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4 stars So here we have, at last, the latest offering from IQ, introducing their new keyboardist - Mark Westworth, though as I stated on the Frequency Tour review how much of the input is Mark Westworth or the legacy of Martin Orford we'll probably never know. Anyway they were able to recruit and continue.

Frequency is a very well crafted and organised album clocking in at an hour with some excellent tracks (and some not quite so excellent), why they didn't include the track 'Already Gone' on the album is anyone's guess.

Frequency - this track gets right under your skin, starting with the almost hypnotic bass riff, what follows is typical IQ, offset time signatures that simply flow, with memorable melody. This is easily the strongest track on the album, and will become deserved and essential staple diet for the live set.

Life Support - here we have a more soulful and mature Pete Nicholls, however this soon gives way to an extended 'jam' session with presumably Marks input (it sure don't sound like Martin.) This track seems to break the mould of previous IQ material. Perhaps this is to be the new direction?

Stronger Than Friction - a return to the more established IQ sound, no surprises, but oddly reassuring. A longer track, clocking in at 10 minutes, though despite its length it does flow naturally, (during the recent tour this was played live under the title of Crashed And Burned), the end of this track neatly segues into:

One Fatal Mistake - here we have a more acoustic based ballad with restrained and simplified instrumentation. The tour CD version provided an excellent extended Genesis-esque alternate ending that is completely omitted here, instead keyboard atmospherics (with keyboard vocals also reminiscent of Genesis) are used to introduce, and segue to the next track:

Ryker Skies - arguably the most interesting and intriguing track on the album, it takes IQ in a new direction, after a prolonged introduction, we are introduced to some quite heavy overtones that suit the track well, coupled with excellent slow, chromatic and deliberate vocals over a rocking background. It would appear that Westworth has flexed his muscles and demonstrated his influence on this track.

The Province - like Life Support, this begins with subdued and soulful vocals, I must admit I was looking forward to this aspect being developed, but an alternate and bombastic chromatic passage with wailing guitar and fast drumming is favoured. After a brief pause the second part hits the listener head on, however before the calm ending we are given some soaring guitars over lush keyboards. The tour CD has an alternate studio outtake of The Province, it struck me that the last 4 minutes of this material (not used on this album) could have been incorporated to great effect.

Closer - for IQ this is really a non starter, it is arguably the weakest track on the album, after a decent start that hints at something, it never really reaches those expectations, the only interest occurs after three and half minutes, where, for a brief two and half minutes the stops are pulled out, however this is all too brief, we return to gentle ramblings with the track being stretched to a rather long repetitive 8 minutes. Oh that 'Already Gone' was in its place.

Though I was eagerly anticipating this release, having soaked in the tour CD, my expectations were high; I have subsequently been listening repeatedly to this album trying get to grips with it, but I still have mixed feelings, as I remarked earlier there are some excellent tracks, but not all. A score of somewhere between 3 and 4 stars I think would be a fair result, so in the interests of the majority of the album I'll round this up to a very commendable 4 stars.

Report this review (#214582)
Posted Saturday, May 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars IQ Frecuency 4 Stars ;)

Since ´Ever´ album in 1993 to the ´Dark Matter´ 2004 IQ showed to be one of the most consistent neo.prog bands even if we consider that some albums are closer to prog rather than neo. Well this time ´Frecuency´ is again well produced and even the absense of Martin Offord is not even noticed in the performace but maybe a little bit in the keyboard solos creativity, i guess ´Frecuency´ can be putted on that elite of IQ albums but certainly i feel a little weaker than the rest as a first impression. Maybe with more visits to the album certainly we might find things that we were lost in the first glance. In any case i feel that IQ has a lots more to offer in the future so I hope next time thay try to risk a bit more instead to continue the line of past albums.

Even this is not a Masterpiec... it´s obviously a must to any IQ fan... long live IQ.

Report this review (#214719)
Posted Sunday, May 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have always been a fan of IQ, I think they are the true heirs of unsurpassed Genesis (Gabriel era). IQ have produced over the years still valid albums, until the realization of wonderful "Dark Matter", in my opinion the pinnacle of their career. It was therefore logical that, after almost 5 years of waiting, I had many expectations from this "Frequency", even though I was very sorry of Martin Orford abandonment. Unfortunately I must say that I'm partially disappointed by new work: I think especially the composition vein of the band has lost some fervent imagination that always characterized them. Some songs are good, as the initial "Frequency" and the epic "The Province". The other songs are anonymous, with rather banal melodies, rhythms often boring, sung without the usual passion. Some of these songs will redeem in part with a good instrumental final, while "One fatal mistake" and "Closer" are really poor in my opinion, two pop songs not worthy of IQ. So, I hope "Frequency" is only a route accident, I believe that the IQ can still say a lot.

Report this review (#215092)
Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars After spinning this most anticipated release in my player for the past 3 days , I have come to the conclusion that I am neither wowed nor am I disappointed . This is IQ being IQ and there's nothing bad about that . The band simply goes about doing what they are accustomed to doing . Even with two new musicians , the sound is unmistakable . Right from the beginning with the opening track (which also happens to be the title track ) the mood is dark , bringing to mind the mood that permiated their last release . " Life Support " is a new twist on the style found in some of the tracks featured in THE LOST ATTIC - A COLLECTION OF RARITIES (1983-1999) while " Stronger Than Friction " does show the influence of the newer members of the band , if not in composition , certainly in sound. The remaining tracks are typical IQ at it's best , particularly " The Province " which is somewhat of an epic . Though some have critisized the work for lack of passion and for weak tracks ( Closer and One fatal mistake ) I find the album solid and worthy of the name it carries . " Closer " is a nice , softer side of the band and I have always enjoyed Peter Nicholl's whistful lyrics and regretful tone when performing songs like this one.

All in all , the album is unspectacular but then , much of IQ's work is . It is an solidly written , solidly performed piece of work that stands up well alonside the band's previous work and is leaps and bounds above the two efforts put out when Paul Menel was at the helm.

For anyone who enjoys the work of this enduring and persevering group of skilled musicians , FREQUENCY will not disappoint you as long as you aren't expecting anything cutting edge , ground breaking or mind blowing .

Report this review (#216500)
Posted Monday, May 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Riding on waves of stellar progressive rock.

I must say, having not been at all impressed with IQ's previous album, Dark Matter, this was not an album that I was anticipating quite so much as the rest of the progressive world. The previous album was good, but it was the album who started the 'dark neo-progressive' movement a number of years back that has since spread like wildfire across the scene, and though it broke new ground for a subgenre that is known for being redundant, it was still a stereotypical neo-prog album - wrapped around old school Genesis's waist like a child afraid to move too far away from its mother. A Harvest Of Souls was the 25-minute megalodon that got so much attention, and was apparently a direct tribute to Supper's Ready, but came off more as an unoriginal rip-off.

So to end this introduction to a bad 70s Soap Opera, this time on King By-Tor takes on IQ...

Frequency is a stellar album. Lord only knows what happened to the band in the 4 years time since the previous album, but they have gotten their act together and created a magical hour and one minute of music crafted out of the finest of neo-progressive styling and yet still able to tread new waters. They've managed to find a happy ground between dark progressive music and a more emotional and, honestly, more real, less pretentious area of writing. The songs don't come off as forcing mascara and black nail polish, but instead as genuine reflections of social statements and emotive anecdotes. They also haven't forced themselves to work in the 'long song' medium, meaning that what may come off as a 'rip-off' song to some ears that takes up over half the album doesn't exist (see: A Harvest Of Souls). The songs manage to go on for just as long as they need to, the structure of each actually supporting enough material to go on without becoming redundant or imposed.

In fact, each of the songs is its own impressive opus, as though Dark Matter had continued with the more mid-lengthed songs, instead of trying for the centerpiece. Among the standouts on the album are the rip-roaring opening title track, Frequency with it's blistering, yet somehow not overly-bombastic solos and well thought out time changes, it's dark atmosphere that's still strangely inviting - like a magnetic storm that begs to be investigated. More to come with another side of the band in the second track, Life Support, a fragile opus that opens with a beautiful piano and slowly evolves into a tear-jerker of a song that still manages to hold the album's consistency without losing momentum. After the opening two tracks the next song of total nod-worthy approval has to be one of IQ's greatest achievement to date - Riker Skies steals the show on the album, even if it's not the longest or most comparatively complex. Meeting Ayreon halfway with more dark material from the likes of Dark Matter, this masterwork of a song is impressive from listen to listen, even for those who may fancy themselves as people who don't enjoy the more 'troubadouric' side of progressive music.

Throughout the rest of the album there's no low points, all of the other numbers are equally as impressive, even if they don't shine quite so brightly as some of the brilliant highlights. Stronger Than Friction is the first song to pass the 10-minute mark on the album, and it's quite impressive with its melodic chorus and majestic solos. The Province marks the longest song on the album, and is easily the most typically ''epic'' in the most literal terms of the word thanks to its build and huge atmosphere - this song also features some of the most impressive and bad-ass riffs on the album, sometimes bordering on metal! Well done, none the less. Closer closes the album with another soft and emotional number - a perfect end to a magnificent album.

IQ does not cease to impress with their latest effort, so whether you fancy yourself a fan of the band or not, this is a must-have for the progressive scene this year. Perhaps a little 'retro' still, the band manages to blend the modern and the old-school on this album in a way that they were attempting to on the last effort - and yet they still manage to break new ground. Don't be surprised if a lot of neo-progressive bands start to sound like this over the next couple of years. Hopefully IQ doesn't leave us in the dark for another 4 years! This one is going to get 4 airwaves out of 5, truly impressive.

Report this review (#216794)
Posted Wednesday, May 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Eagerly awaited and a bit disappointing. No where NEAR Dark Matter despite what By-Tor thinks. IF and it's a big IF, IQ had made the Frequency track 10 to 15 minutes LONGER and explored the brilliant riffs and guitar/ synths that this track showcases it may have pulled this new CD out of the doldrums. FREQUENCY is as good as ANYTHING that IQ have done, BUT ITS TOO SHORT, what about the rest of the CD? Life support is only good in the Instrumental part. Stronger than Friction is better but as with a lot of the CD this track seems to be listless, Closer and One fatal mistake are fillers. Ryker Skies is more interesting but never seems to get off the ground! The Province is promising and is nearer the IQ standard we have come to expect. I think that Orford's writing ability was MISSED severely, this could be the beginning of the end of IQ if they just rely on IQ diehards to buy any further CD's that they produce. This album gets a THREE from me but ONLY because of the FREQUENCY track, which is bloody marvellous.
Report this review (#217426)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars IQ and I go a long way back. I think it must have been 1993 when I first heard of them and when I came in touch with Ever. Several albums followed soon after that and in 1994 I saw them live for the first time during the now legendary Ever Tour. That was in the Netherlands where they headlined the Planet Pul Festival in Uden. Before the gig I spoke with Martin & John and they became the first 2 Prog musicians I ever interviewed. A fantastic experience, we thought back then, and we just had such a great time..John & Martin really are such good guys and we came across each other quite a few time more after that...ofcourse always having fun. The concert after that...mainly like it's been documented on Forever live was an unforgetable experience...,Something that is still is my memory so clear is that extremely amazing version of The Enemy Smacks...that was played in full glory and included a piece of theatrics that we only have seen before with Peter Gabriel when he was still playing with Genesis. Also, what was really amazing was the version they played of The Darkest Hour, a song that was played with a very amazing into that sounded so much better than the studioversion......

After that many concerts followed..always having fun, and were treated on some truely good concerts. Over the years I have seen them perform, most of their classics and Im happy for that. However......I was very sad to hear that Martin Orford decided to leave the band, while Coockie already had decided to leave earlier.

Now 2 members are gone and we are in 2009. After Dark Matter IQ finally dared to release a new album and I'm happy that they did. Right from the opening the album blew me of my socks and I was struck by the share quality that IQ is spreading around here. I thought the loss of Orford would be really great but in fact, it's not....The album has some truly beautifull keyparts, sensitive in time but boombastic and fully blown in other times. Another thing here is that Holmes seems to take a much more prominent position here (remarkable right from the first track) and gives us a couple of very good solo's here. The last person I think that should be mentioned is Peter Nichols, is it just me...or is it really true that this guy is getting better and better everytime they release a new album. I re-listened Dark Matter, Seventh House, but I cannot remember I ever have been so touched by his vocals ever since Subterranea, so clear, so pure...........what a delight to listen to.

It's not very difficult to recomand this album to all prog-lovers. Its simply and clearly the best prog album release of this year if you ask me. Even if other's think about that differently, I'm still sure that this album is pre-determened to end up high in the yearlists of 2009, unless ofcourse a miracle is happening.

Report this review (#218560)
Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hi - this is my first review and it is interesting after all these years I do it for an IQ album. I came to this band very late and couldn't believe they slipped by me since I first became interested in Prog after seeing the Relayer tour with Moraz in the Jersey City Stadium in the mid 70s.

After trying to love Dark Matter, I feel that this is the better effort of IQ. The first track (Frequency) almost makes the rest of the album struggle to keep up it is just so freakin good. I was greatly impressed by the heavier sound and love the immediate opening salute to Mellotron, syncopated bass and drums, and Mike Holme's seemingly improved guitar work. There are some moments for enjoyment here if you accept IQ for what they are - a more thoughtful prog act that relies on lyrical content that I find haunting, compelling, thoughtful, and strong.

Peter Nicholls' voice is beautifully recorded and passionate. The album's production values are impeccable with gut-wrenching bass, crystal electric pianos, guitars that are soaring, driving, synthetic-legato (Life Support), with touching acoustic work throughout the disc. there is an intelligence in phrasing and structure that is amiss in some similar acts. There are beautiful lightning Arp and Moog-sounding licks (Province of the King) with many newer sounds by keyboardist Westworth who is 100% competent in this role filling the shoes of Orford. (Orford has stated his is not a great synth player, and Westworth steps up there a bit I feel). HIs Hammond roles (such as on Province) are also enjoyable and classic prog, but I might miss Orford slightly in that area. Westbrook's piano playing and string phrasing are very competent and I want to give his band (Darwin's Radio) a quick whirl. Prog is a black hole that keeps you linking to new stuff for sure!

Mike Holmes is the founding member of this band and I am starting to appreciate him more and more. I finally hear his continuity and simple beauty throughout their music. I have always enjoyed the intelligent drumming of Cook, and Andy Edwards (Robert Plant Band?) is also inventive and keeps your ear interested with nicely styled changes and perhaps a technical edge over Cook.

If you are a bass fan, what is not to like about John Jowitt. Here is a guy whose bottom lines are at times percussive and then slip into beautiful walking side trails that bind the sound into the special IQ feel.

All in all, I like the risk-taking here. I can see older fans feeling a bit of filler in this one, possibly in Stronger Than Friction and the Collin-esque Closer. But if you listen to this with an open mind, relax, and enjoy the thought that has gone into many areas of this disc, I think you will be happy with the effort and emotion that is displayed here.


Report this review (#219591)
Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
Neo Prog Team
4 stars It can sometimes be difficult to write reviews of albums by your favourite bands. However with Frequency I find this not to be a problem, and after 6 listenings I know this album like the back of my hand.

It's typical IQ as the band stick to what they do best, that is playing the symphonic progressive music that their fans love. However, in content the album is not one of their best, there are too many weak points for that. That is relative as IQ are responsible for some of the best prog albums of the last 25 years. Overall though, it is a fine album and in my opinion far superior to Dark Matter, which only had the incredible Sacred Sound as a high point.

