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Threshold > Dividing Lines > Reviews > Andromeda_Unchained
Threshold - Dividing Lines

Pushing the limits of what's meant to be - 92%

Andromeda_Unchained, November 23rd, 2022
Written based on this version: 2022, Digital, Nuclear Blast

No word of a lie, I was actively worried about this album. This year has seen a considerable number of records drop from favourites both new and old which, to varying degrees have disappointed. Couple this with the fact that I think Legends of the Shires ultimately ranks among Threshold's weakest offerings, I was pretty much set up for tears. I cast somewhat of a blind eye to the albums pre-release promo cycle - so as not to tarnish the album whole, and even held off taking the release day plunge. Still, those amber and sepia tones of Dividing Lines' stark album cover haunted me. and it wasn't long until I had no choice but to abandon my instincts and like the proverbial YouTuber "dive in".

"Ya fucker" were more or less the sentiments after hitting the play button. The next hour or so was spent flitting between that stank face, nod of approval type head-banging, pensive, analytic thoughts, and ultimately a rip-roaring old time listening to music. Not that it ever went away, but this is what I want from Threshold. This is absolute lightyears closer to what I'd envisioned the day I heard Glynn Morgan had been sucked back in. We all know the press and its love for those "they're back" success stories, and yeah, it's hardly a fresh take, and rarely the truth of a situation; I'd be lying if I said it wasn't the way I felt at first. Dividing Lines more or less reinforces my stance that Shires was an album written with Damian Wilson in mind, and once that relationship ended Glynn was essentially "brought in" to finish the job. Whilst this album is through and through a great Threshold record, it should be seen as the coming out party for Glynn Morgan, he was the mutt's nuts on Psychedelicatessen which has since been kind of overshadowed, but here he's the present, and I sincerely hope the future, the voice of Threshold.

Lost faith in the human race
Lost hope in the ever after
You got burned everywhere you turned

It ain't Shakespeare, but it's more or less the last few years of my life summed up. Threshold have always been one of a small handful of bands I can identify with lyrically, and it's no different here. Whether sharp social commentary, political, or introspective, Threshold always manage to strike as poignant, sincere, and frankly intelligent. I was particularly jazzed to hear reference to Subsurface's "Mission Profile" in "Complex", such a prog move, I love it. Vocal lines as can be expected by now are smooth and catchy, somewhere between their 00s run with a good blend of instant, this is going to be stuck in my head all day specials, and less conventional neo-prog stylings. Before I even took a look at the writing credits, I could identify Glynn had more of a hand in the songwriting here, which is great and "Let It Burn" happily recalls a couple of the ideas evident in "Will To Give" from Psychedelicatessen, nicely done!

Musically I'd say as with the vocal lines, is that this album very much has roots in Threshold's 00s run - which is their equivalent of Maiden's 80s run - although that's not to say Dividing Lines isn't adorned with aspects of the glistening modernism seen in the likes of March Of Progress, or that it's without fresh ideas. Basically, if you've made it this far and aren't familiar with Threshold's music their sound has been built on the marriage of formative progressive metal (think Fates Warning around Perfect Symmetry) with neo prog (less Rush, more Marillion) and over the years opened the aforementioned marriage up to modern metal and a slight flirtation with contemporary pop/rock. "Haunted" and "Complex" are both thumping anthems destined for the live environment, with mammoth vocal lines and fine examples of Karl Groom's post-thrash riff collection. Partial and full-blown epics litter the album although the finale "Defence Condition" is particularly noteworthy in highlighting why Threshold are such a fantastic band, and one who are especially good at conjuring this type of longform banger. As mentioned before, it's great to see Glynn more involved in the songwriting, with both "Let It Burn" and "Run" standing as further highpoints.

I'm really happy with how this one turned out, if you dig Threshold then this is a no-brainer. If you've stumbled on this review because you're looking to give the band a chance, then I would urge you to do so. Seriously, outside of being one of the premier progressive metal bands, Threshold write really good music, which to me is transcendent of labelling and genre. This is their best since March Of Progress, serious stuff. Buy it, stream it, spin it, do what you do, just don't sleep on it.