Threshold – Legends of the Shires (Review)

ThresholdThis is the eleventh album from UK progressive metallers Threshold.

Well, Threshold have certainly been busy. Their latest album is quite the progressive monster – a double album lasting 82 minutes; you certainly get your value for money with this one.

Once more they have changed vocalist, with the band now having gone back to one of their former singers, who last appeared as a full-time member of the band on their 1994 album Psychedelicatessen. His voice on Legends of the Shires is clear, powerful, and highly emotive. He has, in a nutshell, a great voice for progressive metal. Welcome back.

Threshold have always been a band that you can rely on to produce an enjoyable album, but they’ve also been willing to try new or different things now and again – an essential trait for any progressive group. In contrast to the very enjoyable straightforward nature of their last album For the Journey, this latest double album sees Threshold flexing their creative muscles more. Longer songs mean more extravagance, more bombast, more progressive wanderings, more complexity, more Threshold, essentially.

The music explores many avenues, moods, and feelings across the playing time. Sprawling and epic, while still retaining the quality songwriting that is associated with the band, the songs are catchy and hook-laden while still having a lot of progressive substance and depth.

For such a long album you’d need to have a certain degree of variety of delivery in order to not eventually tire out the listener, and this is what Threshold have achieved. Some songs are classic short-and-punchy Threshold tracks, (Small Dark Lines, State of Independence), whereas others are a lot more progressive in scale and scope, (The Man Who Saw Through Time, Lost in Translation). Others still take the softer approach of a ballad, (Swallowed), while others take softness in a different direction to produce something extreme atmospheric, (The Shire trilogy). Of course; many songs have aspects of all of these elements and more contained in their playing time.

The musicianship is insanely high quality, as you would expect; I particularly want to highlight the keyboard work, as this is so finely integrated into the band’s songs that it seems utterly indispensable and integral to their music, which is not something that can be said of a lot of albums that feature keyboards. Also; keyboard solos. Oh yes.

It’s refreshing and reassuring that a band that has been around for the best part of 30 years can still produce an album like this. Strong songs that are exploratory and adventurous, what’s not to like?

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