Threshold – For The Journey
Threshold – For The Journey (2014)
Reviewed by Christopher Foley
Any year that brings a new Threshold album is one where you’ll find me raving about its brilliance. This is a band I’ve been able to depend upon since first hearing, and one which without fail meets and/or exceeds expectations every time. I’d even go as far as to say that Threshold is the finest act playing progressive metal, but that may just be the fan-boy inside screaming out. However, this level of professionalism, overall quality, and superior product is one I dare anyone to defy. For The Journey is very much business as usual for the lads from Surrey, building upon the glistening spires of what came before.
One thing I won’t dress up are the similarities between this work and prior masterpiece March Of Progress. Both albums have a considerable bit in common, although given the excellent reception of the prior opus, this is unsurprising. I don’t think it comes at any expense, but it would be negligent if I didn’t tell you that there are moments on this album which sound a lot like the last one.
Okay, so with that out of the way, what does For The Journey do that March doesn’t? Well, to be blunt, I’d say it absolutely crushes you. Here Threshold seeks to pierce your very being with the utmost in accuracy. This is very poignant, searing music which for the most part maintains a marching pace, sucking you in and casting you to the floor. Glistening displays of melodic brilliance build you back up, with Damian Wilson’s crystalline vocals reaching out and raising the soul, though not before goliath rhythm guitars strike the foundation. There’s without a doubt a dark, doom-impending vibe throughout, which is of course a hallmark of Threshold’s overall sound, yet hopeful motifs and melodies are expertly weaved in throughout. I don’t think this last element has ever been featured so prominently on a Threshold album as it is here.
That’s not to say that For The Journey is an oppressive chore of an album, as this is without a doubt the Threshold we know and love: complete with post-thrash metal riffing, prog rock breaks, and AOR-tinged refrains. The hooks throughout are absolutely sublime, whether obvious (as in the likes of “Ashes’” little brother “Watchtower On The Moon” and the foot stomping “Turned To Dust”), or intelligently crafted as in highlight “Siren Sky” (which might just be one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. Seriously, I can’t stress the brilliance of this track. So you think the chorus has hit? Think again. I was surprised to find that Pete Morten wrote this one, which is even more proof of what an excellent addition to the band he has proved to be.
If there’s a slight disappointment to be found, it’s that this album feels a little short compared to some of the band’s prior work, which I guess could be seen as a compliment as well. I want more! That aside, the rest is as close to progressive metal bliss as you’re going to get. Performance and production is flawless as usual, from Karl Groom’s impeccable lead guitar style to Richard West’s ever tasteful keyboard approach. No one player stands out brazenly above the rest – Threshold has never been about show-boating, although if you do want technicality, the leviathan epic “The Box” will show you a thing or two about how it’s done.
I don’t seem to be able to praise this enough. I’m lapping up every minute here. Whilst I still give the edge to March Of Progress, I think For The Journey has its own formidable place amongst Threshold canon. It almost feels like Threshold is recreating the stretch from Hypothetical onward with its current sound, and in a way, this marks a similar progression from March… as Critical Mass did from Hypothetical. Maybe that’s just me, though. Nevertheless, I’ll be showing you to your seats on the hype train. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re in this one for the journey (as if you didn’t know that was coming). BUY YOUR DAMN TICKETS ALREADY!
4.5 // 5