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5 stars Threshold's first double album and a second concept one sees the return of the old frontman Glynn Morgan into the fold. Before anyone opens up an argument about their favourite singer I have to say that although we all disagree who the best (technically or emotionally) out of the three is, one thing we should all agree on is that Damian, Mac and Glynn have extremely recognisable tone to their voices and in that respect were all original and unique vocalists who left their mark in Threshold's history. Structurally, music picks up where The Box left off, bringing a new level of refinement into the writing.

The pastoral opening of the The Shire introduces us to the concept of the story, then swiftly moves on to Small Dark Lines, a fast paced opener in which Glynn shows off a typically rough edge to his voice.

The Man Who Saw Through Time is a monumental piece, sonically very dynamic, with stacks of prog elements throughout. An engaging instrumental section is spiced up with exquisite guitar accents, where everything flows seamlessly. A hugely relatable leitmotif binds it all together while taking us on an delightful journey.

Raw, upbeat energy of Trust the Process explodes onto the scene, sweeping you along with a heart-wrenching guitar harmonies. The richness of the passages peaks with the lavish dialogue between the singer and the backing vocals, so pleasing to the ear the entire song leaves you utterly entranced.

Stars and Satellites paints a harmless picture, other than Glynn's occasional gravelly bite. That is until the middle section thunders in - what an astonishing pounding of notes, sort of Extinct Instinct style - both progressive and eccentric. The guitar solo that follows is by far the grooviest one Karl's ever done, the whole thing's got this bounce and freshness, I wish it lasted longer.

Steve Anderson's debut On the Edge contains all the typical Threshold elements - tempo changes, melodic chorus and a coda, it's the pre-chorus that is of an unusual jazzy background.

The Shire (part II) starts off with a delicate acoustic, before opening up into a big chorus. Its deceptive simplicity masks elaborate framework underneath the main melody. Every note feels mindfully placed in just the right order.

Pent-up passion gets released in Snowblind, a tune with the most linear narrative they've ever written. As we move from one segment to another the music keeps on expanding, never looking back and evolving in an incredibly organic way. The guitar parts are fundamentally woven into the song's fabric and are some of the finest I've heard, culminating in the absorbing solo that melts into your being.

Subliminal Freeways is of a disheartened nature, while the ballad State of Independence lyrically depicts both sides of the Brexit argument. Glynn's got an appropriate rasp in the chorus and an almost feminine sigh towards the end.

Superior Machine goes back to the roots of Clone, with more straightforward metal chords and the vocals which devour the verse.

Like a misty drizzle The Shire (part III) quietly descends upon us with its melancholic yet soothing quality. Having Jon Jeary back singing gave it additional gravitas.

Lost in Translation unfolds as a timeless classic from the very first tone, portraying such majestic landscape and spilling out into the vastness of space. It flows smoothly and although grand it shows poise and light touch. It's so polished that previous albums feel crude in comparison. The guitar's answering phrase is deeply evocative and the surrounding sustained notes are simply dreamy. You feel as though the intricate instrumentals swirl all around, restoring inner peace.

The theme we heard earlier on comes back as a reprise in Swallowed, this time with the biting cynicism as the protagonist unveils the truth and sees the system for what it really is.

Legends Of The Shires is a substantial release, wherein they mastered the art of harmony further. It's propped up by a myriad of extraordinary sound effects, where even transitions between the songs add another dimension to this musical realm. Seemingly disruptive line up changes represented no challenge to this band, as the music speaks for itself regardless of who is behind the microphone. The story bears many parallels and can be understood personally as an evaluation of one's position and purpose in life, as well as through a political prism of isolation and morality. What sets this album apart is a stupendous variety of styles that gel quite naturally and create this complex tapestry that keeps the listener enthralled, as with each spin another layer of its soundscape gets absorbed. Breaking new ground whilst staying true to their sound, the innovative blend of masculine riffs with alluring melodies and profound philosophical lyrics have always been Threshold's hallmarks. 'And the wind blows'... back into Threshold's sails once more.