The production on Frequency is great and vocally Nicholls has never been better. I do miss Martin Orford's keyboard playing to be honest. We'll have to wait until the next album to see how Westworth shapes up with material he has had more of a hand in writing. His contribution is a lot less emphasised than Orford's was. However the main point of note is the incredible drumming of Andy Edwards, I find his contribution stunning and without doubt the best percussive performance on any IQ album. He is now on hiatus and will be sorely missed by both IQ and Frost*.

Frequency - I love this. A brilliant opener, I can only describe this as a really typical IQ track, a comment which I consider a big compliment. IQ at their best and one of the best on the album.

Life Support - This has really grown on me. A shorter song which is very atmospheric. I love the proggy chorus. Another fine track.

Stronger Than Friction - This track was originally Crashed And Burned (featured on the bonus Frequency DVD) and I have to say I prefer the original. STF is a bit wimpy to start, but it's a really good song and the last five minutes as the band launch into the instrumental is truly outstanding.

One Fatal Mistake - The mistake was to include this on the album. A very quiet song, and whilst I appreciate a break is needed after the first 3 tracks, I'm not keen on this one.

Ryker Skies - Wow! How good is this? What a fantastic track. It's dark and doomy, very proggy and with a brilliant chorus. Destined to be an IQ classic and for me the best on the album.

The Province - The longest track on the album starts very promisingly and is building up really well. Then the band enter a Suppers Ready Apocalypse in 9/8ish sound-a-like section to echo the one they've already visited on Harvest Of Souls. The keyboard solo is pretty near the bone to be honest. This for me spoils an otherwise excellent track.

Closer - This is a really nice quieter song, but should have been a few minutes shorter.

So there are a few weaker points but on the whole it's a really good album. If the 9/8 keyboard solo on The Province was not there, this would be over 4 stars for me. I rate it at 3.75 stars, but I'll round up to 4, as I know many others will like the tracks that I'm not that keen on.

It's better than Dark Matter, but certainly not as good as The Seventh House or Subterranea in my opinion. An essential for IQ fans without a doubt.

Report this review (#219608)
Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Nothing quite like a new IQ album to get this progger out of hibernation.

I have always appreciated IQ's restraint in not flooding the market with tons of material that is just not very good. I have never treasured any IQ album as an outstanding whole piece, but I can always count on finding at least a half hour or so of music that I find interesting and of high quality, and Frequency fits right in.

Overall, IQ sounds "fuller" to me on this album, with more fills by Edwards and plenty of layering of keys by Westworth. Both members have done fine in their new IQ roles by contributing to the IQ sound but still moving the band toward a more modern sound. Of course, Holmes and Jowitt are rock solid on guitars. Also, Nicholls continues to improve, as his contributions never detract (unlike some older IQ albums) and oftentimes really bring the powerful sections over the top.

Highlights: Frequency, Stronger than Friction, The Province of the King. All of these tracks feature classic IQ traits that I always look forward to such as subtle time changes, structures that really maintain momentum, and great counterbalance between the guitar/keyboard section and the bass/percussion section. The title track is a fantastic start to the album--it's quite heavy, but it also has the classic IQ restraint in introducing new melodies at just the right time. Stronger than Friction just may IQ's Cinema Show (of course on a much smaller impact scale!), starting with a catchy and bouncy tune and finishing with a rousing 7/8 flourish (and excellent transition to the slower One Fatal Mistake).

The Province of the King might be the track where IQ experiments a bit more in song structure. For example, a haunting guitar/vocal start kicks into high gear and then moves right back to mellow. My experience with IQ is that they don't tease--when they build things up, they almost always maintain the momentum. No matter though, because the second half features a classic menacing organ/synth section, some truly fantastic vocals by Nicholls, and of course the well-earned majestic guitar solo by Holmes.

IQ doesn't change by leaps and bounds, but this album is hardly recognizable when compared to their first, Tales from the Lush Attic. I have really enjoyed following this band's career and evolving sound, and I think they are quite good at their craft at this point. Harvest of Souls was a final send-off for the "classic" line-up, and Frequency represents a new step in a somewhat new, yet satisfying, direction. Here's to one more piece of high quality prog!

Report this review (#219646)
Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars IQ is a band that I usually like. I've seen them live three times of which the last show took place at the Spirit of 66 in my country (April 26). I was then able to get a preview of this album (with Paul Cook on the drum kit!).

During this concert, two new tracks were definitely outstanding from this offering: the opener and title track as well as the long ''The Province''. And while I listened to the album for the first time, I got the confirmation.

And this is a bit my problem with ''Frequency''. I would say that this is a typical ''IQ'' album. Same fine but melancholic Nicholls, same keyboards-oriented music (I know Martin is gone and difficult to be replaced but Mark is a very good key player as well and a charming person: I had a short talk about Grey Lady Down after the show). Some nice and emotional guitar breaks to fulfil the job (the one from ''The Province'' is really excellent) .

''Frequency'' is a pleasant neo-prog album but it lacks in diversity (like several IQ albums). I was more charmed by ''Dark Matter'' and their first two albums to be honest (all of them rated with four stars).

This one belongs more to the good works they have released during their long career. Not a single weak track that's for sure although the repetitive ''Closer'' (the well-named closing number) is not the best of their repertoire to be honest and could have been shorter. But on the other hand, only two great songs.

Three stars.

Report this review (#219783)
Posted Thursday, June 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars ...So the question is: was it worthwhile to wait 5 years after the big success Dark Matter, IQ could finally produce a new album which could be at same level of previous ones? Well the answer is : yes certainly!! Someone could expect a double album after such long time, but knowing the production of this band (Subterranea remains their only double CD) we understand that this is not possible. Frequency is absolutely another brillant album in the IQ style which confirms how the band is mature nowadays in their music production. The second question is: so why four stars? Thats because I find all songs excellent, excpet Tyker Skys which after several listens, I cannot really love.. This album shows how the new keyboardist (Mark) has quickly and easily replace Martin Orford in playing keyoards in this album (another story could be on the composition side). Another big improvement I noticed is in the voice of Peter Nicholls who the more gets old, the more improve! The third question is: Should we wait another 5 years now?????
Report this review (#220005)
Posted Saturday, June 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, we've been waiting for this for a long time. Was it worth the wait? My opinion is yes. IQ are definitely one of the most important bands to emerge from the second wave of prog bands in the 1980's, alongside Marillion, Pallas, and Twelfth Night, and deserve our attention when a new album is released. But would they deliver with the loss of one of their guiding lights, Martin Orford? The answer is a definite yes.

Frequency, the title track, is a slab of pure unadulterated neo prog music, with an epic feel that has your toes tapping throughout.. Holmes delivers superb guitar bursts, and Westworth, the successor to Orford, makes you wonder if he really is a new boy with the textures he creates.

As the opener progresses to Life Support, the piano backdrop to Nicholl's incredible vocals is amazing, and a reaffirmation of just what a great band they are. Peter Nicholls shines throughout this album and I do believe that he is becoming more and more accomplished as a vocalist as the years roll on. The mid section features some fantastic interplay between Jowitt and Edwards in the rhythm section accompanying a great guitar solo by Holmes, before Westworth again attempts to make the keyboard slot his own. A dark and meandering piece that grows on you each time you listen to it.

Stronger Than Fiction, clocking in at over 10 minutes, starts off with a commercial feel, and could be accused of being a stereotypical IQ piece, but I think that as the track develops this is belied. Nicholl's most definitely keeps the track together, and I am enjoying the upbeat feel of the track. I especially like Westworth's keyboard textures as the track moves to its mid section, in glorious harmony with quite the most beautiful vocal. The rockier sequence that follows has a dark and melancholic feel to it, before reasserting a more upbeat tone with a strong guitar and rhythm backdrop. Holme's almost sings on his guitar at the close of the piece, with some lovely piano and bass accompanying.

One Fatal Mistake follows without a break, and is a natural follow up to its predecessor. Nicholl's voice is quite incredible, with piano, acoustic guitar vying for attention. I have to say that Nicholl's has become one of the most important and beautiful vocalists in the world of prog - his performance on this, and, indeed, the whole of the album, is really something else.

What follows is nothing short of genius. Ryker Skies could well be one of the finest pieces of music ever created by this band. A rich backdrop of keyboards and acoustic guitar accompany the vocals, before the dark electric guitar, pulsating bass and drums kick in. What follows cannot be stereotyped as neo prog or any other type of prog. This is simply a fine slab of rock music which must have taken all of the five years taken to create this album. Dark, brooding, solid, with a counter to all those who believe that the future will automatically be bright and chirpy, the mood created is ultimately distopian. This is exemplified about seven minutes in by a grand Westworth keyboard solo, which reminds me a bit of Banks in his darker moments, culminating in him accompanying Nicholls to the conclusion of the track.

The Province of the King is the longest track on the album, and commences with a gorgeous acoustic guitar and keyboard backdrop to Nicholl's fine vocals. This track is the natural follow up to much of Dark Matter. I love the mellotron sequence that precedes the heavy pulsating rockier phase, before calming down again to the rich acoustic background. This track has many moods, and is all the better for it. Probably the finest mellotron moods for many a year, interspersed with some fine guitar solos and vocals. When "The phone rings and there's no one there", the track progresses to a symphonic masterpiece, with keyboards at the forefront of a huge cacophony of sound. Although still dark, it is strangely uplifting. Westworth is a fine successor to a great player - we miss Orford, but you know the band will definitely continue, given the exceptional musicianship demonstrated here. Has Holmes ever produced such a fine solo as the one kicking in about 11 minutes into this track? I doubt it very much, and Westworth really shines in the piano when Nicholl's brings the piece to its denouement. A great way to bring a great track to its conclusion.

Closer brings the album to its conclusion. Once again starting with some lovely sound textures, I close my eyes in appreciation when Nicholl's starts singing. This is not just any neo prog - it's IQ neo prog! Band plays its heart out in support of some exceptional and beautiful vocals. The band shines throughout. A grandoise track to close a great piece of work.

Was the album worth the wait? Definitely. Have they lost something with Orford? Yes, is the reply. Is it iretriveable? NO. Is this band still at the forefront of the second wave of prog rock? Absolutely.

Closer Every Day sums it up - we feel close to a band that is still capable of producing great music. As an IQ fan, I find this album essential. As a reviewer on this site, I rate it as excellent. So, 4.5 stars to an album that really is extremely good.

Report this review (#220034)
Posted Saturday, June 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I don't have all that much exposure to the music of IQ, although I do own a copy of "Are You Sitting Comfortably?", which I haven't listened to in years. But this album makes me want to revisit it.

The album isn't perfect, there seems to be something about Peter Nicholls' vocals that I can't quite place that puts me off, and the music during most of the verse sections of the songs can get a bit drab, but when the band goes off instrumentally, the songs soar. Luckily, the good parts far outweigh the bad, so I give this album thumbs up.

My copy also includes a live DVD of a full concert recorded in Holland in 2007, including two of the songs from the new album, one under a different title with different lyrics. The performance throughout is flawless, although the camerawork sometimes jostles, and be warned, the concert was not filmed in high def, so it looks somewhat grainy on larger televisions. But it's a worthwhile DVD nonetheless.

Report this review (#220041)
Posted Saturday, June 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's been 5 years since we last had an album from IQ, that being the highly regarded Dark Matter thought by many to be their best. Since then there's been some major line-up changes with drummer Paul Cook and keyboardist Martin Orford both departing to be replaced by Andy Edwards and Mark Westworth respectively. Naturally it was a major concern, particularly with the loss of Orford if they could still cut it. Fortunately they can; in fact Frequency is as good as anything they've done in the past. What you get is 7 tracks over 62 minutes including the almost obligatory epic; here it's The Province that runs to almost 14 minutes.

The album kicks off with the excellent title track with a kind of Zeppelin style Kashmir riff though they subtly shift the beat around. Things quieten down for Peter Nicholls melancholic vocals backed by electric piano and then were into very familiar IQ territory with some searing guitar runs from the excellent Mike Holmes. A grandiose statement to kick things off.

Life Support has a very familiar IQ sound, more in their restrained mode. A lovely melody prevails over the piano/vocal led start until things kick in with an excellent instrumental section, drums now joining in and some more strong guitar work from Holmes and John Jowitt's excellent bass work nicely cutting through.

At 10 and a half minutes Stronger Than Friction is the second longest track on the album. While it's kind of IQ by numbers, neo prog effortlessly done by a band that have been at it for almost 30 years, its enjoyable enough but plods along for the first 6 minutes until things get more interesting with a change of tack into more dynamic playing. Stronger Than Friction segues into One Fatal Mistake which finds the band in ballad mode. This in turn leads straight into Ryker Skies, a track that could have been heard pre release of the album having featured on a free cd with the latest edition of Classic Rock Prog. It was a good choice to give some much needed exposure to this excellent album. After a quiet vocal intro it comes in with a simple and solid straight rhythm with Jowitt's bass pounding away beneath Edward's solid drum pattern. It's one of those tracks that immediately gets under the skin with a memorably melodic chorus and strong dominant keyboards, Holmes' guitar taking more of a back seat on this one.

Pleasingly with The Province being the longest track it's also the best. An acoustic guitar led intro gives way to a short, bombastic instrumental section before a quick return to the vocals and then we're back into IQ at their most powerful and heaviest. There's some particularly fine keyboard work from Westworth including a nice organ sound, proving he's a worthy replacement for Orford. The track goes through quite a few changes with plenty of dynamics to keep things interesting.

The album closes on a high with Closer, a largely laid back track though with some powerful moments well placed after the bombast of The Province.

I'm pleased to say that despite the loss of 2 long serving members since Dark Matter IQ are capable of producing such a strong album that can easily stand along side their best work. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking here but it's a very worthwhile purchase for fans of the band and symphonic/neo prog in general.

Report this review (#220263)
Posted Monday, June 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Another "well done" homework by IQ

IQ are one of the most easily recognizable bands in the world, even if they almost are a Marillion Mark I clone as many others. Their sound and their vocalist makes it possible.

This new work "Frequency" is almost at the same level of the preceding album. What I'm trying to say is that you can listen to the album and say: "Ok. It's quite good". But you never shudder with surprise. You already know what they're gonna play and what kind of guitar passage and solos you will listen, what kind of bass job you will find and the breaks and fills of the drummer.

In my opinion this is good for enthusiastic fans and for occasional listeners, but not for proggers all around.

What I have found good is that the new keyboard player tries to give his best with some particular sounds and some good ambientation and intervention.

So I cannot give more than 3 stars because of the difference between a good homework and a good classwork... In a classwork you MUST add a little touch of class, more genius and something which surprises your teacher to make him raise your vote!

