By Raymond Westland
I’ve always had a soft spot for UK-based prog outfit Threshold. They’re not the flashiest band around, but they always deliver. In my (humble) opinion albums like Critical Mass (2002), Subsurface (2004) and Dead Reckoning (2007) can easily hold their own against anything Porcupine Tree, Opeth and Dream Theater put out recently. Treshold’s latest musical venture, entitled March Of Progress, was a couple of years in the making and it shapes up to be the band’s longest record yet.
March Of Progress also marks the return of singer Damian Wilson. That’s about the biggest chance compared to the previous Threshold records. This album pretty much picks up where Subsurface and Dead Reckoning left off. The emphasis is still squarely on songwriting finesse and any technical prowess is mainly used to cement the overall song material. March Of Progress is most of all a moody album. It reflects on all today’s comforts and the complacency that comes with it. This is especially the case on “Return Of The Thought Police”, “Colophon” and “Staring At The Sun”.
March Of Progress has all the hallmarks of a high quality Threshold album. The songwriting is impeccable, Karl Groom’s guitar solos are as tasteful as ever and Damian Wilson really poured his heart into the album, but for some reason this album misses the boisterous joie de vivre of Subsurface and Dead Reckoning. Tracks like “Ashes”, “The Hours” and the aforementioned “Staring At The Sun” and “Return To The Thought Police” are great songs in their own right, but they miss the energy and the sense of urgency of “Phenomenon”, “Fragmentation”, “Mission Profile” or “Slipstream”. Perhaps this has something to do with the tragic passing of former singer Andrew McDermott or because the album is simply a bit too long for it own good.
As ever Karl Groom and Richard West did a splendid job in the sound department. They gave March Of Progress a clean and polished production, but it still heavy enough to give the song material that extra punch.
March Of Progress has much to offer and it’s a solid Threshold album by any standard. However, for me it simply lacks the punch and the energy of Critical Mass, Subsurface and Dead Reckoning. A little more spice wouldn’t hurt on the next Threshold album.
March Of Progress will be released on Nuclear Blast in Europe on August 24 and in North America on September 11