Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Threshold - Legends of The Shires (2017)

Every time a progressive metal band decides to tackle a massive concept album, I try to go in a little cautious so that the hype surrounding the impending release does not get under my skin. It is very easy for an album like this to get unrealistic expectations that will never be met, just because it is supposed to be so grand and epic. Even if Threshold are seasoned prog veterans, it still can happen to the best, and the fact that the band had to change vocalists after the album was fully written and recorded probably did not help either. So let us dive into this monster, by first, once again saying goodbye to Damian Wilson, and welcoming back Glynn Morgan (who was with the band in 1994 to 1996, appearing in the sophomore effort "Psychedelicatessen").

The story itself is not the most obvious one, and it is quite hard to understand without knowing the lyrics, but from what I can tell, we get to follow a man's journey from a young and hopeful guy who is generally happy with life, but as the album goes along, we get to follow his adventures and various ups and downs. The different acts of the story arc are shown really well with the three parts of "The Shire", especially the first two parts which are basically the same song, but with completely different tones. Maybe it does have something to do with Bilbo Baggins and the rest of J. R. Tolkien's epic tales, but I seriously doubt it (although, the title and album cover does suggest it).

Anyway, while this is a concept album, I feel like the concept is not the main focus, the songs are, and good lord what songs we have here. Most of it can be best described as Threshold putting their own original touch to 80's rock, which certainly suits new vocalist Glynn Morgan well, but we do get a lot of more metal moments in here, so this is basically Threshold in XL version. The sound is no surprise, but the variety of different songs we get here is simply astounding. This whole album is filled to the brim with songs that varies in styles, tones, and lengths, but they all fit together seamlessly, so the transitions are as fluid as they should be in this big of a record.

With over one hour and twenty minutes of music, it is easy to cut corners, not keeping focus all the way through. Somehow though, Threshold has put out 14 songs that all have a purpose, that all feels well thought of. No part of "Legends of The Shires" feels unnecessary, and it certainly does not feel like a double album when you are just casually listening to it. Sure, it takes its time to develop, but it does not overstay its welcome, entertain you throughout its runtime in a very effective manor that is incredibly hard to pull off.

And unlike most other magnum opuses, "Legends of The Shires" has a magnificent roster of songs that not only work well together, but are strong enough to stand on their own. Just the fact that the first song Threshold released was the 10 minute giant "Lost In Translation" is a strong testament on how good the quality of the songs are. An epic monster that is pure progressive candy. And while some of the 80's rock influences can take over a little too much sometimes (looking at you "Stars And Satellites"), the band still hold the tone just right, which ultimately keeps the magic alive and well.

Man, this is an incredibly strong album by Threshold, an achievement that surely will stand the test of time. Close to everything with this double disc is brilliant, from the great variety of awesome songs, to the multi layered performances that makes you wanna listen to this record again and again, this is definitely Threshold's strongest effort in some time, and that says a lot. It is progressive metal at its finest, and it is just another amazing piece to add among other fantastic releases from other bands within the genre. Damn, I am gonna go listen to it again, I just can't get enough.

Songs worthy of recognition: Lost In Translation, Small Dark Lines, The Man Who Saw Through Time, Trust The Process, Snowblind

Rating: 9,5/10 Superior Machines


More reviews of Threshold
For The Journey

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