posted on 4/2007 By:
The following snippet was pulled directly off Nuclear Blast’s latest ad banner for the ninth full-length release from Threshold:
“For fans of Dream Theater, Nevermore and Edge of Sanity”
Hmmm. Interesting. The Dream Theater reference is pretty spot-on, but Nevermore and Edge of Sanity? Friends, that is just ri-cock-ulous. The only element I see this band sharing with Nevermore is the fact that they both have nine letters in their name. And although Dan Swanö lends moments of death vocals for two songs on Dead Reckoning, I’d still say this record holds more similarities to a Styx or Yes album than any E.o.S. material I’ve ever heard; making this yet another example of an ad banner that’s fallen directly into our laps courtesy of a big, bovine brown-eye. Of course this isn’t to say fans of albums such as Dead Heart… or The Spectral Sorrows shouldn’t be able to enjoy this material, it’s just irritating to see a label brazenly pushing unrealistic comparisons in hopes of snagging a wider span of metalheads into their nets.
A much more suitable ad would fall along the lines of:
“One of the easiest decisions a fan of progressive metal will make this year: BUY NOW!!”
This is a truly great prog metal album, folks. In fact, I’d say it’s a likely contender for one of the best of the genre at year-end, even at this relatively early stage in the game. But being more of what I’d consider to be a ‘casual’ fan of the style, I’d also have to admit that I needed a little extra time ironing out a couple bumps before this record genuinely wrapped me within its spell, and whether or not it’ll ensorcell other fans drifting on the outskirts depends on how permissive you are in regards to the lighter side of the genre. More specifically, while this record definitely finds the UK avant-gardesters heading down a darker, heavier path for a good portion of the record, there are still liberal doses of slower moments that bring to mind any number of a slew of early/mid 80’s power-balladeers. I’m sure vocalist Andrew “Mac” McDermott is sick to death of hearing this, but during Threshold’s slower moments (especially when it’s only vocals & piano), Mac sounds as if he could have stood directly within the Reo-Speedwagon camp, or perhaps even at the helm of Starship. I hope that doesn’t send folks immediately reeling, but considering this was the most difficult Reo-speed-bump for me to get over, I felt the need to throw it out there. I will say this: once I let my guard down a bit and shelved my preconceived power-ballad prejudices, I quickly realized just how solid a voice this guy has, and there’s no doubt in mind that his performance on this record is a major factor contributing to its excellence.
What truly pushes Dead Reckoning to the front of the pack, however, is the excellent song-crafting and solo work of founding member’s Karl Groom (guitars) and Richard West (keyboards). There are scads of insanely catchy choruses, and every song boasts at least one indelible guitar solo, and some of the most nimble, gleaming guitar/keyboard interplay I’ve heard in quite some time - too many to simply point out one or two highlights. Truth is, all the players are at the top of their game here, and each participant has moments where bits of brilliance are boldly flashed. And while the band’s masterful leanings on progressive elements take center stage for the lionshare of the music, this album is rife with so many other interesting facets it’d take me another full page to do them true justice. Suffice to say, even during the moments when I found myself cringing a bit (namely the slower parts of the centerpiece, “Pilot In the Sky of Dreams”), there always seemed to be something directly around the corner to remind me how incredibly talented this band is.
The only other bit of minutia holding this record back from near perfection are the occasional drifts into some pretty sappy, awkward lyrics. A song such as “Safe To Fly” has the sort of engaging song writing that should have landed it amongst my favorites, but lyrics dealing with ‘chasing rainbows’ and ‘hiding beneath someone’s wing during a storm’ really did nothing more than make me quickly glance over my shoulder in fear of one of my roommates listening in. Still, I’d consider this a relatively minor flaw when put up against the album’s copious strong points, and in the end, I’d say any fan of progressive metal would be downright daft for not checking this out. In fact, this is probably the release that’ll finally vault this band most deservedly into the progressive metal limelight. And it's definitely made me quite jealous of those lucky enough to have tickets for this year's looming ProgPower festival in Atlanta. Highly recommended.
Register to post comments.