14 September 2017

Review: Threshold – Legends Of The Shires by The Progmeister

Review: Threshold – Legends Of the Shires (Nuclear Blast)

Released: Sept 8th 2017

A brand new album from the kings of UK Prog Metal, three years on from “For The Journey” and there’s been a few changes…

Having formed in 1988, this is their eleventh album and their first DOUBLE, it’s also the first time the band have been a five piece for a while. With only Karl Groom the one and only member from day one, over the years there’s been a revolving door of musicians and only very recently, the band parted company with Damian Wilson (an incredible front-man and a hard act to follow to be honest!!) – for the second time, having re-joined initially on a temporary basis following the tragic loss of former lead vocalist Andrew McDermott (“Mac”) who passed away in 2011.

With lead vocal duties now being handled by Glynn Morgan (who was with the band back in the mid-nineties and sang on “Psychedelicatassen”) despite being away for more than twenty years he brings an incredible vocal delivery and guitar skills to ensure the well-established twin-guitar sound is maintained when the band play live (Pete Morten, the second guitarist, having left back in Feb 2017) Confused??? You will be…

Over the years, the band have established themselves as one of, if not THE premier UK Prog Metal band with a growing fan-base.

Live dates in the UK have been somewhat sparse in recent years and I think it’s safe, but sad, to say, the band’s biggest fan-base is set in Europe so as usual, the UK is denied live appearances by British bands purely because they have a greater level of support when playing abroad, this is a subject for debate that could rage on for days!!!

Anyway, what of the new album???

When I first heard the title and then saw the AWESOME artwork on the cover, I immediately thought, not only have the lads given us their first double album, but also a yet another concept album about Lord Of The Bloody Rings (yawn) to boot – how Prog is that??? Well Progladytes of the world unite and weep because this AIN’T a concept album. There are a couple of lengthier tracks (“The Man Who Saw Through Time” comes in just under twelve minutes and “Lost In Translation” – ten minutes, twenty seconds) which are pretty amazing to be honest and two of the better tracks on the album, but overall, the majority of the tracks come in under six minutes. Having spread the album over two discs, it gives the music, the tracks room to breathe and the lads freedom to express themselves in true Prog style!!!

There is a three-part track (The Shire Parts 1-3) which kicks off the album, which returns half way and concludes prior to proceedings drawing to a close with “Swallowed” (which, early on, sounds like something you’d expect from The Housemartins to be honest, but soon develops into what we’ve come to expect from the Threshold lads!!). These are brief interludes featuring sounds from nature (birds, waterfalls etc) accompanied by mellow vocals and acoustic guitar, a chance to recover your senses until the band kick back in full flow with their characteristic sound – Twin Guitar, Karl Groom and Richard West’s guitar/synth interplay and THAT voice, Mr Morgan has delivered yet again, welcome back!!

There is much to take on with this album and rather than assault the senses with a wall of Prog Metal from start to end, the album is broken up with slower more pastoral pieces that help to add variety and contrast when the kick-ass tracks kick in. I think it’s safe to say, in true Prog style, you will need to listen to this more than a few times to fully appreciate its finer points as this is an album of hidden depths.

In many ways, it highlights a new edge to the band’s sound and although I suspect there may be a few disappointed fans who want full on head-banging from start to finish, when the band DO pull out all the stops, you will NOT be disappointed!! The vocal harmonies throughout really add a vibrant and “American” edge to an already mighty collection of songs.

I suspect all the existing Threshold fans will have already ordered this so I’m not preaching to the converted here, but if you’re looking for a new release of awesome tunes from one of the UK’s hottest Prog Metal bands, look no further – the boys are back in town….

9 out of 10 (purely as there are a few “slower” tracks, but that’s just me)

The Progmeister