Threshold - Critical Energy

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Inside Out
Catalog Number: IOMCD 150
Format: CD
Total Time: 117:15:00

As happens a lot with big names in the rock industry who have a classical piece open their concert, Brit prog metal heroes Threshold also enter the stage whilst classical noises mingle with loud enthusiastic cheers. Recorded for both DVD and audio purposes, once again in Holland on June 6th 2003, Critical Energy is kind of a greatest hits package performed live with material gathered from the band's six studio albums, although with a strong emphasis on the band's last three albums. Incidentally these are the ones the band recorded with new singer Mac so they surely have opted for the songs that are best suited to his voice. And I have to admit that Mac is ideal for Threshold's music because, as we all know, the band had a rough time in their early days, mainly having several line-up changes, not in the least in the vocal department. I have known the band ever since their humble beginnings on IQ's Giant Electric Pea label, which in Holland got distributed by the now defunct SI label. In fact, the then long haired Karl Groom was probably one of my earliest encounters with someone from the prog metal direction, which a good ten years ago was brand new to me. Karl, as well as the rest of the lads, seemed to be a very amicable guy, so in return I landed them a slot on the Viarock festival which that year was headlined by none other than Whitesnake. I thought they would be picked up by a major label straight away, but it was their early days and, as said before, the "real" Threshold was still not formed. Personally, I thought that Glynn Morgan was the man who could change all that, but it later seemed he wasn't the perfect choice for the band, although I have always loved his singing and still do to this day. Before and after Glynn Morgan, Damian Wilson came to the rescue, but it soon seemed that he would not be the steady vocalist for the band, either. It was 1998 when, with the album Clone the band finally found their ideal frontman in the guise of Mac. Ever since, the band has gone from strength to strength and I have to say that sometimes it might be OK for a studio album, but the real quality of a singer often can only be fully heard on a live recording. In the case of Mac what you hear is almost identical to what can be found on the studio recordings, so the guy most certainly has the quality voice Threshold really needs.

Expect the complete show spread over two audio CDs, including no fewer than eighteen Threshold originals. There are two songs from the band's debut album Wounded Land, two from Psychdelicatessen, three from Extinct Instinct, three from Clone, the first album with Mac on board, five songs from Hypothetical and four from their latest effort Critical Mass. So whether you were a newcomer or a diehard Threshold fan, you most certainly were treated to the ideal Threshold show that particular evening at De Boerderij in Zoetermeer, Holland. Of course, everyone was informed that a DVD recording would be made that particular night and knowing this for sure a huge percentage of the audience no doubt were heavy Threshold fans, so I don't know why singer Mac became so unpleasant before and after the song "Critical Mass." First he shouts "shut up," and when the song is finished, you hear him saying to someone "it's my turn now, mate ? shut up! You can go home now." I don't know what happened, so maybe on the DVD you'll be able to tell more, but it surely is no way to address the audience. They all paid a fair price to get in; it's because of them that you get the chance to be in a band in the first place, so don't fuck things up, Mac! Surely having performed tons of times, you must be professional enough not to let certain things get to you, surely not if you know the entire concert is being filmed and recorded for posterity! "Innocent" is being introduced as being "one of Glynn's songs;" it's nice seeing that the band most certainly hasn't forgotten him!

With Karl Groom as one of the band's main composers and guitarists, also his studio knowledge is a great plus for the band. Karl has worked years and years in the Thin Ice studios next to Clive Nolan, learning every single trick out of the studio book, a thing that all of Threshold most certainly can benefit from today. Hence the wonderful quality of this live recording, as every single detail is recorded in pristine quality. Maybe the keyboards are mixed a little in the background, whilst all emphasis is given to the guitars from both Karl and Nick Midson, both backing the sustained notes from Mac. The hard powerful riffs which introduce "Long Way Home" get the audience to fully become one with the music.

With their fanclub CD Wireless, the band tried their hand at the "unplugged" rage, stripping their compositions from the obvious hard riffs and powerful dynamics. Disc two in this package kicks off in that same atmosphere by means of two tracks from Extinct Instinct, where Mac's wonderful vocal range is backed by acoustic guitar and piano only. Luckily the crowd remains silent throughout, no doubt motionless by the sheer quality of these songs and its musicians. The acoustic guitar remains for "Narcissus," whilst bass and drums are once again part of the arrangement -- I notice what a great track this would have been if a huge symphonic orchestra were to back them in the early stages of the song! "Light And Space" meanwhile perfectly illustrates the great skills of drummer Johanne James. OK, he's not Mike Portnoy, but he surely delivers some ass kicking power throughout! The show is near its closing section when Karl Groom can illustrate his craftmanship on guitar during "Paradox," extra helped out by the mad crowd. The loud cheers of the latter translates itself in one more encore by means of "Sanity's End," which once again contains some damn good drumming from Johanne, ending in a true explosion of "critical energy!"

The DVD includes the complete concert footage filmed during the recording of this album, three songs from the band's American Progpower contribution in 2002 ("Light And Space," "The Latent Gene," and "The Ravages Of Time"), a Critical Mass tour documentary, photo gallery, stereo and 5.1 surround sound, plus commentary by Karl Groom and Richard West. There's also a deluxe edition that contains both this double CD set as well as the single DVD.

Disc One: Phenomenon / Oceanbound / Choices / Angels / Falling Away / Virtual Isolation / Innocent / Long Way Home / Fragmentation

Disc Two: Clear / Life Flow / Narcissus / Sunseeker / The Latent Gene / Light And Space / Sunrise On Mars / Paradox / Sanity's End

Karl Groom - guitars, backing vocals
Nick Midson - guitar
Steve Anderson - bass
Richard West - keyboards, backing vocals
Johanne James - drums
Andrew McDermott ? vocals

Wounded Land (1993)
Psychedelicatessen (1994)
Livedelica (1995)
Extinct Instinct (1997)
Clone (1998)
Decadent (1999)
Hypothetical (2001)
Wounded Land: Special Edition (2001/2002)
Psychedelicatessen/Livedelica: Special Edition (2001/2002)
Concert In Paris (2002)
Critical Mass (2002)
Wireless - Acoustic Sessions (2003)
Critical Energy (2004)
Extinct Instinct: Special Edition (2004)
Subsurface (2004)
Replica (2004)
Surface to Stage (2006)
Dead Reckoning (2007)
The Ravages Of Time (2007)
Paradox - The Singles Collection (2009)
March Of Progress (2012)
For The Journey (2014)
European Journey (2015)
Legends Of The Shires (2017)
Two-Zero-One-Seven (2018)

Critical Energy (2004) (DVD)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin UK

Added: January 27th 2004
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1022
Language: english


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