Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada the melodic death metal band Threat Signal was formed in the summer of 2003 by cousins Jon and Rich Howard, the band’s vocalist and guitarist respectively. They are self-described as “a detuned, syncopated, melodic metal machine.” That image sounds accurate to my ear. The cousins added songwriter and guitarist Kyle McKnight to help flesh out the band. In 2004, Threat Signal posted one of their songs “Rational Eyes” on an international metal chart at GarageBand.com, and after just a few weeks the song reached #1. The GarageBand.com buzz helped them develop interest and a following even before they had played one live show.
Many metal bands these days use a combination of feral growling mixed with more melodic vocals, but the stark contrast between the two gives Threat Signal songs an almost contradictory aural fusion. From the bone-crunching double kick drum which opens “Rational Eyes” to the rage inflicted vocals of Jon Howard, the song is dark and angry. The guitars seems almost rabid. And then the chorus kicks in with a modern rock wall of harmonies, backstopped by those dirty guitars and jackhammer drums.
The success of that first song took the band to Los Angeles in 2005 to record with Fear Factory’s Christian Olde Wolbers. While in L.A. the band inked a deal with Nuclear Blast records (In Flames, Meshuggah, Soilwork). This lead to their first full length effort for Nuclear Blast, Under Reprisal, which was produced by Wolbers with the band co-producing. Reprisal hit the streets in 2006, and the band released two singles off of the album; the aforementioned “Rational Eyes”, and another metal-meets-punk track, “A New Beginning”. The latter kicks off with a rolling hammer-on lead guitar melody before the guitars, bass and drums try to pulverize your senses. Threat Signal’s freshman release was a solid slab of metal with elements of pop and punk blended in. The album comes at you head on, right between your eyes. The band’s choruses have a touch of the old Linkin’ Park sound, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your point of view.
Co-founder Rich Howard left the band soon after the album’s release, to pursue other personal ventures. Jon’s other partner from 2003’s original line-up, Kyle McKnight followed Rich out the door. Rotating cast members has been an unfortunate problem for the band and now six years later, Jon Howard is the only original member. the band has gone through three drummers, five guitarists and three bassists to get to the current line-up of Jon, bassist Pat Kavanaugh, drummer Norman Killeen, and guitarists Adam Weber and Travis Montgomery. Let’s hope nothing changes by the time you read these words.
Last month brought the release of the band’s sophomore effort, Vigilance. Jon Howard helmed production of the band’s new CD, and Greg Reely (Fear Factory, Devil Driver) mixed and mastered the album. Fans may have been worried that the band would not be able to fulfill the promise of the first CD with two of its core songwriters gone from the band, but you won’t find a sophomore slump, on Vigilance. If anything the new CD is even more heavy and bruising than its predecessor. The band has released the first single off of Vigilance entitled “Through My Eyes” and it is a musical roller coaster ride of white knuckle proportions.
Threat Signal has a tight sound with plenty of double bass drums to get your heart pumping and a definite hint of old school 80’s metal with a new and fresh edge. If there is one thing that I look for in my metal it is melody. If a band can successfully combine their guttural screams with memorable hooks and melodies I am on board. Threat Signal, welcome aboard.
Here is behind the scenes footage of the making of Vigilance:
The band has performed live with several artists including All That Remains, Soilwork, Hatebreed, Opeth, Darkest Hour, Mnemic, Saxon, Hammerfall and Testament among others. They can be found online at http://www.threatsignal.com/ and http://www.myspace.com/threatsignal