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MARCH OF PROGRESS

Threshold

Progressive Metal


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5 stars Threshold's latest release is very much a mature and inspired work of art, which brings finely balanced and well arranged songs. The intriguingly dark atmosphere is but enhanced by the out of this world timbre of Damian Wilson, where each note is in perfect harmony with the weeping quality of his voice. As expected the whole package is relying on crisp, innovative production and rich full sound.

Ashes is a proud opener, marking the band's full on comeback. It's woven through with such uplifting melodies and bountiful energy, just a marriage of harmonies and rhythm.

Return of the Thought Police bears a deep moody tone, with a climactic build-up in the chorus. The vocals' clean and ethereal properties draw you in, softly leading the dance. Simple melodic ingenuity is just incomparable.

The shortest song Staring at the Sun plays contrast between bleak verse and full textured chorus, where the instruments sing in unison.

The title Liberty, Complacency, Dependency explains itself lyrically, whilst musically is a reminiscent of the band's early albums. What's so intellectual about it is the multi-layered nature of the song. It's abundant in complex details and is simply brimming with the original vibrations that Damian's voice resonates with. A beautiful atmospheric solo crowns the middle section.

Colophon is yet another prog gem ? a gripping intro builds up concisely into almost a music score with a military theme. Shades of both slow and up-tempo beats expose the complexity of Damian's full range, with the momentum that keeps expanding and the guitar solo attack at the end.

Inner struggle dominates The Hours, carefully structured and dramatic piece that opens up into an embracing chorus. Unexpectedly different and intimate vocals in the slow section unveil the underlying tension.

That's Why We Came has its origins in the acoustic Pink Floyd sound, with the majestic high notes that consume you, whereas the character of Don't Look Down is more of a catchy one, but balanced out by the rock elements and a phenomenal instrumental section. Slightly unusual and surprisingly addictive Coda starts off with the early 90's metal riff, followed by the late 80's pop keyboards, to be blended in nicely by its guitar solo with the recognizable Threshold style.

If there ever has been a song written to glorify a single musical segment this one had certainly given such an event a completely new meaning. Epic, yet personal, The Rubicon is a story of Threshold, of doubts and achievements, future and past. The poignant outro never fails to leave me untouched ? emotionally heavy organ, combined with the most outstanding backing vocals in the answering phrases and topped with the soaring vocal lines that are framed by the semantically opposing verses. The big and passionate solo sadly brings the album to a close.

Bonus track Divinity has got a hint of quirkiness and melancholy, followed by a bittersweet feeling in its coda, by which this colourful repertoire is concluded.

Combining power and melody on such unique level, Threshold have once again proved their worth on the world's progressive scene. Thought provoking, their music is driven to stir individual emotions by embodying universally profound values in its artistic form. Moreover, March of Progress has got a dynamic flow and fresh approach to the songwriting, showing off another dimension to this talented band. It's an album of pure genius and I just cannot fault it.

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Send comments to Threshold (BETA) | Report this review (#790845)
Posted Thursday, July 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Following my discovery of this awesome band in the early 2000s, I have come to perceive Threshold as one of the most underrated prog metal bands on Earth. Indeed, their steadily-high musical quality and unique combination of powerful vocals, accessible melodies and intricate riffing should put them right up there with the likes of Dream Theater, Symphony X and Fates Warning. It's also one of the few bands in my extensive iTunes library to consistently feature an album rating of 4 or even 5 (believe me, this is not an easy feat).

However, they have NEVER received the attention they deserve, probably due to constant lineup changes, less-than-ideal label support and low visibility beyond niche prog metal circles. I must also admit that the passing of Andrew "Mac" (Threshold's lead singer throughout the band's most stellar records) put a damper on my hopes for great future releases by the band. Moreover, the considerable gap between Dead Reckoning and March of Progress could have meant that the band had lost its way or sense of continuity.

Boy, was I wrong or what..!? Even though my preference has always been for the more soulful Mac vocals, no one can deny Damian's technical prowess and his careful balance between highs and lows. And even those who have criticized Threshold for their "childish" lyrics in Wounded Land (a really unfair remark, considering that their debut was much more "adult" than most bands' first efforts) must now accept that the band has matured to a point where lyrics, melodies constitute a powerful combination that tends to give you goose bumps whenever you hear their music.

I am hearing March of Progress as I write these lines, and all I can say is: welcome back, boys! Any serious prog metal fan with a weak spot for accessible melody (and not just instrumental experimentalism) should definitely buy this record, which is already being rated by many specialized vehicles as one of the best releases of 2012.

