Threshold – Critical Mass

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Reviewed: December 2002
Released: 2002, Insideout
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

This is the release that will get Threshold some of the mainstream recognition they deserve. This is after all their 9th release and the first one I’ve heard. After several CD’s on a smaller label they jumped to InsideOut last year and now have the label push they need to get into the arena with the big names.

The package is very nice, visually appealing in a sci-fi type of way with full lyrics, credits and a few pictures. The design and layout is very neat to look at. The cover art speaks to the theme of the title and internal artwork. At times I feel odd commenting on the production of prog releases because the commitment and dedication to sonic purity and perfection on labels like InsideOut is nothing short of admirable. In shorter terms, the production is flawless. Everything is crystal clear and in the right spot in the mix to my ears.

The first track to jump out at me was oddly enough a bit of a slower piece called “Falling Away” coming in at about seven minutes. A great tune, melancholy recalling the glory days of Rush lyrically and sonically to an extent. The next track is quite different, “Fragmentation” with a really punchy bass-line, punchy drums, down-tuned crunchy guitar and a big sing-along chorus with most triumphant back-up vocals that are all too brief. This tunes has many moods and I like it a lot, maybe even my favorite cut.

Threshold can rest assured that the praises being sung and labels of ‘England’s Best Prog band” are well deserved. For proof one has to look no further than the almost mandatory epic track, in this case the title track, a 13-minute opus broken into three parts, “Fission”, “Fusion” and “Lucky”. Only a band like Threshold could write a long track about a analogy of quantum physics and the human condition and make it fascinating lyrically and musically. Like most songs on this album, there is a nice mix of keyboards for atmosphere, not always as a lead instrument, crunchy guitars, complex drumming but not hyper-kinetic. No this is not one of those freaky, “play every note known to man” prog albums like Planet X but a lush, well-crafted, challenging listening experience. Listeners with little patience for such things might even call them boring, it is very laid back at times but that would be inaccurate and unfair.

In my mind I pair this band with Enchant namely a excellent mixture of song-craft and technical ability. They really put a human face on prog, intelligent, complex songwriting but not over-indulgent to the point of losing accessibility. My question is this…is the vocalist Mac really Daniel Bowes from Thunder? They sound so much alike it is uncanny. That is a good thing! Visit to find out!


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