THRESHOLD — Dead Reckoning (review)

THRESHOLD — Dead Reckoning album cover Album · 2007 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
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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