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THRESHOLDS

Nocturnus

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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Nocturnus Thresholds album cover
3.76 | 22 ratings | 4 reviews | 36% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing


1. Climate Controller (7:51)
2. Tribal Vodoun (5:18)
3. Nocturne in Bm (Instrumental) (2:51)
4. Arctic Crypt (4:19)
5. Aquatica (7:18)
6. Subterranean Infiltrator (5:36)
7. Alter Reality (4:28)
8. Gridzone (6:06)

Total Time 43:47

Line-up / Musicians


- Dan Izzo / Vocals
- Mike Davis / Guitars
- Sean McNenney / Guitars
- Chris Anderson / Bass
- Louis Panzer / Keyboards
- Mike Browning / Drums

Releases information

Released through Earache Records in December 1992
Re-released by Earache in 2000.

Thanks to UMUR for the addition
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NOCTURNUS Thresholds ratings distribution


3.76
(22 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
36%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
32%
Good, but non-essential (18%)
18%
Collectors/fans only (9%)
9%
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)
5%

NOCTURNUS Thresholds reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Thresholds" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US, Florida based death metal act Nocturnus. The album was released through Earache Records in December 1992. Thereīs been a few changes to the lineup since the release of the debut album "The Key (1990)" as bassist Jeff Estes was asked to leave alledgedly because of problems with alcohol abuse and in addition to that Earache Records put pressure on Nocturnus to find a "real" frontman. Up until then drummer Mike Browning had also taken care of the vocal duties. Alledgedly Earache Records promised Nocturnus that they would sponsor a promotional video for one of the songs from "Thresholds" if Mike Browning would step down from his vocal duties (they ended up making a video for "Alter Reality"). Apparently the record company felt that the drummer/vocalist constallation was a problem. Therefore former Tortured Souls vocalist Dan Izzo was brought in for the recording of "Thresholds". New bassist on the album is Chris Anderson. The ususal suspects are guitarists Mike Davis and Sean McNenney, keyboard player Louis Panzer and drummer Mike Browning.

Curiously enough the lineup changes havenīt affected Nocturnus sound notably. New vocalist Dan Izzo could easily have been mistaken for Mike Browning (which I initially did), and to be honest the bass isnīt that audible so the change of bassist doesnīt mean much to the sound either.

The music on the album is a continuation but also a progression from the semi-progressive death metal sound of "The Key (1990)". While "The Key (1990)" was split between old school occult themed death metal and progressive/futuristic sounding sci-fi themed death metal, "Thresholds" takes the band fully into the sci-fi themed progressive direction. "Thresholds" is without a doubt Nocturnus most progressive album. The shift in style would leave some members unsatisfied and the disagreements over the musical direction would have disastrous consequences for the band, but more on that later.

The music on "Thresholds" is quite unique death metal and the addition of a permanent keyboard player in the lineup really gave Nocturnus their own sound back in the early 90s. The opening track "Climate Controller" pretty much sums up all thatīs interesting about the album. The multible rhythm changes, heavy and fast riffing (pretty melodic at times), loads of screaming shredding guitar solos, atmospheric keyboards, growling vocals, and those sci-fi themed lyrics. The album is overall much more melodic and compositionally sophisticated than "The Key (1990)". Take it with a grain of salt though as "Thresholds" is still at itīs core old school US death metal. The band experiment more than enough to be considered progressive though. Some of the transitions and odd time signature parts might seem a bit abrupt and primitive by todayīs standards but back then Nocturnus were considered a very technical act. And while Iīm mentioning technical skills thatīs certainly one of the assets of this album. Those guitar solos are just killer IMO. They come out of nowhere and immediately demand your attention and blow you away. The tasteful use of keyboards on the album really enhance the sound and Iīm pleased that they took this approach instead of plastering their sound in synth layers.

With all the positive things said above itīs a bit unfortunate that the sound quality on the album is a bit of a disappointment. Itīs too muddy and lacks power and bite. The sound production on the debut was much better.

After the release of "Thresholds" the band went on a succesful European tour. When they returned home the above mentioned disagreements over musical style meant that Mike Browning was fired from the band. Not before Louis Panzer, Sean McNenney, and Mike Davis had ensured the rights to the Nocturnus name behind Mike Browningīs back though. Needless to say that this manuevre created lots of animosity between Mike Browning and the rest of the band. Nocturnus would continue a couple of years without Mike Browning before disbanding but this was the end of the classic Nocturnus lineup. "Thresholds" stands as a testament to the creative and progressive ideas within Nocturnus and while I generally enjoy "The Key (1990)" sligthly more, "Thresholds" should probably be considered the bandīs crowning achivement. Especially seen from a progressive listeners point of view. "Thresholds" is definitely not a flawless album but itīs got charm, loads of innovative ideas, and a unique sound, and a 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars On their second album Nocturnus leaned even harder on the sci-fi aspects of their debut, dialling back the death metal Satanism but keeping the technical death metal virtuosity intact. With a clean production style and carefully judged keyboard work from Louis Panzer emphasising the spacey aesthetic, it might not have as gripping a concept as The Key but it's far from a major musical step backwards. As an evolution of Nocturnus' sound, it hints at the directions that the band might have gone in were it not for an extended hiatus and lineup fragmentation derailing them for much of the rest of the 1990s.
Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars The Tampa, FL based NOCTURNUS made its mark on the extreme metal scene all the way back in the 80s after former Morbid Angel drummer / vocalist Mike Browning created a new variety of technical death metal that included a keyboardist as well as exhibiting heavily fortified sci-fi themes with overarching concepts. After a couple of demos hitting the market, NOCTURNUS cranked out one of the most unique metal albums of the 90s with its lauded debut "The Key" which adopted a Terminator movie theme of a cyborg sent back in time to kill Jesus Christ as well as fusing the Morbid Angel styled death metal riff attacks with wickedly wild neoclassical solo tradeoffs which made NOCTURNUS one of the most technical infused death metal bands of the early 90s long before Necrophagist.

