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Aeronauts in a heavy cloud - 95%

naverhtrad, December 15th, 2016

Make that a really, really fuggin’-‘eavy cloud, mates.

Dead Reckoning is Threshold’s left turn back onto a direction which they hinted at with Psychedelicatessen, a direction signposted by Crimson Glory, Savatage, early Fates Warning, Tad Morose, Evergrey… in short, it’s a take on progressive metal that capitalises on instrumental crunch and squeal, that places a premium on power-metallic structure without sacrificing complexity or direction. Dead Reckoning is also a shorter and more compact Threshold album than most, clocking in at only 54 minutes. Suffice it to say that it features some of their most interesting, headbangable experimentation – and given my opinion on each of the bands aforementioned, disappointment certainly does not have a house on this road.

In keeping with this directness of approach, ‘Slipstream’ leaves you in no doubt from the very first riff that this is a different kind of Threshold album. Finesse? Oh, do you really think so? Fuck finesse. We’re out to mow you down, and you’re going to like it. Throughout the first four songs, all the way up to ‘Hollow’ (of which only one exceeds five minutes), and then again on ‘Fighting for Breath’ (like a maniac!) and the closer ‘One Degree Down’, Threshold simply do not let up, but are bent on trammelling down everything in their path with thick, crisp, blaring, overpowering riffs that would do a band like Tad Morose proud. And is Mac up to this challenge? Yeah. And then some. He delivers the lung-work with not only a worthy snarl. But, on ‘Slipstream’ and ‘Elusive’, apparently that’s Dan Swanö delivering some some credible harsh vox.

Does that mean Threshold has lost its character somewhat? No. Even on these compact heavy bruisers that James and Anderson flatten you with one after the other, the super-catchy layered choruses are still there, Groom and West still do their playfully competing back-and-forth solos, and there’s still a thoughtful angle to the lyrics that tells you – yes, of course this is the same band.

If you still doubt that, though… there’s ‘Pilot in the Sky of Dreams’ and ‘Safe to Fly’.

A Threshold album just isn’t a Threshold album without one of these grand, ten-minute epic wanderers, and ‘Pilot’ stands out readily from the rest of Dead Reckoning by virtue of its subdued and introspective mood, but from the opening melancholy piano chords, punctuated by a single lonely bass note, it launches into what can only be described as a romantic ballad, with Mac providing an evocative croon. But it’s a ballad that veers readily into speedy, soaring progressions, and whirls into windswept vortices, that bring the aerial theme vividly to life. Once it gets up to cruising speed, you can’t help but be carried along.

Then again, ‘Safe to Fly’ is another such deceptively-softer and deceptively-simple composition, which glides a three-then-five-note melody over a heavy and soulful landscape of sound, and occasionally provides that gentle keyboard-bounded breathing room that an album like this needs. But even ‘Safe to Fly’ provides its share of those massive power chords that grace the rest of the album.

Once again, we are presented with a not-quite-concept album with a strong central theme: this time (as indicated by the cover art), an aeronautical one dealing with the uncertainties and perils of navigation. This theme again gets to cover a lot of ground, from the literal to the metaphorical(-religious-relational-psychological). Worthy of note also, and maybe somewhat surprisingly given the ‘arder-and-‘eavier instrumentation, is that this is Threshold’s least-political (and most-personal) album.

It is a testament to Threshold’s musicianship that they can put out a bold departure from the norm like Dead Reckoning, and still retain pretty much everything about their sound that their fans have come to love. This one comes highly recommended for multiple reasons.

19 / 20

Pilot in the Sky of Dreams - 93%

Insin, April 3rd, 2015

Dead Reckoning is a real gem of progressive music from (at least in the U,S.) an underrated band. As Threshold’s eighth studio release and last album with vocalist Andrew McDermott, it’s another in the series of stellar albums. It seems rare that a band consistently puts out solid material, even rarer that they actually improve over decades of music-making. Threshold delivers every single time and this is even potentially their best album.

Laden with keyboards and a guitar tone that’s not overwhelming but undeniable metal, Threshold’s upbeat power metal vibe works much better in tandem with Dead Reckoning’s ambiguous lyrics than the same sound with Subsurface’s darker subject matters. However, considering they are first and foremost progressive rather than power metal, the shorter songs don’t do a great job of bringing this out, but they are able to showcase it better in the three 8+ minute songs. Nevertheless, the album remains consistent and unified in sound, reinforced also by the constant lyrical references to flight and the repetition of words and phrases throughout. Dead Reckoning is the only Threshold album to feature harsh vocals, provided by Dan Swano from Edge of Sanity, and they are present on two tracks, Elusive and Slipstream. They aren’t overused, only backing up Mac’s voice and bearable if you’re not a fan of death growling.

