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Sunday, 2 September 2012

Reviews: The Darkness, Threshold

The Darkness: Hot Cakes (Pias Recordings)

So Lowestofts' purveyors of 'Man Rock' return with the original line-up and have released an album that will erase all memories of the fractious One Way Ticket... and for the most part it does. Kicking things of in big glam style with the very sexy Every Inch Of You which has a slow build up before bursting into life after the "Suck My Cock!" refrain. This is followed by the very punky Nothing Gonna Stop Us which has more than a hint of Thin Lizzy to it. This is prime Darkness mixing the sounds of the early 70's into one great big bowl of fun, the aforementioned Lizzy is mixed with, T-Rex, Mott the Hoople (who's Ian Hunter appears on bonus track Cannonball) and everything is injected with a big dose of silliness. The band sound revitalised after their hiatus and they are firing all cylinders, the guitars rock, the bass funks, the drums crash and Hawkins' voice is still at its high pitched best. The tracks are mixed between big, brash, ballsy rockers and mountain top ballads, like the Celtic-influenced Living Each Day Blind. The oddest track selection is a cover of Radiohead's Street Spirit (Fade Out) which sounds like an early Iron Maiden song! (seriously). It's a very difficult to know whether The Darkness will ever be able to follow up Permission To Land but they have definitely returned with a bang. 7/10

Threshold: March Of Progress (Nuclear Blast)

Britain’s premier progressive metal band return with their first album since Andrew 'Mac' McDermott left the band in 2007 (McDermott passed away in 2011.) The man who replaced him was another former Threshold vocalist Damian Wilson who is well known as one of the UK's best singers. This album both looks backwards and also moves the band forward. There are the twin guitars of founder Karl Groom and Pete Morten which chug, strum and speed the album along at a great pace. Both men's playing is superb but it's Groom's solos that really shine (most notable is on the majestic Liberty Complacency Dependency which is inspiring and uplifting). This is not to mention the fantastic interplay between the guitars and Richard West's keyboards which add an extra layer of melody and power to all of the riffs. Both the drums and bass are also fantastic with Wilson's vocals soaring on top of this cacophony of sound showing just how wide his range is. Many of the tracks are noticeably shorter than on previous efforts, Rubicon is the only track that clocks in at over 10 minutes. There is power and intensity in every track with many having almost a European style to them in the way the guitars and keys work together and then others are big powerful, complex melodic metal that the band have always done very well. The production of Groom and West is also crisp and as modern as you would expect. This is a crowning achievement in Thresholds history, yes many will say it is more lightweight Dead Reckoning but this suits Wilson's higher register and it harks back to Thresholds past whereas tracks like the industrial sounding Divinity beckon towards a brighter future. Welcome back guys. 9/10 

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