Review by Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck|
4 stars out of 4
"Critical Mass" is a glorious return to the recording studio for Threshold,
one of Great Britain's finest prog-metal bands.
Consistency with group members has blessed them at last, and with
that, their best work to date is on this CD. Consistency is not the
norm in the realm of music, particularly in progressive rock, it is
anything but that, in fact the style spits in the face of conformity
and is always full of surprises. That is why I love the music so much;
I have always been a nonconformist.
Mac is at the peak of his powers as a lead vocalist, and the group
as an entity is at its zenith, burning brightly at every musical twist
and turn. Karl Groom and Nick Midson form one of the very best one-two
punch guitar armies in rock music today. With Jon Jeary and Johanne
James providing a rock solid rhythm section, everything else in the
scheme of things falls right into place in perfect time. There are
crunching guitar chords that come wailing down upon your senses, and
Mac takes full advantage of those layers of sound to let his voice
ride the tide of the music. Then to balance out their attack, the
keyboards flutter away ingeniously.
The best in all of this divine organized musical mayhem is the track
"Fragmentation." I felt that the song fittingly exemplifies and personifies
the band; it displays all the group members' talents with equality
and exactitude. With just enough keyboards in the mix, this band sits
on the edges of straight ahead prog. I have to wonder if they will
maintain this sound much longer or choose one of the two styles and
record a totally free-form magnum opus with longer and meatier stretches
of instrumentation. I wish they would, they are more than capable
of doing so. "Critical Mass, Pts. 1-3" is an indication that they
are leaning towards arrangements that are more complex. I really do
enjoy Mac's vocals, and that would necessitate a change in his role
in order to accommodate the longer instrumental breaks. Well, they
could always record a double album next time out and have one featuring
just instrumentals, now that would be the best of both worlds. What
can I say? I want my cake and I want to eat too! I am not complaining,
I am simply being garrulous about how great this band is and will
continue to be for many years.
It is time to rock, metal progressive style.
3. Falling Away-6:52
5. Echoes of Life-8:55
6. Round and Round-5:26
8. Critical Mass, Pts. 1-3-13:35
Karl Groom (guitar), Jon Jeary (bass), Mac (vocals), Richard West
(keyboards), Nick Midson (guitar), Johanne James (drums).