The standout song here is easily Pilot in the Sky of Dreams. Slipstream, the opening track, is a highlight as well, because it’s catchy. PITSOD is so much more. Not only is it catchy, but as the album’s centerpiece, it is the longest track at nearly ten minutes and displays some of the best songwriting I’ve ever heard. After an absolutely sing-alongable, soft piano introduction and melodic guitar solo, PITSOD plunges into a hectic section making up the bulk of the song. It’s so full of mind-blowing transitions and later on, awesome soloing, that it commands the listener’s attention the entire time. The song structure is unpredictable and exciting because that you have no idea what’s coming next, but a repetition of a chorus carries on the whole time. And that drum fill at 4:34. Kind of a weird thing to mention, but damn. It's just a perfect fit. PITSOD is the highlight of the album and Threshold’s discography as a whole. If you’re okay with slightly cheesy lyrics/vocals and prog wankery, listen to this song now.

Without PITSOD, I’d probably give the album a much lower score, but the other songs aren’t exactly bad either. There’s not much I can say about them, but the album sounds consistent, coherent, and instantly recognizable as Threshold (providing you’re already familiar with their material). Overall, another brilliant album that features the band’s best song – yet.

Another Excelent Piece Of Progressive Metal - 90%

JustinMetal88, May 21st, 2008

Dead Reckoning is the eighth studio album (and fifteenth overall) by progressive metal band Threshold. This album was released in 2007 and was the first album since the departure of founding member Nick Midson and it would be the last album to feature Andrew “Mac” McDermott on vocals. It is also their first album on their current label, Nuclear Blast. Well, enough background info, let’s review!

Dead Reckoning opens with Slipstream and this song starts with a heavy riff ( I use this riff in the Metal Mania Podcast ) and you will even hear some death metal grunts during the song. Is this Threshold? Yes, and no at the same time. The song is very heavy and the before mentioned death metal vocals make the song very different from other Threshold songs. Karl Groom’s fantastic solo, Anderson’s bass lines, Johanne James’ quick drumming, Richard West’s atmospheric keyboards and Mac’s warm voice are amazing as always in this track and it’s different from other Threshold songs, but great nonetheless. After this heavy beast we go to This Is Your Life. This song has a keyboard intro and after that the crunchy riff kicks in and Mac starts singing. This song is very catchy and has a fantastic chorus, which will haunt you for days. The song has a short, but very fast Groom solo and is overall another fine song. Elusive is another fine track. It is the second track on the album with some death metal vocals and has some very good instrumental sections and time changes. West and Groom play fantastic solos in this song and the keyboard part starting at 3.41 is just amazing, followed by another fine Groom solo. Next we have Hollow, a bit of a slower song with great atmospheric piano play by Richard West. This song has ( as always ) a great Groom solo and the chorus is once again very catchy. Overall a very melodic and catchy song, just like the previous song.

Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams nears the 10-minute mark and is the longest track of the album, and one of the best. This song is very diverse, it starts almost like a ballad with great piano play by Richard West, after about a minute Groom plays a solo and after that Anderson plays a smooth bass line and the entire band kicks in. Experimental key arrangements and guitar solos follow. This song is filled with time changes and you never know what to expect. The song has fantastic lyrics as well ( What became of the blue horizon? I was sure I was flying blind, Never saw that the plane went diving, Never thought I was out of time ). This is one of the highlights of the album and the song is just plain fantastic. Another masterpiece is a darker and more complex song called ‘Fighting for Breath’. Richard West’s key soloing will leave you amazed and the song will slow down after that at around 4.45. The song rushes further after this slow part and is filled with Richard West’s keyboard wizardry.

Next we have Disappear, which is my least favorite song of the album. It starts great with a piano part ( like Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams ) and after that the riff kicks in. This song is good, but it’s just not as good as any of the other tracks. It’s a straightforward direct song, like This Is Your Life but just not as good. After that we have another similair song, Safe to Fly. This song is almost like a ballad, but, like the previous song, not that great. Disappear and Safe to Fly are my least favorite tracks on this album, but I prefer Safe to Fly above Disappear because of it’s memorable ( and once again catchy ) chorus. And it’s just a better song overall. They saved the best for last for this album. The last track on the album is called One Degree Down and is another highlight and is a progressive masterpiece. It’s a very melodic song filled with addictive musical passages. Mac’s voice is once again fantastic and the chorus is awesome. This song is the most progressive track of the entire album, keyboard soloing, guitar soloing, time changes, riffs coming out of nowhere, keyboard atmospheres and harmonies and tight drumming action. The absolute highlight of this song and the entire album is the grand finale of this song featuring endless guitar soloing by Karl Groom. After Karl Groom’s guitar fades out, it’s over, you get the change to breathe again! This song will seriously leave you breathless, it’s THAT good. This track is the best of the entire album and one of the best songs Threshold has ever created.

