Progressive Metal fans have waited 5 years for a new Threshold album. March of Progress seems like a fitting title for such a tremendous effort (although the reference to that phrase means something entirely different). The band’s loss of long time vocalist Andrew 'Mac' McDermott in 2011 certainly put a roadblock up for the band. Prior to his passing he left the group, as we know now due to health issues, and Damian Wilson came back to help them continue on. This is his second stint with the band. Although Mac was such a strong presence fronting the band and arguably their finest lead vocalist, Damian has grabbed the reins and solidified the once fragmented band.
The current lineup for Threshold is: Damian Wilson (vocals), Karl Groom (guitar), Pete Morten (guitar), Steve Anderson (bass), Richard West (keyboards) and Johanne James (drums).
Damian is well known in the world of progressive rock but could he replace Mac and record an album that would have an impact on listeners that have followed the band and also gain new fans? He has answered that question with a resounding yes on this stunning recording.
On the opening track “Ashes,” Threshold continues to take a stand on what they believe in and make statements within their music. The track is an energized and powerful opener that sets the tone for the entire recording, the accompanying booklet furnishes the lyrics so you can sing along and get an idea of what they are trying to say in each song in a more forceful manner. Essentially this band puts out the message that we need to take care of the environment and cast aside complicated politics that paralyze our growth as a human race (this has been a theme central to their music for years now). Passages such as “From ashes we rise, from ashes we fall, we cannot disguise our hand in it all”- hits home where you live and to any enlightened individual willing to hear the truth about who we are and what we have become, the words make total sense.
The pounding and pulsating rhythm section and fat power chords peppered with flourishes of tasteful and driving keyboards when appropriate are the perfect blend for Wilson’s impassioned vocal style. His ability to mellow out and then raise his pitch to follow the music is like a rhythmic machine at work and it’s a thing of beauty. This is exercised without exception throughout the album and particularly on the mind bending “Return of the Thought Police.” Threshold is a modern day band and prophetic within their sound…prog metal visionary men if you will. The music comes at you in waves of sound pushing the lyrics inside your head and turning you inside out. It’s all good from the perspective of a progressive metal fan that wants some excitement and at the same time something cerebral to sink their teeth into. It works very well from the first note to the last on this incredibly strong release.
Throughout the eleven tracks the band is right on task, as tight as they have ever been. Until now Critical Mass was my favorite album but I would have to say that March of Progress is starting to really get to me by digging in its musical heels and it may soon take its place. From the lightning fast and powerful opener “Ashes” to the more mellow and introspective “That's Why We Came” and then on to the eye opening breath of fresh air titled ”Liberty Complacency Dependency,” this is a band that can flex its muscles and show a more softer side all within one track and then deliver the message in one fell swoop sweeping you away into their world without letting you wander off somewhere else.
I would advise fans that have followed the band since their inception to cast aside any doubt of what Wilson was to the band at the beginning and look at things from a new perspective and give this album a chance. I am willing to bet most folks will love this album if they have always enjoyed Threshold. What we have here is one their greatest triumphs and possibly their best release to date. They have moved on without Mac (although he will always remembered and held dear to their hearts), exorcised any demons of doubt and created one of the best albums of the year.
Prog Metal does not get much better than this, period.
Key Tracks: Ashes, That's Why We Came, Liberty Complacency Dependency
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
September 16, 2012