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SUBSURFACE

Threshold

Progressive Metal


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brclk@truceke
4 stars A fantastic work from start to finish. Threshold have once again delivered a fine progressive metal album with plenty of hooks, excellent musicianship, and another terriffic job on vocals by McDermott. The playlist flows nicely, and the energy level rarely wanes. My only real complaint with this album is its lack of challenging material, but then again that also means a highly listenable disc you can just pop in, hit "play" and simply enjoy. Thank you, Threshold, for a very complete and enjoyable album!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#32107)
Posted Monday, August 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
goodbadugly@h
2 stars They`re repeating themselves. Same riffs, same use of vocals, same attitude. When "Critical Mass" was the strong, this represents the weaker side of Threshold. There are some marks that band isn`t completely dead - track called "Pressure" has at least some energy, although it isn`t...this Threshold. These musicians have the potential to make a lot more interesting music. "Subsurface" is more like heavy, came from factory conveyer of stuffy, dull music, backing away from innovative hard - rock prog.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#32108)
Posted Sunday, September 05, 2004 | Review Permalink
andrejmy@zozn
5 stars Absolutely perfect !! This is the top of the progressive music these times together with Dream Theater. Absolutely inteligent compositions, passionate atmosphere, perfect arrange... When you listen this album very thoughtfully than the result is fatastic !! The fact is that these guys are absolutely professionals and talented musicians. THRESHOLD... thanks for the fantastic experience.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#32109)
Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
jipil@digicom
5 stars First of all, I own all THReSHoLD CD's and the fact is that they are the best "progressive" metal band of today music. They have (after a lot of albums) proven once more that they can do the best "catchy" prog-metal and each album grow in you every time you listen to it. Subsurface is without any doubt, one of the best of THReSHoLD. Each riff is well constructed, each lyrics lines send a "white" kind of light in our head. I love their lyrics because the "white-metal" genre is always a good and realism projector of the reality. The album concept is well conceived and creative. Each songs can make you thinking about the true sense of life. The production on Subsurface is probably the best since the 1994's Psychedelicatessen. All the good mixtures are here, only on one CD; Great "addictive" riffs, great production, great concept, great bass-lines (by the way, the new bass player Steve Anderson kick ass!) and great drum-lines (Johanne James is very technical!). Go to buy this album if you don't have it, and if you like it and want to discover THReSHoLD once more, dive into Extinct Instinct and Hypothetical (among the others, each albums are good!). Finally, 11/10 is the score that I give to Subsurface. THReSHoLD have proven that they are the best, yeah, the best!!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#32113)
Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars I don't like such pseudo-artistry music. The chorus singed by the whole band are annoying and dull, the rest of music is uninspired, boring and full of clichés. The whole recording is so bombastic that particular songs from it could be poor national anthems. Psychedelicatesen was a decent metal album with some interesting progressive influences. This one is not progressive and definitely isn't metal(metal kicks ass, this one doesn't - ergo: it isn't metal).

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Send comments to silentman (BETA) | Report this review (#32114)
Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
rlegalv@gmail
4 stars Excelent work full of complex and melodical passages. This album it's more than metal!

I like both, the american and the scandinavian progressive metal, but -in my opinion- the touch of this band is an equilibrated mix, joining the best from the american prog-metal style -more frecuently leaded by the technique-, the melodical and creative from the greastest european prog-metal bands with their own style. Recommended!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#32115)
Posted Friday, October 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
goodforgolf@y
5 stars I absolutely love this album. I got into Threshold about 5 months ago, after hearing Critical Energy, and when I heard this album I stopped listening to everything else. Even my all time favorite Dream Theater has been set to the side until I wear this disc out. Track 1, Mission profile, is an awesome, all out melodic rock song, and it hooked me right away. After that, each track succesfully mixes the metal with the melody, making a sound that will pump you up and soothe your soul all at the same time. I also love Opium, which starts with an awesome guitar intro. Also, The Destruction of Words is a great ballad-type song, with some heavy sounds but very pretty vocals and excellent chorus. Flags and Footprints is also another song that achieves this ballad yet powerful status. I can't say enough about this album. I'm absoultely hooked and still listening to it all the way through ever since I got lit a couple months ago. The songs are catchy without leaving the prog genre. They'll have you headbanging in your car, feeling a bit emotional at home with your headphones, and wanting to tell every friend you have about the awesome-ness of this album! I HIGHLY recommend it, and hope anyone remotely interested will give it a shot. It really kicks ass!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#32094)
Posted Friday, October 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars With their latest release Threshold once again proved their inviolable first position in progressive world. Question of freedom, morality and identity in modern (political) reality stands out as indinspensable theme of Threshold's philosophy. Vocals have been raised to a higher level, with always interesting tone variations. Songs are full with crushing energy, faultless rhythms and overwhelming melodies. All this are stable Threshold characteristics, which were established again, but in different musical form. This album follows quality of the previous ones, and continues tradition of the most professional musicians ever.

