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DARK MATTER

IQ

 

Neo-Prog

4.02 | 677 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What IQ has delivered in their last effort to date is one of the absolute prog highlights of 2004. "Dark Matter" is a collection of great compositions, all if them arranged with taste and musical elegance, and performed with skill and conviction. Some have stated that no new grounds are being broken here, and I agree with them: in fact, the band's strategy at writing this new stuff sounds to me very similar to that used in "The Seventh House" - a fluid compromise between the symphonic splendour of "Ever" and the dense, somewhat distant mystery of "Subterranea". But that's not all to it. Unlike its predecessor, "Dark Matter" resumes some of the frontal rocky energy that IQ had displayed in their early recordings, so what we've got here is, all in all, a well adjusted recapitulation of the best of their 80's era - aggressive intensity - and the best of their current era - musical maturity -. Su the bottom line here is this: IQ remains loyal to the sonic creature they created, and at the same time, they introduce a healthy amount of variations to keep that creature as a still interesting invention (of course, born out of some influences that are still noticeable). The first and the last tracks are the longest ones (11+ and 24+ minutes, respectively), so it's pretty obvious that they are designed to become the highlights of the album. 'Sacred Sound' kicks off the album with a synth multi-layered interlude that soon gives way to an exhibition of maximum bombast - effective melodic lines, complex rhythm patterns, and ballsy solos on guitar and keyboard. The hyper-ambitious six-part suite 'Harvest of Souls' closes down the album with a more developed bombast. Its peaks are incarnated mostly in the dramatic contrast between the calmer and the rockier segments - some of the former are full of pure melancholy, while other are meditative and thoughtful; some of the latter are almost plethoric heavy metal, while other are clearly framed into the orchestral pomposity of your typical symph prog. I like this one better that 'The Last Human Gateway' ("Tales from the Lush Attic") and 'The Narrow Margin' ("Subterranea"), because it's more successfully cohesive than the former and more decidedly explosive that the latter. It als ocontains one of the most controversial lines in recent prog history - the words "Hide where you can / We will shoot you where you stand" frontally reek of anti-Bush spirit. They are delivered by Nicholls with a mixture of cold anger and sarcastic arrogance, making the threat sound strangely haunting. 'Red Dust Shadow' finds the band wandering smoothly along the territories of gloomy psychedelia in tight connection with the sad subject of the lyrics, and later on, in 'Born Brilliant', that same psychedelia reappears in a more directly aggressive guise. Between these two, 'You Never Will' offers a lighter display of colour, with a poppier mood, but always in tune with the overall harsh tendency comprised in the material. A special mention goes to Jowitt's bass lines, which properly sustain the song's overall cadence in perfect consonnace with its punchy mood. How about the musicians' skills? Nothing new: Holmes, Orford, Jowitt and Cook are as terrific as usual, while Peter Nicholls' emotional singing remains a peculiar factor in the band's own signature sound. In conclusion: "Dark Matter" is yet another masterpiece from my fave modern symphonic band. It feels so good not being disappointed by any band you've learned to love so much all through the years.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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