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IQ - Dark Matter CD (album) cover





4.03 | 864 ratings

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4 stars 4.5 Stars - Neo prog at its finest!

"Dark Matter" was my first discovery of IQ shortly after it was released. For whatever reason, I always put off exploring the music of IQ and put them on the backburner and went on to listen other prog bands. After about the 10th listen of this album, it finally clicked. And once it did, I catapulted IQ into the upper tier of neo prog bands. Here is a song by song review:

1) Sacred Sound - A very nice beginning with warm synths as it created a very plush atmosphere, something that has become a trademark of IQ. Once the drums start in, we are in for treat. Peter Nicholls' vocals are very distinct and its an acquired taste to really appreciate his style. But they blend nicely into the music itself, not standing out, but not too far in the background either. At no point does the vocals ever become the real focus on this album, but the music as a whole. The guitar solo spots are very effective, reaching climatic points at the proper times during this song. I love the transition at the 5:40 mark as IQ does this so well, almost better than any other band. Their breaks and tempo changes, like at the 6:45 mark, are a staple of their sound. They transition into soft vocals and make great use of the pipe organ sound. Follow all this up with a beautiful keyboard solo toward the end of the song....and we are done. A fantastic opener and very well done. 8/10

2) Red Dust Shadow - This is a very simple song that starts with acoustic guitar and vocal work. Then the keyboard comes in and creates a very unsettling atmosphere. Later the drums start up and then subsides again. A very mellow number, but not at all bad by any means. Although I feel with is the weakest track of the album. 6/10

3) You Never Will - I dont know why, but this is a song that grabbed my attention. Its a shorter song, but packed full with goodies. After a clock begins ticking, a great baseline starts up. Incredibly nice drum fills add to this song. There is a well timed break at the 2:43 mark which goes into a nice keyboard solo after which if followed with almost haunting vocals and organ. Incredibly effective and one of my favorites. 8/10

4) Born Brilliant - I always seemed to skip this song and go directly to the main course...but after repeated listens, I might have been passing up a very decent song here. There is fantastic opening with a distinct bass line and distant vocals. Once the song gets into full gear, it is quite pleasant. It maintains a great tempo and bass guitar seems to be a focus in this one. 6/10

5) Harvest of Souls - OK, the main event...This song is divided into 6 sections. I won't get into the anti American sediments and lyrics on this one, but it seems to fit the overall theme of this song. It has a beautiful beginning with light guitars and vocals. At the 4 minute mark the drums and bass kick up and begins to build. Then a dark turn at 6:15 followed with a much faster tempo. There seems to be an almost chaotic feel in this section. It is then followed by a lush keyboard solo. At 9:00, it slows down again and we hear some more pleasing vocal work which then turns into another chaotic ambush of keyboards and drums. At the 12:18 mark, this is where the song is catapulted into the upper level of epics. There is a great piano section followed by keyboard and tempo changes, a neo progger's dream come true. Beautiful vocals along with soothing soundscapes and a wonderful melody, this is what progressive music is all about! Music rarely gets any better than this. Again, more beautiful piano work at the 14:30 mark followed by a bombastic organ and bass driven section. There are fantastic transitions and crunching guitar work followed by a wonderful outro the revisits each section. It ends perfectly just a tad shy of 25 minutes. Now THAT is how you make an epic! Continually building until it climaxes at the latter stage and regresses back to where it began.....brilliant song! 10/10

I am glad this was my first IQ experience. I think this album really sums up what they are all about, especially the final song. I then delved into their previous releases, but none of them tugged at me like Dark Matter. Again, at first listen or two, it may not fully grasp your attention, but once it clicks, the rewards are worth the effort. I give it 4.5 stars...but round down to 4 for the sake of this format, just shy of the masterpiece excellent addition to any music collection! - May prog be with you!!!

cutsofmeat | 4/5 |


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