Just about everything that you’ve read before about THRESHOLD will have classified them as a Progressive Metal group. Countless international reviewers and even their own press biographies have bandied around the term with no genuine fear of contradiction.
Ten albums into a career that began in London’s leafy suburbs back in 1989, it’s time this situation was reassessed. Sure, Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock are the cornerstones of the group’s sound, but as proven by the consummate quality of their last several albums, THRESHOLD are a classic Hard Rock band, built upon high-quality musicianship, enormous quantities of musical light and shade and, above all, memorable, hummable songs.
Few bands are capable of gracing the stage of a leather ‘n’ studs gathering such as Bloodstock, as Threshold did in 2004, or conversely the Hard Rock all-dayer the Firefest, at which they played three years later. Their music is eloquent and deeply melodic without relying upon the usual gratuitous levels of power and repetitive twiddly bits.
“The key to THRESHOLD is songs,” believes long-serving keyboard player Richard West. “By all means we have all those extra ingredients, but without the song you’ve nothing.”
“I’ve no objection to the label,” elaborates Damian Wilson, among the finest singers of the current Hard Rock scene, “it only bothers me when causing people, who might otherwise enjoy us, to shut themselves off. Nobody likes being pigeonholed.”
»For The Journey« is the sextet’s third studio release for Nuclear Blast Records, following in the slipstream of »Dead Reckoning« (2007) and »March Of Progress« (2012). The latter album saw the return of Wilson, their band’s vocalist from 1992-1993 and 1996-1998, after the departure (and subsequent tragic demise) of Andrew ‘Mac’ McDermott. Over this trilogy of records, a thread of consistency and confidence has allowed THRESHOLD to excel whilst treading their chosen path.
“Since the band joined Nuclear Blast we’ve tried to make the ultimate THRESHOLD album,” Richard West nods. “I love what we’ve done with »For The Journey«, but I can’t wait for the next one. I’m so happy that there were just two years between albums instead of five.”
The liaison with Nuclear Blast has certainly armed THRESHOLD with a more professional and competitive mindset than ever before. Back in 2007, West admitted: “Our attitude was to sleep. Until Nuclear Blast came along; we’d make an album and if it was raining outside then we’d just disappear for another two years.”
West guffaws when reminded of the above. Plainly, THRESHOLD are not that band anymore.
“When you’re younger it’s very easy to allow relationships or minor disputes to get in the way,” he theorizes. “As band members, people and friends everybody has grown and we know how to work best together.”
“There was some in-fighting in THRESHOLD’s early days,” Wilson affirms. “Now we’ve got to know each other and become really great friends, which makes the music a lot easier.”
An ‘in-house’ production from West and guitarist Karl Groom – the latter of whom has been employed by DRAGENFORCE, TRIGGER THE BLOODSHED, PENDRAGON and YES– delivers a warm, crisp and colourful sound, packing a powerful kick to match the huge creative advances of the music. Play it on headphones – you’ll be blown away by the extra little details.
West considers »For The Journey« “a more personal record than ever”. It’s key topics remain a colourful mix of science, politics, the environment, religion and everyday life, but the keysman says: “We’re older and mellow and less prone to ranting about injustices. Rather than pointing our fingers at the world we're asking questions of ourselves. On this album you’ll find songs about honesty, perseverance and forgiveness. That’s where the title comes from; it’s songs for the journey of life.”
THRESHOLD have utilized longer than average tracks as centrepieces of all their Nuclear Blast-era records. The almost 12-minute epic ‘The Box’ continues the trend.
“We try to leave the listeners to interpret our songs in their own way because everybody’s imagination is different,” Richard explains. “However with ‘The Box’ it’s quite simple: it’s the analogy of the modern world meeting its older counterpart, and becoming enveloped.”
Despite amassing a ten-album catalogue THRESHOLD have never sounded fresher, brighter or more essential. Whilst sales of popular music continue to diminish, »March Of Progress« was the band’s most popular record by a considerable margin. The statistics speak for themselves – Germany (#28), Switzerland (#30), Sweden (#43), Austria (#55), Netherlands (#70) and France (#102).
“People seem to be buying a lot less pop music than they did, but our CD’s sell more and more each time,” West observes. “Seeing MASTODON’s new album [»Once More ’Round The Sun«] in the UK Top Ten is something that would never have happened years ago. It certainly feels as though the climate is shifting.”
The various band members are involved in an array of high profile outside projects, but with respect to such endeavours, it’s coming back to THRESHOLD that really feels like home. “As much as everyone loves being away, it’s still the biggest thrill,” Wilson sums up.
»For The Journey« is the latest remarkable record by a remarkable band. Just do yourselves a favour: Leave the term ‘Prog-Metal’ at the door.