Threshold - March Of Progress

(CD 2012, 75:39, Nuclear Blast 27361 23420)

The tracks:
  1- Ashes(6:51)
  2- Return Of The Thought Police(6:09)
  3- Staring At The Sun(4:25)
  4- Liberty Complacency Dependency(7:48)
  5- Colophon(6:00)
  6- The Hours(8:15)
  7- That's Why We Came(5:40)
  8- Don't Look Down(8:12)
  9- Coda(5:23)
10- The Rubicon(10:24)
Bonus track:
11- Divinity(6:27)

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I don't think there's any need to introduce this majestic progressive metal band to our readers. Threshold have been around for a long time now and even with a hiatus of five years, the enthusiasm is still there. March Of Progress is the first studio album after the band reunited with their previous vocalist Damian Wilson; it's the debut for the new guitarist Pete Morten. However, both musicians have been touring with the band for quite a while, which can clearly be heard on this new album. The founders of Threshold, guitarist Karl Groom and keyboardist Richard West are the steady backbone of the band, but by now drummer Johanne James and bass player Steve Anderson can also be considered to be long time members.

March Of Progress opens with Ashes, which has been released as their first single track. It contains a nice and catchy tempo that basically starts where the previous album Dead Reckoning (2007) ended. Damian Wilson's voice is in great shape, the guitars sound excellent and intense and as strong as ever in combination with Richard West's keyboards. Then slowing down a bit with Return Of The Thought Police containing three strong characteristics: the emotional vocals of Damian Wilson, a fine keyboard solo and a killer riff after this solo that should be played at maximum volume! Staring At The Sun holds a nice combination of a relaxed sounding guitar with a contrasting riff. The outstanding solo of Karl Groom on top of the atmospheric keyboards sounds perfect and the playing on the piano completes this great song.

Liberty Complacency Dependency denotes the typical Threshold guitar riffs in combination with the excellent vocals. This song reminds me of the older Threshold albums before Damian Wilson left the band. Changing tempos, time signatures and moods have always been major characteristics of Threshold's music. Colophon was written by Wilson; his voice is very intense here reminding me a bit of Yes in some passages, but with enough power to recognize it as a Threshold song. It seems as if the other musicians play to 'honour' their singer in this strong composition. The Hours is a keyboard-based song lasting over eight minutes, although some passages shift towards a mediocre composition. However, the heavy rocking guitars provide the song with some extra power. Every time I listened to The Hours, I wondered where I've heard it before. Another Damian Wilson composition is That's Why We Came, that would have fitted well on one of his solo albums. Here the strong combination of keyboards and his vocals sounds great; the guitars step back a bit, but still excel acoustically and in the solos.

Don't Look Down is a typical Threshold song. Richard West's keyboards sound at his best and the guitars present nice and powerful riffs; the vocal lines are melodic and intense. Coda was written by Pete Morten; it differs a bit from the other songs, but it turns out to be powerful, fitting perfectly on this record by the way it has been arranged. Morten proves to be an added value to the band. Threshold saved the best piece for the finale. To me the epic Rubicon is the highlight of this album; everything that Threshold stands for comes perfectly together in this song: fluent and flashy guitar solos, a strong rhythm section, majestic singing and multiple layers of keyboards. In my opinion this is one of the best songs the band ever recorded. In my digipack I found the second Pete Morten composition Divinity as a bonus; this one still has a Threshold feel, but drifts off in another direction and can be seen as new blood in Threshold's music.

An album by Threshold never let me down; I just like this kind of progressive metal too much. I would have been disappointed if the album would have contained a different musical direction. Yet both compositions by Pete Morten provide the band some fresh impulses and I think this really works. It took the band five years to release a new album, but March Of Progress was worthwhile waiting for. I can't wait another five years to see them on tour...

****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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