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Dead Reckoning
June 2007
Released: 2007, Nuclear Blast
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Chaosankh

Progressive metal is a genre of music that is often littered with bands that create grandiose soundscapes that do nothing beyond highlight the band’s ability to play their instruments expertly. Oftentimes bands of this ilk forget the most important things about writing songs, i.e. melody, harmony, and the need to write memorable music that will linger with the listener. On the other hand, there are a few great bands that play this kind of music while delivering stellar hooks and unforgettable instrumentation. Threshold is a member of the latter group, and following up their excellent SUBSURFACE album, they return with a true masterpiece of progressive metal, DEAD RECKONING.

All of the Threshold trademarks are here for your enjoyment: Mac’s distinct, sweet vocals, super slick production, heavy and creative guitar riffs, and, most importantly, emotional songs that will take up residence in your psyche quickly. This time around many of the songs are shorter than usual, though. In fact, of the nine tracks, only three reach past the six and a half minute mark. These more compact arrangements lend the songs a greater sense of immediacy that works really well. Fear not, though, the complexity of composition is still prevalent throughout the album.

Kicking off the album is an absolute classic, “Slipstream.” This song is powerful, driving, and catchy as hell. Listeners may be taken aback by the harsh guest vocals of Dan Swano, but this addition adds a real aggressiveness that enhances the strength of this cut and complements Mac’s parts perfectly. The three songs that follow the opener are all cut from the same cloth, i.e. lots of power, heaviness, and memorable melodies. It is not until the fifth track, “Pilot in the Sky of Dreams” that things shift to more of a grand and epic feel. This track is easily the centerpiece of the album and clearly it is the most ambitious. Starting with just piano and vocals, this song builds for nearly ten minutes and features several tempo changes, melody shifts, soul splitting guitar solos and brilliant keyboard acrobatics, all while keeping the listener along for the ride. The second half of the album stays as strong as the first half, but has the other two longer cuts, as well as another in a great line of Threshold ballads, “Safe to Fly.”

With no missteps, DEAD RECKONING is progressive metal as it should be: complex, heavy, drenched in emotion, and melodic. In a year that will feature releases by many prog-metal heavyweights, Threshold has set the bar high and will be hard to beat for album of the year.

Track Listing

1. Slipstream
2. This Is Your Life
3. Elusive
4. Hollow
5. Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams
6. Fighting For Breath
7. Disappear
8. Safe To Fly
9. One Degree Down


Mac – Vocals
Karl Groom – Guitars
Richard West – Keyboards
Steve Anderson – Bass
Johanne James – Drums

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