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IQ - Subterranea CD (album) cover





3.96 | 612 ratings

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5 stars In the year or so since I joined this site, I have found a few great bands, some mediocre ones and some truly awful ones. But none of the great bands I have discovered comes near IQ. I bought their entire catalogue; having heard many of the tracks on you tube, I wanted to see how this album works as a concept album. After 20 or so listens, I feel I can now come to a conclusion.

It works brilliantly. Nearly all the tracks are of a very high standard and the idea links them well. This band are superlative musicians, have a control of melody which beats almost all the great bands of the 70s (Camel and Genesis excepted) and the lyrics are intelligent and thoughtful. They bring back memories of the golden era wtihout being like any of the bands from that time, influenced by what went before but not mere imitations.

I have heard many who rant about neo-prog bands and how unoriginal they are (the first review I saw when I scrolled down I saw was an example and made my blood boil) but that is missing the point. At the end of the 70s most of the bands either called it a day or sold out, went commercial and abandoned prog. IQ, along with Marillion and Pendragon (to name a few bands) picked up the prog baton and ran with it, evolving and changing the direction of prog. The result is magnificent albums like this one.

The album needs to be listened to in its entirety. Most tracks are fairly straightforward except the epic and majestic The Narrow Margin, but Tunnel Vision and Sleepless Incidental are highlights. Martin Orford sprinkles his magical keyboards everywhere and Peter Nicholls produces the best vocal performance of his life. Mike Holmes is a grossly underrated guitarist, capable of beautiful solos and solid fills, whilst the rhythm section is a powerhouse, especially John Jowett's driving bass.

Comparisons will inevitably be made with The Lamb but they are pretty irrelevant - Subterranea is more consistent and (heresy!) I think better overall, simply because the story is more engaging (I never identified with Rael or the American cultural slant) and there are fewer bad tracks.

To conclude, this is an absolutely essential album and a rare masterpiece from the 90s.

Hercules | 5/5 |


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