Threat Signal is a Canadian five-piece technical metalcore band from Hamilton, Ontario. Disconnect, their fourth full-length album, has been out since November.
Disconnect is their first album since Threat Signal released a self-titled album in 2011. While it has some punchy riffs and evocative songs, the album as a whole lacks the internal coherence and overall aggression found on Threat Signal.
Album opener “Elimination Process” leads off with a gentle, dulcet introduction that abruptly ends once the heavy riffing kicks in – a classic 80s fake-out that might satisfy some younger listeners and those who have nostalgia for simpler times. “Nostalgia” (pun intended) is the second song. It mirrors the opener in structure, starting with heavy mosh riffing before progressing into an attractive middle part, complete with a guitar solo, anthemic choruses, and some clean guitars.
“Walking Alone” is the first song with original riffing on Disconnect. It has another clean intro, and the guitars stay back for a while during the main verse. Threat Signal keep a groove going through different parts of the song while sticking to the metalcore formula: semi-heavy riffing, clean vocals in the choruses, and a traditional pop song structure. But, unlike most ‘-core’ bands, they have guitar solos; some pretty good ones no less, and that has to count for something,
“Exit the Matrix” has a solid metallic intro and a deliberate buildup to a thrashing main riff, complete with screaming. It has the album’s best middle-part, featuring a programmatic solo and melodic flourishes almost symphonic in scope. This builds to a breakdown that alternates with the chorus. Spoiled only by preceding “Falling Apart,” a generic metalcore song, this one is actually close to perfection.
“Aura” has a similar structure and groove to “Exist the Matrix”, although it’s not quite as thrashy. Threat Signal still use this song to deal out plenty of brutality at the start. It has the generic metal chorus, but this cliché finds its least tired usage on Disconnect, with some imaginatively brooding melodies. The band then satisfies the need for power balladry in “Betrayal”. Strategically placed in the middle of the album, it reflects the traditional mid-set position of such songs at live shows. The song piles on the moody atmosphere while having a weak hook.
However, they atone for the sin of their “Betrayal” with “To Thine Own Self Be True”, a mid-paced pummeler. This song combines Threat Signal’s penchant for imaginative, heavy riffing with brooding melodies. It gives way to “Dimensions”, a stomp-moshfest, something that might be a lot of fun to play in the band’s practice space in ‘The Hammer’. Without a doubt, it stirs up the circle pit at live shows pretty good; on Disconnect, it seems a little trite.
Threat Signal close Disconnect with the ten-minute epic that is “Terminal Madness”. This would be their formula for earning a ‘progressive’ label for this album, if the ‘P-word’ were taken in the Rush/Dream Theater-esque epics rather than straight noodletry. It ends with an extended two-minute fade-out coda.
Does This Signal a Threat?
2017 has not been a kind year for metalcore. The year saw releases from August Burns Red, Miss May I, and We Came As Romans, and rarely have so many generic metalcore releases sounded so, well, generic. Threat Signal did not reach the heights of ABR, and instead hovered somewhere north of WCAR and Miss May I’s ‘play it safe’ approach. Six years after a commendable self-titled album, Threat Signal can be commended for just staying alive. Disconnect reportedly spent a year in development hell due to issues with their label and management. Hopefully, they will use this as a stepping stone for better releases further down the road.
Notable Tracks: “Exit the Matrix”; “Aura”; “To Thine Own Self be True.”
FFO: Miss May I, August Burns Red, We Came As Romans