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Threshold - 'Legends Of The Shires' Album Review


Disc 1

1. The Shire (Part 1)

2. Small Dark Lines

3. The Man Who Saw Through Time

4. Trust The Process

5. Stars And Satellites

6. On The Edge

Disc 2

1. The Shire (Part 2)

2. Snowblind

3. Subliminal Freeways

4. State Of Independence

5. Superior Machine

6. The Shire (Part 3)

7. Lost In Translation

8. Swallowed

Threshold are a band who have had a long career thus far, this new album 'Legend Of The Shires' is the first since their second album "Psychedelicatessen" to feature Vocalist Glynn Morgan, I'm always curious when I look at band histories to see who has passed through the ranks of bands, who was there all along & who has come and gone in the interim, this band are built around the core of Karl Groom (Guitarist) & Richard West (Keyboards), who between the two of them wrote the bulk of this album.

A Prog-Metal double album, a concept album, there's a lot here to take in... give me a moment just to draw breath & we'll get into it.

Where we start is quite a gentle prologue, easing us in with the first of the three tracks spread through the album called 'The Shire', this gives way to lead single (and perhaps my highlight of the album) 'Small Dark Lines', which, lyrically is a study in the idea of living with the regrets of the past. There follows a series of Prog epics contracting as we reach the end of Disc 1 including 'Trust The Process' a song with strong political undertones, they are not the first prog band to do this of course.

Disc 2 opens once again with a return to "The Shire", but this iteration (Part 2) is longer and features some solos giving way to the second longest piece on Disc 2 'Snowblind' which has some great riffs. Disc 2's own epic however comes later in the form of penultimate track "Lost In Translation" featuring some impressive traded solos between Groom & West in the middle, recalling for me the early days of Genesis when at times it was difficult to tell if you were listening to Tony Banks playing a solo or Steve Hackett, this was hammered home when I found myself surprised not to hear Peter Gabriel's voice when the vocals returned.

The album closes with 'Swallowed', starting as a delicate piano ballad, It builds with hints more at an Industrial sound at times before coming to a Rock ballad ending complete with a melodic guitar solo before fading to the birdsong which opened the album.

'Legends Of The Shires' is an album that rewards repeated listening and doesn't alienate on the first listen so a second listen feels quite natural. Despite my slight sonic misgivings, the vocal style and a lot of the keyboard sounds would not, in my opinion, be out of place on 1980's AOR and Hard Rock, and the acoustic guitars sounded a little too processed to my ears, but these are small sonic quirks that I only paid attention to because as a recording musician I've always strived for a more analogue or direct sound. Overall I enjoyed this album, maybe it's not pushing the boundaries of Prog too hard, but it's a well produced, very well played album. This band are sure of themselves with good reason, this is exactly the kind of quality songwriting that will make their fan base very happy. It's been enough to induce me to a certain intrigue too.

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Review - Mike McLaughlin

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