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Send comments to Threshold (BETA) | Report this review (#32100)
Posted Thursday, November 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
gopain@abv.bg
5 stars This is probably the best progmetal album of the year. A perfect job! Excellent songwriting, exciting orchestration, deeply emotional singing, intelligent and interesting lyrics. The vocalist Mac gets better and better with every new album. This pruduct of the highest class is a unique mixture of cool songs carrying very slight and not overdosed experimental spirit (Ground Control, Stop Dead, Pressure, Static and the bonus track What about Me) and great metal hymns with catchy and highly emotional melodies (Mission Profile, Opium, The Art of Reason, Flags and Footprints, The Destruction of Words). This is one of those and very few albums - very easy listening and not boring at the same time. It is the icing of the cake and the culmination of the direction, chosen by Threshold with Hypothetical. I do not agree that they are repeating themselves. Improving of a style is not repeating. lSubsurface grows better and better with every spin in my CD player. Pure class! A REAL MASTERPIECE! It proved once again what I already knew: Threshold are destined to create magnificent music and they can do no worse than that!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#32101)
Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Subsurface is bound to keep the Threshold faithful happy. With Critical Mass enjoying enormous success, spawning a live CD and DVD titled Critical Energy, and the release of this monster prog-metal album, it will most surely continue to up the ante for worldwide stardom for this band. Yes, international acclaim most certainly beckons now with impressive back-to-back powerhouse releases behind them.

There is a new member now, Steve Anderson; he takes Jon Jeary's place on bass. Anderson fits in nicely into the scheme of things. Mac is steadily becoming one of the most effective and charismatic front man in rock, leaving no doubt of his ability to belt out anything thrown at him with strength and conviction. What can I say about Karl Groom and Nick Midson? They are two of the most underrated guitar players on the planet. The foundation of the band, the drummer, is simply phenomenal; Johanne James pounds the skins as if he was hypnotized. Concisely, this unit defines the word band.

The lyrics of this album really grabbed me and the cover is a clue to what the premise of the entire album is. The picture is saying that we are reflection of ourselves and we see it everyday on that idiot box we call TV, it forces us to reflect. Right below the subsurface is all the crap and muck . but is it really buried that deep or is it plain to see? In some people it is and in others it remains well hidden, yet bubbling just below (the subsurface) ready to come gushing forth in all it's nasty splendor.

On "Flags and Footprints" Mac sings about the summer of promises turning into the lies of fall by using the analogy of the leaves turning red and falling from the trees dead to the ground-its all so prolific and thought provoking, with powerful and sweeping surges that take you away with the wind of the words. "The Art Of Reason" is possibly one their most stirring warnings yet, with lyrics like "I can't believe we never noticed, I can't believe it took so long, for us to turn around the future, in the rush to be globalized we signed away our freedom, as the truth was neutralized we've lost the art of reason." This makes a very strong reference to our freedom as human beings. This album's principle revolves around not compromising our freedom and rights for anything, i.e. money, political reasons, and to stand firm with our truths at all cost, and to never give in or we will lose our integral spirit, the very life force that continues to drive us and give us hope to carry on another day.

I believe that this is one of the most important releases of the year both musically and lyrically. It is a real revelation - get it.

Note: The Limited Edition features an extended booklet, Bonus track "What About Me" (4:19), multimedia section including video, gallery and more.

