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SUBTERRANEA

IQ

 

Neo-Prog

3.99 | 667 ratings

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Dark Nazgul
3 stars "Aenigma Sui Temporis"

Inspired by the mysterious and fascinating figure of Kaspar Hauser, "Subterranea" is undoubtedly a good quality album; in fact, the value of the songs, taken individually, are almost all excellent. However, among all the IQ albums after the comeback of Peter Nicholls, "Subterranea" is the most monotonous. Despite the atmosphere change often (some songs are aggressive, others are calm and soft), the sound is, more or less, always the same. Obviously this is not very positive, when you are facing with an album of over 100 minutes of music.

"Subterranea" is extremely burdened by an excessive length and also by musical themes that are repeated perhaps too frequently. However, as mentioned, the songs, taken individually, are almost all very good. The music? Classic IQ trademark, with style typical of the neo-prog genre sometimes flavored with a spoonful of hard rock, bombastic sounds and post-apocalyptic atmospheres plus, of course, references to 70s symphonic prog bands. The keyboards dominate the scene almost everywhere, but there are also excellent solos and riffs by Holmes on guitar. Without doubt Nicholls will have technical limits, but he is a singer of great interpretive skills, even if sometimes reminds me Fish a bit too much.

The first CD contains all that can make happy a true lover of progressive rock. It starts with the majestic Overture, with a lot of hard guitar riffs. The song contains themes that are repeated throughout the album.

The title track is also a good song, catchy and aggressive at the same time, and the delicate and intimate Speak My Name is one of the best songs of the album. The most beautiful songs are, however, Sleepless Incidental and Failsafe.

Sleepless Incidental starts with a delicate acoustic part, then a great instrumental crescendo leads to beautiful change of atmosphere and excellent keyboards and guitar solos in the end. Another winner, more or less at the same level, is Falisafe, especially the middle section of the song (with piano and Nicholls filtered voice) is truly impressive.

After some perhaps unnecessary repetitions of music themes already heard (for example in Tunnel Vision and Breathtaker there are several references to Overture, while King Of Fools reminds the central theme of Failsafe), some mediocre tracks (Capricorn and Unsolid Ground, both very similar to the style of Marillion's "Misplaced Childhood") and others much more successful (The Sense in Sanity, State Of Mine, Somewhere In Time), at last the long epic The Narrow Margin closes the album. This epic does not disappoint, but "Further Away" or "Harvest Of Souls" are better. The most obvious references are more or less always the same: Genesis, Marillion, Yes and Camel (in the middle part, sometimes seems to listen to "Lunar Sea"). Not always the band manages to keep the attention high for all 20 minutes of track time, but the last eight minutes are great and the finale with Nicholls's voice accompanied by acoustic guitar offers chills and thrills.

If it had been shorter, maybe with the best pieces put all together in a single CD, "Subterranea" could have been perhaps the best album of the band. Even so it's still a good album, with a rating between three and four stars, definitely recommended for those who love the band and the neo-prog genre. The rest of you may find this album too long, with some unnecessary songs and too much repetition of musical themes: for these reasons, I feel a little tired hearing the album after the first CD and so I think that "Subterranea" is essential only for IQ and neoprog fans. So, after all, I cannot give more than three stars and a rating of 6/10.

Best song: Sleepless Incidental

Dark Nazgul | 3/5 |

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