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IQ - Subterranea CD (album) cover





3.98 | 673 ratings

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3 stars I initially dismissed IQ as a band I just did not care for. In fact, I dismissed neo-prog as a genre for quite some time as I was getting into progressive rock. But, I bought the album "Dark Matter" on a whim after hearing some good reviews and found it to be really excellent. It caused me to delve deeper into their back catalog. And, I thought a good place to go next was their double album concept album since I have historically loved concept albums. Unfortunately, I had a difficult time getting into the album, and therefore anticipate I'll have a hard time here reviewing it. But, I'll give it my best shot.

"Overture" is a fantastic opener that is strong musically, playing many of the themes that will be heard throughout the album. The overture successfully gets me excited for what is to come, and I think that is a large purpose for the overture. Next we have the short track "Provider" that is mainly a showcase for vocals. It is nice, but nothing particularly special to me. "Subterranea" is a great track that thumps along at a fun, rocking pace. "Sleepless Incidental" is a highlight of the first disc, starting with some great acoustic guitar and building to a really great guitar solo at the end of the song. "Failsafe" begins promisingly with some great keyboard work, but I soon lose interest through the song. It picks back up, though, towards the end. "Speak My Name" is a pleasant ballad with some great singing by Peter Nicholls and a pleasant keyboard soundscape. Things are brought to a faster pace with the next track "Tunnel Vision" which really is varied and fun. It is another highlight of the first disc. "Infernal Chorus" doesn't do much for me, it doesn't really add anything new that we haven't already heard at this point into the album. "The State of Sanity" has some cool vibraphone, but is ultimately boring to me. This section of the album loses me a bit, I must admit. Thinks pick up again though with "State of Mine" which has a great driving rhythm and a cool keyboard riff.

I do love how disc 2 starts with "Laid Low" that has the same melody that was just heard at the end of disc 1. It really provides a solid link between the two discs. "Breathtaker" is a really cool track. It has a really cool, rocking vibe with an interesting melody. This is one of my favorite songs on the whole record. "Capricorn" starts out sounding a lot like something off of Marillion's Misplaced Childhood. There is some interesting sax and a good guitar solo, but overall the song is a little boring to me. "The Other Side" is a pretty unique instrumental track that to me almost has a new age kind of sound to it. "Unsolid Ground" is a little bland to me. There isn't much for me to grab onto here, it is definitely one of the weaker tracks. "Somewhere In Time" starts off as another slow paced ballad and is once again pleasant, but nothing special to me. It does pick up in the second half, but nothing that makes me too excited. "High Waters" is a good track that does a good job leading into the epic "The Narrow Margin." "The Narrow Margin" starts slow, but once it gets going is a fantastic track. I feel that IQ really knows how to compose a great epic. There is some fabulous keyboard playing on display here. It is a good finale.

I think that Subterranea is largely a mixed bag. I just can't seem to get into it as a whole. When I first heard it, I was so disappointed that I didn't even get through the album. But, as I have tried the album more, I've discovered some of its merits. I think that part of my problem is that I can't get into the Neo-Prog sound. I like IQ's albums that followed this one, but that is because I think they stray more into Symphonic Prog. Also, I think that there is just too much material here for me to get through. I think the album could be improved by cutting some of the tracks and sections and keeping one disc's worth of really great material. That all being said, I still think this is a good album with some weak moments.

natewait | 3/5 |


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