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#32104)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
progdrum@aol.
5 stars The Best Threshold CD yet? Yup, I think so. On their 7th studio recording Threshold no longer really resemble the band that recorded their debut CD Wounded Land in 1992. Of coarse they changed drummers and singers like Spinal Tap (especially drummers) and that would account for some changes but it's more in the song writing of the core members Karl Groom/gtr. Richard West/keys, Jon Jeary/bass and Nick Midson/gtr. Also a big turning point came when they picked up singer Mac for the CD Clone. Mac has a completely different voice and range then that of Threshold's 2 previous singers. He is much more in the mid-range, unlike Damian Wilson and Glynn Morgan who sang in a much higher register. That, and the addition of new (and still present!!!) drummer Johanne James for their following CD Hypothetical. Johanne is much more of a rock drummer than any of their previous. The others had more of a jazzy and loose feel where Mr. James is rock solid to the bone. Now Threshold's music has become quite sophisticated with HUGE vocal tracks (all done by Mac). They do not harmonize vocally with each other in the studio it's just layer upon layer of Mac's beautiful soaring voice. (of coarse live they utilize everyone's voice to try and recreate as best as they can the studio version). And since Hypothetical they really have gotten into odd time signatures. Where as the first 4 CDs had nary a one. Now their all over the place (a huge amount really) Also the keyboards have come even more to the forefront of the basic sound. So basically Threshold, who was always considered a prog band have one upped themselves in the progressive rock/ (metal ?) sound. With Threshold's latest release Subsurface they took their sound, song writing and musicianship up one more notch. In my opinion there is not even one mediocre song. All of them are superbly written, arranged and performed This is the 1st time I can say that I like every song on a Threshold CD (and I got em all.) There is a vocal effect that they use a lot on this CD. It's a breathy and somewhat phased effect that when used is quite startling and effective. As a side note, founding member Jon Jeary is replaced on this CD by Steve Anderson but I don't think you will notice the difference. (I didn't) I really cant say that I have a favorite song here because they all are quite excellent. Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo 5 star's it is!! If you liked Threshold's last 3 Cds you have to get his one. I can GUARANTEE you will be pleased.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#32105)
Posted Thursday, January 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have arrived a little late.I got 1 track by this lot, "Static",on a freebie mag give away. I bought "Critical Mass" and fell in love with Threshold.I had been put off prog metal by certain bands but they are different.I will keep this brief.Best album of the year. It has everything you will ever want on a heavier prog album.I am chomping at the bit to see them live where I suspect that they will be even better.Buy it.

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Send comments to adrian coleman (BETA) | Report this review (#32106)
Posted Saturday, February 05, 2005 | Review Permalink
jetledorze@ho
4 stars A real good album, my first of this band nevertheless. I was very surprised first time I listend to, it's energical and I love what some other reviewers hate: the bombastic style of the sound, reminds me some old good Asia stuff. It's no real prog, no real metal but a good melt with great lyrics and sincerity in singing This band should be great for stadium gigs and festivals.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#32117)
Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars First of all I like Dermott's vocals much better than Damion Wilsons,Sorry Damion.This disk has everything a prog metal fan loves.I dont think there is a weak spot anywhere which I must say is rare in prog metal.Whenever a more intellegent music form is combined with a genre like metal which isnt always known for its thinking you are going to lower the bar alittle and I think thats the problem a lot of prog fans have with peog metal.

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Send comments to James Hill (BETA) | Report this review (#32119)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars War, conflict, pollution and rock n' roll.

The world's living it's worst crisis in the history of man, and in a close future maybe the Earth won't be able to tolerate the treatment mankind is giving it. It really gets intense with on top, conflicts about power, money and domination. Still in 2005, too many people are suffering uselessly of hunger and the post traumatic syndrom due to war is no longer a social comment, but a terrible reality. Therefore, Threshold is pushing the lyrics a bit further this time. They usually my vote for lyrics but this time, they hit the spot bullseye.

Subsurface, as the word suggests, is talking about the underground, the non-said of what we're seeing. Since we don't have any power on what's going through the world, why not singing about it? Good thing they did, because they outdone themselves this time. Maybe it's the theme that's really gripping me, but the whole feel of urgency is really present and well controlled (not like handshaking King Bono).

Of course Threshold is not known for it's change of pace so Subsurface is full blast, full time. I don't mind really, and this time they added a lot more keyboard gadgets. Voice enhancing Vocoder, acoustic/programming drum interplay and high-tech synths are more used and gives a lot more variety to the album than in Hypothetical or Critical Mass.

In my humble opinion, Dermott's vocals are the solid ground Threshold can stand on. When the harmonies are that good, it gives the band a good pat in the back making them more confident in the material. He's the best vocalist in metal progressive rock today. Why so sure about that? Listen to everything else, from the Theater of Dreams to the Symphony of the X...There's enough cheese in those two bands to stop world hunger for good.

Repetitive recipe of success, yes. But what an effective one!

