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Sunday 10 September 2017

Reviews: Threshold, Leprous, The Great Discord, King Creature

Threshold: Legends Of The Shires (Nuclear Blast)

In their time as a band Threshold have have four vocalists in total but they have changed singers 7 times, Damian Wilson was the longest serving being part of the band from 1992-1993, then 1996-1998 and finally 2007–2017, with Andrew Mac MacDermott second having the more stable 1998 to 2007 tenure, thirdly it's Glyn Morgan who played with the band from 1993 - 1996 (and fourth was Jon Jeary who stopped singing in 1992 but stayed the bands bassist until 2003). After Mac left the band Damian Wilson returned for the bands last two critically acclaimed releases, its sounded like Threshold were going to have the most stable line up they have had for a while, however in early 2017 the band released a statement saying they were going to progress onward without Wilson behind the mic, there was bit of bluster about who was going to replace him and it turned out to be former vocalist Glynn Morgan who's only album was 1994's Psychedelicatessen.

Glynn has a rougher voice than Wilson but it's still got that feeling of familiarity being able to take the lighter spacey themes of Stars And Satellites along with the heavier tracks such as The Man Who Saw Through Time. That feeling of familiarity is probably due to the unchanged writing team of guitarist Karl Groom and keyboardist Richard West along with drummer Johanne James and bassist Steve Anderson who have been the long time rhythm section, as well as Wilson rhythm guitarist Pete Morden has also left the band since the previous record leaving Glynn to pick up his parts live.

So with the changes what about the new record? Well, it's pretty much the classic Threshold style of progressive metal, elongated songs, virtuoso playing, keyboard and guitar duels and a theme running through the record split by the three part The Shires suite, which features a returning Jon Jeary providing vocals on Part 3 as treat for fans. Stylistically they bring in some of the lighter textures of AOR and melodic rock for a record that is a study of English psyche (thus the title)

Threshold continue to forge ahead in their category of one, they are probably the only British band that can do the American style of progressive metal better than your Dream Theaters etc, but also they've added a lot more 20th Century UK prog rock to this record, this may be because of the soulful vocals of Morgan, you can hear the big prog rock heavyweights on Subliminal Highways and State Of Independence, there's heaviness, fragility, passion and an Englishness about Threshold that is always captivating, if you're looking for what could be one of the top progressive releases of the year then look no further. 9/10

Leprous: Malina (InsideOut)

Prog has had something of a reincarnation in the past 10 years, many bands have embraced the genre allowing it to become less of a dirty word, yes there will always be the solo's galore of Dream Theater but with Djent scene came, bands who maybe had radio play before, became less encumbered by their lot and experimented a little. Leprous come from the Scandi prog scene which has always been a bit more daring, but I'd say none more daring than Leprous who over the course of their career have adapted and tweaked their formula until we get the music featured on Malina. For most of this record the 'metal' aspect is downplayed and frontman Einar Solberg stays in his higher register which could upset those that have followed the band from their association with Ihshan but I think it's part of their ongoing evolution as a group.

e has the bristling electronic misery of Radiohead with a repetitive back beat, and the highest falsetto while Stuck is driven by immediacy and it's off-kilter rhythm which makes it audibly similar to 30STM or Coheed especially as it builds to the massive chorus and melodic lead break. There's a loud/quiet dynamic to it that hooks you in and keeps you interested before moving into bubbling electronic and strings coda in it's final part.

Leprous have always been experimental and since really Coal they have pushed the boundaries of their sound further and further. What strikes you about Malina is that it has more synths and keys than any previous record, meaning that their isn't as much reliance on heavy guitars, they are allowed to breath and bring the fleet fingered leads on top of the palm muted riffs that weave in and out of the tracks, see Mirage, keeping them right on the cusp of modern progressive music, but also giving them more scope into the, how can I say this, acceptable face of progressive music such as Coheed and Muse.

That being said they still maintain the quirks of obscure proggers such as King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator with the overt use of odd time signatures and dark, aggressive synths, they are the main component of Illuminate's unsettling musical base and Coma's jerkiness. A logical next step for Leprous who continue to create interest and enjoyment with their no compromise style, there aren't many bands that can be fresh and exciting while still being resolutely themselves. 9/10

The Great Discord: The Rabbit Hole (The Sign Records)

I saw The Great Discord for the first time supporting Katatonia in Bristol and they were truly a terrifying and intriguing sight to be hold, vocalist Fia Kempe was in full front person mode as sinister and dangerous alter ego IRE. (Check out the photos of the gig on our Facebook page to see IRE in all it's glory). The Great Discord are apparently classified as a progressive death pop band, a tag that speaks volumes about this album that thematically deals with an alternative telling of Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland, it's a trope that has been covered by numerous bands but The Great Discord take it to a stranger place than it's been before.

The music on The Rabbit Hole is contradictory, furious blast beats are met with the alt-pop sensibility of Kemp who's voice is build for big power ballads but is ideal for the dramatic songs on this record, take Darkest Day which is a 21st Century thrash number with huge vocal hook chorus and melodic lead break, or Gadget which pairs kooky vocals with heavy groove riffs. The Great Discord certainly win points for uniqueness, they have managed to merge modern heavy metal with electronic grooves (Tell Tale Heart) and top it with vocalist that has the dexterity of Tori Amos or Kate Bush.

The Rabbit Hole 
is the sound of a band who have developed into something much more invigorating than they were on their debut, the music featured here is weirder and heavy but it's accessible. There are lots of big bad metal bangers such as The Red Rabbit but also there are more measured dreamlike compositions like the Phillip K Dick lullaby of Neon Dreaming. Weird but worth investing in. 8/10

King Creature: Volume One (Marshall Music)

King Creature lead guitarist Dave Evans started on the pathway to being one of Marshall Records first acts from the age of 13, with his family sharing videos to Marshall Amplification of his progress using a practice amp sent to him by Managing Director Jon Ellery. From here the Cornish band were born out of jam sessions between Evans vocalist / bassist Dave Kellaway, guitarist Matt K Vincent and drummer Jack Sutton - Bassett, they plugged away at material for about two years in that time they were chosen by Lemmy to open for Motörhead at the Eden sessions in St Austell in 2015 Megadeth, Hellyeah and Down, playing the Hard Rock Hell and Winter’s End festivals. One listen to their debut record and you can hear why they were accorded with such an honour.

This four piece rock, hard, their groove heavy hard rock is the perfect Planet Rock fodder (if they'd play them than is ) but with a heavier edge than say Stone Broken or Big Foot. Musically the band are adaptable mainly due to Kellaway's versatile vocals that share a lot in common with Corey Taylor, this means that the band sound like Stone Sour on Fortune Teller, Wrath and ballad Can You Forgive Me but also they have the grunge wooziness of Alice In Chains on Can't Be Saved mixed with the guitar-laden rocking of Alter Bridge (Power) and Black label Society (The Pusher). Every song is well crafted for maximum impact the riffs are chunky and get you head nodding, the solos fly at a moments notice and the songs vary in tempo and style throughout the running time to keep you engaged.

Produced by Rob Cass (Slash, Brian May, Jack Bruce) at Abbey Road Studios no less King Creature have all the chops to be major players on the hard rock scene, the songs are there they just need that one touch-point tour or radio play to really explode out of the blocks into the stratosphere, get on board now before you regret it. 8/10

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