Report this review (#1780529)
Posted Saturday, September 9, 2017 | Review Permalink
Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
5 stars The leader of the British Prog Metal is back with a big double album of gorgeous melodies crafted by talented musicians including the solid vocals of Glynn Morgan back in the band after more than 20 years. His voice is more delicate than the last 2 Threshold vocalists and suitable for that kind of music. The album starts with a beautiful ballad. The second track delivers again the talent of Karl Groom on guitar who knows how to create some emotional guitar solos. The 11 minutes "The Man Who Saw Through Time" start and finishes with some Kraftwerk techno effects sounds starting as a ballad and developing into a typical Threshold metal structure. "Trust the Process" show some multi-parts vocals that the band has used a lot in the past and then let a lot of space to Richard West on keyboards. "Stars and Satellites" is very melodic and show some guitar riffs that remind me of Rush. "The Shire" part 2 is linked to the first part with his peaceful atmosphere letting the vocals and the acoustic guitar take the spot. In the second part of "Lost in Translation", we can hear the influence of Pink Floyd when the band brings things down with some Gilmour guitar style passage. The production as always is perfect here using the latest technology with some short electronic sounds giving new textures to the sound. Karl Groom manages to reinvent his guitar palette at times. Threshold could give you some lessons to how to compose great songs that are good from start to finish., not complicated, but deep enough to require many listenings. Yes, there is still some repetitive chords in this music, but with this double album, the band has the freedom to expand their sound a bit if you know well the band's music.
Report this review (#1781268)
Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars When I started listening to this album I was pleasantly surprised by its subtle opening but that was soon followed by crunching heavy metal. However the catchiness of the songs kept me listening. There are some fine melodies here and I would have loved for them to be developed further. Don't get me wrong, there are some longish tracks here and while I enjoyed listening to the album, overall I felt it was a bit lightweight. When I was considering whether this is a four star album I found myself growing tired of it after just two or three listens. Just a three star from me.
Report this review (#1781324)
Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars Do you like the sonic crunch of metal, but also have a soft spot for sugary pop? And, being a middle-aged man, miss the 80s? Legends of the Shires are for you. A double album that is just a little over a single album, it features probably the band's most bombastic sound to date, and delivers the familiar Threshold goodies: catchy rockers, power ballads, song-within-a-song power metalesque rifforama/Pink Floyd hybrids and a more neo-proggish epics - all with epic melodies and pretentious lyrics about a man's struggles in life (but seriously, those are of a high enough quality level for a genre where lyrics often seem an afterthought).

If there were any drawbacks that I had to mention, it would be that the sound palette towards the end seems to be kind of same-y, and the synths, while being appropriately loud during the solo sections, are sometimes drowned out by guitars during the verses.

Report this review (#1785651)
Posted Friday, September 22, 2017 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars

It was something of a shock to fans of the band when it was announced that they had parted ways with their singer Damian Wilson, for the third time. At the same time, Richard and Karl had decided that they wanted to take the band musically back to more of where they used to be in the Nineties, which led them to wondering what Glynn Morgan was doing? Glynn of course sang on 'Psychedelicatessen' in 1994, as well as the ensuing live album, but had also been involved in bits and pieces with the guys through the years. A decision was also made to just have one guitarist and reduce to a five-piece, so the line-up was Glynn (vocals), Richard (keys, backing vocals), Karl (guitar, backing vocals), Johannes (drums, backing vocals) and Steve (bass, backing vocals). But, that wasn't all, as the guys also invited original bassist Jon Jeary in to provide vocals on one song. Jon was in the band for many years, and I always felt that his vocals in the live environment were incredibly important to the overall sound, so it is wonderful to see him involved again, even if it is just for a cameo.

With these changes made, great artwork and a double CD, the guys knew that this had to be an epic release, as anything less than that would be seen to be a failure. So it's probably just as well that they have released their most varied and dynamic album for years, possibly their finest yet. This album has far more depth and breadth than we have heard in recent years, with Richard more to the fore, and much more melody and straight progressive tendencies backed up by strong guitars as opposed to crunching riffs that have the edge removed as has sometimes been the case in the past.

This is well thought out and constructed music, and shows that although they still inhabit the more metallic end of the prog metal spectrum than bands such as Dream Theater, they still know exactly how to satisfy the progheads. Moving back to a more progressive style, and changing singers, is obviously a risk but it has paid off with this album making the Top #5 of the UK Rock Charts, and entering Sweden, Germany and Switzerland in the Top 15, and getting to #31 in Austria. Threshold have taken a breath, decided how they want to move forward and have grabbed it with both hands. They are touring in November and December across Europe and the UK, ending at the 02 Islington Academy, and that will be a tour not to miss. Now all I must do is convince Karl he ought to come down here?

This is an absolutely essential indispensable album.

Report this review (#1786186)
Posted Saturday, September 23, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars We all knew that Threshold is a standard value in prog metal scene...but this album is a new top,a great monumental masterpiece.Sincerely is the best prog metal album i've heard last 5 or even 10 years.

