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Threshold - Critical Mass CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.09 | 286 ratings

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3 stars It was always going to be a difficult task for Threshold to follow 2001's Hypothetical, the apotheosis of their output to date. Follow up Critical Mass tries hard and has some strong moments but overall falls a little short of that milestone release.

If you've heard Threshold before then you'll know what to expect here. Powerful metal riffs courtesy of Karl Groom and Nick Midson mixed with light and shade moments creating strong dynamics. Richard West's keyboard's providing a good foil though not so much to the fore here as in the past which is a shame. Vocalist Mac, now on his third album proves once again he's a fine vocalist and the best the band have had. Drummer Johanne James on his second album is also the best drummer the band have had allowing for more complex rhythmic structures than they could have managed on earlier albums. He's ably assisted on bass by the ever present (until recent years) Jon Jeary.

By now Threshold had found their sound fusing melancholic melodies, atmospherics and metal riffs into sometimes fairly complex rhythmic structures into powerful pieces with the obligatory ballad or 2 thrown in for good measure. All seems in order here with the album getting off to a great start with Phenomenon and Choices, 2 of the stronger pieces. The highlight is undoubtedly the 13 and a half minute 3 part title track which closes. Running from the hauntingly melodic opening section it explodes into typical Threshold powerful riffing, a strong vocal section and tasty searing guitar solo courtesy of Groom. An unexpected turn slows things right down for another excellent guitar solo, paced the way Dave Gilmour might do it rather than the usual flurry of notes of your typical metal band. An atmospheric section bridges the gap into a vocal/acoustic guitar dominated finale for a restrained but effective close.

If all the album was as good as the title track then Critical Mass could have been the equal of Hypothetical. Unfortunately a couple of mid album tracks are less than inspiring, notably the ballad Avalon and semi-ballad Falling Away being nothing more than functionary. Nonetheless a very good album and one that should please most lovers of prog metal. 3 stars.

Nightfly | 3/5 |


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