Let me emphasize this once more: Threshold is one of the very few bands on this planet with NO "bad" releases per se. Karl Groom et al. strive for quality and perfectionism and you can feel this in every record, be it with Damian, Glynn or Mac in the vocals. They definitely deserve to be much more successful than they are right now - but in case they still can't get that extra recognition, I am more than happy to oblige as a prog metal fan.

The WHOLE record is great, with the main highlights as follows:

Ashes - a magnificent opening akin to the goose bump-inducing Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams or Narcissus - enough said;

Staring at the Sun - great opening riffs, perfect balance between soft parts and heavier sections;

Coda - a fitting tribute to Mac;

The Rubicon - for those who still think Threshold is not "prog metal" enough;

Divinity - a great bonus track to the European digipak edition.

This is my very first review and written contribution to this forum; hope you all enjoy it!

Cheers,

Brazilian Progger

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Send comments to Brazilian Progger (BETA) | Report this review (#812212)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars It's been a long wait but here at last is Threshold's follow up to 2007's Dead Reckoning. Since then vocalist Mac left the band and sadly died. March Of Progress sees the return of former vocalist Damian Wilson who sang on their debut Wounded Land and third album Extinct Instinct. It proves to be an inspired choice as Wilson is singing better than ever and appears to have injected the band with a stronger sense of melody. While there's no bad Threshold album I've made the opinion in previous reviews that the band's last few albums have sacrificed melody at the expense of heaviness.

March of Progress sees the band injecting a lot of the qualities that made their best albums so great and may be seen by some as a backwards step. This however is not the case as they've somehow managed to retain the more contemporary heavier riffing of recent releases (not that their earlier stuff was exactly light) yet inject it with some fantastic melodies and plenty of light and shade moments too. These are the qualities that made their best album Hypothetical so good and March Of Progress equals that excellent album and dare I say it, perhaps even bettered it. When I started this review I had a four star rating in mind, but on this, my fifth play, everything seems to have really clicked and I find myself thinking there's not a single bad track as one killer song follows another.

This really is stunning stuff, it's clearly a recognisable Threshold album as the band power through many twists and turns in their own inimitable style yet they've really pulled out all the stops and excelled themselves. Inundated with such quality it would seem pointless to pick out best tracks but if pushed I'll go for the slightly longer ones where they can stretch out a bit more with some great instrumental sections. Closer (unless you have the ltd edition) Rubicon has some wonderful keyboard work from Richard West with a section featuring a powerful church organ type sound that gets those goose bumps up. In fact the entire band plays a blinder and Karl Groom turns in some of the best riffs of his career.

So there you have it and I can't believe I'm doing this but I'm giving March Of Progress my second five star review in a row (the last being Anglagard's latest masterpiece). How they're going to top this I don't know but if you enjoy highly melodic prog metal you owe it to yourself to check this out.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#815194)
Posted Tuesday, September 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Their instinct is not extinct!

With all respect to Andrew "Mac" McDermott (who sadly passed away after having fronted Threshold since the late 90's and sung on five studio albums), Damian Wilson has always been and will always be the Threshold front man for me. Not only was he the original singer, but the two previous albums Wilson sang on, Wounded Land and Extinct Instinct, are also Threshold's best two albums ever in my opinion; the latter being my #1 favourite.

15 years after the release of the Extinct Instinct masterpiece, Wilson now returned to the band to record his third album for the band overall: March Of Progress. Given how much I like Wounded Land and Extinct Instinct, I was naturally excited to hear this one. Stylistically, it is indeed closer to these earlier albums than to the Mac-fronted albums of recent years. But in terms of quality it is not up to par with those previous Wilson-fronted gems. Still, I would say that it is the best new Threshold album since 1998's Clone (my favourite out of the Mac-lead albums).

1997's Extinct Instinct was a milestone album, not only in the history of the band, but in the history of progressive Metal. March Of Progress is enjoyable and a welcome addition to the Threshold catalogue in its own right, but it understandably feels somewhat predictable and "safe" by comparison. Somewhat disturbingly, some passages here come almost too close in style to Extinct Instinct. They certainly still know how to play and how to write, but they are not pushing any boundaries. Nobody who has followed the band, and the genre as a whole, over the years since Threshold first appeared on the scene will be surprised by anything on here.

What I am really hoping for now is a live album (and/or DVD) with Damian Wilson on vocals and a set list dominated by tracks from the three albums on which Wilson originally sang (including this one). In the meantime, this studio album is a good addition to the collections of Prog Metal fans.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#817420)
Posted Sunday, September 09, 2012 | Review Permalink
rdtprog
COLLABORATOR
Heavy Prog Team
5 stars Damian Wilson is back with his beautiful voice, the music is still the same, full of great melodies, songs with a lot of catchy chorus. The guitar of Karl Groom is always shinning with some exquisite solos, the rhythm section is solid and the keyboards of Richard West are efficient as background. The combination of all these elements have created a texture that make the music of Threshold something very consistent. The quality of the compositions is in their ability to unite the metal with the neo-prog approach without falling in too much complexity and technicality.

