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3.83 | 40 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 2007


1. Slipstream (4:55)
2. This Is Your Life (3:44)
3. Elusive (6:10)
4. Hollow (4:01)
5. Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams (9:47)
6. Fighting For Breath (8:18)
7. Disappear (4:19)
8. Safe To Fly (5:08)
9. One Degree Down (8:35)

Total Time 55:02


- Andrew "Mac" McDermott / Vocals
- Karl Groom / Lead & Rhythm Guitar
- Richard West / Keyboards
- Steve Anderson / Bass
- Johanne James / Drums

- Dan Swanö / Vocals (track 1, 3)

About this release

Nuclear Blast
March 23rd, 2007

Special Edition has the following bonus track:

10. Supermassive Black Hole (Muse cover) (3:09)

Enhanced Edition has the following music video:

10. Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams

Thanks to colt, Lynx33, tupan for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

OK, let's address the elephant in the room: this was Andrew "Mac" McDermott's final album with Threshold. With five studio albums under his belt at lead vocalist, he set a record in the role that still hasn't been beat (Damian Wilson was on four but then left again, and Glynn Morgan is on three at the moment). And unfortunately, there will never be another Threshold studio album with mac on lead vocals - because he died tragically young in 2011, after an illness which so far as is known was a total shock to his former bandmates, adding grim irony to the title of this album.

Mac made no secret about his reasons for leaving: the statement he released at the time stated plainly that his work with Threshold just wasn't paying the bills, to the point where his girlfriend was having to work overtime so that he could afford to go on tour with them, and he was fed up of having no money and passing up better-paying opportunities due to the demands of being the Threshold frontman. This may seem shocking to some, but we should all remember that not all the musical acts out there earn masses of money - especially in niche genres like progressive metal. Sure, the other members seem able to make ends meet, but how many of them have been able to supplement that with side hustles, like Karl Groom's work as a producer at his Thin Ice Studios facility?

One has to wonder whether Dead Reckoning might itself be the product of Mac (and maybe other members of the band) feeling something of a pinch, because it feels like an attempt to steer the band's sound a bit away from the "prog" side of their sound and a bit more towards a more conventional "metal" approach. It's not a complete reconfiguration, mind - Pilot In the Sky of Dreams, in particular, is as prog metal a workout as they've ever done, and the guitar solo at the close of One Degree Down sounds an awful lot like a tribute to The Black Knight by Groom's pals in Pendragon.

Still, there's heavier riffs and a few harsh vocals this time around, when previously they'd consistently been a clean vocals band, and in general an air of a band in transition, perhaps not altogether sure of where they are going. Dead Reckoning is, after all, a term from navigation - perhaps the band not too subtly signalling that Threshold were dabbling with changes of direction here.

It's frequently been the case that I've tried out a Threshold album I've not heard before, not been too sure about it early on, but found that it's won me over the span of it - aside from Hypothetical and Subsurface, their album openers generally don't grab me. The effect is stronger than ever here, with opening numbers Slipstream and This Is Your Life doing little for me and the album only really beginning to click for me from Elusive onwards. The back part of the album makes up for the shaky start, however, though equally I find that Mac's vocals here are comparatively unmemorable set next to his excellent work on the run from Hypothetical to Subsurface, lacking the passion he'd proved himself capable of previously.
When you hear about a band wanting to “streamline” their sound, that’s usually not a good sign; at least, it isn’t good if that band has been making some of the most substantial progressive metal around for the last 15 years. Let’s face it: there was nothing wrong with the Threshold approach to prog metal before this album, so a slightly stripped-down formula might have been cause for concern among fans of the band. But once again, Threshold’s professionalism eliminates any doubt about their future, and when combined with a more modern sound, actually produces their best effort yet.

The excellent Slipstream makes for the perfect album opener in regards to Threshold’s little makeover. Everything that’s changed is all right here: heavier riffage, shorter songs, more basic song structures, and even some death growls (courtesy of Dan Swano). Even though they’ve always been known for making progressive metal accessible, the music on Dead Reckoning takes that to a whole new level; before, Dream Theater’s Awake would have been the first album I would show to someone new to the genre, but now I’m not so sure. There’s very little in the way of build-up or mood-setting in the tracks on here, making Dead Reckoning quite easy (for progressive metal, anyway) to jump right into.

