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IQ - The Road of Bones CD (album) cover





4.23 | 1324 ratings

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Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Well, apparently I'm in the minority on this album from IQ. "The Road of Bones" is this neo- prog band's newest foray, and it comes across as darker and more mature lyrically than some of their previous albums. With a malevolent theme and what I expected to be stunning contrasts between dark riffs and bright synth, "The Road of Bones" was supposed to be a killer album, for me especially.

There's something off about this album that I can't quite place. IQ has certainly given us an interesting album, as it's full of atmospheric and driving guitars, some great synth work, and some wonderful bass and drums. However, nothing particularly stands out for me. None of the instrumentation seems truly on point, crisp, or inspired. Take, for instance, the driving riffs in the opener "From the Outside In". It's as if I've heard that same particular passage a hundred times in other albums. It's good, don't get me wrong, but nothing special.

There are other examples, though. The 20 minute epic "Without Walls" should be the cornerstone of this album. Instead, it contains only a handful of memorable moments as it plods along with little to no direction. Still another example can be found in the quieter moments of the album. IQ attempts to create some thick atmospheric sections that mainly consist of limited piano and singer Peter Nicholls' ponderous voice. This type of thing usually thrills me. I'd even call myself easy to please. However, the vocal lines are completely forgettable and the transitions to the rest of the song are just kinda there.

I think that's my main issue with this album. It all just so "blah". It's not bad. It can even be enjoyable at times. However, it's so painfully average and pedestrian that I'd almost rather hear a band fail miserably at trying something new than listen to this flat, unremarkable album. In fact, even the cover art is so middle of the road. Sure, the performances (especially Nicholls' vocals) are okay, but, in the end, I think most amateur high school bands could play most of this, and probably compose something better, too.

So, what saves this album? The title track is one of the best songs I've heard in 2014. It's so unfortunate and somewhat ironic, no? The title track is climactic, brooding, and ends in blazing glory. It finally provided that contrast I was seeking, and the lyrics are so personal. So, yes, this album was saved from an even worse rating through this one song, and also by the last 30 seconds of the album wherein IQ gives us the first atmospheric vocal/piano passage that actually connects.

I usually am the one that is pleased with an album while others are lambasting it. However, I just can't see why others are praising this album, some calling it the possible album of the year already. If one great song and a handful of interesting minutes are enough to deserve that label, then I don't know why I even write anymore.

Second Life Syndrome | 3/5 |


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