After listening many times to this release, i get the feeling that there is something more in this one than the previous one. They have surpassed themselves with some stronger parts that seems new to me, despite the fact that their style doesn't allow for a lot of diversity. Maybe the comeback of Damian Wilson is the beginning of a new chapter for the band in their quest to be one of the leader in the progressive metal genre.

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Send comments to rdtprog (BETA) | Report this review (#826062)
Posted Saturday, September 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Progressive Metal fans have waited 5 years for a new Threshold album. March of Progress seems like a fitting title for such a tremendous effort (although the reference to that phrase means something entirely different). The band's loss of long time vocalist Andrew 'Mac' McDermott in 2011 certainly put a roadblock up for the band. Prior to his passing he left the group, as we know now due to health issues, and Damian Wilson came back to help them continue on. This is his second stint with the band. Although Mac was such a strong presence fronting the band and arguably their finest lead vocalist, Damian has grabbed the reins and solidified the once fragmented band.

The current lineup for Threshold is: Damian Wilson (vocals), Karl Groom (guitar), Pete Morten (guitar), Steve Anderson (bass), Richard West (keyboards) and Johanne James (drums).

Damian is well known in the world of progressive rock but could he replace Mac and record an album that would have an impact on listeners that have followed the band and also gain new fans? He has answered that question with a resounding yes on this stunning recording.

On the opening track "Ashes," Threshold continues to take a stand on what they believe in and make statements within their music. The track is an energized and powerful opener that sets the tone for the entire recording, the accompanying booklet furnishes the lyrics so you can sing along and get an idea of what they are trying to say in each song in a more forceful manner. Essentially this band puts out the message that we need to take care of the environment and cast aside complicated politics that paralyze our growth as a human race (this has been a theme central to their music for years now). Passages such as "From ashes we rise, from ashes we fall, we cannot disguise our hand in it all"- hits home where you live and to any enlightened individual willing to hear the truth about who we are and what we have become, the words make total sense.

The pounding and pulsating rhythm section and fat power chords peppered with flourishes of tasteful and driving keyboards when appropriate are the perfect blend for Wilson's impassioned vocal style. His ability to mellow out and then raise his pitch to follow the music is like a rhythmic machine at work and it's a thing of beauty. This is exercised without exception throughout the album and particularly on the mind bending "Return of the Thought Police." Threshold is a modern day band and prophetic within their sound?prog metal visionary men if you will. The music comes at you in waves of sound pushing the lyrics inside your head and turning you inside out. It's all good from the perspective of a progressive metal fan that wants some excitement and at the same time something cerebral to sink their teeth into. It works very well from the first note to the last on this incredibly strong release.

Throughout the eleven tracks the band is right on task, as tight as they have ever been. Until now Critical Mass was my favorite album but I would have to say that March of Progress is starting to really get to me by digging in its musical heels and it may soon take its place. From the lightning fast and powerful opener "Ashes" to the more mellow and introspective "That's Why We Came" and then on to the eye opening breath of fresh air titled "Liberty Complacency Dependency," this is a band that can flex its muscles and show a more softer side all within one track and then deliver the message in one fell swoop sweeping you away into their world without letting you wander off somewhere else.

I would advise fans that have followed the band since their inception to cast aside any doubt of what Wilson was to the band at the beginning and look at things from a new perspective and give this album a chance. I am willing to bet most folks will love this album if they have always enjoyed Threshold. What we have here is one their greatest triumphs and possibly their best release to date. They have moved on without Mac (although he will always remembered and held dear to their hearts), exorcised any demons of doubt and created one of the best albums of the year.

Prog Metal does not get much better than this, period.

Key Tracks: Ashes, That's Why We Came, Liberty Complacency

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#836361)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Since DTs success a bunch of bands received the attention they deserved (or not) and came at surface. Others emerged by trying to immitate the prog metal style in general. Threshold were always something different. They were never broadly considered a top band (although they are!) but they developed their style and kept on spitting flawless albums that other bands out there are jealous about.

So after 5 years they returned. Damian's voice was the perfect choice to replace Mac's. You feel like he never left the band and you understand how this work was written to fit his vocal style. As a friend said, his "sing without tomorrow" style in this album is mind blowing. So this reminds you of their early releases but it doesn't stop there. All the elements of the latest albums emerge along with a fresh air that Pete brought on the guitar and songwriting (check Divinity). So you have a strong and solid release, with top songs worked to the max but not overplayed. The perfect balance that Karl and Richard can achieve in production. You get the sense that this band put all its artistic freedom in it.

This is a release that, if your are in prog metal or prog rock in general, it will bring a big smile in your face from start to finish. A total success after 5 years of various problems, a must-have tour de force album, another thresh's release perfectly balanced between prog and heavy. Although this is another great year for prog, I will risk it and simply choose MoP as album of the year.

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Send comments to Sophocles (BETA) | Report this review (#847470)
Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2012 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
5 stars A genuine treasure of prog metal!

Threshold's 'March of Progress' is a 2012 prog metal release featuring some talented musicians; Karl Groom on guitars, Richard West on keyboards, Johanne James on drums and Steve Anderson on bass. The lead vocalist, Damian Wilson, has a distinctive style which works along with the aggressive metal riffs. He replaces Andrew "Mac" McDermott, who passed away, and his replacement is a decision that should sit well with the fanbase as Wilson has been a vocalist for the band on past releases, so this is a reluctant return in some ways but at least the band will continue with this vocalist at the helm. Groom is a founder of the band, known for his work with Pendragon, and others, and his guitar work is certainly dynamic and innovative. The sound is reminiscent of Dream Theater, or Symphony X, with lengthy instrumental breaks and an emphasis on moving from keyboards to guitar breaks, and melodic high powered singing over punctuated bass and drum rhythms.

The thematic content revolves around the idea of looking after the planetary environment lest it become a polluted wasteland. It goes deeper than a mere save the trees campaign, as the lyrics are pleading for humanity to stop killing the beauty for senseless political gain. The message is one of hope and a warning to those who will listen. Their ninth studio album opens with Ashes, a song about rising up to take control of our future planet before it is burnt to the ground. The metal crunches along on a simple rhythm and the clear vocals resound with effortless high register notes and glorious harmonies. Soon we are graced with a wonderful keyboard break and then a twin lead guitar answer. The tempo is fast and then it breaks into a new time sig with a wah-wah guitar powering out. The musicianship is extraordinary, and I was really looking forward to more after this killer opening.

'Return of the Thought Police' is next, opening with a blast of guitars and then moves into a soulful melody with more outstanding vocals. Now the theme of a complacent corrupt government that fails to help the environmental issues is in the foreground. The lyrics focus on 'All the things we believe in and know', and all our thoughts 'have become unthinkable', but if we faithfully pursue what is right by the planet things will change 'I promise you.' With these thoughts Groom launches into a blistering lead solo. The chunky riffing follows on a new time sig, and we return to the main chorus with its anthemic qualities.

'Staring at the Sun' has a cool riff and builds to a powerful infectious chorus with multi tracked vocals. The minimalist piano is then joined by crunching metal riffs and a brilliant fret melting lead break. This is an excellent song and as the shortest on the album could be a single for the group.

'Liberty, Complacency, Dependency' continues the theme of governments who do nothing and has a political agenda. 'There's a dead sky rising' and 'there's an empire falling' state the lyrics, and there are some voice overs explaining the situation. The riffs are easy to latch onto and the way it continues to break into quieter moments and there are symphonic keyboard atmospheres. The twin guitar solo is terrific and then it switches to a faster tempo with a classic chugging metal sound. It feels like Queensryche for a while, and moves into an awesome lead break that soars heavenly.

'Colophon' is extremely melodic, emphasising Wilson's vocal range and some gorgeous keyboard ribbons. The lead guitar is unleashed as harmonies power out, 'I'm counting on you, did you do all the things that you wanted to do.' A prog metal riff blazes for a while then moves to beautiful ambience as we hear of, 'a paradise broken, a planet disturbed, and no one cares.' The music is as emotional as the lyrics and some odd time sigs have an appropriately disquieting effect.

'The Hours' opens with ethereal piano and guitar holding onto a strong melody. It fires up with a fast metal riff leading to the first verse. The lyrics are concentric on regret and the need to rebuild, 'I fight against the hours, until it comes to pass, I stand until my strength is gone, and even then I carry on, until I'm home at last.' This ray of hope permeates the album and are echoed in the uplifting bright music. I really love the infectious melody on this song that hooks into my system. And I admire the emotional power in the vocals and lyrics, echoed by stirring harmonies. The instrumental break is again a wonderful exploration of keyboard and guitar trade offs, each getting a chance to lift off into some amazing solos. The classical piano break is beautiful and I kind of hoped a guitar would take on the same melody as it was so beautiful, but instead it lapses back to the heavier main riff. A killer song though in any case and a definitive highlight.

