Threat Signal – Disconnect (Agonia)

Thursday, 26th October 2017
Rating: 9/10

Despite an early pick-up by Nuclear Blast, things haven’t ever really been easy for Threat Signal. Some perpetual line-up changes within the band have kept them from more global dominance, while each release has seen them shift in different directions (a la the thrashier self-titled, and the more melodic Vigilance). It’s been six years since the self-titled release, which sat as their strongest release to date, and the long-promised Disconnect is finally here. It stacks up wonderfully, bringing a meld of the band’s most defining elements and an exploration of new areas.

Threat Signal has always managed to hit a sweet spot that borrowed from thrash/melodic death, metalcore, chuggy Meshuggah-esque grooves, and Fear Factory-esque cyber metal rhythms. All of these elements are here and fully intact. There’s a feeling of familiarity with tracks such as “Exit the Matrix” and “Elimination Process,” with their bouncy grooves, thrashy tempos, and use of big hook-driven melodies. In fact, “Exit the Matrix” sits as one of the finest examples of the band’s work – weaving intricate melodies into the thrash and groove format, with vocalist Jon Howard doing some of his most monstrous screams and best singing to date. But this is far from an album of predictability.

There’s a much larger embrace of the progressive at hand, particularly in the second half of the album. Long, flowing leads permeate “Aura,” as do more progressive riffing structures. “Betrayal” completely flips things over, as a dark acoustic piece that oddly fits right into the progression – offering a bit of reflection between “Aura” and “To Thine Own Self Be True,” a cut that features Howard’s vocals soaring atop some shining melodic riffs in the chorus. But if one song is worth investigating at length, it’s the epic 10-minute closer “Terminal Madness.” Here the band sits at their most progressive, utilizing a variety of tempos, moods, and impressive soloing to build to an explosive denouement. It’s a large step for the band, but one done naturally and with a lot of attention to detail.

Full of the band’s energetic mix of chuggy riffing and galloping thrash, it’s admirable to see that Disconnect is full of some surprises as well. Threat Signal has returned with a sound that still feels familiar, but stands leagues above what they were doing on previous releases. Thoroughly headbangable, but surprisingly reflective and expansive. Exactly the kickstart this band needed.

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