Threshold - Hypothetical

Year of Release: 2001
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 073
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:02:00

Ever since day one the nucleus of Threshold has remained stable. The only problems were to be found in the vocal and drum departments, which meant that the band lived through many different line-ups. On their previous album Clone, the band introduced Damien Wilson's replacement Mac, who stepped in after a succesful period with his band Sargant Fury. During the 1999 tour together with Pain of Salvation and Eldritch, drummer Mark Heaney was replaced by newcomer Johanne James. Hypothetical is his first studio recording with this line-up and the result is a very cohesive whole what with Karl Groom, Nick Midson, Jon Jeary, and Richard West having been together since the late eighties.

What strikes me first is the addition of nice harmonies which give an extra dimension to the songs, lavishing between powerful metal and more modest parts. It also strikes me how the band has developed from a production point of view, making Hypothetical one hell of a mature album. I remember that a lot of music lovers didn't go for Threshold because for the metal fan they were too mellow, whereas for the lover of melodic rock Threshold at times were too hard. However, over the years its exactly that mix which has proven to be the originality of the band. In that respect opener "Light And Space" is the perfect illustration for this mix, once again giving way to great solos from both Karl Groom and Richard West. Electric power switches with acoustic simplicity whilst electronic wizardry creeps in to turn the song into an interesting whole. This song contains all of the angles to make it a very recognizable classic, a winner. In the same tradition "Turn On Tune In" opens with fierce guitar chords and extremely powerful drumming which certainly is an addition to the Threshold sound. The way this song evolves and Mac's voice is introduced reminds me of latter-day Rush head-banging it's way through many chord changes. Take away the ominous deafening guitars in "The Ravages Of Time" and you get music which comes close to ambient courtesy of Richard West. But then the guitars once again take the upperhand, whilst harmonies introduce the song once more into Rush territory.

Once again it strikes me how Threshold has matured in creating real songs which remain interesting throughout and which will without any doubt introduce a lot of new fans to the band. Take "Sheltering Sky" as an example of how a Michael Schenker guitar blends with the symphonic texture of the keyboards, of how acoustic piano and murdering guitar leads can find themselves in one and the same song. "Oceanbound" starts with industrial noises and the washing of the sea before the fierce rhythm sets in making this a track which will please fans of Queensryche and Fates Warning alike. The vocals also undergo a studio treatment resulting in weird effects which do the song a lot of justice. The layers of keyboards make this a majestic song with lots of "balls" before, once again, the calm is introduced, giving way to one of the strongest choruses on the album. Another superb song is, without any doubt, "Long Way Home," which would have been a strong contender for MTV's Headbanger's Ball if that were still around! Hard guitars and a rousing organ lay the foundation for the great singing. Another winner with some ace solos courtesy of maestro Karl Groom!

The following song is probably the most commercial song Threshold has ever tried their hands at. "Keep My Head" is the kind of song which can be played over and over again because it's moulded in the Foreigner tradition, including all the right hooks and singalong ability! A single! However, you'll find both your feet firmly in prog metal arena with the longest track on the album "Narcissus." After yet another healthy dose of fierce guitars and powerful drumming, the song introduces a different direction where piano, strings and a metallic sounding Mac illustrate what a great job has been done production-wise.

Hypothetical without any doubt is the very best, the most diverse and yet the most mature Threshold album ever to hit the shelves. I can only hope this line-up will stay together as tight as the world's best glue because it's obvious that this sextet is so far the only one which is able to fully exploit what the band stood for all these years. If the "old" material will be performed with the same "zest" as on this new album then I can only suggest to check these guys out when they're in your neighbourhood. I already have a title for the tour: "Threshold Re-born!"

Released in North America by InsideOut Music America (IOMA 2022-2)

Light And Space (5:52) / Turn On Tune In (6:12) / The Ravages Of Time (10:19) / Sheltering Sky (5:37) / Oceanbound (6:37) / Long Way Home (5:58) / Keep My Head (4:01) / Narcissus (11:14)

Mac - vocals
Karl Groom - guitars
Nick Midson - guitar
Jon Jeary - bass
Richard West - keyboards
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 Rock

Origin UK

Added: March 6th 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1523
Language: english


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