'That's Why We Came' has a slower feel with some symphonic nuances. The lovely piano and guitar makes a nice backdrop to Wilson's lilting vocals, delivered with a measured empathy. West's keyboards are delightful and this is one of the more melancholy songs, though has some grinding distorted chords to drive it. The higher notes reached on vocals are uplifting and among the best on the album. The lead break is soaring and intensely emotional. There are even acoustics and spacey sounds on this beautiful metal power ballad.

'Don't Look Down' is a heavy riffer with power chords and strong melodies. The spacey effects on vocals is a nice touch earlier. This one begins as a fairly straight forward metal track, without all the prog trimmings, but eventually leads to a lengthy instrumental break that has some jaw dropping lead guitar with sustained string bends and a flurry of speed picking. The song settles into a gentler feel, some of the more softer vocals with keyboards, and then it ends with a twin lead attack, and mind bending keyboards.

'Coda' is very different with unusual song structures and hypnotic lyrics repeated until they jam into your brain. 'I will break down these walls' is a mantra and I love the lead guitar riffs and the way the rhythms break throughout. I like the way Wilson says 'I am sorry we lost you' and talks of 'the parting of the sea, remember,' in tribute to the late departed Mac.

'The Rubicon' is the epic of the album, running for around 10 and a half minutes, and it has a strong story that unfolds with powerful rhythms and instrumentation. It begins with a grand cathedral organ, then a slow tempo building to the verse. It soon moves into a bright pace and some stirring lyrics, 'no remonstration, no loaded gun will defend the ones who brought us here, condemnation never was a domination, we flew our colours, and all our games were shadows in the sun.' A crescendo of uplifting keys follows into a solo, then back to the main chorus that grown on me. The mood is prepared for a blinding lead break from Groom and he delivers power sweeps and string breakers and then the cathedral organ returns. The Gothic atmospheres are unmistakable and the way the distortion crashes through is incredible. The pace has slowed and Threshold inject a genuine majesty into the soundscape as it grinds toward a finale.

After hearing 'March of Progress' I know I will definitely be checking out other albums from Threshold. I was totally blown away by the power of the themes, and the awesome vocals mixed with absolutely outstanding musicianship. The melodies lock into my system and the overall atmosphere is mesmirising prog metal at its best; it encompasses everything I love about prog metal. This is yet another great discovery for me; a genuine treasure of prog metal, that I cannot recommend more highly.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#848116)
Posted Thursday, November 01, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
5 stars Many years ago I often used to catch up with Karl Groom in the early Shadowland/Strangers On A Train days, and we would stop and have a chat. Some time in 1993 we were both at the same gig and he told me that his own band Threshold were just about to release their debut album and he had just received his first CD. I said that I would love to hear it (meaning when all the stock had arrived) but he gave me his own copy and asked me to give it a fair play. That night I was blown away as I drove the 100 miles home and listened to what to me was the epitome of prog metal. I already knew Damian Wilson from Landmarq, and here he was blasting over the top of riffing guitars and intense keyboards from Richard West. To this day 'Wounded Land' contains two of my all-time favourite songs in "Paradox" and "Sanity's End". Over the years I managed to catch the band in concert a few times, and always enjoyed their output. Damian (and others, particularly drummers for some reason until Johanne settled in the seat) left for pastures new, but Karl and Richard kept the band going. Damian returned in 2007 and this is the first album since he rejoined the fold, so it was with great expectations that I put this on the player. Would the band be as good as I remembered? I hadn't heard their last album 'Dead Reckoning' but I highly rated 'Subsurface' from 2004 and had all the others, so would this be any good?

To be honest, it as if the band has never been away. All power to the other musicians who have been involved over the years, but the current lineup has a strength and presence that lifts this album to a whole new level. Damian's voice seems to be stronger than ever, and he hits the notes with ease and adds a class and presence that most singers would give their right arm for. Since leaving Threshold the first time he has performed at the highest level with Rick Wakeman, Ayreon, Star One and many others, and I still wonder what Maiden would have sounded like if they had picked Damian instead of Blaze after Bruce (Damian was shortlisted for the gig). This is prog metal at its' finest, yet is quite different to Dream Theater. This is much more riff based and far more metallic in nature so in truth this is metal prog as opposed to the normal billing. Given that Nuclear Blast aren't generally known for their progressive stance maybe that's not that surprising.

