The Unseen Paragon is yet another column which will receive irregular entries. This column is going to focus on old school albums that completely and utterly slipped under the radar and never received the credibility or the listens the album(s) deserved. This column is going to dive so deep into obscurity that it can be guaranteed you, the reader, have never heard this material. Ever. Anyway without further introduction …
This entry is going to focus on a rather odd effort that was a part of a moderate movement that only few received the credibility deserved. This movement is essentially thrash metals last breath, but what a breath it was, and I’m talking about the progressive-technical-thrash movement in the early 90s. One band might come to mind right away, Coroner, but there were a herd of other bands who were arguably just as good if not better than Coroner … problem was, no one listened. The Unseen Paragon’s first entry will focus on an effort that blew the cosmos of my mind, and then some. This gem was spawned in the land of stinky cheese and delicious wine known as France. Threshold [not to be confused with the proggy UK metallers] is an extremely obscure band that released only one known album, and that was Within The Expanse.
Where to begin with this album? First off throw out all that you know about this genre, and go into this album with a clear and open mind, because when you press play, oh boy.
I’m really a huge fan of albums that pull you in right from the beginning and make it impossible to skip a track or not listen to the album in its entirety in a sitting. Within The Expanse is a musical journey through the depths of thrash metal and obscure song writing. Each song has its own very unique styling. The vocals seem cold and disconnected, and the whole album reeks of this desolate and bleak feeling, it’s almost like a bad acid trip. Speaking of psychedelics, Within The Expanse even has a psychedelic aura about it, mainly due to the odd vocal execution. Another great element this album has is a feeling of chaos. Maybe this is due to its progressive nature, but every song feels as if you’re on a roller coaster ride. The stereotypical thrash riffing is apparent and done extremely well mind you, but then after you think it’s going to be your average headbanger it goes off in some sort of spacey or extremely progressive direction. This is what really made it for me. Very few albums have captured this, and when most bands attempt such a feat it comes out feeling scattered and messy. Threshold is anything but scattered. It may feel chaotic at times and all over the place, but it’s executed so well that it’s impossible to find any sort of negatives.
It’s quite incredible what was achieved with this album. The riffing is completely off kilter at times, the vocals bring your psyche to places you never thought possible in thrash metal, and the extended song lengths give enough space to bring you on these journeys, and leave you hungry for more. THIS is what progressive thrash is about, and that’s why there are die-hard fans of this sound. I also believe this is why Vektor is doing so well these days. It’s almost like the thrash revival has created enough stir and purveyed enough quality that people are more inclined to check out different sounds and actually digest them and form proper opinions. Albeit Threshold doesn’t resemble Vektor in any way shape or form, it’s just the fact that both play a style that is criminally under appreciated.
But getting back to Threshold, Within The Expanse is a monument to what this genre was capable of. Everything about this band is great. The musicianship is of the highest quality, the solos are completely blistering and the thrashy riffs are executed with such precision that it really makes you wonder why this band never exploded. Maybe it was bad timing? Poor management? Bad label? Whatever the reason may be, do yourself a favor and give this album a spin, if you like multi-dimensional thrash, then this album is for you.
About the Author
Anyway I'm one of the co-founders of Axis Of Metal, which I created out of a love for all things heavy. Admittedly my first foray into music wasn't so heavy. At twelve i developed a love for grunge music, which then lead to a love of classic rock, and punk. Then as I consumed almost every piece of music in said genres I needed something with a bit more intensity, and something more extreme. One day I was walking through the halls in my high school, and i heard music blasting out of someone's headphones, and it was exactly what I was looking for. So after I found out that it was Slayer's "Disciple" I went home that day, and listened to every song Slayer had ever released, and that's how it all started.
So that's my story, so why not go out and listen to me blabber on, on the podcast or go and read what the Axis Of Metal's writing team has to say. Axis of Metal is created by metal heads, for metal heads.