Threshold

Critical Energy

Finally, North Americans get a glimpse of what Threshold look like and sound like live. Critical Energy was filmed following the Critical Mass tour. Their were technical problems that kept them from filming this during the tour, so the held a performance later on just for the purpose of filming the DVD.

The DVD was shot on June 6, 2003 in Holland and highlights the band playing songs from every one of their studio albums. From full-power versions of these songs, to a nice acoustic section, featuring Karl Groom on guitar, Mac on vocals and Richard West on keyboards, culminating into a version of Narcissus (my favorite Thresh song) which starts off acoustically before going at it full power.

Eighteen tracks from six studio albums and one wonderful performance by all musicians. And if eighteen tracks aren’t enough for you, the DVD includes three performances from Thresh’s only North American performance, at Progpower USA in 2002. Not enough? How about a behind the scenes look at the band? Nice and informal. Stories behind the recording and the making of the DVD. Stories about the road (like the guy who drove a hundred miles to surprise his wife by having the guys in the band sing her “Happy Birthday”), stories about the guys in the band.

A wonderful DVD to have. A good look at the live side of the band and a good look at the guys themselves. A must have!

And in case you’re wondering; top-quality video and sound, except with the Progpower performance. This looks like an audience recording. Still interesting to watch.

Replica (Fan club release)

I love great bands that just keep coming up with new stuff. Threshold is one of those bands. They release their major albums through InsideOut and come up with other releases in between through their fan club.

Two years ago it was their marvelous acoustic album, Wireless. Now it’s Replica. This one contains two previously unreleased songs, Endless Sea (quite remarkable) and Torn to Shreds, another great song.

Along with these are acoustic versions of Forever and Ground Control, proving that these are great songs no matter how they’re played, a new version of Surface to Air, an alternative version of Static, a great radio edit of Fragmentation and another of Light and Space as well as the uncut version of The Latent Gene and a synthetic remix of Opium.

Of course, the first people to be interested in this album will be the fans of the band. However, it also has a lot of great material to interest people who don’t know the band.

Available only through the net, from Threshold’s website. A must for fans and a “should have” for everyone else.

Subsurface

Karl Groom and the boys are back! One of the things I like the most about this band is that they never make us wait a long time between albums. After last year’s phenomenal acoustic album, Wireless which followed Critical Mass, here is the latest offering from the inventors of Progressive Metal.

For anyone following the band, there’s always a progression as they move on. It’s as much in the sound as it is in the writing. Subsurface is certainly not an exception. Filled with what makes the Threshold sound unique, hard-edged music, but with strong melodies and lyrics. As always, there’s never too much of anything, but then again, with Karl Groom behind the board, nothing less would be acceptable.

This is my fifth review of a Threshold album and all my reviews have been good; I hope I’ve managed to convince you to find out more about them; you have everything to gain.

The guys are now back on the road, and I hope that this album will finally enable them to break in North America where they deserve to be big. It would be great to finally see them this side of the ocean.

Wireless

As Karl Groom had told me Threshold have released their own unplugged album.

I don’t usually enjoy unplugged albums, but this is definitely an exception. I find that the band offer us a very different look at what they do so well; but here the guitars aren’t pounding with force, they are delicate and sensitive. The drums are still here and so are the keyboards.

This is overall, a welcome addition to this band’s discography. It’s great to hear these new versions of Fragmentation, The Sheltering Sky and, especially, Narcissus.

Also, this album includes two new songs: Seventh Angel and Conceal the Face, both worthy of being part of the band’s material. Are these two new songs just goodies to get you to buy the album? I don’t believe so: the album is worth buying for the new versions of the old tracks.

All in all, a new way of looking at Threshold, proving, once again, that they are a force to be reckoned with.

And I almost forgot to mention: this album includes a QuickTime video of Fragmentation. A very nice bonus.

A word of notice to the wise: as you’ll see, it says “Independent” for the label. This is a fan club album and is available only through Threshold’s website.

Critical Mass

The ever-active (and good for us!) Threshold bring us a great new album. Anyone who has been following the progress of Karl Groom’s band will not fail to be impressed by this newest offering.

Although Threshold have always made great music, I believe Critical Mass to be a touch above their previous albums. Personally, I find it rather difficult to put away; I’ve been delaying this review as an excuse to listen to it more and more.

It hits hard right from the start with the fabulous Phenomenon and never lets off. Fragmentation is probably the most commercial song on the album and will certainly please the general populace. But if they take the time to listen to the rest of the album, they are sure to be impressed.

The last song, Critical Mass is the most impressive piece on the album, and probably my favorite among all the songs they’ve ever done. It’s a three-part suite which goes in so many directions. Pink Floyd fans will certainly enjoy the instrumental section. It is sort of Pink Floyd with batteries: boosted. Then the finale goes into a beautiful acoustic piece. It’s a shame it only lasts 13 minutes.

Psychedelicatessen (Special Edition)

The title is quite a mouthful… Psychedelicatessen was originally released in 1995. This edition has many extras to it. First, it’s a double album. Album one contains two bonus tracks, Lost and Intervention. Album two is a live album. Five songs (only two of which are on Psychelicatessen) and two videos on QuickTime, one or Innocent (you may not recall the title, but you’ve heard it). Just run it on your computer, you’ll also get feature notes, photos and a screensaver.

British progressive rock veterans Threshold will leave no one indifferent with their personal brand of heavy progressive. This music has both a bark and a bite.

A fine combination of musicians, with a great singer and, especially, very good songs! Production is also top-notch. Of course, Karl Groom (who also worked with the likes of Pendragon) is behind the board. Can’t go wrong there.

Definitely a great album from a band who always deliver on their promises.

Hypothetical

An overall well-balanced album. Between melody and hard-driven riffs, Hypothetical is bound to please people of various musical likings.

It will appeal to the Metal crowd, as well as to the more Progressive crowd. It will also appeal to people who are into well-produced products or someone who enjoys a well-delivered riff. Quite worth spending $20 dollars on.

My personal favorite song is Turn On Tune In. Perhaps not the best-done song on the album, but a very catchy chorus. Less melodic than the rest of the album, it nevertheless had my head swinging back and forth in time to the power chords. A great song!

The Ravages of Time flows well through its ten minutes. They could have made the mistake of making it a very metal song, but they didn’t. Although it has the makings of a metal song, it also is possessed of a great melody. And well done vocal effects.

The Sheltering Sky is perhaps the most interesting song on the album. It’s like a metal ballad. But not in the traditional way of being played through picking in the verses and distorted riffs in the chorus. This one has a beautiful, soft melody throughout, while the power chords are raging in the background. Very interesting effect and a perhaps the most complete song on the album.

Towards the end, though, is Keep My Head. Obviously formula-written as a sort of Live (the band) love song, but without the sort of lyricism Live can put into it or a convincing drive. It could easily become a hit, but I must admit that I don’t like it. I don’t find it has a place on the album. But, I’m sure if it gets a lot of airplay, it will be number one on the charts.