Report this review (#221159)
Posted Sunday, June 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of my top 10 bands of all time (the only Neo Prog band in this category), I was waiting almost anxiously their new release. At last, I fell in love with this album at the fifth listen, feeling it closer to "Ever" than to their 2004 effort "Dark Matter" until today an album that I don't quite understand in it's entirety. This 2009 CD is closer to their roots, heavily Genesis-Steve Hackett influenced, on a Classic Prog Rock tradition. The first track deserves a 5 star by itself, built around a beautiful guitar phrase. Considering that this album began it's life back in 2007, i don't know how much Martin Orford contributes to it, but Mark developes some keyboard textures, that sounds new to the ears of a long time IQ afficionado. Andy is great on drums, on a free style peformance all along the album. I hope this album will be a new beginning to this great band, as "Ever" did, back in the nineties, a step backwards to develop again, in a near future, a jewel like "the 7th house"
Report this review (#221628)
Posted Wednesday, June 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars I waited for this CD with some caution. After all I am a big fan of IQ and I am one of those who thought that martin Orford was the heart and soul of the band, even more than vocalist Peter Nicholls. To me it was very hard to believe in IQ without him. I was already saddened by his leaving of Jadis, but that was to be expected. But retiring from the music business? From IQ? From HIS band IQ? I was not sure if they should even consider to soldier on without the band's mains character (shades of early Genesis, anyone?). So I was curious, but highly suspicious, when this CD came out. Fortunatly my fears were unfounded, at least for now.

Frequency is as good an IQ D as any of their recent discography. The new keyboardsman Mark Westworth fitted in perfectly as far as I'm concerned. The CD starts with the title track: waves and waves of mellotron sounding keys, followed by Fender Rhodes piano, moogs and all those great analog keyboard instruments all the way through the entire disc. From the first notes you know the band remains the same and that you're gonna love this record. Guitarrist Mark Holmes might be the only member now to be featured on all IQ's catalogue, but the other band members know how to keep the old flame alive. Besides, they lost none of the latter day inspiration that brought them to produce such fine works like Subterranea and Dark matter.

Ok, the CD is not perfect. Clearly I miss an epic of the same stature as Harvest Of Souls (from Dark Matter). But since the band seemed to be washed away just a few months ago, I guess this would be expecting too much. And Frequency has some very strong moments like the title track and the beautiful, poignant One Fatal Mistake. There are no fillers either. Like one reviewer wrote, I hope this new CD is a truly product of the new line up and not the remains of Orford's work before he left. (I guess not). In any case, Fequency stands as one of IQ's best works and it is an excellent addtition to any prog lover collection. Nice surprise. Four stars.

Report this review (#223616)
Posted Sunday, June 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have found the frequency ! I first heard the title song during the last time IQ played in Canada (Montreal) and remember saying that that it was an instant love. This album would prove to be a bit of a re-start for this band as well with 2 new members bringing their musical influences into the group, which I can tell you has not changed the frame of IQ....only the pillow cases ! Those holding out to see the reviews can rest at ease and go pick up this album with confidence as this is very much a prototypical IQ album with their highly well crafted signature symphonic dark prog songs narrated by the pungent lyrics of Peter Nicholls. I too was a tad nervous as Dark Matter I thought was just "Beyond brilliant" and that would be a hard one to top, which I dont think they did to be honest but it is still a very very very good album.
Report this review (#223934)
Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars How consistant has this band been with Peter Nicholls as their vocalist ? Well the seven studio albums he has sung on are all rated around 4 stars. And the thing is there is no agreement on which one is their best. Any one of those seven could be a favourite of an IQ fan. Some lineup changes on this one with drummer Paul Cook leaving and being replaced by Andy Edwards from FROST. So we have the FROST rhythm section at work here. And the great Martin Orford has left to be replaced by Mark Westworth on keyboards. Speaking of FROST, the band thanks Declan Burke among others.

"Frequency" opens with different samples of broadcasts before the drums and mellotron come crashing in.The guitar a minute in is fantastic, synths follow. A calm with piano 2 minutes in, then the master vocalist Mr.Nicholls starts to sing as only he can. Haunting guitar sounds come and go. It kicks in at 4 minutes with some nice drum work. Guitar, mellotron and synths come and go. Jowitt is prominant with some nice bass lines. Just a great sounding track. I love this band ! "Life Support" opens with piano and reserved vocals. When the vocals stop 2 1/2 minutes in check out the atmosphere. Guitar and drums come in and I like the bass after 4 minutes. Nice synth work too. More great atmosphere after 6 minutes.

"Stronger Than Fiction" features a strong rhythm section as the guitar plays over top. Vocals before a minute. It settles 4 minutes in and doesn't pick back up until after 6 minutes. Mellotron 7 1/2 minutes in, and it's so uplifting 8 minutes in when the guitar joins in. Amazing ! The song eventually blends into "One Fatal Mistake" which is such a beautiful and laid back tune. Check out the lyrics: "You broke me, you have no idea. In darkness, I see more than hear. Impossible, even I can say. Many would have walked away. A lifetime of living a lie. Like daylight shot out of the sky. So did the truth ever set you free ? Got nothing but that hold on me". Love the atmosphere 4 1/2 minutes in then it blends into "Ryker Skies". Reserved vocals come out of the spacy sounds and strummed guitar. It kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes. Nice guitar, drums and bass here. Check out the organ after 3 1/2 minutes. An atmospheric calm around 5 1/2 minutes. Vocals and vibes a minute later. It kicks back in before 7 1/2 minutes. Lots of synths and drums then mellotron and vocals join in.

The Province" is the longest track at almost 14 minutes. Acoustic guitar early as vocals join in. Samples before 2 1/2 minutes then heavy drums and organ dominate. Incredible ! Mellotron joins in then it settles back down. The contrasts continue. It's so emotional when it kicks in before 4 1/2 minutes. Soaring guitar before 10 1/2 minutes. Piano and vocals end it. "Closer" opens with guitar as the atmosphere rolls in. Vocals before a minute. Drums and bass a minute later. It kicks in before 4 minutes with drums and organ then Peter cries out the words "Hold on...". The lyrics are so meaningful and emotional in this song.

They did it again ! Not surprised just happy. God bless IQ.

Report this review (#224781)
Posted Monday, July 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Frequency is the latest album from prog giants, IQ and is notable for being their first after the departure of key member Martin Orford. Many fans wondered if IQ would be the same without Orford's influence. Let me assure you that this is still the IQ that fans know and love. I may not be the best to judge because I've never been a huge IQ fan, but to these ears this is the best album IQ have ever created. I have always tried to avoid IQ because of their frequent comparisons to Marillion (a band I just can't seem to get) and their association with the Neo-Prog movement (a subdivision of prog that generally doesn't interest me). But, despite these reservations I picked up Dark Matter quite a few years ago when it came out and I ended up really enjoying it. Because of my positive attitude towards this album, I decided to order the latest IQ offering, Frequency, and boy am I glad that I did. I can't get enough of it!

The album kicks off with the title track, and what a powerful track it is! It starts with some random frequency noise before the bass kicks in with a pounding rhythm. The band rocks out for a bit before slowing down, allowing Peter Nicholls to come in with his wonderful voice. One of the things that strikes me with this album is the pure beauty of Nicholls voice, it fits the music perfectly and makes him one of my favorite prog vocalists. This song moves fiercely through many great sections, and it ends leaving me wanting more. It is a progressive tour de force that never gets old. It is followed by Life Support which starts as a pleasant ballad once again focusing on Nicholls voice before it turns into a jam with a weird keyboard solo. I wasn't sure what to make of the odd keyboard noises from new keyboardist Mark Westworth at first, but I have gotten used to them and now love them.

This leads into Stronger Than Friction, another favorite of mine, which starts with a happy upbeat melody that isn't overly complicated but is really fun to listen to. This song moves through different movements but does so naturally so that the song flows beautifully from one part to the next. I especially love the ending where the band rocks out, especially guitarist Mike Holmes (who I feel is the other star of this album along with Nicholls). The ending goes right into One Fatal Mistake, which is a great segue between Stronger Than Friction and Ryker Skies. It is another ballad that presents one of the main themes of the album in a pure way. Ryker Skies is a killer song that has a great heavy atmosphere to it that really grabs the listener's attention. I really like some of the proggier keyboard moments spread out through the piece, and I love the sing-along chorus. It is definitely highlight.

This song leads right into the masterpiece of the album, The Province. I don't think I have adequate words to describe the beauty of this song. It is 13 minutes of pure beauty and inspiration and impresses me even on the 37th listen (or whatever listen I'm on right now, sorry I haven't been keeping track). The sound bursts out at you at points that makes it a really exciting piece, but there is also room for heartfelt vocals from Nicholls. My favorite moment of the song, and the whole album in fact, is toward the end with Holmes goes off on this incredible guitar solo that highlights the main musical theme of the song. It is inspiring, magnificent, and whatever grand word you want to put in. It just gets me every time-it is wonderful.

Appropriately titled, the final song of the album is Closer, and what a great closer it is! It is a pleasant ballad that once again highlights the main theme of the album and really brings things full circle. As I listen, it gives me time to reflect on how brilliant the album was. Every musician involved is playing at their top performance level, and there is originality and emotion pouring through every note. It isn't very often that I feel this moved by an album (unless Neal Morse is coming out with a new album). I urge all prog fans to give this album a chance, you may be as moved as I am by it.

Report this review (#225148)
Posted Wednesday, July 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is one I have been itching, bitching and scratching to first listen intently and then review. In fact, my dear sinkadotentree beat me to the punch but graciously (as only he can so naturally) informed me by PM that I will anoint this with 5 stars, when I get my hands and ears on it! I hugely enjoyed the previous "Dark Matter" and even saw the support show and was suitably blown away by their mastery of their craft. They have been accused of Marillion clones but I have severe doubts about that assumption as Nicholls is nowhere near the esteemed Fish in delivery, lyrical chicanery and stage persona. Peter is an altogether different fish (pun intended), closer to Gabriel if anyone as I see a vocal personality here, his voice only aging like the finest wine, supremely confident and evocative. This is a band that seems to grow (progress?.hahahaha!) with each release and slaloming through the perils of losing retiring members on keys and drums. It must be said that Martin Orford's departure could have been worrisome but the others certainly picked up the slack, most assuredly proving that Holmes is a way underrated talent. "Frequency" starts off with a delirious glee, as new keyboardist Mark Westwood unleashes copious doses of electronic beeping and swaths of dense mellotron , synthing hand in hand with Mike Holmes romantic and graceful guitar lines , master bassist Jowitt blasting the relentless beat ahead with colleague Andy Edwards drumming up a storm. "Life Support" has all the hallmarks to illuminate the progressive highway, restrained über-melodies that are so typically British, a piano driven reasoning of elegance , the liquid solo that carves deep into the "spectral mornings" that can only hearken back to Hackett's glory days. What a momentous piece of progressive genius that should be lapped up by all fans of prog (while many consider IQ to be "Neo", I personally judge them to be firmly in the symphonic element). The richness of the arrangements are always so convincing, especially when heard (and proven right) in a live setting. The epic "Stronger Than Fiction" is a reptilian escapade that rumbles onward like some crazed mechanical beast with Nicholls singing his spirit out, wrapped in a moody tirade that charms and seduces, very much in the typical IQ formula with deep furrowed tempo contrasts between the sweet pastoral and the disturbingly frantic. Another winning track, will it go, all, the, way?? (as Berman would say). The stately axe flight soars this fiction all the way to the stars, a powerful sortie that utterly convinces. "One Fatal Mistake" is an oddity, an IQ ballad that evokes the misery of love, loaded with soporific keys and piano motifs that underline the plaintive vocal. A nice little love interlude that dies in a choir mellotron curtsy! "Ryker Skies" is a more somber affair that relates to the paranoia of social disease, sounding more like the recent and harder edged Galahad, a brutish beat that swerves into sonic gloom. The choir-trons create massive damage whilst the synth slashes burrow deeply, the marshalling beat remains unflinching. The 13 minute "The Province" is the killer track here, a masterful stroke of aural bliss that is perhaps the most symphonic piece they have ever written. Acoustic guitars string their web across the Peter Nicholls swoon, heartfelt lyrics that dance with the lungs and then a suddenly raging riff enters the fray, blasting imperially into submission. The attractive pattern from soft to hard is repeated again to great effect, giving Edwards the platform to bash around like a monster. Epic indeed, an immense piece that will need nay more revisits to truly appreciate. "Closer" as the name implies is the final opus, a mirroring lilt that floats serenely amid sadly defiant and despondent lyrics that express the current world's tears. They ostensibly pay attention to the world around them, displaying the unique charm of blending disappointment with hope. The chorus is a sonic rainbow of majesty, a harrowing punctuation mark on another classic IQ recording. A magnificent album that deserves the penta stars but it's too early yet to knock "Dark Matter" off the podium. 5 radio towers nevertheless. Right again, sinky!
Report this review (#225352)
Posted Thursday, July 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars By now you should have known my musical taste (mostly) because you can see my rating to this IQ's latest album. Yes, IQ has been in my listening pressure since their debut album and I always purchase the new album of the band which unfortunately took a long time to produce. I had been waiting for this new album for approx five years, but it's worth waiting for because its individual album is an excellent one. And I would say that IQ is a king of neoprog that has been consistent with its musical direction especially since their phenomenal album 'Ever'. I would say since then their music has been so solid so that whenever I spin the album I tend to play it in its entirety because it sounds like listening to the whole story of the album.

I actually pre-ordered this album before its official release early Jun 2009. But due to economic consideration in ordering I clicked also the pre-order of Dream Theater's 'Clack Clouds & Silver Linings' which was released three weeks after IQ, June 23 2009. The result was on delivery of the CDs which came quite late to my address. Practically I only received the package two days ago and I had never heard any song of the two bands new albums, with the exception of IQ 'Frequency' which I ever watched its live performance on youtube. When the two reached my address, my first attention was of course to 'Frequency' because I had been too curious on how the album sounds like. I could predict that their style would not change but I was curious about the melody-line. IQ has been so perfect in creating songs with killing melodies especially since their 'Ever' album. After I spun this album, I tried to spin Dream Theater 'BC & SL' but unfortunately I easily dropped it after one spin in its entirety. Nothing new with DT music and unfortunately in this new album DT sounds like not producing songs with catchy melody like Octavarium's 'Sacrificed Sons' or Systematic Chaos's 'Forsaken'. Honestly I am a bit getting bored with DT especially in its sequel on alcohol which lends melodies from previous songs in the sequel. So I spun IQ and temporary stopped DT.

Compositions that kill me ...!

How do you rate composition? For me, there are five components that form a final rating of musical composition. First, is the melody - i.e. the degree to which the main melody of the song is constructed from a combination of notes. Second is the harmonies ie. how each instrument contributes in creating sounds and notes. Third is the complexity of the arrangement i.e. the degree in which the instrument (including vocal) being played by the musicians and how they generate a piece of music stream or segment of the music. Fourth is change of style i.e. how the style changes in a song which includes tempo changes and/ or heavy or soft musical sounds. The last one (fisth) is the structural integrity i.e. the degree to which all musical segments, including changes of style, form a cohesiveness of the music as awhole from start to end. The five components are very fundamental for me to assess my rating towards the music, especially progressive music.

As a matter of 'Frequency' I can tell you that out of five components that I use to analyze the music, I could summarize that the key dominating components of this album are: catchy melody, wonderful harmonies, smooth and excellent changes of style and solid structural integrity in almost all songs this album contains. The composition is actually not complex but complexity does not determine the final rating because for any neoprog and symphonic prog music complexity is only medium. Prog with high complexities are the music of Gentle Giant, canterbury and some progressive metal.

How can I challenge the opening track 'Frequency' (8:29) with complexity? The arrangements are basically simple to medium BUT look at the melody from start to end of the track. And then, look at the harmonies the band creates through its simple riffs at the opening and it moves forward wonderfully to another segment with various styles in great harmonies. The music created can bring me to an imagination of living in other world. It's totally an amazing composition. And .. the structural integrity of the song is really solid from start to end. Unbelievable! It's a master piece of prog music!