The beauty of all of this is…it’s still Threshold! This means classy musicianship and inspiring lyrics. Andrew “Mac” McDermott gives arguably his best (and unfortunately, his last) offering on vocals, belting out vocal lines that that are both catchy and emotional. As usual, there are no wasted notes, as both Karl Groom and Richard West make full use of their instruments without overdoing it even once. Songs like Hollow, for instance, showcase the band’s impeccable ability to add tasteful melodies to things that would be quite standard otherwise. I’m talking about the “little things”: a guitar lick where most bands would just lay down power chords, a keyboard doodle here and some atmospheric effects there. The songwriting here is just amazingly coherent and solid. This holds true on the longer songs, too; I have a hard time finding a better 1-2 punch in the band’s discography than Pilot in the Sky of Dreams and Fighting for Breath. And just as Slipstream introduces the album in fine fashion, One Degree Down closes it out beautifully with one of the best outros you’ll ever hear. The whole album just seems so complete and well thought-out, and the fact that’s it’s performed by some of the best musicians around makes it that much more impressive.

If there’s anything to gripe about, it’s Swano’s growls, which are out of place and fairly useless when you compare them with the rest of the music. But aside from that, Dead Reckoning is an absolutely fantastic listen. Its remarkable combination of modern elements with the familiar Threshold style of play should make it enjoyable for almost anyone. Needless to say, it’s nice to see a band that’s able to make some changes and still keep faithful to what makes them so good in the first place.
Conor Fynes
'Dead Reckoning' - Threshold (6/10)

There's something about 'Dead Reckoning' that makes it seem like an archetype of a typical commercial album. The music itself isn't commercial in itself; although there are melodic choruses and a concentration on riffs, there's a certain progressive sense to rob it of any commercial labelling. It's the album itself, and there are things on it I identify with alot of other mediocre albums.

First off, there are only a handful of good songs on the album; the rest are passable but ultimately forgettable. The album (like so many pop records) starts off with the most memorable and powerful song, 'Slipstream.' After my first listen of 'Dead Reckoning,' this was the only song I could consciously remember. After a few listens, other songs, such as 'This Is Your Life' and 'Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams' started bearing fruit, but it all started with the first song.

Another aspect of 'Dead Reckoning' that detracts from a great rating is that it has a rather weak second side. With many pop records, the act of putting all of the 'good' songs on the first half of the record is intentional; the average consummer will only get through the first half or so when listening to an album. With a progressive album however, this wouldn't be expected. Progressive music listeners are notorious for taking an album in as a whole.

The weak tracks on the album (there's a fair number of them) aren't bad compositions, but just boring for the most part. As pop compositions would go, they would be great because most of the songs have really kicking choruses and hooks. On the flipside, almost all of the songs on here (even the good ones) conform to generic songwriting formula (verse-verse- chorus etc.) which is not a good thing in a prog listener's eye.

Threshold are a great band to listen to if you want something heavy, progressive, but melodic and catchy enough to keep it fun. Keeping that in mind, 'Dead Reckoning' fulfills that call for the most part. The album never sinks too low to the point of being unlistenable, but very rarely to the point of true inspiration. A good album to put on once in a while, but 'Dead Reckoning' will not be a staple of your music library.
Since releasing the excellent Hypothetical album back in 2001 Threshold have struggled to release anything that's its equal (or better). Instead they've had a run of good prog metal albums that have some fantastic moments but fall short in consistency. Dead Reckoning I'm afraid doesn't alter that trend.

There's no doubting the talent of the band who are all fine musicians and Mac's vocals are as great as ever but I think they need to take a step back and look at what made Hypothetical so special. For me it was where they got the balance just right between powerful riffs that still retained a strong hook, the keyboards had more space to shine and the melodies were fantastic. No doubt in an effort to reach a larger audience the guitars here often sacrifice melody for a more up to date less tuneful but heavier approach in an attempt to compete with the newer kids on the block. This assumption is bore out by opener Slipstream, which to be honest is pretty good but they introduce the use of death metal style growling in places which is most unwelcome and adds nothing of worth.

The first great moment comes on the third track Elusive, which despite also having some death metal style vocals is forgiven because it's such a strong riff and has an immediately catchy chorus as well as a fine instrumental break with guitars and keyboards sharing centre stage equally.

Although Threshold don't go for twenty minute epics there's always at least one track on each album around the ten minute mark where they can stretch out a bit more. The first of the longer tracks here is Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams which fortunately is another high point. From a ballad style beginning it picks up pace into heavier territory. Mac's melodic vocals are a high point as well as Richard West's keyboard work, including a powerful solo having more space and there's still room for a melodic Karl Groom guitar solo. Of the two other longer tracks One Degree Down is the better with its mid pace Zeppelin/Kashmir style riff and more classic Threshold instrumental workouts. Safe To Fly also deserves a special mention, one of the shorter songs but having a fantastic riff as well as the strongest piece on a melodic level. More moments like this and they could have been onto a real winner.

Not long after releasing Dead Reckoning vocalist Mac announced he was leaving the band. As much as he'll be missed I was pleased to see the return of Damian Wilson who sang on Wounded Land and Extinct Instinct, their first and third albums respectively. Despite this being a good, even very good and occasionally excellent in places release it would be nice to think that Wilson's return may bring some of the qualities that made their earlier albums special more upfront.

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