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#35520)
Posted Tuesday, June 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
kwp02@lycos.c
5 stars The Best Threshold CD yet? Yup, I think so. On their 7th studio recording Threshold no longer really resemble the band that recorded their debut CD Wounded Land in 1992. Of coarse they changed drummers and singers like Spinal Tap (especially drummers) and that would account for some changes but it's more in the song writing of the core members Karl Groom/gtr. Richard West/keys, Jon Jeary/bass and Nick Midson/gtr. Also a big turning point came when they picked up singer Mac for the CD Clone. Mac has a completely different voice and range then that of Threshold's 2 previous singers. He is much more in the mid-range, unlike Damian Wilson and Glynn Morgan who sang in a much higher register. That, and the addition of new (and still present!!!) drummer Johanne James for their following CD Hypothetical. Johanne is much more of a rock drummer than any of their previous. The others had more of a jazzy and loose feel where Mr. James is rock solid to the bone. Now Threshold's music has become quite sophisticated with HUGE vocal tracks (all done by Mac). They do not harmonize vocally with each other in the studio it's just layer upon layer of Mac's beautiful soaring voice. (of coarse live they utilize everyone's voice to try and recreate as best as they can the studio version). And since Hypothetical they really have gotten into odd time signatures. Where as the first 4 CDs had nary a one. Now their all over the place (a huge amount really) Also the keyboards have come even more to the forefront of the basic sound. So basically Threshold, who was always considered a prog band have one upped themselves in the progressive rock/ (metal ?) sound. With Threshold's latest release Subsurface they took their sound, song writing and musicianship up one more notch. In my opinion there is not even one mediocre song. All of them are superbly written, arranged and performed This is the 1st time I can say that I like every song on a Threshold CD (and I got em all.) There is a vocal effect that they use a lot on this CD. It's a breathy and somewhat phased effect that when used is quite startling and effective. As a side note, founding member Jon Jeary is replaced on this CD by Steve Anderson but I don't think you will notice the difference. (I didn't) I really cant say that I have a favorite song here because they all are quite excellent. Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo 5 star's it is!! If you liked Threshold's last 3 Cds you have to get his one. I can GUARANTEE you will be pleased.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#36613)
Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
zallen27@sbcg
4 stars 4.5 Stars- GREAT but not essential. (Comes very close though!) This album is truely amazing. This is Threshold's best- by far. EVery song is great- with great music, and lyrics to match. This also is a prog CD that my Fiancee actaully likes! Which is a huge bonus- I mean, she's pretty tired of Opeth- and Subsurface is a nice CD for us both to listen to- This CD rocks- THIS BAND IS UNDERRATED!!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#38662)
Posted Wednesday, July 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars After Critical Mass, this album is quite corny. Songs have made by force and they just not work.

The first song are good enough for me. Mission Profile is simple enough and sounds fresh. 8/10

Pressure works too. Even their guitar sound are little bit flatty. But I like this bands drummer. His strokes are exactly in right places. 8/10

Stop Dead have a good guitar riff, but not much more. 7/10

Other songs are just one boring mass. Critical Mass was just so much better...

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Send comments to Toomio (BETA) | Report this review (#73724)
Posted Saturday, April 01, 2006 | Review Permalink
Vanwarp
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The emphasis here is on more coherent song structures and catchy melodies. Subsurface is another concept album of sorts which ultimately questions the problems facing our society. The lyrics cover a wide variety of subjects surrounding the decline of our society, the question of power and influence is looked at closely, for instance is what we see on TV always the truth and if what we do or what the people in power do is really what "we" want them to do? The concept here is quite simple, where are "we" heading?

"Subsurface" is an outstanding effort by a progressive metal band from the UK that, in my view, have been in Dream Theater's shadow far to long.

The band lays everything out on the floor with the opening "Mission Profile." The plan has been explained and we all know where this is all heading now. Aggressive melodic guitar lines, strong vocals, syncopated rhythm patterns and some clear moments of musical improvisations with some splendid solos, all the ingredients for a strong progressive metal album.

Sample lyrics to "Mission Profile":

"disillusion is always possible but we've got propaganda mass confusion is always better than the threat of understanding we'll deceive you we've got so many ways to make you stand behind us if we need to we'll use them on ourselves to constantly remind us

there is just one lie that we can still defend we've started something we can never end

we know although we try to justify the means the truth behind the end remains unseen and while we all assume we all agree we're giving up the freedom to be free"

"Opium" opens with a guitar solo, the band clearly moving into heavy metal territory. This is one of the highlights on the album with a brilliant vocal performance by Andrew McDermott. Excellent heavy metal vibe here with interesting syncopated rhythm patterns in the mid section and awesome lead guitar work. Sample lyrics:

"they'll print it on the front page to synthesise an outrage but all we find is a decoy once again duplicity and trickery surround us till all believe there is no other way"

In fact, the album is full of thought provoking lyrics and interesting musical moments with piano and other keyboards included to very good atmospheric effect and some great guitar work throughout.

