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Threshold - For the Journey CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.70 | 150 ratings

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4 stars Life in Transition

To appreciate this album, I had to set aside my expectations of this being March Of Progress 2. March Of Progress was my introduction to Threshold, and, after perusing their catalog from Extinct Instinct to the present, I came to the impression that it was their masterpiece. Conceived after the death of their lead singer Mac, the return of Damian Wilson as vocalist, and a successful tour, March Of Progress proved that Threshold could not only survive but thrive, and the excitement of that rebirth, I think, infused the album with passion and excitement, regardless of how dark the songs were lyrically or musically. Despite the change in direction lyrically, I expected For The Journey to be imbued with the same joie de vivre. I was wrong, but that's a good thing.

For The Journey examines character traits required for life's journey by viewing life if those traits are lacking. It's an unexpectedly dark approach that works. As always, the musicianship is high, the vocals are great - perhaps Damian Wilson's most nuanced effort with Threshold - and the lyrics are smart, though not as sophisticated as on March Of Progress. If you can accept that the album will be at turns cold, morose, and even creepy before there's hope on the horizon, then you might find yourself enjoying this album quite a bit.

"Watchtower on the Moon" opens the album with the thesis that flawed character hurts everyone. Lyrically, it's a solid introduction to the album's concept. Although the song feels like "Ashes" from March Of Progress at first, it quickly becomes clear that For The Journey is a different album altogether. The use of 2nd person and the processed voices of the chorus lend it a clinical air that's a bit cold, but the instrumentals are fiery and well-done.

"Unforgiven" explores forgiveness and repentence in their absence. It's also dark. Wilson displays a fine dynamic range, and the background vocals from other band members are welcome. My major complaint is the fade out ending with some guitar noodling; it doesn't really seem to fit the song, but hints of this return later.

"The Box" is the epic progressive number. An actual story song, almost like some Greek tragedy, about the cost of embracing convenience and instant gratification (I think), the music shifts through many different moods and instrumentations, while the story unfolds from both personal and societal perspectives. Wilson's final confession is heartbreaking.

"Turned to Dust" puts Wilson through some interesting choppy vocal stylings. The chorus is very catchy. A strumming/shuddering motif appears in this song to be echoed in later songs - perhaps suggesting the glimpses of rousing from slumber.

"Lost in Your Memory" is a power ballad. It suits Wilson quite well.

"Autumn Red" continues, apparently, a series of songs about autumn. It's a great song but rather mysterious lyrically. Along with "Lost in Your Memory," it heralds a change in direction from darkness to glimpses of light and hope. Johanne James demonstrates some very good drumming here; I hope he's permitted to cut loose more in the future.

"The Mystery Show" is one of my favorite songs. By turns creepy and instructive, it explores the nature of knowledge, both temporal and spiritual.

Written by Pete Morten, who penned "Coda" and "Divinity" from March Of Progress, "Siren Sky" is the mountaintop experience of the album. The lyrics are smart, the music grand in the best sense, and the vocals pull out all the stops. The subtle shuddering motifs heard earlier take over, and the song becomes an awakening to the possibility of a new life. Rather than ending happily, For The Journey ends with an impassioned prayer.

"I Wish I Could" was penned by drummer Johanne James. (Why haven't they included this guy's songs on previous albums? It's good!) Alas, because it is a cover of an old song, it was saved as a bonus track and doesn't fit the album's concept by being placed at the end. It brings the mood of the album down, so keep in mind that it's not the true ending of the album's concept when listening to it.

Overall, the album effectively explores the cost of flawed character, the need for repentence, and the desire for change through a careful gradation of mood and color by means familiar and novel. Although much of the old Threshold is apparent in these songs, the new shines through: Wilson's more varied delivery stylistically and dynamically, the addition of new colors to the guitar and keyboard palettes, and a sense of experimentation born of confidence in the solidified lineup. It makes for an interesting journey.

It's hard for me to assign a rating to this album, because my appreciation for the album keeps increasing. Initially, I was disappointed in the predominating gray color of the album. "Siren Sky" won me over, and I've slowly grasped how the dark moods do give way to something more hopeful. I would have liked a final song that was truly uplifting - life after redemption - but that's not what Threshold wanted to deliver. For what it is, it's very good. I'm not quite convinced it's a masterpiece yet, but I have come to believe it is far better than just "good". Strongly recommended - just be prepared to take the time to properly digest it.

PlanetRodentia2 | 4/5 |


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