Inside Out Records, 2001


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Progressive rock is starting to get really interesting to me again.

Oh, sure, despite what hundreds of Yes fans might believe, I never fell out of love with the genre over the years. I just became bored with the direction it seemed to be heading - namely, a fusion of prog-rock's technical precision and the crunching sound of metal. But a few discs I've heard of late have really started to restore my faith in the genre, even if it's still pretty much entrenched in the metal style.

The latest such disc is Hypothetical from London-based Threshold. Combining a knack for solid songwriting with exquisite musical precision and well-placed vocal harmonies, vocalist Andrew "Mac" McDermott and crew create a disc that, despite an energy sag in the middle, acts as an alarm clock for all of us, waking us up to the fact that prog-rock is alive and well.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Hypothetical kicks off as strongly as one could ever hope for with two killer tracks. "Light And Space" is just complicated enough to lure the traditional prog-rock fan while maintaining a hook level that could easily get this track airplay. The two-guitar attack of Nick Midson and Karl Groom help to propel this track into the stratosphere.

Although one could easily draw a parallel to genremates Dream Theater on many occasions, who would have expected comparisons to the Scorpions on "Turn On Tune In"? Indeed, the vocal lines are so powerful that they make me think this is what the German metal band could have sounded like if they went progressive. The solid rhythm section of keyboardist Richard West, bassist Jon Jeary and drummer Johanne James are key to this track working as well as it does.

Although Hypothetical is filled with longer songs whose time seems to fly by, the album unexpectedly suffers an energy lag around the one-third mark. "The Ravages Of Time" is a pretty enough track, but it lacks the delicate balance of vocals and instrumental work that makes the other tracks soar. (No, I'm not complaining about the track's length. "Narcissus," which closes the album, is just under a minute longer, and is more cohesive.) Likewise, "Oceanbound" and "Long Way Home" don't live up to the same expectations.

Interestingly enough, the one nod towards commercial airplay, "Keep My Head," isn't a bad effort, though it, too, screams for the rich instrumentation that quickly becomes a hallmark of Threshold's sound. "Sheltering Sky" and "Narcissus" both fill that void, and do it well.

It's interesting that Threshold is able to hook the listeners in with the first two tracks, but often can't live up to that level of magic on Hypothetical. Still, this is hardly a bad album, and ranks up there with some of the best prog-rock I've ever heard. This is definitely a worthwhile album to check out - and that's factually speaking.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Inside Out Records, and is used for informational purposes only.