Thershold manage to captivate the listener with their, neither childish nor overhighly sophisticated approach of progressive metal.The vocal melodic lines are awesome,full of meaning and power executed by a majestic and powerful voice,that of Morgans'.The compositions and guitar riffs are so inspirative that makes you think prog metal was reinvented in a sec!All cosmic feeling, space sounds and professional mix are still here as distinct signatures of Threshold.There are also some new elements here, like the melodic rock/AOR feeling vocals in some choruses that enhances depth and commerciality of the songwriting and, a light floydish breeze over some songs that brings quality to a new level

Overall,the Legend of the Shires brings the listener to a place that only a prog metal album of such lever can bring.Thanks to this band, progressive metal proves to everybody that can be on the top very for many years more!Hail to England,to Threshold and to this colossal masterpiece and probably a legend for this music genre...we'll see

Report this review (#1786441)
Posted Sunday, September 24, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars I knew Threshold in 1995 thanks to a review of Livedelica on Metal Shock, an Italian magazine of Heavy Metal: the Ep had the highest rate. I bought it soon and shortly afterwards I also bought the first two albums: I preferred Wounded Land to Pschychedelicatessen, but for me the three songs of Woundend Land sung on Livedelica by Glynn Morgan are better than the studio version After Glynn leaved the group I continued to follow Threshold, but no album excited me like the first two. .I found interesting only March of Progress , but the next For the Journey was a real disappointment. I knew in 2017 they release a new concept album, but my interest grew very much whenI knew that Glynn Morgan returned to the microphone. I bought Legends of the Shire as relaesed and I have to say it's definitely the best in the group career. Even if the songs were written for Damian, Glynn's interpretation is great, both in heavy song as Small Dark Lines and Trust the Process, as well as in the more progressive like the two beautiful suites and Snowblind. Richard and Karl were really inspired when composing the album. in the next tour they will not play in Italy. So I hope that a double live cd will be released and old tracks like Sanity's End, Into the Light, Devoted and Innocent will be played again. then I expect a new cd written for Glynn Morgan's voice
Report this review (#1803015)
Posted Friday, October 13, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm a big fan of Damian Wilson voice, and I was upset when I heard he had to leave the band. I think very few vocalists in the modern rock music can be compared to Damian. And 2 CDs? How do you mange to compose and record so much good music? Most modern albums that last 70 minutes have at least 20-25% garbage because, let's face it, it's hard to record 70 minutes of quality material every year! So, I approached this work with a healthy doze of skepticism. But the further I went into the record, the more I liked it! Firstly, the quality of songwriting is very high. Some songs are stronger than others, but there is NO fillers or weak songs here that should be dropped! Each song has a "hook" and memorable theme. Arrangement is excellent too: guitar and keys solos are well-balanced and last exactly as long as necessary, and rhythm section as steady as usual. No extra wanking or flashing. Experience and maturity.... Oh, and vocal.... Well, Glynn is not Damian, that's for sure, no "pipes" here, but his voice fits the music perfectly: it has emotions and warmth. So, I have no complains about his performance! Secondly, sound quality is top notch! Those guys are not involved in Loudness War! Each instrument, each solo is well recorded and properly sounded. Ok, style.... I guess this is softest Threshold record they ever produced. There are plenty of metal moments there, but it also has many quieter moments that are far from metal territories. In fact, often it sounds similar to "classic" period of Arena circa Visitor and Immortal?, and keys play more prominent role here than before. I don't give 5 stars very often, to say at least, but this record, despite its length as close to perfection as it can be. Bravo, Threshold!
Report this review (#1825280)
Posted Monday, November 20, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review # 76. Legends of the Shires is the 11th studio album of the English Prog-Metal band Threshold, and I dare say one of their best ones. Prog-Metal was never my cup of tea, so I try not to write reviews about albums that belong in this sub-genre. But that doesn't change the fact that Threshold released a really wonderful album, which I enjoy a lot; And when I saw them on stage performing songs from it, I liked it even more!

The album is filled with great guitar riffs, "catchy" melodies and very interesting compositions in general. The performance of the musicians is superb, having as "maestro" the leading guitar riffs of Karl Groom.