The same experience I find in enjoying the otehr tracks like the following 'Life support' (6:28) and 'Stronger than friction' (10:32). All of them have their own melodies and they are all wonderful! So is the case with 'One fatal mistake' (4:54) - in which the lyric page at the album sleeve depicting a man sitting on a hill which reflects me like a muslim pray. It's an excellent artwork, really!

'The Province' (13:43) is a wonderful epic with great overall melody that spans nicely from one segment to another while the keyboard by the new member (Westworth) plays wonderful solo combined with dynamic bass playing by Jowitt and dynamic drumming by Edwards. One thing for sure this song has many style changes but the band maintains the structural integrity of the song in its entirety.

Overall, this is a masterpiece release by IQ. On top of composition, the performance of the new member of the band (Westworth - keyboard) is worth mentioning. His keyboard work is truly killing! Also the production of the CD is great. The package (mine is having 1 CD and 1 DVD) is great and the sonic production is top notch! It's a MUST album to have! Keep on proggin' ..! Because proggin' is really healthy and it's great to cheer your life ...

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#225885)
Posted Saturday, July 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Frequency", IQ's album after the highly praised "Dark Matter" effort, was always destined to be special in the band's career. For starters, this one was the item that should prove that the creative aspirations that the band had catapulted from their "Ever" days hadn't met a definitive high with "Dark Matter" - that there was more to this band after spending 25 years writing and recording albums. Also, it was to be the first album without drummer Paul Cook. No one saw it coming, but Martin Orford wasn't going to be present in this album, too. Luckily, the writing process didn't collapse after these desertions - Andy Edwards and Mark Westworth entered the picture and gelled perfectly with their elder colleagues. This album's music remains essential IQ. The namesake track opens up the album to set an appropriate ambience of musicality and power. The initial WWII radio transmissions are followed by a mesmeric 'Kashmir'-meets-'Fly on the Windshield' motif, and successively, this section is followed by the album's first sung portion, mostly sustained on eerie electric piano chords progressions. Once things are sped up on a tight 7/8 tempo, the mood sinks deeply into familiar IQ territory: solid dynamics and clean harmonic arrangements. The resulting motif evolves effectively all the way toward the coda, which revives a bit of the aforementioned LZ-meets-Genesis motif. 'Life Support' is next in line, giving up on the opener's stylish robustness in favor of an enhanced romanticism. Figure out a refurbishment of the lyrical sections of 'Guiding Light' under the emotional drive so well accomplished in the softer passages of the "Subterranea" opus, and you might as well have a very good notion about what this track's mood is al all about. Once the whole ensemble gets properly settled down, the symphonic accent acquires some clever cosmic touches due to the inventive synth solos that take place between Holmes' featured guitar lines. The cosmic element remains in the eerie finale, which conveniently portrays the image of machines operating to sustain a fading life. 'Stronger than Friction' (one of the cleverest titles ever in the history of prog rock, I bet) bears an epic timespan of 10 ½ minutes. What you get here is not a 'second Darkest Hour' (let alone a 'second Widow's Peak'), but a catchy exercise on the lighter side of neo-prog, bordering at times with AOR. Let's imagine what the idea for 'Shooting Angels' would have become had it been gathered by the Pendragon guys for their "Masquerade Overture" album: that's pretty much an approximated picture of what I'm trying to describe. The 7/8 section that signals the song's last part is yet another exciting display of IQ-style fire. The segued ballad 'One Fatal Mistake' is lovely, marked by a clean melodic arrangement that never gets corny: Nicholls' singing states that usual vulnerable vibe that has been Peter's signature for ages. Stuff like this should dignify commercial radio, and it would do it enormously. The spacey synth layers and choral mellotron mark the song's end in a bridge toward the next one, 'Ryker Skies'. This is another long song, and quite refreshing in this grand scheme of things. It is robust and psychedelic -even including electronic excerpts in places-, with a clear 'Frequency'-oriented undertone to it. In fact, near the end, a quotation from the aforesaid song gets in to fulfill a melodic development. 'The Province' is the longest track here. Its patently epic architecture bears a strong heritage from the "Dark Matter" days: the contrasted mood shifts, the agile use of odd signatures and the whole sonic fulfillment complete an amazing progressive journey. The synth solo delivered after the 8 minute mark is arguably the best one in the album; the piano-driven closure bears an undisputed elegant beauty. The album's closer is entitled 'Closer' (go figure!). It fills the album's last 8+ minutes with yet another exhibition of IQ romanticism. It works very well as a prog semi- ballad, featuring a moderately bombastic middle section that seasons the main motif up for a while. All in all, this new frequency of IQ shows the same old mastery - "Frequency" is an excellent prog item for 2009.
Report this review (#225994)
Posted Saturday, July 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've downloaded FREQUENCY just two days ago, so I've listened to it just 2-3 times: anyway I'm forced to write an impulsive review about it. Maybe I'll be reviewing it later... (I don't think so). Well, shortly, this album is really FANTASTIC! So packed with great music, catchy melodies, beautiful passages and hooks that sometimes I was laughing mad while listening. Before this, had just the fabolous Dark Matter. Do they compare? Should they? In the end, the important thing is that IQ have delivered again almost 1 hour of pure musical pleasure, with everything needed to please symphonic prog audiences. Indeed, all tracks carry reasons to be liked - but guys: the final "Closer" is so uplifting, starting from with a beautiful simple initially repetitive theme that is worth only the album ownership! And the ballad "One fatal mistake" made me easily think about "Lazarus" of Porcupine Tree, in terms of immediate elevation to one of the best songs heard in modern times. Maybe someone that knows IQ more than I do (as I read in former reviews) would say that in this album there is not anything groundbreaking, and would maybe shave off half a star in his rating. Not me: full deserved 5 stars!
Report this review (#226361)
Posted Monday, July 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In My Not So Humble Opinion:

"Frequency" by IQ was disappointing at best. I'm sorry IQ, I'm sorry friends of IQ, but this was not one of their best efforts.

Let me start by saying that this was my most anticipated release of the year, I love IQ. I dutifully preordered the special bonus pack, complete with DVD and eagerly awaited its arrival. I had seen a minute or two of IQ performing "Frequency", the song, on YouTube and was eagerly excited by the prospect of more. "Frequency" sounded so different from IQ's other material, it had an edge, a bit of hardness to it that I wasn't used to. I was especially excited as I was starting to notice too many similarities in the other IQ CD's that I had (Dark Matter, The Seventh House, Subterranea and Ever).

There is one constant positive throughout the CD. Michael Holmes sounds wonderful on this CD. The tone of his guitar is reminiscent of Daryl Stuermer's work with Genesis, wonderfully haunting. It is nice to hear him come to the forefront with the departure of Martin Orford (yes, I know he still wrote some of the songs for this CD, but you get my point). One other positive, the artwork is IQ's best in my opinion. The kids with the remote controls and the radio towers strike a chord with me.

So the CD started out with "Frequency" and I was underwhelmed, they had over compressed the beginning. I was expecting this bright and powerful opening and the sound was unfortunately muted and muddled. By the one and a half minute mark, the over compression had taken a back seat to the lead guitar and keys, but sadly, that first moment of disappointment lingered. The rest of the song is beautiful, with Peter Nichols voice sounding more soulful than usual, still beautiful though.

"Life Support" shows the amazing drumming of Andy Edwards and "Stronger than Friction" follows as a typical IQ song. It'd be great on most other band's albums, but it's a bit predictable to me. John Jowitt is solid on this and shows some particularly tasty chops at about the seven minute mark.

"One Fatal Mistake" does nothing for me.

"Riker Skies" is the best song on the album, the vocal run at the two minute mark gives me goose bumps. Peter Nichols doubles himself, with a low effect laden voice almost drowning out his normal voice. 'Almost' is an important designation as the higher voice, adds the touch that makes it so eerie. Mark Westworth also plays a very tasteful solo at the three minute and fifty second mark.

"The Province" is every Genesis and IQ song wrapped into one. Imagine "The Cinema Show" meets "The Knife" meets "The Seventh House" meets "The Narrow Margin" meets "Harvest of Souls" meets "Supper's Ready". Unfortunately, it's already been done. They even start the cliché ending at the nine minute forty second mark. You can hear the ending of "The Seventh House" start, until apparently the band heard the same thing and decided they should change something. So they added an off chord, changed the timing a little. Sorry guys, the 'Supper's Ending' really isn't working anymore and the attempt to disguise is just sounds awkward here.

Finally they ended the CD with "Closer" effectively reprising the "One Fatal Mistake" theme that did nothing for me the first time. I'm sorry to say that unlike wine and leftover spaghetti sauce, it did not improve with time.

All in all, it's an ok CD. If it's your first IQ CD it's probably great and I don't have a problem with that. I think anyone who is into good symphonic will absolutely love their first IQ CD regardless of which one they pick up. After a few CDs though, they start to sound the same. Have you noticed that all of the IQ CD's with Peter Nichols CD's are rated between 3.86 and 4.11 (at the time of writing). For seven CD's, that's not much of a spread. I can't speak for the first two, but the reason the last five all have a similar rating is that they're the same album. I'll give examples when I get to Subterranea and Ever.

All in all, I was going to give this one a two star rating, but it jumps to 3 stars thanks to "Ryker Skies", Michael Holmes' guitar work and the look of the package.

Report this review (#227347)
Posted Friday, July 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One of the best albums of the year.

Unlike Subterranea, which lost focus somewhere in the middle, Frequency is a concept albums that smoothly flows from beginning to end without ever becomeing boring or confusing.

As always, the focus in IQ's music is the melody. The guitar is mostly in charge of providing the melodic support for the whole musical building, which leaves behind the equally-excellent but less-purely-neo-prog sound of Dark Matter with its short songs in favor of long, thoroughly developed anthems that take some time to digest but which reveal their magic after repeated listens.

The title track is, in my view, the best IQ song ever, with an impulse and drive unrivaled in most neo-prog. The band is clearly the flag-carrier of the genre as MARILLION has long ago left the progressive territories and other legendary bands have been producing erratic efforts. Frequency, unashamedly neo-prog in the best tradition of post-Hackett GENESIS and Fish- MARILLION, is the best album of IQ so far, and maybe the best of 2009.

Report this review (#229065)
Posted Thursday, July 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Frequency is the least fitting word to describe IQ's albums releasing activity, he-he-he. But when they make it, they usually hit the spot. The problem is that "Dark Matter" was not only band's crowning achievement, but also genre's resurrection's grinding stone, and it's simply impossible to create something better. "Frequency" brings us back in "The Seventh House"/"Ever" times, a fine album with amazing epics, touchy ballads and shorter energetic songs. Melodies are a bit bleak, and ballads are too sentimental this time; IQ are getting older, but they still remember how to rock (the long ones and the opener serve as examples)! This is one of the finest releases for the genre this year, and I hope more CDs to come! Recommended
Report this review (#229441)
Posted Saturday, August 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I awaited this album with bated breath after the magnificence that was "Dark Matter" and the tour DVD that followed. It took a few days for this album to sink in, but it sure did.

IQ has found the wellspring of musical youth, it appears. Each album is fresher and more inspiring than the last (considering that I don't really care for their 80s and early 90s material). I thought they could never top "Harvest of Souls", but they have. This album is divided as always between epics and more melodic rock songs. Founding member Martin Orford's departure doesn't seem to have affected things negatively at all. In fact, the keyboards have taken a turn more for the vintage with Mark Westwood's arrival- there are more vintage-sounding synths as well as some Rhodes and the usual mellotron touches. Occasionally there are passages that are downright ambient, as though the band was jamming with Steve Roach (a good thing), a nice new colour in the band's palette.

The songwriting is dramatic ("Frequency", "Ryker Skies") and beautifully melodic, ("One Fatal Mistake", "Closer"). IQ as always rides the line between prog complexity and AOR melodicism, with a nice edge provided by Peter Nicholl's excellent, thoughtful lyrics. Both John Jowitt and Mike Holmes as always distinguish themselves on bass and guitar, being virtuosic but never wanky.

Much like "Dark Matter", which was worth the price for "Harvest of Souls" alone, this album is worth your money for "Closer", as perfect a piece of melodic symphonic prog as you will find.

IQ is living proof that you can get better as you get older.

Report this review (#234430)
Posted Sunday, August 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars From the first note, IQ delivers, and delivres superb. Though, I'm not convinced if this is their best realese. "The Seventh House" is a unquestionable masterpiece, "Dark Matter" is among the best records i've ever heard. And "Frequency" qualifies in thier league.

The title track kicks of with a bang, and sets the the tone in an instant. The musicians are tight, particulary the cooperation between drums and bass. But what makes this song possibly the best track IQ ever recorded, is the abrupt change in tempo and style when suddenly only a piano and a soft sliding guitar fills the speakers. Then, Peter Nicholls, the angelvoice makes his first apperence. This track proves why he is one of my favorite singers. The feeling and the melody combined is truly amazing.

The rest of the album is not so much a unity as the previous records. There isn't so much a plot or a thred that runs throughout the album. But IQ does a fantastic job, delivering powerful, symphonic proggressive rock. The production, and the "thick" sound (somwhat a trademark for the latter IQ albums) is greater then ever. not a tone is false.

I can only glorify this album, together with The Who's "Quadrophenia" and The Mars Voltas "Octahedron", "Frequency" has been on reapet during the whole summer. And to be honest, has been since it's realese! A masterpiece. nothing less then that.

Report this review (#237522)
Posted Sunday, September 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my 3rd glimpse into the world of IQ and by far the best. I started my journey with the well received DARK MATTER. As compelling as most of the songs were, some spark was missing. I am a sucker for concept albums, so I took the leap of SUBTERRANEA. Again, the musicianship was stellar and the lyrics were just obtuse enough to make your mind wander, but there was still something missing. After a lull, I decided to give FREQUENCY a listen. Am I glad I did! This is stellar. The music and lyrics compelling, the overall feel is buzzing with angst and a little anger. This was what I have been waiting for. The depth that Harvest of Souls compelled on Dark Matter, with some anger at a world unmoved and apathetic, over the last decade, towards everything permeates this album. It is truly spectacular to behold. The whole album is fantastic, but I love the title track, along with Ryker Skies, The Province, and Stronger than Friction.

The deluxe set is a must with the live DVD, which is also very good and full of long songs, just wringing with passion. I keep going back to this album over and over again, so it must be great! It also has me exploring more of the back catalog, after hearing the live versions of the songs on the DVD. I appreciate DARK MATTER much more now, and SUBTERRANEA THE CONCERT is far better than the studio version (not sure why...). I also picked up EVER, which is ok (dated perhaps?) and THE SEVENTH HOUSE, which I am still absorbing.

If you want to get into a great band, I suggest starting with the best, FREQUENCY!

Report this review (#237639)
Posted Sunday, September 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars IQ is still a band I love, and I realize there's been some significant changes to the line up recently, but this does seem like a "connect the dots" type of release. They've found a slightly dark, mid-tempo, slightly grandiose path to follow, and this seems to be the direction over the last ten years or so. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, simply that there's a "saminess" that smacks a bit too much of complacency and the desire to get "product" out to market.

What I loved most about their earliest releases was the ability to craft songs that while intricate, still had a lot of rhythmic drive and "propulsion", for lack of a better term. This album, and "The Incident" by Porcupine Tree is guilty as well, plods a bit too much on safe ground. Been there, heard it before.

