Threshold - Critical Mass

Year of Release: 2002
Label: InsideOut Music
Catalog Number: IOMA 2041-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:36:00

Can Threshold ever release a sub-par disc? I certainly doubt it, especially coming off the heels of the great Hypothetical, I was curious to see what was next in the bands' future. Sure enough, Critical Mass was born, and it's another winner from the band that can do no wrong.

Normally, Threshold release a disc that is a bit different from the previous disc, but in this case, they have opted to carry on with the sound and style that have made them a household name in the metal world. This is not always a bad thing to do, especially when you're on the edge of making your band a household name and Threshold have fulfilled this part of their musical mission. Picking up where Hypothetical left off, the band continues on assault the melodic metal world; once again using the same formulas that made Hypothetical a big hit. The crunching guitars, the melodies, the massive keyboards, and the soaring vocals of Mac make this an instant winner among Threshold fans, although the consensus is that musically this is not as heavy as Hypothetical and I will agree with that. The songs on Critical Mass seem more emotional, more personal than on previous outings, with a lot more ballads and less of the heavier material Threshold is known for. Of note, songs like "Falling Away" and "Avalon" pretty much dictate the pace of this disc, with its deep emotional lyrics and heartfelt melodies; this is surely a much more emotional Threshold than in the past.

The standout of the disc certainly has to be Mac, who has found himself a home and a whole new generation of fans. After Threshold's startling appearance at ProgPower USA, Mac finally got to show and prove to the United States that he is a formidable asset to this band, and erased any doubt of his power and range from anyone's mind (including my own). He has provided Threshold with the sound they have been looking for since Psychedelicatessen and Mac can sing both the power songs and the ballads with ease on both counts. Some would say that he has more of a hard rock voice than a metal voice, but whatever the case, he has brought much power and emotion to this band.

The production is outstanding as always. I have always admired Karl Groom's work both as a guitarist / songwriter and a producer, of which he has produced many a band, including his own. He has honed the Threshold sound so that it's now "their" sound, and the last 3 discs have characterized the band as such. Guitars remain crunchy as always, bottom end is tight, and as always, the drum sound is super huge and surreal. The vocals are recorded out front as should be with a voice the caliber of Macs, and on this disc with the slower, more emotional songs it's easy to hear what Mac is saying much better than before.

Whether or not you will like Critical Mass better than any other Threshold disc is certainly a matter of taste. Undoubtedly, Threshold has released yet another quality disc and continues to take over the melodic metal world with their style of music. I have yet to hear anyone say that a Threshold disc is a "bad" disc. It's all a matter of what disc you like best and why. In this case, Critical Mass is a natural counterpart to Hypothetical, and why change formulas when it's working right now? In addition, the band throws in a second disc to fulfill all of your "inner" needs, offering up a multimedia section to play on your computer complete with screensaver, backstage scenes, musician thoughts, and a ton more. It's almost like buying a DVD with all of the extras. This disc is more than worth the price. Essential to the Threshold collection.

Released in Europe by Inside Out (SPV 085-65202 CD IOMCD 108)

Phenomenon (5:30) / Choices (8:19) / Falling Away (6:52 ) / Fragmentation (6:34) / Echoes of Life (8:55) / Round and Round (5:26) / Avalon (4:45) / Critical Mass, Pts. 1-3 (13:35)

Karl Groom - guitar
Jon Jeary - bass
Mac - vocals
Richard West -keyboards
Nick Midson -guitar
Johanne James -drums

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: February 1st 2003
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

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Hits: 1395
Language: english


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