The album includes a couple of "hit" songs, like for example Small Dark Lines and/or State of Independence, together with a couple of "epics". (The 10-minute-long Lost in Translation is one of the best songs of the album). Well, what else can you ask for? In my opinion, Legends of the Shires is equally good (if not better) with some legendary albums the band released in the past, like Critical Mass or Subsurface for example. 4.0 stars

Report this review (#1839617)
Posted Thursday, December 7, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars The best Progressive Metal band in the universe ( my opinion folks, please don't get heated ) are back with what is probably their most ambitious album yet. The first thing you will notice is that vocalist Steven Wilson has departed from the ranks yet again, and back in the saddle is Glynn Ellis who sang on Psychedelicatessen. "The Shire ( part one )" starts off acoustically with sounds of bells and birds and has a distinct Richard Griffee sound to Glynn Morgans voice. We are then into Metallica territory with "Small Dark Lines" a song all about Geoffrey Matnill suffering those lines that he had to write when he was in the juniors. Great aggressive guitars and fine Mitch singing are the order of the day here, and even manages to bring a slight Emma-ness to the table. So to the first of two epics on the album. "The Man Who Saw Through Time" has a great Holly Hospital sound to it and even takes in a little bit of Deaf Marcus ( A Brighton based Metal band for those not in the know ) "Trust The Process" starts off with some angular "In A Bad Mood" guitar playing from Eggheart Bride and some great catchy vocals from Captain Morgan. It even manages to capture some of the essence of Yes in the mid section, with some great vocal interplay between Glynn Morgan and to what my ears sounds like Glynn Morgan. "Stars And Satellites" manages to capture that great Prog essence with great vocal lines that could have easily have come from The Beatles "Revolver" era, and is a timely reminder as to just what a great tunesmith that keys player Fred West is. "On The Edge" is a great contribution from Bass player Jon Anderson with a smashing Michael Curley feel to it, as well as being a song i can well imagine being right up the alley of previous vocalist Damian Wilson. This one smokes and smoulders like a November 5th bonfire being jealousy guarded by Rocking Nobby and Fatty John. So onto disc two then. "The Shire ( part two ) " is basically "The Shire ( part one ) but with added instrumentation and several tea breaks. "Snowblind" is next up and starts off in fine punky Beki Bondage fashion with some great quirky playing from Harl Groom and stellar drumming from Johanne Janes. This song always makes me feel happy - And i like feeling happy. "Subliminal Freeways" appears to be about Glynn Morgan feeling no elation and having nothing in his heart, and because of this, i always cry bitter almond tears whenever i hear it. "State Of Independence" could have easily have been the single from the album, and there are cracking cover versions of it by Jon Anderson and Donna Summer. The 2nd epic "Lost In Translation" is a superb song which takes the listener through many twists and turns, not unlike an earwig moving through and across Macey's brain. This song seems to be about Glynns heart not being able to beat any stronger, and that this life is meant for him. Some great Sandra Hunt and Carole Norley mellow sections meld with some great more driving Jose Mourinho sections which give this song a fantastic typical Threshold sound and to these ears is yet another reason why Threshold are superior songwriting wise to Drear Theater. Finally we have "Swallowed" which starts off in a nice acoustic vein before building up to a nice Pink Floyd like climax. Plenty of emotional Doctor Taylor guitar as this track progresses, as well as some heartfelt David James vocals from Captain Morgan. This album is both brilliant and beautiful and the only problem i can foresee for Threshold now, is how do they top this? Breathtaking stuff which should make you want to put on a nice fluffy patterned cardigan and a hop and a skip merrily along to HMV and order this album. For fans of Threshold, Shadowland, Pendragon, Yes, Pink Floyd and Vice Squad.
Report this review (#1916664)
Posted Sunday, April 22, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars I am definitely a bit ashamed to admit that I have not heard of, let alone listened to, Threshold until just a few weeks ago. Though better late than never I suppose. And with that, Legends of the Shires, Threshold's 2017 release, was definitely a fantastic way to get acquainted. This record is symphonic power prog metal that is absolutely both fun and moving.

There is nothing revolutionary or innovative about the music here but that doesn't seem to be necessary given how engaging the riffs, synths, and guitar leads are. The performance by vocalist Glynn Morgan who has returned to the group after a two-decade or so hiatus is by far the highlight of the album. In just a few listens, his melodies and powerful delivery will be stuck in your head long after.

The album's main flaw is its length. As the album progresses, it has less and less unique music to convey. To borrow a phrase from the Jewish Passover Seder ceremony, had the record ended after 'The Shite Pt. 2' 'it would have been enough for us''

Report this review (#2436524)
Posted Monday, August 10, 2020 | Review Permalink

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