Report this review (#239471)
Posted Tuesday, September 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars If I had to make a comparison between IQ's 2009 offering and a classic progressive rock artist, I would urge all fans of early Steve Hackett to seek out this album. That isn't to say that the band is in any way plagiarizing anything- the IQ sound is still present- I just feel that's an accurate comparison given the instrumentation, guitar tones, and arrangements. Ultimately this is a stately and respectable album- a must have for fans of the genre and definitely for those pleased with IQ's work this decade.

"Frequency" A simple, hard-rocking riff with a Kashmir-eqsue rhythm underlain with Mellotron paves a solid foundation for the first guitar and synthesizer solos on the album. Electric piano and weepy guitar come forth after that, giving way to the welcome vocals. The rest of the song is at once heavy and majestic, with that airy Mellotron hovering in the background.

"Life Support" Gorgeous piano is enveloped by airy pads just before the thoughtful vocals enter. I think the drums deserve some praise, as I found that's what I tend to concentrate on even during a masterful guitar solo; all in all, the instrumental section of this song hearkens back to Steve Hackett's darker solo material from the early days.

"Stronger than Friction" I've made this comparison before (not for this band), but the introduction to this song sounds quite a bit like music from Mega Man X, an old series created for the Super Nintendo (and, as I've mentioned before, there's nothing wrong with that at all- music created for certain video game titles is brilliant- I can just imagine running through a level as the blue bomber and blasting everything that gets in the way). Almost halfway through, the piece changes shape, assuming an unassuming, light guitar and soft synthesizer, again sounding like early Steve Hackett. While not flawless, this is a full and mighty composition, boasting that perfect blend of variety and consistency.

"One Fatal Mistake" This piece sounds like one of the post-Neal Morse ballads from Spock's Beard. For something so simple and low-key, it's a wonderful song.

"Ryker Skies" Thick acoustic guitar cuts through an airy atmosphere; in a way it reminds me of "Fly on a Windshield" by Genesis even though the two songs are quite different. I don't particularly care for this track as much, since it is too electronic-based and rather generic in several respects. There is a fantastic organ interlude; however, it's stay is far too brief. To compensate, there's some fabulous synthesizer work toward the end.

"The Province" The longest track on the album begins with picked acoustic guitar and gentle synthesizer. It gets suddenly heavier, with lots of thundering chords and drums. Just before the second half commences, a sinister organ and electric guitar bit takes over, introducing a new vocal melody, effectively keeping the song fresh. I think the synthesizer tone during the big solo is really different, but fitting at the same time. The final minute consists of gentle piano and soothing vocals. I believe the piece could have been trimmed down if some of the dross had been cut out, but overall, it's a brilliant work, although not as a good as any of the first three.

"Closer" Bright guitar begins the final, uplifting track. It's a feel-good and mostly gentle (though upbeat) track, and a fine closer.

Report this review (#245207)
Posted Monday, October 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Feeling is everything

The first I want to say about this album is it's full of energy and melancholy. It begins promising with a couple of very good songs with very good musicianship and songwriting. In fact, I would divide this album to two halfs, if I'm speaking about my interest in IQ's Frequency. The first half contains from first to fourth song. The homonymous song - Frequency is the most memorable and powerful song on the album. I would call it a breakthrough on the whole album. Next songs are very good, too and contain some frash ideas. Next half contains three songs, from fifth to seventh. Honestly, I'm loosing interest around the beginning of it. The album becomes too long for so unvaried record. The album run out of ideas and become monotonous. Because of this lost of speed and fresh energy I'll give 3,5 stars to Frequency.

Report this review (#251518)
Posted Wednesday, November 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Stronger Than Friction...

IQ is one of my favorite modern progressive rock bands, and Frequency was one of my most anticipated releases of 2009. Initially I didn't like this album at all, and I can't reasonably say why. This album has a more edgy modern prog sound, and almost completely ditches the neo-prog label that they've been slowly getting rid of over the years. I thought maybe it could be because Martin Orford was no longer present, even though Mark Westworth does a great job.

After originally being disappointed, I decided to give Frequency another chance recently, and I really enjoyed it! I can't say why suddenly I began liking this album, but it is excellent. Great synths, Steve Hackett sounding guitar, and spacey Mellotrons create the unique IQ experience.


"Frequency"- The first song on this great album opens up with sound effects that build into a heavy repeated bassline with great use of the mellotron. This is followed by a guitar solo. After the heavier section dies down a gloomy electric piano section enters. It builds really well into the beautiful chorus. This is a pretty atmospheric section, and it reminds me a bit of Porcupine Tree. Soon the signature IQ sound enters, and Peter Nicholls delivers an exceptional vocal performance. I love the bassline throughout most of this song. The keyboards are excellent as well. One of my favorites off of the album!

"Life Support"- After the great previous song, this song mostly builds off of a main piano melody line. After a short break, a melodic guitar solo and funky bassline begin. The rest of the song just builds from this bassline, and I particularly like one of the synth solos. This song has some great moments, but it is not one of my favorites from this album.

"Stronger Than Friction"- A guitar melody opens up this great epic. The bass playing from John Jowitt is solid, and I think he does a great job throughout this entire album. The chorus is really strong, and this is one of those cases where it can get stuck in your head for days. Most of the 10 minutes of this song is made up of the same melodies, but it never gets repetitive or boring. A highlight of the album.

"One Fatal Mistake"- The previous song flows directly into the album's fourth song. This song is focused on a beautiful piano and guitar chord progression, and this is a pretty standard verse-chorus-verse song. However, the excellent melodies keep this song from being a poor pop song.

"Ryker Skies"- This song opens up with an atmospheric guitar and keyboard sound. Peter's vocals soon enter and this is followed by a heavy drum and bassline. I think this is a pretty powerful section, but I think as a whole this song is not them best from the album. I think the chorus is very good, but IQ has better to offer in my opinion.

"The Province"- This is the longest song on the album, and it doesn't disappoint. I really like the acoustic guitar that opens up the song. It has good melody, and the song soon turns into a heavy section reminding me of "The Return of The Giant Hogweed". It goes back into the opening acoustic section, but the heavy melodies soon return. This features a great guitar solo near the end, and the ending is very good.

"Closer"- The closing song is a pretty uplifting affair, and is centered around one guitar riff. I really enjoy this song, and I think it's an excellent way to end this album.


Frequency is a really good album by IQ with some classic moments. I do think it is one of IQ's weaker efforts with Nicholls, but this is still a very good album. I'm on the fence between giving this a 3 and a 4 star rating, and in a perfect world I would give this a 3.5. Since Frequency really is a great album that I've been enjoying lately, I'm going to round my rating up to a four.

4 stars.

Report this review (#252405)
Posted Monday, November 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 27 years after their debut album UK veterans IQ show that they are still a band with the capabilities to create solid albums. And while they aren't exactly covering new grounds here, the territories covered are done so in an excellent manner.

Symphonic prog of the atmospheric variety is the name of the game here, with warm, rich multiple layeres of keys and synths as a key feature. From the piano via organ and mellotron to what I suspect are modern synths, the dreamy, rich tapestries produced by the variety of tangents are utilized in a manner few others are able to. The sound is full of life in a way few others are able to replicate. And with the other strong aspect of this band's output, the distinct emotional yet slightly detached lead vocals, these two dominating aspects conjure up distinct and strong moods between them.

Whether utilized in darker sounding themes or lighter ventures, supported by crunchy guitars or wandering light guitar licks, it's these two elements that carry this venture. And while the truly stuning and superior efforts may not be around this time - the ballad Life Support actually being closest to this as far as I'm concerned - this is a strong album nontheless, and one that will be appreciated by fans of this act as well as followers of Neo-Progressive rock in general. Rock solid from start to finish, but no diamonds this time around.

Report this review (#255347)
Posted Wednesday, December 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I've been putting off reviewing this one for some time. Although I've listened to it many times, and in fact enjoyed it, I've been hard pressed to find a rating for this album that felt fair to me, so I've been listening to it again in the hopes of feeling some sort of certainty about what rating it deserves.

The music on this album is quite good. It is your typical prog line-up of keys, guitar, bass, singer, drums. Nothing about these guys is really new to the prog scene; this type of neo/symphonic prog has existed for decades. But IQ has been doing it for decades themselves, and are quite good at it. They deftly move from quieter tracks to tracks that rock harder, from acoustic guitars to electric. The music flows together quite nicely from song to song on the album, and "Closer" closes the album quite nicely.

I am still on the edge about Peter Nicholls voice. On initial listening, it always seems to be the weak point of this band, yet it never feels out of place. If I had to describe his vocal delivery, it would be very deliberate, and a little harsh. Of the IQ albums I have heard so far, his voice sounds the smoothest on this one. It has less of the harshness that he has had on previous albums, and I have to admit that it makes his voice sound more appealing to my ears, especially during the softer parts of the album. Yet the abrasive-ness of his voice had it's charm; I can't imagine listening to 'Harvest of Souls' (off of Dark Matter) without it, for it is part of the music. Luckily, his voice still works with the more aggressive bits on this album.

I can't comment too much on the transition from Martin Orford on keys to Mark Westworth, for I haven't heard a lot of IQ's older stuff yet. It doesn't seem to have done the band any damage, the songwriting on this album is as good as it was on anything else I've heard by them. If anything, I would say that Mark has helped IQ gain a stronger identity, for I hear a bit less Genesis in them than I did previously.

The album has few high points (the opening and closing of the title track, the chorus of Ryker skies, etc.), but other than that it is actually remarkably even. There aren't any low points at all, really. I think that's what makes this album so hard to judge. While it is definitely an enjoyable listen, there's really nothing exciting about it to expound upon, nor anything dragging it down to complain about. For that reason, I give it a three star rating.

Report this review (#258168)
Posted Sunday, December 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Sadly, I can't compare, as I know just this album, so don't expect wonders here. You never do you say ? Great, we understand each other then.

As whole, 62 minute long musical piece (this music sounds quite consistent to me), it's quite pleasant and uplifting album, even some parts are this dark "happy" mood, sometimes wandering into unintentional optimistic state (last song), where these waves of joy can be almost too much. Yes, it's not so big issue, there are others (Moon Safari's Blomljud), where whole music is based on this, but that's the point, it is based. Here, I frankly don't know what intention of this album is, but am trying to enjoy it. And it's possible, easily. But to think of it as a masterpiece, I would need more.

4(+), seems like IQ (from what others are saying) are still "in the mood", making good albums. Something like Pendragon, right ? But done differently a little bit (even not so different).

I sense overly present try of IQ to make something interesting "again" (I suppose), something that won't fade away, almost convulsively to be honest. It's not so relaxed album as I would like it to be, but its qualities are here, we all who owns this CD can hear them, but I don't feel like someone without doubts. Something is not wrong, but because it's not big issue and I don't know what it is, I'll leave it to be and will be fair.

One thing is for sure. Every time I hear this album, I'm expecting nice experience and I get it.

Report this review (#262848)
Posted Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'll tell you what I think has been great about the last year. Many bands that have been around 'for ages' have recently put out some of the best work of their careers...... and this album is definitely one of those.

Now you'll see my rating and might think to yourself 'here's another IQ nut posting 5 stars all over the place', but that's really not true. I always think long and hard over a rating - especially such a high one - and this one quite simply just deserves it.

The album starts as it means to go on. 'Frequency' is a brilliant piece of work with all the usual twists and turns that we all love in prog. I will say though that even this track took me few listens before it clicked and lodged itself firmly in my conscious mind (you know how it goes!). I saw the band play this just before Christmas at the Islington gig, and it was truely one of my highlights of the night.

Track 2, 'Life Support', is another beauty. Less of a meandering journey than the title track, but it's strength is it's serenity. Peter Nicols vocals are crystal clear and confident floating over the melodic keys of Mark Westworth. A few minutes in, and we're treated to some searing 'Hackettesque' guitar work from Mike Holmes. Fantastic stuff.

You'll be playing the riff from 'One Fatal Mistake' in your head for ages after hearing that one too!

In fact there isn't one track on the album that is below par and it's a consistently great album altogether.

The album 'Frequency' works well for those attempting to know the best of modern day prog. You could recommend this to anyone as a shining example of the sort of enjoyable music that's getting made today (even if it's not getting widely played today).

No hesitation in awarding 5 stars, and no hesitation in recommending that you all at least give it a listen. I'm sure many of you have missed out where you really wouldn't want to.

Report this review (#275389)
Posted Monday, March 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This Album contains my favorite IQ Song, and currently one of my top three prog "songs" (the other two, in case you are interested, are "Suppers Ready and "The undercover man by Van der Graaf).

I am talking about the title song, a brillaint piece of work. it contains everything I like about IQ and prog in general. Great powerful rhythm's and melodies,, wonderful changes and soli. And Peter Nichols voice (which I am not a big fan of otherwise) just fits perfectly here. it is only 8 minutes but a suit of it's own!

There are other nice moments on the album, like the beautiful final part of "stronger than friction" and both ballads ("one fatal mistake" and "closer").

Although by far the longest track, an although I heard it quite some often now, I still do not "The province" which does nothing to me.

Alltogether 4 stars, jsut because of the wonderful title track. In fact I prefer having one brilliant song and nothing else on one album rather than a whole nice album with no highlights.

Frequency: 5 stars (6 really :-) Stronger than friction, Closer, One fatal mistake: 4 stars Ryker Skyes, life support: 3 stars The province: 2 stars

Alltogether 4+ !

Report this review (#280266)
Posted Sunday, May 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars "The first atomic bomb was dropped on a military base called Hiroshima...."

"Frequency" begins with a voice over speaking of a nuclear assault. The intro is unbelievable! The impressive music is beautifully executed, Mike Holmes' clean soaring guitars, chugging riffs like Led Zeppelin, ambient sustained mellotron and keyboard pads by Mark Westworth, with expressive, creative drumming from Andy Edwards, the bass by John Jowitt is played virtuoso style as well. The vocals of Peter Nicholls are clean, inviting and uplifting, sounding somewhat like Neal Morse at times. "Frequency" is an incredible followup to 2004's "Dark Matter". This is marginally the better album of the two, though "Dark Matter" was certainly a very good album. There is more innovation and stronger compositions on this conceptual work. Due to the strong melodies throughout this album it is a genuine grower, and you are likely to love each track the more you listen to it, nothing on it is a throwaway or filler, it is all solid prog at its best. I heard it three times in a row and eventually succumbed to the fact that this, as far as I am concerned, is one of the most uplifting prog albums of recent years and I rate it as a masterpiece of neo prog.

Frequency is one of the best IQ numbers, with solid time signature changes and a positive sound with special effects and melancholy keyboards. Mike Holmes' guitar riffs are dynamic and the lead breaks are emotive and Pink Floydian. Nicholls' warm vocals spell out the main themes of the album: "Before I was undiscovered, When I was invincible, Nobody could kill the silence And probably no one will again, The future was unrelated, Alternatives all pursued, The lives that got separated When others were split in two." It is a brilliant composition and unforgettable.

