THRESHOLD — Subsurface — the ultimate metal music online community, from the creators of

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4.19 | 31 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2004


1. Mission Profile (8:15)
2. Ground Control (7:13)
3. Opium (6:48)
4. Stop Dead (4:21)
5. The Art Of Reason (10:20)
6. Pressure (5:17)
7. Flags And Footprints (4:54)
8. Static (5:07)
9. The Destruction Of Words (6:14)
10. What About Me (4:21)

Total Time 58:33


- Steve Anderson / bass guitar
- Karl Groom / lead guitar
- Johanne James / drums
- Andrew "Mac" McDermott / vocals
- Nick Midson / rhythm guitar
- Richard West / keyboards

About this release

InsideOut Music
July 1st, 2004

Limited Edition has multimedia content and the following bonus track:

10. What About Me (4:20)

Reissued and remastered as Definitive Edition in 2012 by Nuclear Blast with the following bonus tracks:

10. What About We (4:20)
11. Mission Profile (Live In Switzerland) (8:22)
12. Ground Control (Live In Switzerland) (7:17)

Thanks to colt, Lynx33 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Progressive metal is an acquired taste for a lot of people. Those coming from a more extreme metal background might be put off by the long songs, instrumental interludes, and craploads of time changes (I CAN’T HEADBANG TO 7/8 GRRRR), and that’s all fine and good. However, the populace should at least be aware that not all prog bands these days are Dream Theater clones, and yet they still retain their progressive qualities. Yes, it’s possible, folks! Threshold are living proof of it.

What we have on Subsurface is an extremely accessible and polished progressive metal album. This is made apparent right off the bat with album opener Mission Profile, which has pretty much everything you’ll be hearing in the next hour: catchy guitar melodies, soaring leads and solos, excellent vocals dishing out some thoughtful lyrics, and some of the best keyboard work I’ve heard in a while. Oh, and the chorus. It’s freaking amazing, guys. Take what you thought was a memorable metal chorus and throw it out the window. It’s really really good!

Most of the songs on the album have more of the same. Although they all vary in structure and length (this is prog, after all), there’s a part in every one of them to get you hooked. The keyboard opener of Ground Control, the melodic lead of Opium…wherever you look, there’s a hook (mad rhymes!). There are guitar hooks. There are keyboard hooks. There are vocal hooks. This is the main aspect that separates Subsurface from most prog metal albums; it’s so catchy that you can’t help but listen to it, no matter how unorthodox the music is in theory. Even the 11-minute track, The Art of Reason, is a relatively easy listen, and ballads aren’t lame, either. As far as song consistency goes, there aren’t really any BAD ones, although in my humble opinion, the first half of the album is more memorable than the second half.

As for the lineup, well, vocalist Andrew “Mac” McDermott is a great singer. His voice is clean and ear-friendly, and he sings with plenty of emotion. The places where he really shines are the parts where his vocals are layered (no choirs here, thank you), increasing the catchiness factor once again. Unfortunately, this man is no longer in the band, but thanks to his performance here, I will definitely be checking out any future projects he is a part of. Likewise, lead guitarist Karl Groom does his job more than competently, crafting plenty of tasteful, melodic guitar leads; he can obviously shred your face off, but stick within the flow of the music, which is commendable. Still, the instrument that makes this album is the keyboard. Keyboard lovers pay attention, because the keys are an absolutely joy to listen to here. Richard West shows off a large array of effects, whether it be industrial humming, sparkling, or the occasional lead. And, once again, he never hogs the spotlight, despite being an integral part of the mix. In a world where there are countless keyboardists trying to become the next Rudess, West’s keyboards are a breath of fresh air.

One thing I found while listening to Subsurface is how good the lyrics are. In a word, they’re phenomenal. Usually, you’d expect more mature lyrics themes from a prog band, and this album is example 1A. Issues with the world and humanity in general are what Mac sings about, and frankly, it’s hard to disagree with him. Go over the lyrics to Opium, and you’ll think twice before you waste your whole day in front of the tube. Check it:

“Our lifeless generation is going to the wall A languid demonstration of daze before a fall A preconceived condition imagined long ago But will we ever know all that lies below”

Those are some very powerful words right there. I’m not even kidding. You don’t see this every day in metal. I know, I know, if you want poetry, then go read a book. But I really appreciate lyrics like these.

If I had to pick a word to describe Subsurface, it would be “professional”. You just get the idea that these guys are professional musicians, wanting nothing more than to write professional music (especially including the excellent lyrics). No wankery. No wasted notes. Just solid progressive metal. This, in my humble opinion, is how progressive metal should be done: metal that is progressive. Wow, no shit, you say! I couldn’t word it any better than that…my apologies. If this help any, here’s what Subsurface isn’t: jazz-metal-fusion, progressive rock with metal tendencies, Liquid Tension Experiment with vocals, a metal band with a few time changes saying “HEY LOOK WE’RE PROG!” or any of that. Let me tell you, if Subsurface was everyone’s first exposure to the progressive metal genre, I think a lot of people would have different opinions on it. Most, if not all, of the prog stereotypes are shot down here. You don’t like stereotypes, do you? No, of course not. Threshold do progressive metal right, and you need to look no further than Subsurface to get an idea of what it’s all about.
Being a bit of a fan of these guys a while, I had no actual albums of theirs, so natuarly I had to get one (well my brother did, I forget about them as usual), so I decided to get this one. These guys are ugly as hell, if you look at them, but their is a rule with British bands, the uglier they are, the better their music is (look at Darwins Radio).

This album suprised me, as it turned out better than I thought. I do feel that the 2nd half of the album is nothing compared to the first half, mainly the first 3 songs.

This is Progressive Metal at it's best really. And it is very rare to see an English progressive metal band (and I mean real progressive metal, not extreme metal with a jazzy twist).

1. Mission Control - What an opener. Fantastic chorus and amazing vocals from Mac. Just overall one heck of a song. 10/10

2. Ground Control - As usual, a great chorus and some flawless instrumental work. 10/10

3. Opium - One of my favourite songs on the album. Love the beauty of the piano intro. This song does have some quite werid and wonderful twists and turns. 10/10

4. Stop Dead - A nice soothing Threshold ballad. 8/10

5. The Art Of Reason - Love the anger of Macs vocals. This song is a wonderfull porgressive metal epic. 10/10

6. Pressure - I wouldn't have picked this as the "single", but meh, I can't win em all. 9/10

7. Flags & Footprints - Another ballad, but with quite a dark twist. 9/10

8. Static - I would have chose this as the single, becasue it is quite short and has a catchier chorus. 10/10

9. The Destruction Of Words - A great epic end to the album. 9/10

CONCLUSION: If you haven't heard of these guys, I strongly advise you check them out. Their signature sound is to die for.

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