Threshold – March Of Progress
March Of Progress
There isn’t much I’d wait five years for (okay so I’ve been waiting longer for a new Lost Horizon…), but Threshold are one of those bands who, from the very first moment I heard their stupendous brand of progressive metal, earned my trust. Threshold rank amongst my favourite bands, and often find themselves dancing in and out of my top ten territory. Thanks to March Of Progress, the band has shimmied their way right back up to the top of my personal favourite acts, and have been dominating my speakers ever since.
I’m going to save the history lessons for another day (wink, wink) and just get to the points I’m sure ardent Threshold fans and newcomers alike are going to want to know. So here we go; is this good? It’s bloody fantastic. Can Damian Wilson fill the void Andy McDermott left? You bet! Does this hold up to (insert favourite Threshold album)? Yes, yes and yes again. At the risk of sounding like a raving fanboy, I will try to tone down my giddy superlative spewing furore, although you have to understand that March Of Progress is one of those albums that has me wanting to scream its brilliance from the rooftops.
What makes this so great? Well a handful (more like two armfuls, really. You know: when you’re carrying that mound of washing that’s been collecting for a week) of elements makes March Of Progress a stunning release. For one, there isn’t anything at all in the way of filler, and with an album over an hour in length, this stands as a pretty impressive feat. Karl Groom and Richard West’s production here is absolutely magnificent, with gorgeous, crystalline clarity while still packing a wallop in the crunch department. Each instrument has breathing room and respectively sounds wonderful. Damian Wilson’s vocals are undoubtedly the best they’ve ever been, and he’s certainly improved tenfold since Extinct Instinct. Couple this with the band’s knack for writing euphoric vocal lines, and their superb taste in backing vocals; I can assure you all in the voice department is top notch.
As for performances from the rest of the band, I believe each member deserves a mention, Johanne James’ approach to the kit has always been tasteful, and he plays with exceptional vigour and restraint across the album; these are the kind of beats you’ll be air drumming along to in no time. Steve Anderson’s bass is thick and vital, and rounding out the rhythm section are the rhythm guitars of Pete Morten (who helped out with Power Quest a few years back), providing tight and adept riffs throughout as well as some finger cramping guitar solos. Of course the stars of the show as always are stalwarts Karl Groom and Richard West. Karl’s guitar work has always been worthy of praise, with an excellent approach to phrasing and harmony, as well as having the chops often deemed a requirement of the genre. Richard’s keyboard work is one of the most important aspects of the bands sound, with everything from piano overtones to church organs, and of course the progressive metal style that Kevin Moore established so well in the nineties.
The songs on March Of Progress are expertly penned with brilliant lyrics (Threshold have always written great lyrics). Intelligent, thought-provoking, and, well, genuinely progressive. The album creates a labyrinth of stupendous arrangement which, as soon it has embedded its hooks, will keep you within those walls for a long time. I’ve found it really quite easy to get lost in the depth and sheer scope of March Of Progress, the album is always demanding, energetic and dynamic. Welding post-thrash, jack hammer style riffage into the seventies progressive rock style, Threshold might well embody the words “progressive metal” the best, and they back this up with wonderful Floydian atmospherics, stunning musicianship, and of course some of the finest vocal lines going. The only downside is that this album has to end, but it’s easy enough to hit the start button again. Absolutely essential, album of the year!
Chris’ rating 5.0 out of 5