From first song to the last I played this with a smile on my face, just reaching over to the controls every so often to turn it up just that little bit louder. Johanne and Steve provide the bottom end, Karl and Pete lock the guitars in tight, Richard provides the finesse and Damian rises over it all. Who could wish for anything more than this? Whatever you want from a prog metal/melodic metal album then take it from me it is here. Threshold are back with a bang, just don't leave it so long for the next album guys. Five stars all the wey. www.thresh.net

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#874550)
Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well-performed heavy rock/lite metal which cries back to the classic rockers of the 70s and 80s like JOURNEY and OZZIE OSBORNE. Again I am plagued by my questioning of the placement of this rather straightforward music within the realm of "progressive" rock. The sounds are polished, the vocals strong and Ozzie-like, but these sounds and vocals fail to match up with the structural the band seems to be trying to work with. There are many decent songs on this album, including "Liberty Complacency Dependency" (7:48) (8/10) (politics!), "Colophon" (6:00) (9/10), "That's Why We Came" (5:40) (8/10), "Don't Look Down" (8:12) (8/10) (I don't like the chorus/harmonized vocals), and my favorite, "Coda" (5:23) (9/10), but then there are several that, to my ears, never rise above sounding like the average stuff from the the 80s, and "Divinity" (6:27) (7/10) seems a direct rip off from the work of MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN (especially PUCIFER). Still, nice work for the listeners of Octane radio.

I agree with other reviewers: nice use of keyboards.

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#881848)
Posted Tuesday, December 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
4 stars "We're looking out for a leader..."

Threshold's 9th studio release is the one that will potentially establish them in the top league. With the return of Damian Wilson, the stakes are high and the expectations respectively aloft. Almost 20 years after their debut and 5 since their last release, they had to prove if they were able to march to the top...

"March of Progress" comes out strongly political and places quite an importance on lyrics, which pays out as the album succeeds in "marrying" the dynamic of the compositions with the messages. The latter can be found throughout the album, either in a straightforward manner (Return Of The Thought Police) or through more "blurred" lyrics (Don't Look Down).

Musically, the album safely walks through the sounds and patterns that made Threshold successful before: the heavy metallic riffs of Groom, the accompanying (hammond-like at times) atmospheres of West and the very melodic/catchy refrains (the two being the main composers here). The (re-)addition of Wilson does make a difference as he brings his unparalleled qualities to the record; crystalline vocal performance, always balanced, always varied depending on the character of the track and "multiplied" very selectively to give this extra epic touch when needed. Overall, the mixing and production of the vocals (and production in total) has been very closely looked after to deliver a pristine result.

Similar to the previous releases, the "progressive" element does not come out through virtuoso performances over numerous odd-time signatures but rather through a conservative and selective stretch of their melodic heavy/power-based metal. Nevertheless, the result is Threshold-signature progressive metal of the highest quality. To ensure a place on the charts (cough) the album contains relatively in-your-face dynamites such as the opener "Ashes" and the best-refrain-of-the-year "Staring at the Sun". This is counter-balanced by several mid-tempo tracks (e.g Return of the Thought Police), and in general the album keeps you on your toes with several tempo variations. Best examples of this are the story-telling highlight "Liberty Complacency Dependency" and (the most peculiar track of the record) "Don't Look Down", which starts off as a hammond-filled heavy rock ala-Heep anthem, introduces a disappointing bridge and peaks with a fantastic AOR (in the vein of Magnum) refrain!

Strangely enough, the middle part of the album reminds me suspiciously of another British band: I could swear that "Colophon", "The Hours" and "That's Why we Came" could have been easily included in the discography of ARENA, with the former being the best of this section and the latter, with its relatively simple semi-ballad structure, being the disappointment of the album (if you are looking for one). Talking about other direct influences would be, I feel, inappropriate as Threshold have a long time ago developed their own sound, but the ghost of Stevens era-SAVATAGE hangs around their sound. The latest addition in the band's guitar power, Pete Morten, makes his compositional appearance towards the end: "Coda" (screaming of Judas Priest!) and the bonus track "Divinity" carry his signature and fit perfectly with the heavy-and-melodic character of the band. "The Rubicon" is a typical Threshold semi-epic with up-tempo heavy riffing in the bridge and a slow epic refrain, followed by keyboard soloing.

Apart from the minor deficiencies (as always a subjective matter) in composition, what I was expecting from this album was a further stretch of imagination from the band, a move away from their "comfort zone". On listening the first time, I was slightly disappointed, but it grew on me from then on.

The truth between a simply well- and safely-made progressive metal masterpiece and a genuine "March of Progress" lies somewhere in the middle for this album. You will enjoy the compositional completion and the moments of magic but you might be left with a something-is-missing (but nevertheless sweet) taste. In my top-10 for 2012 but not at the top spot.