On another note, not many progressive bands venture into power ballad territory but that is exactly what we get with "Flags and Footprints" and "Destruction of Words." With the softer moments on the album, I'm also reminded of Evergrey, another band that effectively combines progressive elements with heavy metal influences and the occasional power ballad in their music.

"Static" is my FAV track on the album. It has an excellent heavy metal vibe! This song reveals much about who "we" are, sample lyrics:

"I meditated I medicated I made a promise but I broke it every day annihilated I violated all that was given me I choked it all away"

I've had a little more time to review this album and although I would have initially given this album a 5 star rating, my final recommendation and rating must in all fairness reflect the ratings I've given each song. Perhaps 4 and one half stars would be most accurate, but Prog Archives doesn't allow half star ratings. So, it was a tough decision but I rounded the score down to 4 stars.

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Send comments to Vanwarp (BETA) | Report this review (#81462)
Posted Monday, June 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I have to agree with those who feel this isn't as good as a lot of their past records. I just found it difficult to put my finger on "why" this album doesn't do much for me. I read another reviewer who likes "Clone" a lot more than this one (me too) and feels it's the guitars that have more room to breathe during the solos and melodies on the "Clone" album. My only thought was that "Clone" was maybe more raw, not as polished as this one.They do use the same "formula" from album to album and maybe this just isn't as fresh, it's getting old, and that's ok unless the band feels this way, then it will come through on the record. Anyway it seems i'm in the minority on this thought, and it is a good record that I do recommend.

"Mission Profile" is a great tune with the amazing combination of good vocals and powerful riffs. "Ground Control" features more powerful riffs, as well as soaring and scorching guitar solos. Some beautiful keyboard playing including spacey ones. A good contrast between the spacey and smooth chorus to the rest of the hard driving melodies.There are several songs I feel are good but not great. "Opium" is dark and heavy. "Pressure", "Stop Dead" and "Static" are great guitar songs.

Good record.3.5 stars.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#98362)
Posted Saturday, November 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Fishy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I was blown away by this album. First of all the lyrics deal with idea's rarely to be found on a prog album. Even though this is not a concept album, most of the lyrics are handling the influences of media on everyday's life : "and this is how we live our lives : our opium is televised." Besides this the lyrics are adjusted to the music. Everything sounds perfectly in place. The music is in the same vein of the previous Threshold albums and the production work is equally impressive. When compared to earlier releases, it's still prog metal, all the usual ingredients are present. Only the symphonic and atmospheric elements are emphasised more into the sound. Especially the sound of the keyboards are more to the fore. This leaves a rather accessible sound though it may take some time for newcomers to get into the music. Being not familiar with prog metal it took me some spins for appreciating this album. After a while I deceived the cold sounding guitar riffs and I discovered the beautiful melodies, the intelligent lyrics and the skilful musicianship. The melody lines are less exuberant when compared to other metal acts or earlier Threshold efforts but not less effective. Maybe the band members have aged a bit, learning from the past and ready for the next level of song writing : "It's growing colder, I'm growing older, my summer's over and it's time to face the fall". The song writing on this album is really top notch. I can't point out one flaw. Every track is simply perfect. It's been years since I enjoyed an album like I enjoyed this one even though some of the idea's in the lyrics aren't mine. The first time I heard the album it reminded me on the commercial heyday of a band like Europe. Especially on a melodic tune like the chorus of "Flag of footprints". That band use to have the same kind of polished production and dubbed vocals. The difference is that Europe was a Pop/aor band with simplified compositions that I never really enjoyed anyway. There's a deep emotional level in "subsurface" but it takes some time to discover it. Personal favourites are the title track and the semi-ballad "The destruction of words" but again, it's hard to pick out one song. The title track is the perfect example of how the music emphasis the power of the lyrical idea's. There's something transcending in the meaning of that lyric : "all I do reflects on you, now can you feel the pressure ? " You can notice this in the sound of the dubbed vocals and the astral sounding keys. Those harmonic vocals are splattered all over the album and I wonder how the band manages to do the live shows. Despite this, this is a hell of a energetic track with an sing a long tune which I can't get out of my head. "the destruction of words" may sound cold and calculated at first but later on you learn to appreciate the meaning of sentences like "truth is sublime but talk is just a waste of time and all that's left is you". In the end this turns out to be a romantic song. The art of reason" is the most lengthy track but you can hardly notice it due to the compelling atmosphere. Like most of the tracks on this album, the music is dominated by the extended vocal parts.