While Browning served as both drummer and vocalist on "The Key," for the band's second album THRESHOLDS which came out two years later, Dan Izzo joined the team as lead vocalist and Browning focused exclusively on drums and percussion. While the debut had a complete album concept, THRESHOLDS on the other hand tackled a wide range of topics that included climate change on "Climate Controller," indigenous issues on "Tribal Vodoun," underwater species on "Aquatica," the Metal Gear video game series on "Subterranean Infiltrator" and extraterrestrial life on "Gridzone." Musically the band expanded its sound into an even more progressive nature with more complex time signatures, more experimental compositions and even more exquisite displays of virtuosic technicalities without sacrificing the melodic hooks and thrash laden sensibilities of "The Key."

While the band stuck out from the death metal pack early on with the inclusion of the keyboard, on THRESHOLDS, the music is more varied and bolder in its displays of the usual suspects of tremolo picked riffs and pounding rhythmic drive. The keyboard contributions also continued the role of atmospheric generator taking the doom laden darkness to even more mysteriously gloomy heights but also found moments as lead instrument with equally frenetic roles that would make Keith Emerson take notice as the keyboards take on even more ambitious roles in constructing a wider range than "The Key." One of the most dynamic use of the keys is on the superb "Aquatica" which delivers underwater sounds as well as the proper extensions of ambience. Tracks like "Subterranean Infiltrator" on the other hand are all about the guitars and showcases one of the most dynamic twin guitar attacks with clever trade-offs in both the riffing as well as mind numbing soloing.

In many ways, THRESHOLDS sounds a lot different than "The Key" even though much of the stylistic approach is in tact. This album in contrast is slightly less aggressive and delves into more diverse styles of expression with quieter sections and takes license to find more experimental instrumental interplay and progressive off-kilter time signature delivers. While the production has been cited as horrendous by many, my 2013 remastered version sounds pretty good actually although the vocals sound further back in the mix than on "The Key" and although Browning's decision to add a new vocalist so that he could focus exclusively on the drums, it seems there are many segments of the album where the drums are significantly less dynamic with many moments where he is simply keeping a rather unexciting beat much like a garage band which raises the question of what may have been the true cause of his exodus from the band after this album. Was he really injured and just unable to play with the same ferocity?

This was pretty much the last true album of the original NOCTURNUS lineup. The story goes that the band members secured the trademark to the band name and kicked the founder, Browning out like an old pair of shoes. Rumor has it that it was all about which direction the band wanted to take. Browning wanted to include more occult lyrics whereas the rest of the band wanted to keep it in the sci-fi universe but like all messy relationships that take place behind closed doors, this will probably remain a secret until someone spills the beans about the actually events that unfolded. As far as occult lyrics go, it's particularly interesting how the opening "Climate Controller" refers to Kakodammu which is the word of Addu, the forty-seventh name of Marduk, defeater of the ancient ones. I find the references are directed toward the man-made climate control technologies admitted by NASA and other institutions to be of particular interest.

In many ways i love THRESHOLDS even more than "The Key." The tracks are much more interesting as individual slices tech death metal magic however the album lacks the overall cohesiveness of the debut. Add to that the drum parts are by far the biggest disappointment but despite the elements that could've used some more work, this is an excellent album that stands out not only from pretty much every other metal album that has been released but from the band's debut itself. While Browning was kicked out of his own band, the rest of the team only managed to squeak out a pathetic little EP before disbanding the following year and although there was an attempt to revive the band several years later, the album "Ethereal Tomb' didn't come close to capturing the creativity cranked out in the first two NOCTURNUS albums so as far as i'm concerned this is the end of the road for one fo the most creative metal bands of the 90s. While not quite as perfect as the debut, THRESHOLDS is still an outstanding slice of 90s extreme metal that shouldn't be missed.

4.5 rounded down

Latest members reviews

2 stars Their debut album The Key is an excellent and genre setting album. Was it a flash in the pan, though ? Threshold takes Nocturnus into a schience-fiction landscape. The occult stuff was left behind, in other words. The brutality and the Morbid Angel leanings from The Key was also parked. In ... (read more)

Report this review (#293988) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Tuesday, August 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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