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Review: Threshold - Hypothetical

Label: Inside Out Music
Year released: 2001
Tracks: 8
Genre: Progressive Metal


Review online: September 30, 2002
Reviewed by: Steel Warrior
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Rated 4.5/5 (90%) (30 Votes)

Have ever happened to you that you like a band’s previous albums but really don’t care too much if they cease to exist? Well, that was my case with Threshold. I liked all their previous albums, but never cared too much for them as band. This perception of them changed radically in the year 2001 after listening to their latest album, "Hypothetical". This has to be one of the best prog metal albums I have ever heard, with such melodies that can only be eclipsed by Balance of Power, in my opinion.

"Hypothetical" announces its arrival with a solid amount of punch right from the opening track, "Light and Space". A few moments of dark ethereal space-style sounds gives way to a four-on-the-floor kick and away we go into a song full of passion and energy. Even as the song into its slower moments it never loses its energy. "Turn On Tune In" opens with some crunchy guitar work offset by the very solid keyboard work of Richard West. The band uses sound effects on the intros to their songs and the sound of a ticking clock leads us into track 3, "The Ravages of Time." There are excellent vocals on this song, both from Mac McDermott's lead vocals and the nice full harmonies of the backing voices.

A quiet duet of acoustic guitar and piano leads into a warm welcome into the song "Sheltering Sky." As Mac's vocals join in, they lead into a nice mid-tempo song that’s not overpowered by the drum work of Johanne James, but rather the drums lend a quiet power. On the next track, "Oceanbound," we get to hear more of the solid bass work of Jon Jeary, along with the twin axe attack of Karl Groom and Nick Midson make for a nice driving crunch. We hear more of that double guitar work as the song progresses but also in this track, with all its driving intensity, we have moments of a lighter, quiet feel that acts as the perfect counterpoint to the stronger passages.

Another dual guitar assault by Karl and Nick opens "Long Way Home" in a driving, full-force vibe and it does not stop from beginning to end. Even the piano tracks by Richard keep the pace while Mac drives it home with his passionate singing. Of course underneath it all Johanne sets the pace and keeps the drive going with his drum work. When he uses the double bass, it's used sparingly and in the right places for added effect, unlike other drummers who seem to think that using all double bass all the time is the only way to impress the musical world with their chops. Bringing a quiet moment to the CD is the next song "Keep My Head," a beautiful, haunting, soulful song. Mac shines on this with his deeply emotional expressiveness and the backing harmonies are impressive as well, lending the perfect balance to the piece. The guitar solos are not fast, furious examples of gratuitous shredding, but rather slow and melodic and tasteful, complementing the song perfectly.

Threshold ends this cd with their longest track, "Narcissus," at 11:14 and it's a brilliant piece with a full glorious and majestic opening. Full, rich guitar solos team with a very strong driving rhythm by Johanne and Jon, segueing into a slower passage to accommodate Mac's vocals before winding back up for a full musical assault.

So, fellow metallers, listening to this album should be likened to riding a roller coaster- soaring, diving, whirlwind and then slowing down before slingshotting you back into a frenzy. This is one roller coaster ride you won't forget. Oh yes, and there is nothing 'hypothetical' about this: Threshold has released a solid, well done CD with this one. Now I really do care very much about this band’s future that I’m looking forward to their next offering.

More about Threshold...
Review: Dead Reckoning (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: Extinct Instinct (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: For the Journey (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: March of Progress (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: Psychedelicatessen (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: Subsurface (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
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