All in all, a great album that I can recommend to any lover of energetic prog rock/metal. It may need some spins but after a while you'll get pure enjoyment.

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Send comments to Fishy (BETA) | Report this review (#103378)
Posted Sunday, December 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Threshold is an essential but underrated by many people band of the progressive metal scene. And they 've been around for some time. Many prog metal bands sound DreamTheater alike but this one is something different. Maybe you don't understand that in the beginning but every threshold album has a lot to offer. Subsurface follows that rule.

The music is straight prog metal, virtuoso and melodic. Also, being british, there is something neo-progish in their sound. Well chosen lyrics and sticky melodies. Strong guitars and well put solos. You can feel that they master their music. Some songs are double efforts, changing the music and the tempo in the middle. You can feel that there is not a simple track in the record. And they achieve that without being or sounding too complex. The hidden ideas just lay there to be found by the listener.

To summarize this album the words that come up are heavy, melodious, catchy and forward. But there is only one problem: Critical Mass

I can't explain it but Critical Mass is their finest. Maybe Subsurface is not so prog or maybe it is easier. Don't get it wrong, both albums are of the highest quality of prog metal. Maybe Subsurface lacks of this small step forward.

Nevertheless I give it 4 stars. I am just saving the "five star" review for their new album (I hope)...

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Send comments to Sophocles (BETA) | Report this review (#107798)
Posted Thursday, January 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Subsurface has some really good melodies to it that will probably hook many on with just a single listen. I didn't find anything particularly amazing about the band from the get-go, but there were plenty of cool hooks and riffs to listen to so I kept it in a fairly regular rotation. After a few listens their flair began to diminish and the album seemed more and more formulaic.

Every song follow a pretty rigid verse-chorus structure, which is nothing bad intrinsically, but without any embellishment it's just not enough to sustain songs of the lengths that appear here. For the most part every song will have a verse featuring heavy, chugging guitars, with some pretty banal keyboard effects backing them, and a melodic sing-a-long chorus featuring the entire band harmonizing in a way very reminiscent of 80s metal. Technically nothing really spectacular occurs through the album which is very much guitar dominated with some keyboards that appear to be nothing more than an afterthought and inaudible bass work.

If the songs were around the 4-5 minute mark and without the solos (very derivative and usual don't fit the song) this would be a fairly descent album. As it is, it's not good, but it's not bad either. I wouldn't recommend unless this type of pretty standard metal is really your thing.

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Send comments to Equality 7-2521 (BETA) | Report this review (#132279)
Posted Wednesday, August 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Threshold sometimes compare with Dream Theater, but it is not absolutely true. If Dream Theater = Kansas + Metallica, and Threshold = Savatage + Triumph.

Threshold, as well as the majority of progmetal bands are strong professionals, but not too bright melodists, with original ideas at them too is not so good, as was showed in this album.

Music on an album is full strong guitar riffs, sometimes there are interesting changes of rate, but vocals sound typically in style of 80's AOR, especially in chorus.

Well, at least, that the album proceeds not 80 minutes, and 58 and a half...

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Send comments to Jeth (BETA) | Report this review (#135862)
Posted Sunday, September 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Most prog metal bands are basicly heavy metal groups with a strong progressive influences. With Threshold (and a few others) is the other way around: under the barrage of heavy guitar riffs you´ll find a truly progressive outfit. And Subsurface is an excellent exemple: great hooks, nice vocal melodies (that are really not HM), shifting moods and tempo, and so on... This is specially felt on The Art Of Reason. The musicians are, as expected, very skilled ones and the production (done by veteran guitarrist Karl Groom and keyboardsman Richard West) is superb.

