Threshold - Hypothetical

Year of Release: 2001
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: SPV 085-41472CD IOMCD073
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:02:00

For weeks, nay months, I have been reporting on the release of this album in the news pages, sometimes playing off the title Hypothetical. Well, it's not just hypothetical anymore, as I have the disk in my hot little hand ... well, actually, it's spinning in the CD player, but you know what I mean. Not just for the purposes of this review, I have been playing this disk over and over. Okay, it isn't going to change the world, and it certainly won't bring about a new age in progressive music, or progressive metal music. But, for an hour or so, you can certainly enjoy the world in it's present state. The album cover is dark and brooding with imagery that makes me think of Gulliver's Travels, or at least a futuristic version. But you don't need to be a Lilliputian to appreciate the big sound that Threshold have. They are, for the most part, Arena on steroids. Yes, it was recorded at Thin Ice Studios, yes Clive Nolan cohort Karl Groom is the guitarist and producer of the album, and yes to a whole lot of other things that make the Arena association a given. There are some effects here that really remind me of latter-day Arena, as this album has strong kinship to Immortal?.

Throughout I kept thinking that vocalist Mac made me think of someone else, but it was hard to pin down. His voice is a mix of Stuart Nicholson (Galahad), Glenn McLaughlin (Iluvatar) and James LaBrie (Dream Theater), such that it is more true to say it is as if Nicholson or McLaughlin were singing in a LaBrie-like style. With the metal punch the band has, it is, of course, closer to Dream Theater, but I would say the band don't necessarily sound like Dream Theater. There is a prog rock element to their metal, far more than DT ever had, except for maybe their Images & Words album. As I said, they are the punchier version of Arena.

Um, well, that is except for "Keep My Head." Here the band sounds more like Simply Red - you know the r&b-pop band that had a hit with "Holding Back The Years" a decade and half-ago. Certainly one can say that Threshold are shaking things up, throwing in the curveball just to keep everyone on their toes and from pigeonholing the band as strictly a prog metal band. But on this album, this is a big a curve and yet, it still hits the strike zone - or for you football fans, it still scores a goal.

There's a part of "Narcissus," which closes the album where the vocals are treated and it is, mainly, just vocals and keys; it sounds a bit like something 90s-era Queen would do or have done, but it also made me think of a track on Oingo Boingo's Boingo called "Mary." And, just to keep the litany of "sounds like" comments going, there are parts to "The Ravages Of Time" that made think of a beefed up Big Country circa No Place Like Home, but also you hear little bits of recent Genesis.

This is catchy, melodic metal, as the choruses are designed to both draw you in and have you sing along. But not in an overt pop way, mind you, where it's a catchy hook, but they aren't trying to be so dynamic that there isn't anything to latch onto, to recall after the disk ends. This is a disk that sticks with you after it's over. They bridge the hard prog, prog metal line nicely. "Sheltering Sky" is radio ready and would have been a huge hit released a decade ago or so ... maybe more so 1989 or so. Not that it's dated, but I really could see this played alongside Giant's "I'll See You In My Dreams." Um ...AOR.

My enthusiasm has me anxious to dip back into their past catalog, which I picked up at last year's Progfest and see what I've been missing from Wounded Land to now, knowing that with Extinct Instinct Damien Wilson left and with Clone Mac arrived. This is a different Threshold than impressed me with Wounded Land, and yet I'm impressed just the same.

Threshold isn't just Groom on guitars and Mac on vocals, as there's also Nick Midson on guitar, Jon Jeary on bass, Richard West on keyboards and Johanne James on drums. It's tight with some beautiful moments, and some very nice harmonies. The songs that do kind of get lost, as they don't stick as some others do are "Light And Space" and "Long Way Home" - they aren't bad songs, by any means, but the other tracks have more sticking power. Nonetheless, I quite like this album.

Released in North America by InsideOut Music America (IOMACD 2022).

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)

Andrew McDermott - 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-Power Metal

Origin UK

Added: April 19th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 2026
Language: english


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