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Threshold - "Critical Energy"
Inside Out 2004

Finally, here she is! A double live CD from one of the hottest metal rock proggies on the scene. I mean really. Everything they compose or play is extraordinary beautiful and absolutely fantastic. It is thrilling that this band is still so much underrated, after six magnificent studio releases. Now we finally got also a double live album that represents a splendid cross section of who Threshold are.

If you don't know them by now, I recommend you to start a journey to band's wonderland right with this live album. Live albums are actually not best way when you want to make a closer connection to a certain band. But in Threshold's case I must say that I don't remember when I've heard a live album that would have so precisely built sound of truly huge atmosphere and an ideal set list. I mean really huge atmosphere. Sound is not polished, it is just the fact, that circumstances were perfect in times when live recording took it's place. From right concert hall and it's fantastic acoustics to top performance of perfect caught daily mood of a band that achieved pure perfection in sound coexistence and equilibrium between all instruments. As you might already know, band has two guitars and keyboardist in it's six pieced line up, but it is amazing how equal division between keyboards and guitar riffing has been achieved. Threshold is a band which works fingers to the bone till output they decide to launch on market isn't completed in maximum perfection. If this live album won't send you shivers down the spine or take you into some kind of ethereal adventure, then no other album will.

Band's sixth studio album "Critical Mass" (2002) where (I presume) band got an inspiration in writing their poetry from a book "Celestial Prophecy" is their best album so far, and they chose a right moment to record a full length double live album which contains for about two hours of material which has been performed with no mistakes. Sound is hellish alive and in the same vein crystal clear. I mean all instruments are hanging in perfect balance and band succeeded to develop amazing atmosphere, which does not fade down nor for a single moment.

First CD opens with Phenomenon as a song from their actual studio album "Critical Mass". A critical mass that will bring a new, better way of living via our spiritual awakening. This is song that immediately confirms and explains all my excitement over this live album so far. Massive riffing of Nick Midson and Carl Groom and equal involvement of Richard West's keyboarding results in specific climax that only Threshold can create. Band amplifies this magic by genuine drum work of Johanne James who makes throughout the record fantastic diverse drum rollings and takes great care for additions of powerful extra double footwork bridges, done with pedantry of a Swiss watch. His gutsy crystal splashes cuts through the concrete and together with clean and crisp melodic bass lines of new bassist Steve Anderson, who recently replaced band's founder member Jon Jeary, creates stark and colorful contrast to guitar riffing and keyboard dashing. Now if we add most important factor in making a contact with audience and this is singer Andrew "Mac" MacDermott, surely one the most charismatic singer on a present rock scene, with his specific singing style, recognizable vocals and 100% soulful approach, a pure victory is guaranteed. I mean chemistry bloody works in this band!

Band composes always songs with fantastic heads and tails which bursts out of grandiose melodies. Peaks are usually placed in choruses. Now imagine this set list with songs like Choices, Angels with one of most beautiful choruses ever penned by a band, mid tempo moody switch Falling Away with impressive acoustic drives in pre-chorus or majestic Fragmentation. I mean it is hard to say which song is better. Magic is caught everywhere.

Second CD opens with two shivering acoustic songs Clear and Life Flow and than follows Narcissus which is truly remarkable change of climax. Band shortened this song. First part was done unplugged, while in second electric engines start to roar again. Album continues in upper gear of metallic distortion with Sunseeker, and then mood even rises on through fantastic live version of The Latent Gene and one of the best pieces from "Hypothetical" (2001) LP called Light And Space. What follows is yet another highlight on this CD called Sunrise On Mars, again with strong climax that is delivered through emotive singing and great communication between all instruments. Regular set ends, band returns and fires out two classics from their debut album "Wounded Land" (1993) called Paradox and Sanity's End. Grand finale, which wants to explode from all charging nuclear energy and grand magic of achieved atmosphere.

This band cannot disappoint. If you're losing faith in new younger acts and a rock'n'roll fashions they deliver, always try to remind yourselves that among them are acts like Threshold who deserve to carry on the legacy of greatest rock bands that island produced like King Crimson, Yes or Genesis (with P. Gabriel and S. Hackett). I mean not by the style, but with proving they are sincerely living rock culture as aforementioned giants were living in seventies and still do in presence (I mean King Crimson and Yes here). Bands like Dream Theater, Shadow Gallery, Magnitude Nine, etc...truly cannot turn me on, because their music is primarily set on pure rationalism caught in musical notes and school frames. Technical skills can't help you much, when your heart is elsewhere. You can fake, but still you are not living the way your heart or soul wishes to. Threshold boys are taking always a right path, by listening to the voices in their hearts. Sincerity is their key and building huge convincible atmosphere their first choice in preaching. Poetry and music fantastically collides together. Sci-fi or reality? Who cares, let yourselves go and be a part of magic light in this critical energy that will set you free!

Author:   Aleš

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