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THRESHOLD - Legends Of The Shires

Legendary Threshold - The Return of Glynn Morgan

After almost 25 years, Threshold – despite yet another change in vocalists – apparently still has much to contribute and much left to say. Despite that fact that there are still masses of people who have never heard their music, they continue to deliver highly relevant and incredibly quality melodic progressive metal and rock. One glimpse at the enchanting cover art will arouse suspicions of prog/fantasy indulgences, but be assured that the music has nothing to do with anything from Tolkien’s world. As Damian Wilson has once again stepped out of the Threshold limelight (circumstances of this remain somewhat nebulous), Glynn Morgan miraculously became an option once again some 23 years after his last appearance with the band. And just as dumbfounded as I was to hear about Wilson’s departure (March of Progress and Journey so good), I was equally, if not even more so, dumbfounded and ecstatic to hear about Morgan’s return. I had always loved his performance on 1994’s Psychedelicatessen and wondered what had happened to this amazing singer. Patience is often rewarded … this is more than a fan could ever hope for. Not surprisingly then, Legends far exceeds expectations, sharing much in common with the best albums from this band’s back catalog (Morgan’s Psychedelicatessen, Wilson’s Extinct Instinct, Mac’s Hypothetical). It is best described as a conceptual double album with a combination of the melodic catchiness of Hypothetical, the proggier elements from those early albums and the heaviness and lyrical cleverness of Dead Reckoning.

The concept is universal – one man’s (or a nation’s/shire’s) - struggle with purpose and relevance in a world full of rejection, bad choices, disappointment and negativity. And while some will no doubt find some fault with somewhat cliché’ lyrics in places (oh but this band pulls it off so well), I think most fans of Threshold will connect with the core meaning/intent and find this one of the most inspirational and motivational albums the band has ever produced. Morgan doesn’t possess the operatic and sylvan qualities of Wilson, but his equally enthralling tonal quality is well suited to the highly melodic milieu of Threshold’s almost AOR meets prog metal mix. I think he shares the best qualities of both the (late) Mac and Wilson in a way the melds with the band’s sound in a fashion that is uncannily natural (especially after all these years). Musically, Groom’s heavy guitars uphold the easily recognizable Threshold crunch and West continues to layer the keyboards in a mix of traditional prog and contemporary sound samples which serve to impart atmospheric qualities to these legends. Don’t expect any let up in the quality of musicianship and performance from what they’ve delivered in the past.

Apparently given the green light to release a double CD (this now being their 4th release since coming on board with Nuclear Blast), Legends, not surprisingly, is quite diverse. While the album is stapled together by the 3 “shire” parts – the second of these a sublime melodic and balladic victory – there are some absolutely stand-alone stellar songs here that I think combine all of Threshold’s strengths. The singles “Small Dark Lines” and “Lost In Translation” (unfortunately likely to be maligned for some of the lyrical content) are really excellent songs, but I feel quite a few of the other songs surpass them in brilliance. On the heavier side, “Snowblind” and “Trust the Process” are fantastic, the former a perfect blend of the melody and progressive instrumentation that make this band so enjoyable – the latter song the most politically charged commentary we’ve heard from this band in some years. “The Man Who Saw Through Time” hearkens back to “The Box” from For the Journey and clearly represents the epic prog masterpiece this time around. But some of these other tracks, which are not as immediately likeable, really hook in their claws with repeated listens. “Stars and Satellites” really takes the listener back to the Hypothetical/Critical Mass era when the band wrote these hugely melodic and catchy AOR type songs that retained their progressive qualities. “Subliminal Freeways” and even “State of Independence” are grower songs that may not initially impress, but repeated listens reveal the nuances that make these solid tunes as well. And my favorite song may be “Superior Machine,” which really reminds me of songs like “Paradox” and “Tension of Souls” from the early years. “The Shire – Part 3” does seem a little out of place in the song order but serves as a piano segue into the epic “Lost in Translation,” which will likely draw some criticism for its somewhat cliché lyrical content. Still, there are some strong melodies and instrumental performances so I think the song works in the end. In unorthodox fashion, the album closes with the quirky, almost Night Ranger-like “Swallowed,” which departs quite a bit from the traditional Threshold formula. It is a bit of a stretch to end such a massive collection of melodic prog in this manner, but I credit the band for pushing their boundaries.

Legends of the Shires is a success on almost every level. Those expecting a fantasy/sci-fi based prog epic will be disappointed, but fans who miss the more melodic mix of prog rock and metal will embrace this more than likely. For me, at least, as a huge fan of Glynn Morgan’s voice, I prefer this to the last album. Threshold is so consistently great, despite the rotating vocalists, so you can hardly go wrong with any of their releases, and as always, the sound quality is exceptional. On the negative side, I don’t like how this was released with the digital stream available one week prior to the hard copies, but on a positive, this means only better versions are on the way with the vinyl and CD. [Nuclear Blast]


This is an excellent pressing of this monumental release. It's not heavyweight vinyl but the discs are free or warping and very clean/free of surface noise. I have found that the entire Threshold vinyl collection sounds great and I think Nuclear Blast/Cargo do a great job with their vinyl. The 2 LP set comes in double gatefold with single lyric insert sheet and static free sleeves for the discs. It should not be surprising that the sound quality on this release in the vinyl format is fantastic and I actually prefer it to the CD version.

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