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IQ - Frequency CD (album) cover





4.10 | 843 ratings

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Andy Webb
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
5 stars The first sonic bomb was dropped on my ears, unsuspectingly.

Neo-prog is the prog genre that's heyday was the 80s yet the best has come out recently. In description, it seems to circular: "what's Marillion? Neo-prog. What's neo prog? Stuff that sounds like Marillion." There really is no set definition, other that post-symphonic prog rock, which can be a rather general term. IQ, a definitive band of the genre, have been carving their own path in the genre since the early 80s, and can still whip out a killer album. Frequency is their ninth effort, and is certainly one of their better albums, even compared to the 80s heaven for neo. Filled to the brim with infectious melodies, fantastic instrumental parts, and superb compositions, the album is certainly a definitive IQ release and a definite neo-progressive rock album.

The title track opens the album with a series of sound bits, before breaking into a hard hitting rock riff session with some great guitar/keys contrasts and some superb rhythmic work. Early on you can see the style of IQ, with a more cut and dry hard rock/prog approach rather than some neo bands with their more "luscious" approach to symphonic rock. The amazing breakdowns with electric piano and other synth and guitar effects is purely sublime, and the vocal melodies only add to the ecstasy. The lyrics are no bummer either, fitting the melodies perfectly and accenting the music in the most beautiful way. The transition back to the harder instrumental section is flawless, with dynamics being thrown around with intense precision and skill. The track is certainly a classic, and it's only the first track.

Life Support opens with a nice piano melody, backed by some guitar and synth atmospheres. The vocals on this track are more popularly accessible, but still have a superb mellow quality; the music has a truly sublime quality to it, making this for another superb track on this album. The song takes a nice dollop of time to build into a scanning and almost creepy feeling guitar track, with some superb melodic support from the synths and other effects. Again the rhythm section is spot on, combining precision bass lines with polyrhythmic drumming. The whole instrumental work of the band is fantastic, adding more classic lines to the album.

Stronger than Friction starts off with a great sweeping guitar melody, backed by some nice synth-strings effects. Again the track employs some really fantastic melodies to support it musically. Also employing some more superb lyrics, the track is overall really superb. In a similar fashion to the previous two tracks, a superb use of keyboard layers and guitar melodies and rhythmic precision accent the music. Sweeping sections of grandeur compliment numerous parts of the song, again making this a really great track.

One Fatal Mistake starts off with a jovial sounding acoustic/synth duo, which are accentuated by pleasant vocal melodies and nice harmonization between the parts. The lyrics again are really great. Most of the song keeps this feel of a really great poppy/prog crossover track, with the melodies the main contributor to its prowess. Overall the song isn't the best on the album, but certainly contributes some really superb melodies harmonies.

Ryker Skies breaks from the jovial nature of One Fatal Mistake to a return to the melancholy guitar and vocal melodies found on most of the album. Starting out slow, it builds slowly into a rocking IQ track, with some more really fantastic riffs and harmonies between the guitar soloing and the synth growling. The drum and bass beats are simpler here, but contain a real punch to contend with. The song really packs a punch, with the hard hitting rhythms accenting the soaring guitar atmospheres fantastically. The vocal melodies really bloom into beautiful harmonies, bringing out the great qualities of the instrumentation and really meshing nicely with the atmosphere of the music. Overall, the song is one of my favorites, and a really fantastic addition to this star-studded album.

The Province again starts out with mellow and melancholy melodies, this time with a hint of horror in the guitar and synth duo. But once the song really gets started, you can begin to see the genius of this 13 minute masterpiece. Building into a ripping rocking section, the song weaves in and out of dynamics, with transitions between rocking sections and quiet melodic sections. The song takes a while to stabilize, but once it does, the constant rocking feel of the song doesn't abate. With some killer synth arpeggios accenting the on-off polyrhythmic guitar crunches and drum rhythms, the song is killer. We see some reprise to previous themes of the album, adding a nice feeling of continuity to the album. Overall, the longest track of the album really packs a hefty dose of progressive rock mastery, with some killer instrumental sections and incredible vocal sections, and an overall sublime experience.

Closer closes the album with some more jovial melodies, breaking out the drying out formula of guitar/synth/vocal melody intro, but still instills a great sense of continuity between each track on the album. The song slowly builds into a nice poppy track, with some great melodies and care-filled instrumentation. The song acts as a really great closer, tying in a lot of the stray themes of the album in the track and closing the concept of the album. Overall, it is one of the happier songs on the album, and a superb closer to the album as well.

ALBUM OVERALL: IQ have always been widely considered a pioneer and essential piece of the neo-prog scene, yet they have never truly been rated very highly. With their latest album, 5 years after the supposedly critically acclaimed Dark Matter (which is currently less than 4 stars on PA), I believe that the streak of great but not fantastic neo is over. Frequency is filled to the brim with beautiful compositions. Sublime melodies run amuck, and instrumental integrity is solid as a rock. Overall, the album proffers one of the best neo albums I've ever encountered, and is no doubt a pure masterpiece. I am definitively hopeful of a new album soon! 5 stars.

Andy Webb | 5/5 |


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