Album of the Year 2014 – Number 6
Welcome to Day 15 of the Blog Of Much Metal Album of the Year 2014 countdown. Once again, thanks for sticking with me on this annual labour of love – the continued support really inspires me to keep putting the effort into this series.
A quick reminder before I launch into today’s post that each of the preceding posts in this series can be accessed via the links at the bottom of this article, alongside the full lists from 2012 and 2013.
Here’s where it gets really interesting today though, because here’s my choice at Number 6:
‘For The Journey’
Nuclear Blast Records
In the same way as it’s impossible for the sun to orbit the Earth, it is impossible for Threshold to release an album which is anything other than a high quality affair. In their 25 or so year career, Threshold have never released an average record, let alone a bad one. Some are better than others admittedly, but even in the face of adversity, something with which the band are more familiar of late, none of their ten albums have ever fallen short of the mark. It’s fair to say therefore that the name Threshold is synonymous with utter professionalism.
In my review of ‘March Of Progress’ for Powerplay Magazine, I remember referring to two distinct facets at play; a blend of the old Threshold approach and the new. It worked, as all Threshold albums seem to but what ‘For The Journey’ offers once again is a flow and a cohesiveness that was perhaps missing within its predecessor. Much of this has to do with frontman Damian Wilson who, having returned somewhat unexpectedly after the surprise departure of the late Andrew ‘Mac’ McDermott, has now properly reintegrated himself into the fold. The result is, frankly, beautiful.
Much is made of genres and pigeonholing bands in the rock and metal arenas, as if the genre is more important than the music itself. In the case of Threshold, they’ve always been referred to as a progressive metal band. There are plenty of nods towards prog metal within the Threshold sound on this album of course, not least via the grandiose 12-minute epic in the form of ‘The Box’ with it’s impressive and subtly complex ebb and flow. But that said, it’s probably fairer to refer to Threshold as simply a fantastic metal band that combines memorable melodies, huge choruses and enough complexity to equip their compositions with genuine longevity. After so many years in the industry, Threshold are true masters of their craft, in full control of their art and able to produce stunning results seemingly with ease.
At this juncture, I must admit to the fact that, for me, ‘For The Journey’ was a slow burner. My initial response was that it was typically Threshold without really knocking my socks off. However, with time, this record has really worked its considerable magic on me, to the point where I adore every moment of it.
Opener ‘Watchtower On The Moon’ is classic modern Threshold, a ballsy, driven composition with an immediate chorus which, stylistically, could easily have been lifted straight off either of the last two records.
One of my personal favourites, ‘Lost In Your Memory’ sees a welcome return of the all-out sophisticated power ballad that was lacking on the last record. It’s a truly gorgeous track that blends some genuinely inspiring lyrics with a chorus to rival the majestic ‘Falling Away’ which, until now was my all-time favourite Threshold track. Then there’s ‘Autumn Red’ in which Damian Wilson gives one of his very best vocal performances. Wilson has always been one of my best-loved vocalists but throughout ‘For The Journey’, he sounds inspired and at his very best. And then the album closes with ‘Siren Sky’, a wonderfully melodic, atmospheric and sensitive track written by guitarist Pete Morten to underline that there’s more to Threshold than just the old songwriting stalwarts of Karl Groom and Richard West.
Speaking of Messrs Groom and West, perhaps one of the finest features of this album is the juxtaposition between Groom’s sharp, incisive riffs and the richness and depth and provided by West’s keyboards. Put together, there’s a sophistication that many other bands would kill for.
In simple terms,‘For The Journey’ is, genres be damned, yet another hugely impressive album that, once it gets its claws into you, will never let go. Class is built right in.
Check out the other posts in this series:
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 7
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 8
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 9
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 10
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 11
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 12
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 13
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 14
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 15
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 17
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 18
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2014 – Number 20
And if you’re interested, my similar countdowns from previous years can be accessed here: