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IQ - The Road Of Bones CD (album) cover

THE ROAD OF BONES

IQ

 

Neo-Prog

4.25 | 1059 ratings

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Hercules
Prog Reviewer
5 stars *This review is of the 2 CD edition.*

I must have played this album 30 times or more, so I now feel able to review it.

First spins of the main disc were not particularly encouraging. Apart from the title track, which is amazing on first listen, the rest seemed dark and a bit uninspired, I moved on to disc 2 (where the cast offs/second rate tracks usually reside) and actually liked that much more.

However, IQ's material needs time to sink in. This is their first album entirely without Martin Orford (he wrote a lot of the material on Frequency before he retired) and, whilst the influences are similar, the execution is rather less bombastic.

Of course, there have also been personnel changes. Paul Cook is less flashy than Andy Edwards but he fits the band perfectly. Neil Durant shows astonishing skill on keyboards, at times sounding very like the great Mr Orford but not imitating him. He is all over the album in the way Mr Orford was on Dark Matter, but less obtrusively; less "in yer face". But the real revelation is Tim Esau; the intervening years since he last played with the band have seen him develop into a superlative player who is equally at ease on fretted and fretless basses and conjures up some wonderful bass lines.

Peter Nicholls has written some very deep dark lyrics and sings better than ever, but Mike Holmes is rather restrained, contributing far fewer of his trademark solos and much more heavy riffing.

As for the main disc, the title track and Oceans, a beautiful gentle track which is the one light moment on the album, driven by Esau's bass and Durant's keys, stand out. The other tracks grow on you greatly with time and Until the End really excels, with some nice acoustic guitar and hints of some Scottish tune I just can't place. The epic, Without Walls, has some marvellous passages but just doesn't quite gel; it seems like lots of bits of songs joined together. For this reason, the main disc would get a high 4*.

However, the 2CD edition has Constellation and Ten Million Demons, a stunning chunk of 80s style electropop (with a bit of Chicory Tip in the outro), both of which are worthy of inclusion on the main disc. Knucklehead, Hardcore and the 1312 Overture are also exceptional. This lifts the whole package well into 5* territory.

My only real disappointment is the paucity of the great guitar solos for which Mike Holmes is famous, but this shows that IQ are still capable of delivering music that few bands past or present can match.

An utterly essential album which contains easily enough great material to qualify as a masterpiece.

Hercules | 5/5 |

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