Threshold - Critical Energy

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

The UK's leading prog band, Threshold, has reached a new milestone in their career: the release of their first-ever double live album, as well as a live DVD! They can look back at 10 years of music and six studio albums. In the early years, the line up had some changes, Damian Wilson (ex-Landmarq, Ayreon) sang on two albums (debut album Wounded Land (1993) and on Extinct Instinct (1997)) and Glynn Morgan (Mindfeed) handled the vocals on Psychedelicatessen (1994), then singer Andrew "Mac" McDermot (Sargant Fury) joined the band and from that time on, the band became a stable formation, with some memorable albums in their discography!

I'd say Critical Energy is a very impressive milestone, as the album managed to capture the spirit of the show and gives you the feeling you were actually there. Mac proves to be one hell of a good vocalist and is definitely in my top 10 of fav vocalists! Lot's of power, stamina, enthusiasm, but also passion and emotion, especially on the acoustic songs that were played during the show. The first disc covers mainly the last two albums (Critical Mass and Hypothetical) as well as some older albums (Clone, Extinct Instinct and Psychedelicatessen). Opener "Phenomenon" clearly sets the tone: "Let's Rock!," with a pounding double bass by Johanne James (drums) and sharp riffs by Karl Groom (guitars). It is at this stage already evident Threshold has a rock solid and well-oiled rhythm section in James and Steve Anderson (bass). There is a lot of interaction between Mac and the audience, as can be heard, and the audience is very enthusiastic during the gig. By the way, as several other memorable shows, like Transatlantic, this show has been recorded in the 013 venue in The Netherlands.

"Angels" opens with great keyboards by Richard West and has quickly become one of my favorite songs on this album, catchy yet heavy, with fantastic guitar work by Groom and Nick Midson. As for the older songs, I really love them, sung by Mac, rather then by for instance Damian Wilson, as I love Wilson's vocals, but never found them fitting with Threshold. So I can once really lose myself in a song like "Virtual Isolation"! Needless to say, all nine tracks of the first disc rock! There is nothing much else I can say.

Turning to disc 2 then, that's where things become really great! Opening with two tracks from Extinct Instinct, "Clear" and "Life Flow," in absolutely spine chilling acoustic versions. WOW! Here Mac's vocals are just beyond words ... I could listen to these songs forever! The soft keys by West and the subtle guitars and, sorry, I have to say it again, these awesome vocals ... no words to describe the beauty of these songs. The last acoustic song (at least, the intro is acoustic) is also an absolute highlight; "Narcissus," probably one of the best songs of the entire album. Although ... I think the best songs is "The Latent Gene." This killer song comes from Clone and is to me everything Threshold is: prog metal in its best shape, with excellent songwriting skills, great musicians and a killer vocalist and yet a fairly catchy song (the chorus will stick in your head for ages!). Did I forget the fantastic guitar solos? How could I! Of course it's not the only one on the album, but this is the solo in my fav song! The album ends with two songs from Wounded Land: "Paradox" and "Sanity's End," again magnificent versions, but they also mean the album is finished ... Nearly two hours of the best, original and plain great prog-metal I've heard in a long time.

I really enjoyed reviewing this album and have played it so often, I lost count. There is one disadvantage, though, to this album. It will also be released as a DVD and because of previous experiences, I tend to prefer the DVD, as then you can not only hear how good Threshold really is, you can also see it, and to me that always add an extra dimension to the music. If you haven't tasted their music yet, this CD release might be the perfect start to experience what Threshold is, although I prefer to recommend the DVD (despite the fact I haven't seen it yet).

Also released by InsideOut Music America (IOMA 2072)

[This review originally appeared March 2004 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

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 'Mac' 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 1st 2005
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 1063
Language: english


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