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IQ - Dark Matter CD (album) cover





4.03 | 863 ratings

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The SaidRemark
4 stars The Darker Side of Neo-Prog

This has been my first exposure to the music IQ, and it is nothing like I expected. The Genesis similarity is obvious - guitarist Mike Holmes does take a trick or two from the Hackett repertoire and vocalist Peter Nichols borrows more from Peter Gabriel than his first name. However, the primary influence here is something darker, something along the lines of Van Der Graaf Generator or Procul Harum. The church organ dominates the sound scape, and the lyrical matter is all quite dark. This is not to say that the music here is not completely original, because it really is, and they are technically beyond that of their contemporary peers such as Marillion.

The album sandwiches three short songs between two larger ones, notably the tremendous "Harvest of Souls." Though the short songs may be considered filler material, none of them are terrible, just not up the great standard set by the first and last numbers.

"Sacred Sound" is a great mini-epic despite having few parts parts than a verse, chorus, and bridge. The band makes great use of uneven time signatures like 13/8, over which the band members all very carefully and cleverly operate. Despite being a very dark song, it features a memorable and uplifting refrain where Nichols hits some terrific high notes.

"Red Dust Shadow," which might have dragged a bit if it weren't for a really great guitar riff, mellatron, and bass solo, follows the first track well. The production really shines here, as well as the entire album.

"You Never Will" picks up the pace a little, but leaves us wanting more. Besides an excellent keyboard solo and some really obscure drum fills, this song is somewhat uninteresting, and ventures into pretentious territory with its vague lyrics.

"Born Brilliant" is perhaps the only song on this disc likely to instantly grab the listener. Its menacing lyrics and driving beat are captivating. The band sounds like a factory as it trudges through it's rhythm. There is some ambiance that eludes to older Pink Floyd such as "Welcome to the Machine." However, it is only a preface for the following track.

Upon close investigation, "Harvest of Souls" is highly reminiscent of Genesis' "Supper's Ready," but that is not to accuse it of plagiarism. Though the multi-part structure of the two pieces are reflective of each other, the music of "Harvest of Souls" is completely unique and commendable. Each of it's six separate movements could possibly stand alone as songs of their own, but when combined in this larger piece by instrumental movements and recurring lyrical themes, they become something much stronger. Though certain segments could arguably have been omitted, and focus may seem lost at certain points, the last four minutes of reprisal are exactly what they should be, polishing the song of perfectly. In fact, all the music throughout this near 25-minute piece is top-notch, and its great length is fully justified. Though "Harvest of Souls" may not have the historical importance of a piece like "Supper's Ready," it in many ways a equally excellent effort.

This album comes at high recommendation from me. Despite accusations of excessive influence, I feel it represents among the best in Neo-Progressive music; IQ's music is equally as sophisticated as their 70's predecessors. Anyone looking for excellent modern symphonic prog with intelligent lyrics and a dark edge needs not look any further.

The SaidRemark | 4/5 |


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