HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Hodson - This Strange World
(Frontiers)

Hodson is a new band formed by Ten/Bob Catley keyboardist Paul Hodson, who includes Bob Catley guitarist Vince O'Regan amongst his ranks as well. What they've come up with is a rousing traditional metal album somewhat akin to Rainbow, Ark, Yngwie, Blue Murder, or metal-minded Whitesnake. The production is grinding, and maybe a little cold, the grooves deep and rich, but what is most impressive is the fact that Hodson is a deadringer for Graham Bonnet, even if at times he can go a little off-key, or at least seem to (see 'The Calling'). Still, that's a minor complaint on a record of epic metal tunes that aren't power metal but still sound very traditional, regal and medieval (someone's going to have to come up with a term for this). Includes an oddly frustrating version of Rainbow epic 'Light In The Black', chafing due to a clunky rhythm vibe for the main riff and a turgid guitar sound, which for some reason isn't a negative on the originals.
Rating 7.5

Threshold - Subsurface
(InsideOut)

UK's number one neo-prog band Threshold are back with their seventh studio album in 12 years, and the results uphold the standard folks have for this clear, bright, near straightforward prog metal phenom. Like many of the best and biggest these days, Threshold aren't afraid to house their prog aspirations amongst pounding, grinding metal riffs, a near relentless churn that is countered nicely by sparkling keyboards and the pure AOR-ish singing voice of Andrew McDermott. Everything pretty much rocks on here, the percussive brunt of the album elevated by socially conscious lyrics aimed at bettering the planet, the political climate as well as personal traits closer to home. Fans of (or between!) Vanden Plas and Tiles should check this out.
Rating 7.5

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