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IQ - Frequency CD (album) cover

FREQUENCY

IQ

 

Neo-Prog

4.13 | 640 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Riding on waves of stellar progressive rock.

I must say, having not been at all impressed with IQ's previous album, Dark Matter, this was not an album that I was anticipating quite so much as the rest of the progressive world. The previous album was good, but it was the album who started the 'dark neo-progressive' movement a number of years back that has since spread like wildfire across the scene, and though it broke new ground for a subgenre that is known for being redundant, it was still a stereotypical neo-prog album - wrapped around old school Genesis's waist like a child afraid to move too far away from its mother. A Harvest Of Souls was the 25-minute megalodon that got so much attention, and was apparently a direct tribute to Supper's Ready, but came off more as an unoriginal rip-off.

So to end this introduction to a bad 70s Soap Opera, this time on King By-Tor takes on IQ...

Frequency is a stellar album. Lord only knows what happened to the band in the 4 years time since the previous album, but they have gotten their act together and created a magical hour and one minute of music crafted out of the finest of neo-progressive styling and yet still able to tread new waters. They've managed to find a happy ground between dark progressive music and a more emotional and, honestly, more real, less pretentious area of writing. The songs don't come off as forcing mascara and black nail polish, but instead as genuine reflections of social statements and emotive anecdotes. They also haven't forced themselves to work in the 'long song' medium, meaning that what may come off as a 'rip-off' song to some ears that takes up over half the album doesn't exist (see: A Harvest Of Souls). The songs manage to go on for just as long as they need to, the structure of each actually supporting enough material to go on without becoming redundant or imposed.

In fact, each of the songs is its own impressive opus, as though Dark Matter had continued with the more mid-lengthed songs, instead of trying for the centerpiece. Among the standouts on the album are the rip-roaring opening title track, Frequency with it's blistering, yet somehow not overly-bombastic solos and well thought out time changes, it's dark atmosphere that's still strangely inviting - like a magnetic storm that begs to be investigated. More to come with another side of the band in the second track, Life Support, a fragile opus that opens with a beautiful piano and slowly evolves into a tear-jerker of a song that still manages to hold the album's consistency without losing momentum. After the opening two tracks the next song of total nod-worthy approval has to be one of IQ's greatest achievement to date - Riker Skies steals the show on the album, even if it's not the longest or most comparatively complex. Meeting Ayreon halfway with more dark material from the likes of Dark Matter, this masterwork of a song is impressive from listen to listen, even for those who may fancy themselves as people who don't enjoy the more 'troubadouric' side of progressive music.

Throughout the rest of the album there's no low points, all of the other numbers are equally as impressive, even if they don't shine quite so brightly as some of the brilliant highlights. Stronger Than Friction is the first song to pass the 10-minute mark on the album, and it's quite impressive with its melodic chorus and majestic solos. The Province marks the longest song on the album, and is easily the most typically ''epic'' in the most literal terms of the word thanks to its build and huge atmosphere - this song also features some of the most impressive and bad-ass riffs on the album, sometimes bordering on metal! Well done, none the less. Closer closes the album with another soft and emotional number - a perfect end to a magnificent album.

IQ does not cease to impress with their latest effort, so whether you fancy yourself a fan of the band or not, this is a must-have for the progressive scene this year. Perhaps a little 'retro' still, the band manages to blend the modern and the old-school on this album in a way that they were attempting to on the last effort - and yet they still manage to break new ground. Don't be surprised if a lot of neo-progressive bands start to sound like this over the next couple of years. Hopefully IQ doesn't leave us in the dark for another 4 years! This one is going to get 4 airwaves out of 5, truly impressive.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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