There’s hardly any album I’ve waited for more this year than for “Subsurface“ by THRESHOLD. After the masterpiece “Hypothetical” (2001) and the also very strong “Critical Mass”, I was very anxious for the newest output of this exceptional band.
And the guys around the two band heads Richard West (keyboards) and Karl Groom don’t disappoint their fans in 2004 either. “Subsurface” has become a real smasher. The highly melodic and super-catchy opener “Mission Profile” already turns out to be a hit in the typical THRESHOLD manner. Of course, the crystal clear, powerful guitar wall of Karl Groom and Nick Midson is striking again, as well as the faceted vocals of Andrew “Mac” Dermott. The song should definitely find a way into the band’s live-set. The following duo “Ground Control” and “Opium” takes the same line. Whereat “Ground Control” comes along somewhat more complex than the other two songs and also grows only with several listenings. But once you completely catched the track, it mutates to one of the best on “Subsurface”. Song number four, “Stop Dead”, is somewhat more complex than the rest of the material as well, but on the other hand it is also endowed with more relaxed parts. It also grows with several spins, but then it settles down on a high level.
What would a THRESHOLD record be without a track of more than ten minutes? Right, unimaginable! That’s why there’s also one song on “Subsurface” that jumps over this mark. “The Art Of Reason” is an epic in the vein of “The Ravages Of Time” or “Critical Mass”. However the song can’t quite compete with the two masterpieces. Which, to me, is especially due to the somewhat pop-like chorus. It’s very easy to get into, but a bit too catchy to me. But you can definitely not talk about a blackout here. To the following “Pressure” there’s a nice video on the special edition version of the record, by the way. The song itself is one of the disc’s highlights. Heavy, but nevertheless melodic. An ear wig like you expect it from the band, superb! “Flags And Footprints” is a typical semi-ballad staged very well by Mac. When this man sings, even my girlfriend melts away (who hardly listens to Metal). Simply ingenital (sorryJ. The following “Static” should be the heaviest song of the record, at least as far as riffs are concerned, and the dreamy “The Destruction Of Words” rounds off the regular “Subsurface” disc perfectly. The Limited Edition contains, besides the already above-mentioned video, the bonus track “What About Me”, which was written by drummer Johanne James. Not necessarily a song that would by typical of the band, but another nice clolour dot in the THRESHOLD rainbow.
Lyrically “Subsurface“ is not a concept album, but a common thread actually can be discovered in the songs. Mostly it’s about society’s and the world’s demise on all its levels. The sound, as I already said at the beginning, is once again first-class.
“Subsurface“ is without doubt another milestone on the way of a really exceptional band. The top positions continue to belong to “Hypothetical” and “Critical Mass” to my ears, but “Subsurface” ranks very close behind them. Nobody, who wants to have a say in the melodic Prog Metal field, can avoid this album and especially THRESHOLD! I have never seen a band that has released strong albums only since the beginning of its career (not even MAIDEN or DREAM THEATER). You have to buy “Subsurface”, as well as all other records of the band.
Check out tips: everything (Online September 7, 2004)