Conclusion - Dead Reckoning is a solid progressive metal album. Short straightforward tracks like This Is Your Life and Hollow, and progressive killer tracks like Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams and One Degree Down make this album what it is. Disappear and Safe to Fly are the songs that make this album less perfect. But it’s still a damn good record leaving me very satisfied.

Rating - 90/100

Review by JustinMetal88

Review written by me for my metal site, Metal Mania Online.

Threshold at their best! - 98%

gretopi, April 4th, 2008

3 years after "Subsurface" Threshold is back with "Dead Reckoning", an album that confirmed that they're still at their top in composing/arranging progressive metal music including some astonishing melodies. First I thought that Threshold may have lost "it" after 3 years but I was proved very wrong as this is their best release yet.

Unlike the previous album which starts with the long/epic "Mission Profile", this one starts with the Thrashy/Catchy "Slipstream" which for the first time in the history of this band includes back-growl vocals at some points. The chorus takes the listener to another world as it is beautifully arranged. What's really noticeable in this song and in the rest of the album is the use of modern effects in all instruments even vocals, which already one of the most important properties in progressive music. "Elusive", the third track of this album which also features Dan Swanö (previously mentioned as back-growl vocalist) has this amazingly driven verses with heavy riffing and clever lyrics. It's actually my favorite track of the album, it has a great guitar solo as we got used to the best solos with Threshold, it has this very melodic part after the solo and finally once again the chorus in unbelievably cathcy. I would say it's one of the catchiest albums I've ever heard...

And so the album continues with the epic "Pilot in the sky of dreams" somehow the only traditional Threshold song in this album. "Fighting for breath" is the fast/Power Metal like song of the album, I really like how this song started, I imagined Korn turned into progressive metal. "Disapear" is a very emotional song especially with the piano driven intro. The bass line in this track is worth mentioning since it really fill the gaps between guitar funky-style riffs, amazing how these guys could mix styles in their music....

What's really noticeable in this album is the major Hard-Rock (especially Queen) influence Threshold has in their music. But in my opinion Threshold is one of the best progressive metal acts in all of England as they keep on releasing quality albums without regressing. It's a shame Mac had to leave, will be looking forward for their next release....

Makes listen and think - 98%

silencegazer, April 17th, 2007

First of all, it’s truly a Threshold album. It strongly resembles their previous work and still it doesn’t sound boring or repetitive. It’s more as though they took all they achieved in these years and brought it on a next level. It is one of those albums that you can listen tens of times and with every listening find the new sides of it.

Heavy guitars softened by keyboards and reserved yet emotional Mac’s vocals are really the most distinctive features of the album. They put aside the political and social side of their lyrics and took deeper into personal philosophy. Though musically it seems to be heavier and darker than the previous release, the whole atmosphere is very inspiring and full of feelings. The culmination of that is really in the ‘Pilot in the Sky of Dreams’ – strong and powerful yet romantic ballad. Another masterpiece is a darker and more complex ‘Fighting for Breath’ with probably the best guitar solo on this album.

Another notable thing is that almost every song on Dead Reckoning has references with songs of their previous album, Subsurface. You can feel these links both lyrically and melodically – the strongest is between ‘Hollow’ and ‘Flags and Footprints’, but also can be found, for example, between ‘Slipstream’ and ‘Static’ or ‘This is your Life’ and ‘Stop Dead’. But again, it’s not like they lack of new ideas. On the contrary, it connects all their work and becomes one the biggest pluses of the album.

To put it in a few words, the album is really remarkable. The only reason I’m not giving it a 100% is because I believe that Threshold can reach even higher and the best is yet to come.

Insanely good - 98%

onedegreedown, April 11th, 2007

I don't usually like reviewing CDs any more, because I feel I'm quite clumsy at it, but if any album deserves to be reviewed it's this one. Because to be honest, this is one of the finest progressive metal albums I've heard.