Highlights: Staring At The Sun, Liberty Complacency Dependency, The Rubicon

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Send comments to aapatsos (BETA) | Report this review (#886375)
Posted Wednesday, January 02, 2013 | Review Permalink
Roland113
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is a great album, though I find myself at somewhat of a loss as to what to write about it. This is progressive metal at its best. Damian Wilson does a fantastic job on the vocals, the rhythm section of Johanne James and Steve Anderson are tight, Richard Groom and Pete Morten rock out on guitar and keyboard player Richard West is near perfect at adding the right amount of atmosphere or a blistering solo when needed.

"Ashes" hits you right from the beginning with a solid track showing that Damien Wilson is ready to step into the spotlight once again. On the first bridge, we see the first instance of the signature Threshold harmonies which are scattered throughout the entire album. Keep an ear out for the solos at the end of the song, these guys know how to solo and understand the concept that it's not about how many notes you can play, but the notes that you choose to play.

"Staring at the Sun" features a majestic chorus, showing the atmosphere that Richard West can add. The high strings are near perfect here. Steve Anderson's bass also adds a wonderfully melodic element to the verses in this one.

Each song is fantastic in its own right, after seven or eight listens I don't think I've skipped any songs. The only problem with the release (and the only reason that it didn't get a full five stars) is that many of the songs run together. Each song is wonderful, but only two or three really stand out from the rest. I love the CD and except for the lack of variation.

With that being said, this easily merits a solid four star rating. If you like prog metal in the vein of Queensryche and the less intricate side of Dream Theater, I think you'll like this one.

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Send comments to Roland113 (BETA) | Report this review (#902323)
Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Threshold's March of Progress sees them knocking out a brand of prog metal which draws on the same sort of melodramatic emotional hysteria that Muse have made their own. The preceding Dead Reckoning, their final album with Andrew McDermott on lead vocals, proved to have a woefully ironic title, since McDermott died in 2011 after leaving the band.

Many groups would be knocked off their stride by such a blow, but Threshold instead seem to have risen to the challenge. It helped that they had acquired the aid of Damian Wilson, their original vocalist; this represents his third stint as frontman of the band (having stepped into the role briefly in 1997 between the departure of Glynn Morgan and the arrival of Andrew), and it's the strong performance from him this time around which really pushes the album over the bar. Between this and the first release from Headspace, 2012 was truly a golden year for Wilson, and any band which can count on his services is lucky to have him.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#954470)
Posted Sunday, May 05, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9.5/10

2012 was an important year for progressive rock, with the release of a considerable amount of masterpieces, and in the midst of it a sextet British melodic progressive metal / neo-prog with a long (and underappreciated) career launched another album breathtaking as only they can do.

Between 2007 and the last year many things happened in Threshold, and the most striking of these was the departure and death of Mac. A terrible loss for the members and for the fans, but fortunately we have the band went ahead and recruited Damian Wilson, lead singer of his debut Wounded Land and Extinct Instinct, and needless to say that while my first listen did not impress me much, subsequent fazeram I love March of Progress as the masterpieces of the past decade and proves that the band is only to continue in his excellent level of musicality that has made ​​throughout his career.

Damian Wilson seems to be better than never, it seems that fifteen years have passed since the last time he was at the Threshold (and as good as the debut of the band and their top performance in extinction Instinct). Well, on the other members in there muiot what to say except that I have ripped the compliments on my previous reviews. Although I liked the fact that Richard West have "expanded" somewhat their keyboards to use a "church organ" in the closing track The Rubycon.

There is virtually no low point here. The highlights are the great Return of Thought Police (whose lyrics combine perfectly for me before the series of protests that have occurred in large cities here in Brazil), Staring at the Sun, great Colophon, the ballad That's Why We Came (more once Threshold showing that it does not fail in his ballads), Coda and mini-epic The Rubycon.

5 stars, no doubt.

