Threshold - European Journey,
2015 saw the fifth live album from Threshold, but strangely enough this is the first one to feature Damian on vocals as the others had all been released during one of his breaks from the band. It was the first one in nine years, and with two recent studio albums behind them it made sense for this to be released when it was. As would be expected with the live set it concentrated on the most recent studio albums, with nine of the fifteen songs coming from the last two, but perhaps what is somewhat surprising is that there were far less songs that one might have expected from the earlier period of the band. I would have loved to have heard more songs, well any songs, from ‘Wounded Land’ the debut that shot them to stardom all those years ago. Okay, I was lucky enough to see them a few times in the Nineties, but that was some time ago now, and given that this was Damian’s first live recording with the band surely there could have been room for “Sanity’s End” or “Paradox”?
But to be honest, it’s always going to be hard to pick a setlist to please everyone with such a history behind them, so let’s concentrate instead on what we do have. Johanne James has been sat at the back for a good many years now, and I firmly believe that in many ways he is one of the most under-rated and overlooked drummers in the scene. He knows when to be powering and driving, and when to take a step back, and his relationship with bassist Steve Anderson is second to none. I still find it strange that Nick Midson is not there anymore, given the way that Karl Groom and he used to seem locked as one, yet Pete Morten is far more than just a stand-in, while keyboard player Richard West knows exactly what is required to move the music away from pure over the top metal. Then there is Damian. Mr. Wilson is one of the finest rock singers of his generation, and I still believe that Iron Maiden made the wrong call when they chose Blaze Bayley above him when they both auditioned to replace Bruce. He sings like an angle, and his power and range is incredible.
The new songs fit well with the slightly older ones, and it is interesting to hear Damian take on numbers originally recorded by a different singer. Highlight for me is “Long Way Home”, from 2001’s ‘Hypothetical’ when it was sung by Mac, but while Damian does a good job it is the power of the band behind him that really makes this shine.
To my ears this is a strong album, but 2004’s ‘Critical Energy’ takes some beating when it comes to the ultimate in live Threshold albums.