring and replete with Groom's stirring string bends. The pace quickens with a new time sig, and the lyrics are emotional, "can you promise me the world and everything I need, so it's safe for me to fly." The keyboard takes off into full flight and is followed by strong melodic vocals and incessant riffs. This is a definitive highlight on this album.

'Fighting For Breath' continues in the same vein, lengthy and melodic with some heavy riffs. The vocoder vox are cool, and the harmonies on "don't you stop me now" remind me of Queen. Again this has a great keyboard solo but it is cut off before it goes anywhere in the creative department. The lead guitar to follow is better though. I think the band are far better when they are allowed to just launch into jams and lengthy instrumental breaks. Eventually the music settles into a lulling ambience which is dreamy, and joined by some gentle vocals. The ending is an instrumental freakout and certainly makes this another highlight.

'Disappear' follows that is profoundly sad knowing the fate of the singer. It launches with heavy riffs and locks into a choppy rhythm. The lyrics, "mesmirise, purify, close my eyes, till I find the door, and you let me in," have a sense of melancholy power. The lead break is soulful and moves into some inspired melodies.

'Safe To Fly' is driven by symphonic keys and power chords. The verses are delivered gently along a sea of reverb clean guitar. The lyrics are potent, "Sometimes I think I'm going nowhere at all, stuck in the shelter with my back to the wall, so I'm taking my time and I'm not going out until it's safe to fly." This is nice song with infectious melody and resonates with me due to the lyrics and the way it is structured.

'One Degree Down' closes the album with 8 and a half minutes of heavy prog. The riffs crash in immediately in the intro sounding like Dream Theater then it moves to a jumpy rhythm. Mac sounds vibrant as usual, and the melodies are strong leading to a chorus hook.

Overall the album tends to get better the deeper in we go, but it is not really a consistent effort, with only a few songs that are as good as anything on "March of Progress". In any case, it is a decent metal album, worth a listen but I know Threshold are capable of so much better and I will continue to go through their back catalogue as I am really impressed with this band.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |

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