Threshold – Dividing Lines

[Nuclear Blast, 2022]

Intro: Christos Minos

The British band Threshold has come a long way in the history of progressive metal. With only rare changes in their lineup from the late 80’s to the present day, they’re still thriving, serving the music they love. From their excellent 1993 debut Wounded Land, the classic Psychedelicatessen to 2017’s Legends of the Shires they continue a string of excellent releases. Perhaps their name never made it into the most well-known bands of the genre. Threshold, however, remain an iconic band in the context of European progressive metal and beyond.


 

When expectations are too high

Dividing Lines comes five years after the release of Legends of the Shires and according to the band,  it is its darker and less optimistic sibling. The 2017 album was the one that marked the return of Glynn Morgan after 1994’s Psychedelicatessen. His voice is also present on this year’s album in order to outline with its dynamics the black colors that characterize our modern everyday life and on which the band sets its sights.

An overwhelming mood for the image of the world and its future immersed in war conflicts and ecological destruction characterizes the first songs of the album. Being short in duration, their immediacy does not undermine their technical excellence and make for an impressive start. Karl Groom’s heavy and meaningful riffs combined with the imaginative sound of Richard West’s keyboards intertwine to create memorable tracks. Glynn Morgan sounds excellent bringing out the meaning of the lyrics which he passionately sings.

The problem of the record is centered in the fact that it may not be able to live up to the expectations it creates. The first tracks, cleverly placed, raise the excitement with their melodies and their ability to sound like a catchier aspect of progressive metal.

The first long track, The Domino Effect, appears in the middle of the record. Without being anything genius, the piece shows the first cracks in the edifice of Dividing Lines. The album’s inspiration is starting to show a little weariness which becomes apparent on tracks like Complex. Until Defense Condition, the other epic track of the record, which again raises the bar of expectations with its unexpectedly hard style, has a sense of triviality.

The previous ones do not negate the quality of Threshold and their ability to compete with bands younger and more famous than them, but it becomes obvious that the effort was somehow left incomplete. Maybe this sounds like a harsh judgement, considering the image of modern traditional metal, but their name also raises great demands. In its duration, Dividing Lines sounds a bit uneven, and perhaps a less ambitious goal regarding the length of its compositions could be achieved.

In conclusion, Threshold’s new record does not deliver from what we have been used to for so many years. The truth is that the changes are small and everything is judged based in the songwriting. In general, the band succeeds, but Dividing Lines cannot be one of their greatest releases.

7 / 10

Christos Minos

 

2nd opinion

 

One of the very few prog metal bands that have a distinctive sound and a very consistent catalog of albums released a new record entitled Dividing Lines. This is very solidly and tightly played progressive metal. There is nothing groundbreaking, but everything is so well done, that you don’t expect any experiments. Threshold present a collection of strong and powerful songs here, most of which are very melodic and catchy. I was expecting a little  bit more from the two epics but these songs are lacking some memorable hooks, while Glynn Morgan’s voice lacks the sublime beauty that filled the previous album. There are a lot of synthesizer sounds and some beautiful orchestrations, characteristic of the sound of Threshold. Karl Groom’s guitar sound is absolutely stellar and in combination with the rest of the instruments builds a very good atmosphere. Maybe some fans won’t like it, but you just can’t to expect another grandiose opus like Legends of the Shires. Dividing Lines is a good and very enjoyable release. Even after more than thirty years, Threshold  is far from sounding old-fashioned.

7.5 / 10

Goran Petrič