Life Support begins with beautiful piano and sustained pads and then those warm emotional vocals chime in. This is so uplifting, and reminiscent of Transatlantic. The lyrics are reflecting on life's trials and how to overcome. The mood changes as a thunderous sound is heard and it builds to a crescendo then a lead guitar swoops over as drums keep a steady metrical pattern. Westworth's spacey synth is alienating and futuristic, similar to the type heard in electronic music. It is a lengthy instrumental and as good as it gets. The synths merge with majestic guitar leads. A very melodic motif repeats in various forms and locks into your head. It is absolute bliss when the band are in full flight. The wind effects are airy, ethereal and haunting towards the end. I adored this track the first time I heard it and it gets better with each listen.

Stronger than Friction, an ironic take on Stranger Than Fiction, begins with a melodic guitar riff, and the positive vocals of Nicholls harmonise about ways of living "until our worlds collide" . At 3:50 the heavy beat halts and an ambient mellotron soaked pad sizzles along as the vocals become softer and the whole song becomes a "turning tide" . I like the fast riff at 6:40 where the time sig changes completely again and the vocals are more aggressive. The sporadic bass and drums are off kilter and there is a lilting keyboard and ascending lead guitar break. One of the true highlights of the album and in fact the first 3 tracks are prime example of Neo Prog at its best.

One Fatal Mistake is a melancholic ballad, a gentle soothing sound that warms you up. The lyrics are encouraging and lift up the spirits; "Imagine all you could have been, Eventually you would have seen, The wanderlust, And all you dared to dream of, If ever you make one fatal mistake, You broke me, you have no idea, In darkness I see more than hear, Impossible, even I can say, Many would have walked away." There is always a ray of hope injected in to the lyrics that talk of how to overcome despair and difficult circumstances. The melody is very pleasant to the ears and musically there is a lot on offer here especially the transfixing guitars and keyboards.

Ryker Skies features thick buzzsaw synth and flowing acoustics. I first heard this on a Prognosis CD from the Prog magazine and it stood out as much as it does here. Once again the atmosphere is ambient textures of melancholy reflection. The lyrics are emotive, "I'm reeling, fighting for breath, Running on empty, A fortress carved out of steel, Black and surrounding, No other survivors, the walls without end, So where have I come to?" A very strong bass and drum beat with crashing cymbals kicks in. The lead break is replete with bends and pitched picking. The next section of vocals sound like Ayreon's deep robotic effect voices on "Universal Migrator"; "Welcome, hero, to Ryker Skies, Where all your hopes are stored, You can leave responsibilities in ruins at the door". The mellotron is ever present as the cleaner vocals of Nicholls take over with high octaves; a very nice sound and killer melody as the song swings in to full gear, "Get it knocked into your thick skull, It's really not that hard It's a cast iron binding covenant And this is just the start, There are insults and injuries, You've heaped upon yourself, But you play the victim, While you pile the blame on someone else". This track has some of the most memorable lyrics of IQ and the chorus, once it gets in your head, well you will never forget that melody, "So before I state my intention to live or die, I command your total attention In Ryker Skies." I love the way the track merges into a full blown keyboard attack. Once again a throbbing beat ensues like the machinated pulses of Ayreon. The acoustic flourishes are a lovely touch, adding to the very airy atmosphere. I would rate this as a proposed single from the album, as it is more commercial in sound, but this does not detract from the musicianship which is excellent throughout. A wonderful song.

The Province is a 13 minute IQ romp with textures of light and dark, moments of tension and release are present and infectious melodic verses. The style at times is not dissimilar to the sound of Peter Gabriel's Genesis. There is a heavy guitar riff that overpowers the soundscape after a time. The staccato synthesizer chords are fantastic as tradeoffs with guitar. There is a lot of acoustic work but it is well balanced by the heavier sections. There are many changes in tempo and mood and it progresses into minimalist piano and vocals at the end; "I cannot count the many ways cos' there's nothing real... before the wireless kills."

Closer is as far removed from the obscene industrial NIN song of the same name as you can get. It is a balladic song with positive vocals that are close to Neal Morse or Spock's Beard; "Slandered and betrayed, A character assassination, Watch the guilty fade, Now the work is done, Ghosts of early days, Gather round the later rivals, All parade upon the earth to which they're bound, Silent in their course, They steal across the icy stations, Words are useless now, They fall upon the ground." The song builds gradually until we get a majestic instrumental break with soaring keyboards and then a beautifully sung verse with powerful lyrics; "Hold on, when I'm dead and gone from you, Remember me as light breaking through, Stay strong, any time you feel you're lost, I will carry you back across". The piano motif becomes hypnotic toward the end repeated as guitars and sporadic drums maintain a melancholy mood, closing the album in style.

Overall, "Frequency" is the best I have heard from IQ, melancholy, with moments of heavy tension, and those soaring powerful vocals: this is neo prog at a virtuoso level and I think it's one of the albums of 2009. Accessible and soaring vocally, atmospheric and ambient musically. A masterful work of high quality musicianship.

Report this review (#281745)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars At first I downloaded the album knowing that the famous keyboard player had left the band, and it turned out to be my fault as I re-bought special edition CD (with live DVD) later. If possible, I would give 6 points to these outstandinging nice songs. This IQ album can easily compete with some of the legendary prog classics such as "Zarathustra".

For me what make this album so special are: 1) Incredibly beautiful guitar melodies by Mike Holmes (definitely the best in these years) 2) Excellent drum works by Andy Edwards (eg exciting plays in "Life Support") 3) Expectation-exceeded keyboards plays by Mark Westworth (why have we not known about him before ?) Life is interesting because these things can happen.

Vocal and Bass guitar are expectedly wonderful as they have been in these years. I would say that Frequency is their best among all good albums of the late era, even better than Ever, Subtarranea, and The Seventh House. If you like melodic guitar, technical drums, piano and mellotron sounds, this CD will be one of the best ones for you to own.

5 points with my respect and hope for their continued activities.

Report this review (#285527)
Posted Monday, June 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now a fantastic release, this being the first IQ album i have fully heard i was expecting something to really grab my attention (as ya do with Neo-prog) and i have to admit, i really wasnt at all unhappy about this album, it fullfilled every expectation, fantastic compositions, top class musicmanship, amazing melodies, quite a treat for all prog fans really. From the steller opening title track FREQUENCY everything just seems to take off, and i love how they have composed it to a point where you have an upbeat prog song, then a slow almost ballad like track, then an epic track, then another slow song i also love the themes that appear and reappear throughout. Standout track include the title track (ive already mentioned before), ONE FATAL MISTAKE has to be one of the most beautiful ballads ive ever heard comming from a prog rock band, the two epics are of course also standouts STRONGER THAN FRICTION and THE PROVINCE, with Stronger than Friction being just slightly better because of those fantastic closing 2 minutes, the whole album is a standout though, its one of those albums you have to hear to believe;

Frequency -10/10 Life Support - 9/10 Stronger Than Friction - 10/10 One Fatal Mistake - 10/10 Ryker Skies - 9/10 The Province - 10/10 Closer - 9/10

MY CONCLUSION? this is a fantastic album from start to finnish, a real prog jem and im really looking forward to listening to more albums by this amazing band :)

Report this review (#291523)
Posted Thursday, July 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the only IQ album I own, and has certainly convinced me I need to buy some more! An extremely solid album with barely any boring or uninteresting points and more that a few truly beautiful sections, Frequency is a brilliant piece of meandering prog. Riffs come and go very fast, and the songs usually evolve slowly this way (example - riff 1, riff 2, riff 1, riff 2, riff 3, riff 4, riff 5 etc.). The signing from Peter Nicholls is very good; quite unique in my experience. Also standing out is the very good drumming from Andy Edwards which is almost always interesting and keeps the tracks very fresh.

The album is very guitar and synth driven - with many, many great solos from both! Often, the guitar will replace the voice as the main melodius instrument, which is very interesting - guitars are different that voices as a melodic instrument, they are faster, and can express in different ways. But the guitars are also often found in the backround, playing a sort of violin-like role of playing a secondry accompanying melodies.

"Stronger Than Friction", "One Fatal Mistake" and "Ryker Skies" all segue together, so can be considered an epic track (at 25 minutes). These are all great pieces with great sections and are very good at holding your interest.

One of the lower points of the album is "Life Support", mostly for me because it follows the disgusting chord sequence of many a crappy pop song (I-V-vi-IV) - you can recognize it straight away if you've ever heard Green Day. However, it's pretty damn elitest to hate a song just because if it's chord sequence, and"Life Support" is more complex than your average Green Day song - with variations and nicermelodies. Also, about half way through, it straight up abandons that sequence and bursts into an exciting instrumental section.

I should really be trying to avoid this, but there are some really standout moments in songs for me - for example, at one point, in "Frequency", all of the synths and guitars thin out and Andy comes in with some fast hi-hats, and a riff and vocals slowly come in around this - it is extremely beautiful.

In conclusion, this album is a constantly evolving masterpiece. It just loses the fifth star because not all the songs are amazing - some are just above average, but this is a great album which you can listen to from start to finish and it never has a geniuinly weak momens (except maybe "Life Support"). I give it a:


***** songs "Frequency", "Stronger Than Friction" "The Province"

**** songs: "Life Support" (the first part is *** but the second part is *****) "Ryker Skies", "Closer", "One Fatal


Report this review (#295791)
Posted Sunday, August 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars An album that I have been frequently listening to

Neo prog is the first modern progressive rock genre and, despite having a considerable amount of bands, I rarely am interested by the genre. It is not that i deslike it or anything, it is just that most bands seem to go through that same old same old places: that same floydian keyboards and organ, same godawful Peter Gabriel impersonation, moody guitars, generic Genesis influences, etc, not bringing anything really new to the table. That predictability obviously does not thrill me, so I usually steer far from it.

From time to time, however, the planets align and the cosmic starlight hits me, making me check some neo band or release, usually some known band or well received album to avoid excpected dissappointments. This album, therefore, should be a safe one to pick, since it is by one of the main bands of neo prog and was generally well received. With that idea on my mind I got my copy of Frequency and had some real long and thoughtful listen on my 20 hour bus trip to Rio to see Dream Theater, on late 2009.

The veredic is clear: far from having the characteristic predictability of neo prog, Frequency is an interesting, amusing and exciting output by IQ that hooked me for good.Obviously, just as the apple can't fall far from the tree, IQ still has the characteristic genre sound. Frequency, however, has some of the heaviest riffs I have ever seen on any neo band so far, riffs that can be even called as heavy metal riffs. The heaviness, though not being necessarily a good thing, sure is a breath of fresh air.

Music wise, all instruments are quite good: the moody atmosphere, the moogs and synthesizers, the exiteing guitars and basses, everything fits just right. The vocals are also very interesting, since Peter's vocals are very competent, fit exactly in the band's sound and are also quite different from what I expected.

In spite of all that, this album is far from being perfect. First, it is just too long. Some of the songs could easily be out of the album without doing any damage, being the biggest example of that the song One Fatal Mistake. Other songs could also be considerably shortened.

Another key problem of Frequency is that sometimes the band simply cannot keep up with the song's quality. The change they make around the mid of the first song, for example, is just terrible! It begins so good and it develops to such an adorable and captivating atmosphere and then it is COMPLETELY RUINED! This also happens in other parts of the album, but they aren't as bad as in the first song.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Frequency had the potential to be a masterpiece. The album has so many great ideas and is presented so well! However, a series of small mistakes are eventually summed up and weight quite negatively. It is, nevertheless, a great album and surely is something that most progheads can (and should) enjoy, thus 4 stars seem like the appropriate rating.

Report this review (#297909)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars IQ has won a place in my prog heart. Considering I bought "Nonzamo" first and I was scared as hell and only after reading some reviews here I tried some other recordings of them. This particular record I have in my hands right now (well, I am writing, It is a matter of speech) It gives us hope for the future.First IQ is still a band that matters and second There´s a lot of prog in the future. The songs are pretty solid with 3 of 'em outstanding from the rest. And the new guys are spot on: Andy on drums and of course, of course Mark who knows how to drench a song on Mellotron lines once in a while. So I will give this particular one 4 solid stars because I love the lyrics and I still love the way Mike can play the guitar in a way Hackett would be envious, It is his style, only better. Please keep sending CD's this way.
Report this review (#298949)
Posted Sunday, September 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars not specific to this album, i just wanted to write an iq review. all, i repeat, all of these guys' albums with peter nicholls rank at least 4 stars. they have navigated the last 3 difficult decades with consistently top-notch songwriting, lyrics and melodies. everything is signature and memorable. and while some level the derivative accusation, this many years down the path, that seems almost unavoidable. but any derivations are easily forgiven, if not completely overlooked with these guys, given their relentless pursuit of high-quality output. nicholls is extremely astounding, with what at first seems to be a limited voice, over time he stands with the other prog giants in both creativity and performance. and the band is also quite the unit, even during the 80's: the production values that curse others from that era are barely detectable. and their evolution into the "naughts" is a beautiful thing to hear. so if you've never heard these guys, or are on the fence, then give yourself over without prejudice and you will be gifted with as rewarding an experience as any from the classic prog bands, and you'll be able to tell your friends that you do listen to music from the 21st century. 4.5 stars for this and the entire catalog. maybe not all masterpieces, but essential.

(specific to this album: all of the above comments are based on the band's original material and in no way represents the author's opinion regarding their choice of covers, so just skip those, there's more than enough music to make up for them)

Report this review (#307293)
Posted Friday, October 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Though "Ryker Skies"(9:45) (10/10) is a great song--one of the best of the Naughties--Frequency as a whole displays nothing new except perfected, refined, even re-hashed IQ Neo-prog (which is, in itself, rehashed imitation of the melodic symphonic and crossover bands of the late 1970s). The album's much-raved-about prog epic, "The Province of the King"(13:42) (7/10) is familiar, textbook GENESIS/IQ. Too bad that Peter Nicholls' rather pleasant voice is always the same. Too bad that most of Neo-prog's good ideas have already been used. Too many times. (GENESIS were great, weren't they?!)

Four stars for great sound and performances; three stars because it's all been heard/done before. Rated up for the nice music (What if someone were to run across this album who had A] never heard Genesis before, and B] had not heard much of IQ before??)

Report this review (#377691)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Starting the discovery of a band from the last album may not be a good idea, but this is the first that I have found and I have to say that the first things that I have noticed are the very good melodies and the excellent voice of Peter Nicholls. The album starts with the announcement of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima....a military base...There's a bit of early Marillion in the arrangements. I've been a fan in the Fish's times but I have to recognize that IQ are really better. Maybe they are more mature on this album released in 2009 than Rothery & co in the early 80s, but the songs in this album are stronger and of course more original. Nicholls doesn't try to sing like Peter Gabriel as Fish was doing and they don't write two-chords songs with just odd signatures that's something to which Marillion indulged some times. "Frequency", the title track is quite a masterpiece of neo-prog (and not only). In a period of my life in which I'm listening to more unstructured things this is one of the few melodic albums which I listen to repetitively. The piano intro of "Life Support" is great and introduces another fantastic song. Nicholls has a clean and powerful voice that walks well on the square waves of the piano and keyboard carpet.

The only defect of this album is that the best things are at the beginning, so even if the overall quality is very good throughout all the album it looses something on the way. The most melodic moments, like "One Fatal Mistake" and the long "The Province" are better than the uptime songs like Ryker Skies.

In few words this is an album good for every taste, also mainstream, without being commercial. I'm curious to listen to the previous releases of this band, but I'm wondering where was I when this band, contemporary to Marillion, was releasing albums of this kind? How can I have missed them for so long? From an old Marillion fan, they appear to be better, at least in this album.

