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IQ - Nomzamo CD (album) cover





2.84 | 395 ratings

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3 stars This was their first effort with singer Paul Menel. It must have been a hard job to replace Pete Nicholls. Menel's voice obviously sounds better on the high tones. His singing is quite enjoyable even though it lacks depth in the lower regions. Moreover I always found there's not much of an attitude in his way of singing but that can be a matter of taste. "Nomzamo" was the first album for a major record company and I think you'll easily notice that. The sound production is a smoother than on previous albums. Half of the album is accessible for pop audiences. These poppish songs are a bit unlikely for this band as they are known for dark, emotional, complex epics. This album could be called a mixed bag. Some excellent eighties pop ("no promises" and "still life"), a rock track ("passing strangers") one ballad ("Colourflow") and fortunately some fabulous epics which are reminiscent to previous albums ("Human nature" and "Common ground"). This is the main reason for prog fans for obtaining this album. These long progressive tracks don't hold the depressing feelings of the first two albums even if the lyrical issues are real heavyweights. The title track is the masterpiece here ; "Nomzamo" sounds cold, calculated and complex but after several listens it becomes a the masterpiece that never bores the listener. It starts with reflective keys and vocals on a bed of hypnotic African percussion that stays present during the whole track. Later on the rhythms and moods change drastically and there's some overwhelming musical walls constructed by bombastic keyboard parts and guitar soloing. This is the only occasion on the album on which Menel's voice sound menacing. "Common ground" is a static epic. It starts with gentle classical guitar parts but after a while the sound gets broadened by keyboards, mellotrons, bombastic drums and electric guitar chords. Here the atmosphere of earlier albums gets recaptured. A battle in France during the second world war makes an excellent lyrical theme for this song. There's many different parts and moods to discover in the longest epic of the album "Human nature". This is slightly reminiscent to Yes and Menel's voice serves that purpose perfectly. Again, there's some wise messages in the lyrical themes. This is a typical IQ epic, with the exception of the uplifting mood which shows a different side of the band that was new in 1986. Since then, the band puts that mood in the sound of the albums that appeared during the nineties.

Half of the album is truly wonderful although I miss the mellotron that dominated earlier efforts. Most of the pop tracks are quite enjoyable with the melancholic "no promises" as the highlight. The commercial arrangements are taken a step too far in "screaming" that has links to typical eighties bands like Deacon Blue or Then Jericho. I can imagine the pop elements that are typical mid-eighties may come across outdated listening to the album now. "No love lost" melts the pop and prog into a composition that still is a concert classic nowadays. With its threatening keys and catchy melodies, this is the perfect opener for a pop prog album. At the time, the album came as a surprise for many long time fans but it didn't alienate them. In the post 2000 years the album is an interesting step in their career no IQ fan should miss.

Fishy | 3/5 |


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