Like all prog works it takes more than a few spins to get all the subtleties and let the music sink in. But once it happens, you´re hooked. It´s very intesresting that there are bands still trying to work a intricated efford like this and coming with such bright piece of music. Very creative and tasteful, with no fillers or weak songs, Subsurface is an excellent addition to any prog lover with an open mind and enjoys the mix of prog music with heavy guitars. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#142026)
Posted Thursday, October 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars After the relative disappointment of the very good but unexceptional Crtitical Mass Threshold returned 2 years later in 2004 with Subsurface. It's another very good if somewhat formulaic release from the band. If you know Threshold then you know what to expect and therein in a way lays the problem. Threshold's prog metal whilst always of a good standard, during the current decade at least progresses little if any from one release to the next. A few surprises could go a long way to upping the ante a bit.

So what we ultimately get then is Threshold by numbers; powerful and played with precision metal riffs coloured with Richard West's atmospheric modern keyboard sounds, not as much to the front for the most part as in the past which is a shame. There's the obligatory power ballad or two but most songs are hard hitting rockers with customary time and tempo changes sprinkled with good melodies in the main. The band of course are fine players and handle the song demands easily and "Mac" is the best singer and longest serving the band have ever had (sadly now left).

Mission Profile is a killer opener, as good as I would hope for from the band and can sit head and shoulders up there with their finest moments. Starting with the customary atmospheric and spacey keyboard flourishes (is there a Threshold album that doesn't start this way?) it's into a fantastic driving riff and a strong melody too. It's a song of a number of tempo changes and parts though not overly complex but really hits home hard. It's undoubtedly the album highlight which in a way is a shame as the rest of the album while although trying hard never quite lives up to this exceptional moment. There's still much to enjoy however, the next best being the mini epic The Art Of Reason, a track in the vein of Narcissus from their best album Hypothetical.

You probably get the picture by now without me going through every track so in all Subsurface is another very good release from Threshold, of course not their best and the already mentioned lack of progression over more recent years means that it's a bit of a lottery over which is their best of the current decade, apart from the exceptional Hypothetical which really captures them at their very best. It can however sit comfortably alongside the likes of Critical Mass and their most recent, Dead Reckoning as a very good prog metal album. 3 ½ stars.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#237277)
Posted Saturday, September 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Threshold forth album with Mac Dermott behind the microphone named Subsurface from 2004 and seventh from their career. While this album keeps the same formula as on Critical mass, this release is leass convinceing than previous albums, at least the last 2-3 of them. I don't realy know why this album is less enjoyble then others, because has catchy melodies, good riffs, nice progressive metal pasages that will please any fan, but in the end as whole somthing is lacking and I don't know for sure what is. Maybe the listners find that the music too much the same as on last two albums, they didn't come with something new, every piece from this album can easy enter on any previous albums (the ones with Mac Dermott of course), no diffrence actualy, maybe in quality of the song but not in musical prestation of the musicians. To me Subsurface is a good album overall, nothing realy groundbreaking or very intristing, is kinda far from Extinct instinct or Hyphottical their best album without hesitation, but has good pieces like opening track Mission Profile, catchy and typical for Threshold sound, The Art Of Reason and Static, the rest are ok just. So , a worthy album, more like only for Threshold fans, but for sure some of the usual listners of progressive metal would find somthing of an intrest here, not very much but has some moments of brightness. 3 stars, good but nothing more.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#245147)
Posted Sunday, October 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Being a bit of a fan of these guys a while, I had no actual albums of theirs, so natuarly I had to get one (well my brother did, I forget about them as usual), so I decided to get this one.

These guys are ugly as hell, if you look at them, but their is a rule with British bands, the uglier they are, the better their music is (look at Darwins Radio).

This album suprised me, as it turned out better than I thought. I do feel that the 2nd half of the album is nothing compared to the first half, mainly the first 3 songs.

This is Progressive Metal at it's best really. And it is very rare to see an English progressive metal band (and I mean real progressive metal, not extreme metal with a jazzy twist).

1. Mission Control - What an opener. Fantastic chorus and amazing vocals from Mac. Just overall one heck of a song. 10/10

2. Ground Control - As usual, a great chorus and some flawless instrumental work. 10/10

3. Opium - One of my favourite songs on the album. Love the beauty of the piano intro. This song does have some quite werid and wonderful twists and turns. 10/10

4. Stop Dead - A nice soothing Threshold ballad. 8/10

5. The Art Of Reason - Love the anger of Macs vocals. This song is a wonderfull porgressive metal epic. 10/10

6. Pressure - I wouldn't have picked this as the "single", but meh, I can't win em all. 9/10

7. Flags & Footprints - Another ballad, but with quite a dark twist. 9/10

8. Static - I would have chose this as the single, becasue it is quite short and has a catchier chorus. 10/10

9. The Destruction Of Words - A great epic end to the album. 9/10

CONCLUSION: If you haven't heard of these guys, I strongly advise you check them out. Their signature sound is to die for.

