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IQ - Resistance CD (album) cover

RESISTANCE

IQ

 

Neo-Prog

4.37 | 185 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars Through a consistent string of albums that date back to 1993's "Ever," IQ has established itself as somewhat as the new godfather of the neo-prog world as well as one of the superstars of the progressive rock world in general. Carefully crafting each album and polishing them like fine gemstones which on the average has taken about five years between albums, IQ returns in 2019 with the band's 11th album RESISTANCE. Consisting of the same lineup as 2014's "The Road Of Bones," RESISTANCE continues that album's direction with even bolder atmospheric statements, new touches of symphonic orchestration and a knack for amalgamating intricate melodies with tight instrumental interplay all accompanied by Peter Nicholls' distinct and instantly recognizable vocal style.

While "The Road Of Bones" was released in two formats: a single album release and also as a double album, RESISTANCE goes for the gusto and has appeared only as a double album that is essentially two distinct albums with the second half exhibiting a different atmospheric mood that sets itself apart but never strays too far from the consistent IQ sound that permeates each and every album. With a total running time of almost 109 minutes, RESISTANCE comes across as a sprawling epic that takes the neo-prog paradigm further into the 21st century. With "The Road Of Bones," IQ upped the ante as far as instrumental deliveries go. The band saw the new keyboard talents of Neil Durant as well as former members drummer Paul Cook and bassist Tim Essau rejoining the ranks.

RESISTANCE in many ways is the continuation of its predecessor only five years into the future where it feels like technological gains have taken the band into a new futurist paradigm shift. While the classic IQ rhythms, melodies and neo-prog essentials are the backbone of RESISTANCE, the album excels in many ways. Firstly, Neil Durant has expanded his keyboard duties to include a whole host of new techniques and sonic timbres that expand in myriad directions. It's almost as if the mere role of keyboards as been expanded into the entire sprawling genre of progressive electronic, where Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze surreality has created a complete secondary backdrop to the rock aspects but only used tastefully.

Also taking the band into further fields of complexity is the excellent drumming skills of Paul Cook whose percussive drive seemed to lead rather than follow on "The Road Of Bones" and continues that trait on RESISTANCE however in many cases he backs off and takes on the traditional role as merely keeping the beat while the atmospheric constructs and melodic development of the themes expands its tentacles into the sprawling behemoth tracks that tackle the usual suspected emotional tugs and musical dramatic flair that IQ has mastered so well. While the heavy guitar parts were toned down beginning with the last album, they still existed and used as contrast and that is still the case with much of the album seeming almost devoid of guitar sounds and others such as the Floydian "Shallow Bay" providing the Steve Hackett wailing guitar licks and others like "Rise" showcasing the heavier bombast not so prevalent on this album.

With this much music there's always bound to be a throwaway track or two and RESISTANCE is not well resistant to including such filler. Tracks like "If Anything" seem a little too tame and derivative of past glories and pale in company of the stronger tracks but at the same time they are not completely gag reflex inducing, just a bit tame and verge on the border with AOR sensibilities. "For A Lifetime" on the other hand is one of the strongest tracks with carnival music providing the main melodic theme which allows an interesting array of creepy atmospheric gloom and a slinking theremin sound that ratchets up the dread. Perhaps the most unique IQ track ever as it breaks into slow-tempo rock and meanders over the 15 minute mark.

The second disc features the two longest tracks of all. "The Great Spirit Way" just missing the 22 minute mark is one of the strongest of the lot. In many ways the build up reminds me of some aspects of 90s Dream Theater in how the guitar stomps slowly build but the atmospheres and keyboards are clearly in IQ's neo-prog turf. Durant creates some of the most memorable ambient backdrops on this one. He also creates dramatic keyboard stabs that remind me of classic 70s rock bands like The Who. Overall the track meanders through a vast territory of past and present ideas. It includes cool passages that exhibit wind chimes and orchestrations. It flows perfectly and shows IQ at its most innovative.

The second lengthiest track is the near 20 minute closer "Fallout," which features a heavenly ambient intro that incrementally ratchets up the tension and extends the ideas of a single track into a monstrous behemoth of a track. Notable for not merely being a bunch of ideas stitched together but feeling like a consistently morphing track that sticks to a theme. So all in all, RESISTANCE is another excellent development in the IQ universe with two stellar discs worth of impeccably produced material that finds the aspects of the album in perfect cohesion. The greatest development is clearly the highly developed ambience and atmospheric constructs however the band has continued to become bolder as time goes.

Once again, i find the latest IQ release to be an excellent album but as with most of the band's efforts, it seems to fall short from perfection. My main gripe with these grandiose instrumental developments is that Peter Nicholls still exhibits the exact same style without expanding the vocal possibilities. Add to that a few filler tracks and the album tends to become a bit of a chore to sit through at least in one sitting. While there is plenty to love for neo-prog fans here, i just wish a few of the shorter tracks were edited out and that Nicholls would find a way to sound less monotonous as every album starts to sound like the same vocal motifs despite the musical accompaniment. Perhaps a second vocalist adding counterpoints would solve this. Still though, a well done album and an instant prog classic.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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