Report this review (#413244)
Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
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.

Report this review (#434428)
Posted Saturday, April 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have been listening to this album fairly frequently for the last eighteen months and I am still not tired of it. I don't think I will ever tire of it. For me it is the pinnacle of IQ's achievements. This is an awesome album, a classic in every sense of the word. Musicianship is first class. The melodies are absolutely beautiful. 'One fatal mistake' is a stunning track, melancholy and yet full of hope. IQ put their heart and soul into this album. There is not much more that I can say other than this is IQ's masterpiece and an essential part of any music collection, prog or not. A truly amazing and powerful album. What will they offer us next, as I am not sure if they can better 'Frequency'?
Report this review (#581911)
Posted Sunday, December 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars A really good album from IQ, however it is not essential. But..... about half of it is very very very good and close to perfect. Three of the songs on this release, especially the soaring title track, hit me right where my prog genie lives. FREQUENCY, ONE FATAL MISTAKE, and CLOSER are gems.RYKER SKIES comes close, but the other songs have never really grasped my total attention. By far the best thing here is the classic title track with it's beginning Led Zepplin riff and it's perfect melodies and lyrics. One of my favorite Progressive tunes from the last few years. This track leaves me wanting to explore the IQ album output further. And so I shall. So, not a classic release, but nonetheless deserving of 4 stars based on my favorite 3 1/2 tracks. Highy recommended to everyone with the realm of progressive music.
Report this review (#604205)
Posted Friday, January 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars |C| One of the stronger releases of modern Neo-prog.

As this is my first review of a Neo-prog album, I might start off with a word of my general low opinion of Neo-prog in general. I pretty much consider the genre the 80s prog that somehow never died out, but neither did it develop much over the years. It's basically the pop of the prog community, with cliches that the fan-base can eat up, often with no real substance or creativity of which to be spoken. "You've heard one band, you heard them all" is a good indication my views of the style, and it would be an understatement to say that there is little diversity in the use of devices of composition in the genre from band to band. However, some bands definitely pull off the style very effectively, sometimes very charmingly, and on rare occasion, beautifully.

I've sampled a few IQ albums before, but never before dedicated a concentrated analysis of an album. I decided to pick Frequency since it's their most recent album and simultaneously one of their most highly rated, which isn't often the case older prog bands the past few years. While I find it by no means groundbreaking, breathtaking or essential, it sure is a nice change of pace from my usual music consumption, and was pleasantly surprised that I didn't want to throw up from the Neo-prog cliches, let alone actually enjoy it. Let it be known to the reader that a three is quite a compliment from his reviewer: its means that I think it's good, as in actually worth buying.

The instrumentation and layering of the composition is basically what you can expect from most Neo-prog: chorused guitars, synthesizers and effects everywhere, melodic guitar lines sometimes with atmospheric reverse-fade effects, etc. However, I find that IQ utilizes the typical layering formulas in often creative and expressive ways, and deviate from the cliches just enough to give their music the creative edge that is lacking in most neo-prog. And sometimes, they just plain rock (pun intended). I especially like the drummer, he almost always contributes a lot to the intrigue of the music. While much of their work may be laced (and often, too much so) with effects, the actual composition beneath is of pretty good quality, whilst many current prog releases often use the effects the cover up for lack of substantial, musical ideas (I give an example with a very recent review of mine).

Track Commentary: The opening album title track starts off with recorded sounds about Hiroshima distorted with effects, leading into mellotron pads with heavy palm-muted guitar that repeats several times, coming to be layered with a guitar solo, and then some nice keyboard synth riffing. Nicely done, though the rhythm guitar part is a bit repetitive for my taste. This leads to an electric keyboard section that repeats every two measures. The singer is quite nice sounding, as are the reverse-fade electric guitar parts. This song has some decent chord progressions. The 7/8 section is a bit choppy sounding, but I wonder if this was a conscious decision. I like the way the intro comes back at the end with the vocalist singing this time, with pretty tasteful effects on his voice in my opinion. Probably one of the best tracks on the album. The second track Life Support is starts off with soft piano arpeggios. I don't usually like music of this kind, somewhat sentimental sounding and cliche, but IQ pulls it off in a way that's very classy and convincing, and I actually unexpectedly enjoy this track. The section with the synthesizer is also quite nice, albeit somewhat synthetic sounding, but I think that's kind of the point of this album in general to an extent. This track demonstrates some efficient use of effects in my view, especially at the end. I wish the middle section weren't repeated so much though (which is more excusable considering the solid drum solo beneath the repeated sections). Stronger Than Fiction starts off abruptly with the main melodic guitar line, very energetic. This track is in general quite jagged, with pretty good material in each section of the song, but I feel like they don't really link too well. The verse has your (very) typical way of layering neo-prog, though it does have a bit of a groove to it. The chorus unfortunately seems a bit out of place with the sudden heavy guitar out of nowhere. This track leads directly into the softer One Fatal Mistake, which once again is more sentimental sounding than my usual taste but it's nonetheless well done. The sound effects at the end lead into Ryker Skies, which starts off with chorused acoustic guitar chords, very pretty sounding ones at that. Then, seemingly out of nowhere drops the guitar bass and drums playing a heavier section. Then this breaks into synthesizer/keyboard effects section with the vocal line dubbed an octave lower, kind of creative for them to do that. The chorus sounds way to drawn out though, and this work seems quite long-winded in general. I like the mallet percussion toward the end of the song, but that damn bass synth pounding out rhythms really ruins the soft movement implied by the other instruments. The fade out was kind of weird. The Province, the longest and most substantial work on the album, has a lot of elegant acoustic guitar work and tasty chord progressions. I like the transitions into the heavier sections, especially at "not here, not now!" Very expressive. There's lots of diversity in this song, with chord progressions, effects, melodies, layering, etc. Closer starts off with very heavy effects on clean guitar arpeggios, layered with synth pads and a nice vocal melody. I like the way the acoustic guitar and piano are added after the vocals finish.

This is definitely one of the better releases from the genre of Neo-prog in general; not the best that I've heard, but this really is a pretty pleasant album that doesn't pretentiously try to make too much of itself. The musicians really take their time (usually too much time) to say what they need to say, and say it in a elegant and gentle matter. In fact, the main issues that this album suffers from are mainly a factor of long-windedness in most of the tracks, and the sometimes unsatisfactory transitions between sections of the songs, which is really what usually separates the men from the boys among the great artists of rock music. Not to mention the general over-repetition of some musical ideas, but this is an almost universal problem for Neo-prog anyway. This is definitely an album to revisit on occasion. I recommend it for Neo-prog fans, and consider it essential for IQ fans for sure.

Report this review (#727648)
Posted Saturday, April 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The departure of Paul Cook and Martin Orford from IQ brought to an end one of the longest- lasting lineups in the band's history - a lineup responsible for the band's incredible streak of superior neo-prog albums from Ever to Dark Matter. Luckily, any doubts about Mark Westworth's ability to step into Martin Orford's stool or Andy Edwards' credentials on the drumstools are shattered by this incredible album, which finds the band as a whole on top form.

The compositions give plenty of chances for the new boys to show what they can do (Ryker Skies must count as a real triumph, with Peter Nicholls intoning his megalomaniac lyrics over Westworth and Edwards' interplay), whilst of course the old hands turn in excellent performances in their own right. IQ's lineup changes usually result in a shaking-up of the band's sound, and this time is no different - but this time it's for the better, the band finding a beneficial balance between freshening their sound on the one hand and keeping things proggy on the other. In fact, this album is at once one of the band's more accessible releases and yet, at the same time, is also one of their most original works, with all sorts of hidden complexities.

Looking back, I see I haven't given an IQ studio album less than five stars since Ever (unless you count Seven Stories Into 98, which was a quickie recording of an old demo, or the odds and sods collection The Lost Attic). That might be a little fannish, though I would argue it speaks more to the incredible consistency of the band than anything else. Frequency is a particularly important achievement for the band because it shows that they can survive even as radical a change in lineup as the loss of their co-founder, and still produce prog gems of the quality we've come to expect from them.

Report this review (#734616)
Posted Saturday, April 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Aged But Not Tired

People regularly gush over this classic band or that about how after 30 years, they can still release a solid album. I mean it happens every bloody time we have a reunion album that isn't complete trash (since most of them are). But honestly, what impresses me more is that a band can not only stay active for 30 years and release consistent material, but improve each time an album is released, to the point when this, their best album, comes 26 years after their debut.

I have a feeling that my love for IQ's Frequency comes a bit down to my Theory of First Impressions (which I would like to go in depth into sometime, but not in this review), but in my opinion, although IQ have a handful of very strong albums, Frequency stands head-and-shoulders above all of them. The album is their most consistent and inventive, containing a large number of their best melodies and ideas, keeping the traditional sound of IQ alive, while simultaneously bringing both that sound, as well as neo-prog as a genre, to the 21st century in its execution and production.

To get straight in to this, I have to start with the obvious ? the title track of Frequency is the greatest thing IQ have ever done and is one of the best progressive rock songs of all time.

It's just one of those songs that I hold amongst the elite ? a song with nearly no flaws, with multiple intertwining melodies that are all equally brilliant, and with the most perfect sense of direction and structure. For me, it's nearly the perfect example of how to construct an 8-minute song without sounding boring for even a second. Of course, as a seasoned progressive rock fan, 8 minutes is hardly a marathon, but even then I am still impressed by how this track runs through so many fantastic melodies and riffs and yet never truly feels its length. Everything in the song is so perfectly balanced and placed - from the brooding and slow opening, with the first couple of verses sung softly over that wonderful motif, to the shuddering climax, with Peter Nicholls delivering the final punching line "...but I don't remember now where I should be. Find me where you don't believe me."

I love the way the intro motif is reprised here of sorts - even though the time signature has shifted from 4/4 to 7/8. 7/8 is regularly considered a bit of a jokish "PRAGUE RAWK" time signature, especially when done with synthesisers at a quick tempo, but the second half of this song contains some of the best use of septuple meter that I have ever heard, using its skipped beat to create an unparalleled feeling of intensity and quick pace. The synthesiser version of the lead motif that comes in just before the climax is honestly one of my favourite melodies these guys have come up with, done with true neo-prog flair with the tone on the synth. But it's not the only fantastic one here. I absolutely love the melody in the midsection - "Now, as a final fire climbs into the senile spire?", as well as the lead melody in the first verses, yet none of them really feel underdeveloped or out of place. This song essentially has multiple choruses that it just keeps building up to until that climax. I'll admit, I think the final section could have been developed a bit more, since it also contains a wonderful melody, but it does an excellent job of reprising the opening bassline, as well as transitioning into the next track.

The next track, "Life Support" is my other favourite from this album, although I don't love it nearly as much as the title track. It's a far simpler song, focusing on one rather beautiful melody as opposed to the four or five different ones the title track went through. I really like the piano chord progression under the first few minutes, it creates such a sweet and introspective vibe under the rather solemn lyrics. But about halfway through, the song dissolves into full prog mode, breaking out the guitar and synth solo battles in the numbers, but somehow manages to keep itself glued to the ground - the solos somehow never seem too long or too wanky, which is honestly a feat in this style of prog.

Of the rest of the album - I have to admit that it isn't nearly as good as the first two tracks. I have a feeling that this may be part of the reason I do love this album so much - I would always come to hear the first two, and stay for the rest of the record out of obligation to finish it. And in those many listens, I learnt to love every part of this album, the way you do when you hear something enough, although I still think it is slightly disappointing compared to the start. The two following tracks, "Stronger Than Friction" and "One Fatal Mistake" essentially form one suite, with the two songs transitioning smoothly together in a wonderful way. But although I enjoy them, these two are nothing more than "pretty nice, with some good moments". I particularly like the chorus of Stronger Than Friction, as well as the introspective mood on One Fatal Mistake, but these songs really don't serve up all too much on their own.

The album really gets back into stride with "Ryker Skies", a dark and brooding epic, pointing at the more sinister side of IQ's music for a lot of its length. The song begins fantastically, moving from a dark and ominous synth glow, to the rather intense and angry pre-chorus to the epic and rising chorus. The song keeps a great tone and mood for the majority of its time, with Nicholls bringing out some of his punchiest and tightest vocal lines yet. I'll admit, the song still isn't perfect - I'm not a fan at all of the Hammond organ appearances (although when am I ever a fan of that stupid instrument), even if the fantastic synth tones make up for it, and I honestly think the song's fade-out ending is weak and ruins the flow of the record, especially since the previous tracks had all had fantastic transitions.

But the album really comes back with the final two tracks, which would be amongst my favourite IQ songs, even though they still fall short of this album's opening pair. "The Province" makes up for everything "Stronger Than Friction" didn't do in being the album's epic, calling back to the title track both in the way the song runs through many melodies and in a literal sense with the reprise of Frequency's opening melody near the end. I still believe this song could have been a bit better, but in terms of an epic way to finish, it does a great job, and "Closer" (the most incredibly titled album closer ever) does an even better job of being the aftermath. The song has such a pleasant and happy mood, feeling completely like a finish, and reminding me the most of another classic IQ closer, "Guiding Light" from 2000's The Seventh House in its tone. The melody that the song holds is incredibly beautiful, especially during the final couple of minutes, and it does make the album feel complete with its perfect finishing touches.

Frequency is not a perfect album, but it is also the only IQ album in my knowledge without any weak tracks, and the only album with a song as impressive and phenomenal as the title track. A small dip in the middle does bring the album down a bit, but the melodies and performances here are the best IQ have ever done, a true feat for a band this far into their career. This is not just an impressive album from a band who have been at it for 25 years, this is generally an incredible album, and IQ are pretty much the only band I know of who still sound fresh and exciting now, whilst not really changing their sound all too much. The definitive IQ record, and certainly the best neo-prog album that isn't Marillion.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

Report this review (#751813)
Posted Friday, May 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars actualy 3.5 stars

The newest to date IQ album released in 2009 and named Frequency is another worthy neo prog album from their catalogue. IQ being one of my fav neo prog bands for many years knowing almost all their albums and reviewing aswell some of them, I've decided to re check this release in proper manner. Steping out from the IQ helm well known and respected musicians Martin Orford and Paul Cook who contribute a lot to the revigoration and re establish the neo prog genre in last almost 30 years they were replaced by Mark Westworth and Andy Edwards. To me this album sounds little darker then previous works maybe due to the fact of these two new musicians but aswell the band is again in top form like it was in last 20 years. A solid album with top performance , just to be checked the first two pieces, the title track and Life Support what a strong and imaginative passages here, strong rhythmic section and excellent ideas overall. Ryker Skies is another highlight with Nicholls delivering some great vocal moments from melacholical passages to a more refined ones, each time he really shines. The musicianship is again great, overall no weak moments, but I don't think this is their best album, I count Ever, The wake, Dark matter or Seventh house to be more intresting and more balanced then Frequency, but never the less this album comes very close behind. I loive Iq music for almost 20 years with each release they show maturity and above all complex and inventive arrangements, that why they are considered one of the pioneers of the genre and among the most respected band from neo prog zone. A good towards great album but not groundbreaking like aforementioned previous albums.

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Posted Monday, May 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars (9/10)

When I was first listening to IQ I started at "Tales From The Lush Attic" and worked my way through the Peter Nicholls albums chronologically quite gradually. After immensely enjoying the first two albums I had a sneak peak ahead to IQ's (then) most recent album "Frequency", the highest rated in their discography. To put it simply, I didn't really get it. I enjoyed the title track and not much else. It all seemed kind of harsh, and different from the early stuff I was then listening to. Thus I went back to my chronological journey, and didn't think much of it.

