24th of January 2016
Review by Ancient Winds
Photography by Graham Hilling
After a series of successful shows in Germany, Progressive metal pioneers Threshold offered an exclusive gig in London on Sunday 24th of January 2016 to close their European tour “The Journey Continues”. It seems the O2 Academy Islington has become one of their favourite venues. In November 2014, they played there to promote their tenth opus “For the Journey”.
This time, the goal of this recent tour was to promote their fifth live album “European Journey” released by Nuclear Blast last year. As usual, the O2 Academy Islington provided an excellent sound for the headliners and the supports bands. Spheric Universe Experience and Damnation Angels were chosen to open for Threshold throughout this memorable tour.
Damnation Angels (4/5)
Formed in 2006 in England, this Symphonic heavy metal band impressed the audience thanks to the brilliant performance of their new vocalist Ignacio Rodríguez. After doing a demo and a self-produced EP, they signed with German label Massacre Records in 2012.
The Brits have released two albums so far (“Bringer of Light”, “The Valiant Fire”) and received positive reviews. However, they suffered many line-up changes through the years, which may explain why the band is still struggling to get recognized.
Despite the absence of a real keyboardist, the pre-recorded synths sounded in a very epic way and were well highlighted throughout the show. The musicians know perfectly their subject and seem to have a solid experience in gigs.
Will Graney provided some good guitar solos but the one who really impressed me was their new singer hailing from Argentina: Ignacio Rodríguez. He has a wide vocal range, alternating brilliantly aggressive and very high-pitched vocals.
Damnation Angels are one of the most promising UK heavy metal acts and must take the advantage of being part of such an important label like Massacre Records. A great discovery.
Spheric Universe Experience (4/5)
Although I’m French, I have to say I’ve never heard of this Progressive metal act coming from South Eastern France. Formed in 2002, Spheric Universe Experience have already released four albums and are currently signed at the very good US label Nightmare Records, specialised in Progressive metal.
Despite its huge popularity in my home country, this musical style has always been a bit poor there in terms of bands. The only exception remains Adagio who achieved commercial success in Japan and recognition within the European heavy/power metal scene during the last decade.
I’ve recently noticed that two members used to play for Artefact, a talented black metal band that I reviewed and interviewed back in 2008. The world is so small! Anyway, they delivered a great live performance mainly thanks to their high technical level and experience.
Those musicians have succeeded in crafting some very complex compositions that still remain melodic. Fred Colombo is a good keyboardist, mixing several ways of playing synths efficiently: experimental/electronic, atmospheric and progressive (fast solos).
Vocalist Franck Garcia can reach some very high notes. His French accent and charisma also convinced the British crowd present that night. I’m really looking forward to listening to their next album as it seems nothing has been done from their side since 2012. I hope to see them again soon.
This London concert was quite special for the British masters of prog metal. It was indeed their only UK date, which is not surprising at all as this musical style has never been popular there. That’s a big paradox since Great Britain was the cradle of Progressive rock. There are things that we definitely cannot explain!
This show also marked the end of their European tour and charismatic vocalist Damian Wilson was so happy to come back home and sing in front of his loyal fans.
I think I’ve never seen such an enthusiastic singer on stage. As expected, the English offered a fantastic set even though they didn’t play the song I prefer the most: “Long Way Home” (from their cult masterpiece “Hypothetical” released in 2001).
They performed perfectly some old classics and a couple of recent excellent songs to the great satisfaction of the audience. I’ve been blown away by Johanne James’ amazing drumming performance. Of course, founding member Karl Groom and his mates were all impressive. Damian Wilson’s enchanting voice conquered the audience instantly.
He even left the stage several times to go inside the pit and sing next to the fans. He also gave some big hugs to some of them. That was very nice from him.
Threshold are one of the pioneers of the genre and have created their own style. Unfortunately, they have always been underrated throughout their career like Shadow Gallery (another purveyors of the genre).
If they had signed with a label bigger than Giant Electric Pea back in the 90s, I’m sure their popularity would have been far higher than it is today. Many thanks again to Threshold for this unforgettable show!