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Send comments to arcane-beautiful (BETA) | Report this review (#292006)
Posted Monday, July 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Yet more of the same

On Subsurface, Threshold continues to produce the same kind of music as they previously did on Critical Mass and before that on Hypothetical. There is indeed very little to distinguish these three albums from each other. One could easily take any track from this album and put it on any of the previous two albums and nobody would notice. So similar are these albums in both style and quality. They follow the same formula on these albums, but they are still making good music here that will inevitably appeal to those who liked the previous couple of albums. On the one hand, it is sad that they are content to bring us more of the same, but on the other hand they seem to enjoy themselves and please the fans.

As I said in previous reviews, this period of the band's career is less adventurous and more conventional, and dare I say, commercial. The catchy choruses that were first introduced on Hypothetical are still present here and for my taste this is just a little bit too catchy and melodic. The production values are super high, but this is just a bit too polished for its own good.

Subsurface is about as good as Hypothetical and Critical Mass, and I do enjoy listening to all of these albums, but they are still far behind the band's first four albums. In those days (the 90's), Theshold sounded new, fresh, original, inventive, and exciting. In the 2000's, they sound somewhat predictable.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#496476)
Posted Wednesday, August 03, 2011 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
5 stars Given that the band had only recently released their wonderful live CD and DVD 'Critical Energy', I hadn't realised that a new studio album was going to follow so quickly in 2004. Again, this has now been reissued as a 'Definitive Edition' by Nuclear Blast and contains one new song plus two live versions. By this time one of the original quartet had departed, with bassist Jon Jeary being replaced by Steve Anderson who is still there in the current line-up in 2013, still linking in with powerful drummer Johanne James. Nick Midson and Karl Groom provide the metal riffs, while Richard West again either supports or rides melodic roughshod over the top of the maelstrom with some great keyboard lines. Add to that the great vocals of Mac and you have one of the finest metal bands from the UK scene. At the time you wouldn't have read as much about them in the 'normal' press as others because they pursue a lone furrow in prog metal: music that can be brutally heavy, yet maintain strange time signatures and melodic twists.

"Mission Profile" opens proceedings ? one of the more up tempo numbers on the album, and one thing that really kicks home from the opening note is the quality of the production: this is an album that can be played extremely loudly, that sounds polished but not sanitised. For me the second song, "Ground Control", has to be one of the best for defining Threshold. It is riff-laden, yet also contains some strong keyboards, loads of harmony vocals, gentle and quiet sections that are then offset with passion and Mac shouting, "How can you face the future?" At times there is almost a syncopated rhythm and always there is a definite feel that this is like nothing else around yet is also wonderfully powerful and melodic.

This is music that may not be fashionable but sure as hell is strong stuff. Yes they can bring in acoustic guitars when they want to, yes they can bring in loads of influences but these guys really don't sound like anyone else. Simple ideas are used as well as the complex. At the end of "Stop Dead" Mac again sings the line "Well if you stop, dead" and the song does, totally. The first time it happened I actually stared at the player because it was so dramatic, not a good idea when you are bombing around the M25?.I ought to also mention the cover. The word on the TV says 'REFLECT', but look at the reflection and that states 'CONCEAL'. Again, this is a simple idea, but is extremely effective. This is an indispensable album. www.thresh.net

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#890565)
Posted Thursday, January 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars 8.5/10

With Subsurface Threshold continues to display their winning formula in an album where they are as strong as before. Although not as good as the acclaimed Critical Mass is still a winner in its own right, containing some of the strongest tracks they've done.

I told you how much I admire their ability to make ballads? Probably a thousand times. But I have to say it again: these guys are masters of ballads. I am ecstatic every time I hear one. Maybe it's just a personal issue, but anyway I did not hear any until now that disappoint me.

Sadly lacking support the album. Where the first five songs are stupendous jewels, the other four (with the exception of the ballad "Flags and Footprints") are at a level below. It opens with the promising start and so continue until shortly after the half, but two-thirds are great while the latter is wanting. Perhaps if there had been a different provision of the songs ... At least we are blessed with great works like opening Mission Profile, Ground Control, Stop Dead and the epic The Art of Reason.

4.5 stars, rounded up.

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Send comments to voliveira (BETA) | Report this review (#975355)
Posted Monday, June 10, 2013 | Review Permalink

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