Threshold have been doing quite well up until now... I had four of their albums already - the two from the start, Clone, and Subsurface - and at first I was quite underwhelmed. I started out with the mediocre Psychedelicatessen. It was an okay album, but it wasn't exactly good. Normally I'd have lost faith in the band by this point, but I bought the album hot off having seen them at ProgPower UK, and so I knew they had something left to offer, and my faith paid off. Subsurface and Clone were not only very good albums, but they kept on growing and growing on me. At first the band sounded a little bit samey but the more you get into the songs, the more you really appreciate they all offer something very different, and normally very high-standard too.

And it's the same with Dead Reckoning. Except better. A lot better. The songs are all from the same school of "heavy, riff-based progressive metal with catchy choruses," moreso than on Subsurface for instance, but the second you get past that (it was upon the second listen for me), the album really starts to come into its own. It really is a work of art, and all the songs offer up something quite different. Pilot in the Sky of Dreams, for instance, is the centrepiece of the album and probably also the stand out track. It combines pretty much everything I like about Threshold. There's some really beautiful recurring melodies, fantastic vocal harmonies (possibly Queen inspired?), tasteful riffs, and a beautiful chorus that repeats throughout - something which a lot of ten minute epics seem to lack. The lyrics are brilliant as well, some of my favourite that Threshold have churned out.

And take the opening track, Slipstream. Destructive and driven verses, with a slightly more ethereal chorus, guitarwork changing effortlessly to accommodate this. And then Safe To Fly is indescribable, it's a song which should be a ballad... yet it's not. And Hollow even brings back memories of Subsurface to an extent, both lyrically and musically. From the opening notes of Slipstream to the end of Supermassive Black Hole (a fantastic cover might I add), it's pretty unstoppable, and I genuinely feel sorry for anyone who doesn't like this album. I don't think it's plausible for anyone who likes their prog to have interesting bits to dislike it, in fact.

There are a few minor qualms, but they're incredibly minor. I'll say that the slightly sing-song chorus to Elusive grates on me a little bit. Secondly there's a short section in the fantastic Pilot in the Sky of Dreams where it suddenly gets a lot heavier which feels a tad out of place. And lastly (and the most petty of the three), there's this sort of prechorus in One Degree Down, the bit which starts with "What if I fall..." and it is a moment of pure, unadultered genius, and yet they never repeat it throughout the rest of the song, which is criminal if you ask me.

Dead Reckoning's so good that it's actually got me a little bit scared. Firstly, it's not diverse in the traditional sense, not like Ayreon's "The Human Equation" or Dream Theater's "Octavarium" for some extreme examples, and yet I still love it this much. There must be some mind games going on here.

And secondly, amazing though the album is, with new Kamelot, new Dream Theater, and new albums by so many more brilliant bands, I've somehow got a feeling that the best is yet to come this year... and I authentically can't even begin to comprehend how that can be, especially knowing how fussy I tend to be. It's already beaten out Gothic Kaballah and Scarsick... all in all 2007's set to be a shockingly good year.

Threshold deliver yet again - 97%

Metalcreature, March 24th, 2007

These guys are on a roll. If you look at their career, they started out with 3 strikes, and most labels would have written them off after Instinct Extinct. Now dont get me wrong, the first 3 albums were ok, but nothing compared to when Mac joined the band. Clone was his first album with Threshold (1998) and they never looked back.

Now, nine years and five albums later, they are a perfect 5 for 5. Which brings me to Dead Reckoning. As catchy as Threshold was before, they were never this catchy. Every song sounds fresh and invigorating. There isnt a weak track to be found on Dead Reckoning. And they upped the ante in heaviness also. Why am i selling you on this fantastic album? Because they have everything they had before, and more. On track one and three there are death metal vocals, but they are only used very little. Dan Swano mimics Mac in singing "Climb The Wall and Leave it all Behind" in Elusive. He also throws in a little death vocals in the opening track Slipstream. But this actually works because its not like a Soilwork album, Mac is the vocalist and in the forefront. Dan only adds dimension. I also wanted to point out that there are still long songs, progressive parts, and great solos by Karl Groom and Richard West.

Now, the reason i dont give this a perfect rating is because there is only 9 songs on this. Couldnt you guys throw in a couple of extra tracks or something? Yeah 9 songs worked in the past, but with this cd i feel like im wanting more when the cd is over. I know 55 minutes of music is quite enough, but i would have to buy the digipak format of the cd just the get the Muse track that comes with it. Why not include that in the jewel case format as well? Besides that small complaint, which is very small, there is nothing else to complain about. If you were a Threshold fan before, there is no reason why you wouldnt like this album also.