Threshold are another of those bands whose history can be traced back to the days when anything Prog related was frowned upon and the genre wasn’t so accepted as it is at present. Always edging toward the slightly heavier side of things, they have been flying the Prog Metal banner for the U.K. for over twenty years now and it must come as a great source of satisfaction to see so many bands now following in their wake. Frequently (and inevitably) compared to Dream Theater, one of the things that may have hampered Threshold’s rise in the past was the instability caused by several line- up changes, although it is pleasing to report that For The Journey sees Threshold return with the same six guys that released March Of Progress back in 2012.
For The Journey is Threshold’s tenth studio release and begins with ‘Watchtower on the Moon’ and it’s fair to say that all the trademarks of Threshold’s past are firmly in place on the track. Built on enormous riffs supplied by guitarists Karl Groom and Pete Morten, catchy choruses and Richard West’s melodic keys, the song eases the listener into the album, making the experience as comfortable to existing fans as putting on an old, comfortable pair of slippers. From this point on, the band clearly had a choice as to whether to continue the safe, well- trodden paths of their history, or look to explore a more diverse course. Thankfully they chose the latter and, while the album doesn’t completely break new ground, there are some deliberate attempts to mix things up and add a bit more variety to the music. Granted they have dabbled with different styles before, but they mostly seemed like token gestures which popped up out of the ordinary, only to scuttle back there after a few seconds. On For The Journey the variety feels more natural and less forced which can only be a positive.
The best evidence of this comes in the epic ‘The Box’ which begins quietly but morphs quickly into something more substantial with long instrumental pieces peppered with subtle yet energetic vocals from Damian Wilson. Wilson is in his third stint with the band now but is happily able to balance his other projects with his time in Threshold that much better and the benefits are there for all to see and hear. Album closer ‘Siren Sky’ is another highlight powered as it is by Johanne James’ characteristically superb drumming and some melancholic strings finishing things off in fine style. Elsewhere ‘Autumn Red’ reverts back to standard but hugely enjoyable Threshold fare with chugging guitars and West’s keyboard gymnastics and while ‘The Mystery Show’ veers dangerously toward a generic power metal ballad it is saved by a beautifully atmospheric interlude which eventually gives way to some exquisite guitar playing just before the song’s conclusion.
It’s interesting that Threshold’s press release for this album attempts to distance the band from the Progressive Metal classifications they’ve been happy to run with in the past. March of Progress, which was For The Journey’s predecessor was Threshold’s most commercially successful album to date, so perhaps it’s a little surprising that there appears to be a willingness to now be seen as more Hard Rock than Progressive Metal. Having said that it’s equally baffling that Dream Theater – as good as they are- have a much bigger following than Threshold, so maybe this is Threshold’s way of trying to bring new fans in without losing their old ones. Whether it works remains to be seen.
For The Journey sees the band in its healthiest condition yet. The line- up changes are now long gone and this stability, married with a band on form and a (hopefully) more receptive public gives the band a real fighting chance of finally making that long overdue step up into more successful territory.
Review: David Lack
Watchtower on the Moon
Turned To Dust
Lost In Your Memory
The Mystery Show
I Wish I Could (Bonus Track)