Threshold
Hypothetical

How in the world have I never heard of Threshold? According to their website, Hypothetical is their seventh album! Kudos to Inside Out for snatching these guys up because they are very good! I say this without the benefit of hearing the band’s past albums (obviously), but this CD definitely makes me want to hear the others.

I truly enjoy this disc. It’s chock full of heavy guitars, textured keyboards, intricate changes, and memorable melodies. Guitarists Karl Groom and Nick Midson have thick, heavy rhythm tones. The leads are not credited, but they are top-notch with melodic bends, competent shredding, and smooth tones. Keymeister Richard West pulls a few hat tricks of his own in the lead department, while also adding a full, omnipresent feel to the songs. The rhythm section, comprised of Jon Jeary (bass) and Johanne James (drums) are on top of their game as well and it shows in the deep grooves and airtight changes. Vocalist Mac has a high register tone, but resists overloading the ears with pointless wails. He sounds as if he could sing for a progressive rock band as well and a progressive metal band. His tone is hard to pinpoint in terms of comparisons, so suffice it to say he does his job well with strong presence and good melody lines.

The melodic approach of the songs on Hypothetical is more in the modernized vein, as opposed to having any power metal influences, which will no doubt bring instant comparisons to Dream Theater. While this is not entirely untrue, quick assumptions like that could sell this band short. Threshold draws from prog influences old and new here. “Turn On Tune In” has a great chorus, almost reminiscent of a heavier Yes, or Spock’s Beard. This song also sports a killer, syncopated groove with nice keyboard swells on the intro. “Sheltering Sky” has a haunting clean guitar and ambient vocal melody on the verse. It’s broken up with a nice piano/acoustic guitar lick. The dramatic chorus here is a grabber as well spiced up by emotional guitar lead work. “Narcissus”, at just over 11 minutes, is the longest tune on the disc and it’s a killer! It’s full of great melody, impressive lead work, and excellent mood shifts going from heavy crunch to moody clean tones effortlessly. It’s also home to another epic, dramatic chorus with cool harmonies and a killer Yes meets Queen feel on the bridge.

“Keep My Head” is a bit of a puzzler, as it has this 70s ballad feel to it. Very different from the rest of the album, but still quite good. Also of quick note is the instrumental break in “Light and Space”, which is outstanding! Oh, and I can’t forget yet another great chorus, this time layered with acoustic guitar strumming and superb vocal harmonies! The lyrics here are well written and clever, like in “Turn On Tune In”, which speaks of being brainwashed by the television media, “…buy into the merchandise and then it becomes real, palpable and plastic packaged neatly on the reel…” While not exactly innovative or breathtakingly original, there is a lot to like about this record. Prog metal fans everywhere should find this to be a worthy purchase.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shawn Pelata
March 21st, 2001

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