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Send comments to voliveira (BETA) | Report this review (#980529)
Posted Monday, June 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Threshold newest album to date March of progress issued in summer of 2012 is a pure Threshold release, that means a great unmatch type of prog metal. I simply love this band , I have a soft spot for them since they release Clone , my first exposure to their music way 15 years ago, since then I gathered all their albums, saw them live in Hungary while promoting Subsurface in 2004 and they really kick ass all the way. Were more then 5 years since previous album Dead reckoning from 2007 , but the wait worth it. Andrew "Mac" McDermott sadly passed away in 2011 living place for Damian Willson to re come as frontman, after appear on first album and Extinct instinct. The Mac's death was a tragedy inside band memebers and the new album is dedicated among past and future members to him. Well, the music is top notch, solid and tight musicianship as ever, excellent ideas, fresh sound, what else a killer album. I personaly don't know 5 prog metal bands that have such a constant quality on every album since the beggining, 20 years ago, maybe Symphony X , Shadow Gallery. or Vanden Plas. Every Threshold album has something to offer, and is big time in prog metal realm. Karl Grooms guitar sound is absolutly killer, he has the best guita tone I've ever heared on a prog metal band, is heavy is crunchy, is top notch. The keyboards are damn good and in combination with the rest of the instruments give a very good atmosphere, every musicians shine here not else. Opening track Ashes, sets the mood for the album pure traditional Threshold sound, Return Of The Thought Police, The Hours or Rubicon absolutly kick ass, Damian Wilson is cherry on the cake, a fantastic singer, one of the best prog metal scene ever had and probably will have. Not a weak momen here on March of progress, the band is in top notch form and is clear on every piece offered. Easy 4 stars anothr album that is for sure among the best in prog metal zone in last years. recommended.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#1035903)
Posted Monday, September 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars If you are unfamiliar with Threshold, they are a cross between anthemic metal a la Iron Maiden with Pink Floydian atmospheric and soaring quitar breaks. Sure, Iron Maiden times Pink Floyd is a recipe for many melody-first prog metal bands, but I think Threshold is a textbook example. They are also capable of quite good dramatic slow burners, although best examples are on other albums. Another characteristic is a powerful and "cold" production courtesy of guitarist, co-leader and producer Karl Groom, who also produces for other prog bands receiving similar sound treatment.

So, expect lots of groovy riffs, fast guitar-keyboard duels, sing-along vocals, and some song-within-song structures. Musically, an album after a five year hiatus is often a return-to-form-kind of album for loyal fans. So, less experimentation with extreme or softer metal forms here. Only what has worked for Threshold the best. Catchiness and flow.

However, something must be said for their late vocalist Mac's approach that albums should be no more than limited length. Because the sound is so pounding, the vocalist is so loud and dominating, my head literally hurts after half an album. Another thing I, being a lover of profound words myself, couldn't help myself but mention are the lyrics. Threshold's lyrics are smart, but trying to sound politically profound they overuse big -tion and -ance kind of words. Don't we find solutions in the constitution. Priceless.

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Send comments to Progrussia (BETA) | Report this review (#1053988)
Posted Friday, October 04, 2013 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I did not quite follow the progression of Threshold as the CD that I had was "Clone" was not that good for me as the composition was just sloppy and not quite memorable in terms of melody. As my metalhead friend told me this new album "March of Progress" was the band's answer after five years long break as the band's long time vocalist Andrew 'Mac' McDermott left in 2011 that certainly put a roadblock up for them. Prior to his passing he left the group due to health issues, Damian Wilson came back to help them continue on. This is his second stint with the band. Although Mac was such a strong presence fronting the band and probably their finest lead vocalist, Damian has grabbed the reins and unified the once fragmented band. In fact Damian's voice in this album sounds different with his other records. This one is great.

"Ashes" (6:51) opens the album wonderfully with a catchy music that suggests to the band that they should focus on songs like this one. I think anyone who loves rock music would love this opening track as the music blasts off beautifully with good introduction combine with raw guitar riffs and it has great chorus part that is very catchy. The tempo is quite fast. The second track "Return Of The Thought Police" (6:09) is slower in tempo but the melody is still maintained by the band being catchy and memorable. The style changes are also enjoyable especially as the vocal line is evolving. The song moves into faster temp right after the middle of the song followed with nice guitar solo. The third track "Staring At The Sun" (4:25)
starts nicely with guitar riffs followed with nice keyboard work at the back. Damian Wilson enters the music beautifully with his high register notes.

"Liberty Complacency Dependency" (7:48) starts off with guitar work combined with keyboards followed with Damian vocal line. This song has different style than the previous three tracks and make this one is very enjoyable track. "Colophon" (6:00) starts nicely with guitar work in slow tempo followed with powerful Damian vocal line. The music flows in upbeat tempo started with guitar solo right after vocal breaks. "The Hours (8:15) starts in an ambient style with slow tempo followed with heavy, raw and nice guitar riffs. The music flows nicely in relatively fast tempo with some segments demonstrating guitar solo. "That's Why We Came" (5:40) serves like a break as the intro part is quite slow in nature. Even though the overall style is still in slow mode but this track is enjoyable. 
"Don't Look Down" (8:12) brings the music into faster and rockin' style with great keyboard solo combined with good vocal and excellent guitar work. "Coda" (5:23) still maintains the music similar with other previous tracks.
"Rubicon" (10:24) starts nicely with keyboard as main instrument that brings all segments together to form excellent composition.

I think for the fans of Threshold, the absence of performance in the past five years 
is not that important anymore. It's worth waiting for the band for five years but they come uo with an excellent album. Highly recommended album. It's a 4 stars plus rating. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#1071716)
Posted Monday, November 04, 2013 | Review Permalink

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