But then by the time I reached "Frequency" properly, all the pieces fell into place. It seemed like the logical next step in IQ's continuing evolution. It all made sense, and sounded fantastic to boot. "Frequency" is an album that feels new and fresh whilst still fitting in undeniably with everything IQ had achieved up to that point, and for that I think the band can be very proud.

Some of IQ's heaviest moments are on this album, and it sees them continue to grow as a band yet again. The production is really good, and IQ are further broadening their sound. In fact, I don't think IQ have ever sounded quite as good as on "Frequency". Between Mike Holmes on guitar and new man Mark Westworth on keys, we are treated to a veritable masterclass in blending a variety of sounds together to create brilliant songs. It is also IQ's longest album to date, so you'll get you money's worth, that's for sure.

Things start with a bang. The opening powerful riff from the title track, "Frequency", makes it very clear that this will be a big sounding record. This song is pretty much instantly enjoyable, and sets the tone well for the album. The middle section treats us to Peter Nicholls' pure vocals, along with complex instrumental sections, both of which IQ are known for, before the crunching reprise of the opening riff.

Things go a bit differently for "Life Support", with sounds fading in and out. Mike Holmes has such a fine touch on the guitar here, and is superbly controlled. A lot of this album seems to see him and Mark Westworth trying to outdo each other for just how good they can sound. Mark Westworth holds his own too, with his use of mellotron, organ, synthesiser and other sounds to either guide or lead the musical styles of the album. A very worth replacement for the great Martin Orford.

Peter Nicholls is also, of course, as good as ever. His assured vocal abilities allow him to carry songs like "Stronger Than Friction" though its various differing movements. I find it quite impressive how this song manages to have melodic upbeat parts and dramatic epic parts without ever feeling disjointed. All the songs here are full of a lot of music, but flow so well. In fact, "Stronger Than Fiction" flows straight into the next song, "One Fatal Mistake". Here things calm down a little, with the song acting like a showcase for Peter Nicholls' emotive melodic vocals. It fades again, into "Ryker Skies"

"Ryker Skies", after some short soft buildup, is another track with a powerful opening. Mike Holmes distorted guitar plays over the top of the emphatic thudding stomp of bass and drums. It's another song that sounds very big. The chorus and keyboard solos very much match this as well.

All the long songs make use of their extended length to get through an extensive amount of ideas. Probably the best example of this is "The Province", weighing in at about 14 minutes. It was actually intentionally condensed, so that it didn't completely dominate the album (as "Harvest Of Souls" did on "Dark Matter"). This I think was quite a smart move, as "Frequency" does feel balanced between the tracks. It also means that "The Province" is very prog-dense, which is another plus. The song starts out low key, with mysterious lyrics leading into a heavy and complicated chord progression, back to the vocals, and then back to the heavy part and just on and on in a wild ride. One of my favourite parts is the moment of silence after Nicholls sings: "The phone rings... there's no-one there...", before CRASH sinister organ comes back in, building to the next crescendo. I also really enjoy Peter Nicholls' distorted vocals (which appear in a few other songs). The song ends with Mike Holmes' guitar soaring as it so often does on this album.

IQ usually put some thought into the song to end with, and in this case they have gone for the song "Closer". After the epic previous track, this offers us a lighter ending. The climax of organ and keyboard solo as Peter Nicholls vocals soar above the music always makes me feel good. The song then fades out gradually and gently, ending on a positive uplifting note.

Listening to the album, a lot of tracks run into each other, and there are repeated musical themes as well, a trick IQ has pulled before to make the album feel more continuous. So much attention to detail has been paid (especially with regard to dynamics), and it's all put together very intelligently.

"Frequency" is an album that mixes a lot of good things seamlessly. The heavy parts absolutely crash (the drums really help with this), the delicate parts are beautiful, the atmospheric parts are evocative and moody. There are a lot of moods on show here, from the huge epic sounds, to the sinister mysterious sections, to the highly attractive melodies. As always, IQ bring a high standard of musicianship and complexity, and like all good IQ albums it is all ultimately tied together in great songs. Every band member here puts in a great performance, and it really shows, making sure that "Frequency" starts strong and never lets up, packed to bursting point with so many excellent musical ideas. 5 stars, easily.

[P.S. The CD comes with a video of a live show, which I would definitely recommend watching. It has particularly good versions of "Frequency" (early and with different lyrics) and "The Magic Roundabout"]

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Posted Thursday, November 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Frequency" is the most recent release by neo-proggers, IQ, and the first of their albums to join the ranks of my CD collection. It was one of the purchases I made during what clearly became a record-setting year for me in CD purchases and music exploration, largely due to the influence of this very site. Now, as a person who desperately needs to diet, I have put myself under a strict CD purchasing regime that I intend to adhere to lest the wife find out and confiscate the bank book and seize my earnings. But on with the album review.

It opens with "Frequency" and within the first couple of minutes the stage is set for what promises to be a very good album. There's a great instrumental intro with Mellotrone, synthesizer atmospherics, and heavy guitar. A recorded news report speaks about the first atomic bomb drop: "The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base". I wonder at the irony of the reporter trying to justify the dropping of an atomic bomb by saying that Hiroshima was a military base, as if people should feel better not knowing about the hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and casualties. Did IQ pick up on this? The mood goes gentle with electric piano as the vocals begin, but the heaviness returns later. The vocals are smooth and very pleasing. There are some great keyboard sections and the drumming intense. The song maintains an odd beat that is very hard to tap your foot to. Overall, this song is already the first stand out track from the album. But more's to come.

"Life Support" is slow and gentle with nice piano and synthesizer. It's not too long but good music. You'll notice drummer Andy Edwards cannot be content maintaining a plain beat. He keeps breaking out in shuffling fills in spite of the song's slow tempo.

"Stronger than Friction" is a multipart song that changes pace and mood. There are gentle parts and aggressive parts. The band makes good use of their instruments and sounds and styles. The drumming again is remarkable. Fills, eruptions, quick shuffles. Like a drum solo put to a song.

"One Fatal Mistake" actually begins as "Friction" fades out but the track change occurs when Friction has completely faded. Slow acoustic guitar, piano, and synth. Very pretty. It's a relatively short song that segues into "Ryker Skies" with aethereal synth and a synth choir. Clean electric guitar joins. There is a lot of praise for this song by some but good as it is, I always lose concentration while this plays. It still is good as I listen to it now, making notes for my review. Nice organ, electronic effects, heavy beat. Some outstanding moments. On the strength of this song I would have bought the album, even though it is the least memorable for me.

"The Province" is quite likely the highlight of the album and the longest track at over 13 minutes, though I find it difficult to declare it the highlight with so much good music elsewhere on the album. There's an acoustic beginning that evolves into a great epic with many changes in tempo and mood. Intense heavy parts with Hammond organ offset the acoustic sections. It could be my favourite track though others are also really enjoyable to me.

The album's closer is "Closer" (as in I am now closer to buying another IQ album than I ever was). It's sweet sentimental music. Very pretty. The song goes through some changes while keeping the mood. One the wife might appreciate. It's a bit like "One Fatal Mistake" but still different. Very powerful music and vocals. The drumming here is often swift and exciting as the song draws closer to its conclusion. Andy Edwards must have hot coals under his seat.

I really like this album. The three stand-out features for me are the music compositions and use of guitars and keyboards in general, Peter Nicholls' wonderful vocals, and Andy Edwards' ants-in-the-pants drumming. I have already lined up three more IQ albums for purchase this year. If I want more than that I will have to cut some other ones off my 2013 list. I am glad to see the high rating for this album. One of my top ten purchases of 2012! Not quite five stars but I am glad if other people give it a full rating. I would be happy with a 4.5 rating honestly.

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Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10

My definition of "masterpiece" often refer to a mere personal taste, not necessarily following the rules and definitions of the website. I am saying this because even I am surprised at the amount of "5 stars" I've given over the years here.

However, Frequency is not a simple case of personal definition. Judging by your score here on the site (4.11, making it the best-rated album from IQ and one of the most well-evaluated the genre of neo-prog) we face a great work. And considering I'm far from the only one who thinks so, and I heard this album more than any other to do their review, I can say frankly: this is a masterpiece.

My previous experience was with IQ, say ... frustrating. I do not know if it was the headache he felt that day or what, but either way I was not impressed with Dark Matter. It seemed a pale shadow of Genesis (which incidentally is a common defect of many albums and bands of this genre) without inspiration or creativity, just "more of the same." The only exception was the epic Dark Matter, but even this seemed to me (try to) be a modern version of the classic Supper's Ready.

My experience with Frequency was totally different. I mean, the influences of Genesis are still there, purposefully explicit, so noticeable that you can recognize music which that passage refers. But it seems that this space of 5 years between the two albums the band reinvented itself. The sound is more organic, dynamic and fluid. It is a neo-prog that, in addition to the usual common derivations in the genre, can get involved and surprising, not even fail.

The band had some changes in their line-up this time. Paul Cook (drums ) was replaced by Andy Edwards and Martin Orford ( keyboards ) Mark Westworth . The other members are veterans of the group . Starting with Peter Nicholls , I have felt somewhat " boring " Dark Matter in a voice . Wow , how wrong I was . How not heard the older albums the band did not know how to say his voice has changed over the years , but for a fifties Peter still sings very well , leading the album perfectly . He does not try to sound like a forced imitation of Peter Gabriel , which is already a plus point . But his voice sounds so fresh, positive and resounding that it is impossible not to be swayed by it . Mike Holmes is a phenomenal guitar, a rare melodic sense . There are times when he sounds like Steve Hackett , which is good ( as Hackett is one of my favorite guitarists ) , but in most times it is contributing to the music be with lofty soils ( such as The Province of the King ) or tune in general. And still runs the 12-string guitar ! (more Hackett -esque it impossible ). John Jowitt is a bass accompaniment over even without moments that stands alone, but there are times when it is perceived its great driving melody (like the pulsating bass that employs Ryker Skyes or opening Stronger Than Friction). So essential to the group as others.

But for me the highlights are precisely the two new members . I have seldom seen a drummer with an energy and dynamism as Edwards . Its complex but organic style enriches the whole album , and without sounding pompous or anything he knows the right at all times to play the songs. Her face is great ! See what he does between 6-7 minutes or Stronger Than Friction between 2-5 minutes of the Province of the King , and compare their way of very simple and basic implementation in Closer . Adapting to each environment of the album, it really won me over . And Westworth ... what to say ? Martin Orford is one of the greatest keyboardists of neo -prog , its mass replacement owes you nothing . Using lots of organs , mellotrons ( time did not hear as well atranete mellotron ) and synths ( moog much as those of the 80s ) , it presents a dynamic comparable to Edwards , and is easy to refer your style of the legendary Tony Banks . In just one album earned my respect the point where I say that is one of the best keyboard players of today.

Opening with the title track, the album ever gets down. This is a song that sums it up here: starting with tunings and radio voices, she evolves into a heavy a la Kashmir issue, with a strong presence of bass and guitar, first accompanied by a mellotron and then by a keyboard solo that hear later. I love it when the music fades to a beautiful piano and Nicholls begins to sing: "Before I was undiscovered, When I was invincible, nobody Could Kill the silence, and probably no one will again." I really do not know very well what it is the story of the album, although many hearings have made me get a good amount of letters. The song actually has an incredible dynamism, especially from the four minutes - watch out if the riffs of Holmes' guitars and Edwards' drums in this moment.

Life Support, the next track opens with some quiet atmospheric piano followed by soft and cozy Nicholls voice. It seems that it will last well until the 2 minuots change occurs with atmospheric sounds introducing an instrumental section to jaw dropping, where Holmes delivers his best and darker soil - reminds me very Hackett on his solo career. Again, please note that Edwards is on drums, this time with the cymbal. There is room for Westworth reward us with a great solo keyboards, guitar antesdo theme song return and finish with some dark sound effects.

Stronger Than Friction is the first epic of the album, and while at first I was resistant to it just wowing me after several listens . Why was I tough ? Well , it begins with a session with all the archetypes of neo -prog . It's such a happy beginning that it's annoying (though I like him today ) . But IQ is wise not to stay in it , and can say that this song has four different sessions . The first , as mentioned above , follows a verse -chorus - verse -chorus basics, and gives us the illusion that the next seven minutes of music will be well . Certain mistake . After this introduction "cliche" ( but still legal) music fades in a beautiful passage dominated by acoustic twelve-string guitar Holmes , Nicholls' vocals and layers of Westworth's keyboards . New changes at six minutes for a brief and complex interlude, that is certainly one of the heaviest moments on the album (I love the work of Edwards in this part ). And then the song reaches its climax simply epic, with vocal singing: "Who'll defy me now, and chase the lightning all to soon, what kind of mercy will you gain, under the shadow of the moon". The way the vocals sing "the shadow of the moon above" is sublime. the final part is a great interaction between the musicians, which would be nice in some part of "a Trick of the Tail". So in the last 30 seconds the music suddenly changes to a section that becomes more quiet ...

... And opens into beautiful ballad A Simple Mistake, the shortest song on the album. Some reviewers were found resistant to this song, but I found a nice simple piece that serves to calm the listener after all epicidade of previous songs. I would not say as interlude, however. I love the twist that gives Edwards the second time the chorus is sung - is something that Phil Collins would surely do, either in Genesis or solo career. And at the end of the song she fades into new sound effects, which are crowned by a mellotron exuberate ...

... Which brings us to Ryker Skyes , the music is definitely the magnum opus of the album according to many reviewers, and rightly so. A review pointed out how their introduction (with sound effects coming from One Fatal Mistake decrease in favor of increasing acoustic guitar ) remind Fly on a Windshield of Genesis , even with different apertures , and it really makes sense . I love the vocals accompanied this acoustic guitar , which leads to the two minutes when the guitar explodes into a great solo accompanied by a pulsating bass . The way the vocals return , singing "Welcome to Ryker Skyes hero " in a distorted manner, including some electronic effects is making me shiver . This is a most unusual section , verse -chorus - verse -chorus , but the song gives an impressive turn in about 5 minutes with Westworth giving us the best solo mellotron of recent times . The vocals return after 6 minutes , followed by more acoustic guitar (repeating the initial theme ) and what I imagine to be a xylophone or a vibraphone . Westworth returns with another solo keyboard , one of those you might hear on " Selling England By the Pound " and finally the chorus is repeated again until the song to end on a fade out.

The Province of the King is the greatest song on the album , clocking in at about 14 minutes. Its first half is started by a beautiful acoustic work and voice Nicholls , but after 2 minutes the song explodes into a fast section, but simply brilliant . I 've said it before , but seriously: look what Edwards is doing here! It's otherworldly . Music returns to initial theme quickly one last time before returning energetic instrumental theme even more epic , this time accompanied by a mellotron that I can only describe as " divine" . Then a new theme is introduced , with Edwards making some double pedals while Westworth bring it on the organ . So the theme of the guitar solo is taken from Life Support and Nicholls sings:

"The province of the king The wilderness of stolen things The untold legacy  Ineria keeps it out of reach Till I bring bad tidings The phone rings There's no one there"

This section leads to the second half of the song, with the vocals becoming increasingly intense and dramatic as the song heads to its climax, preceded by another great solo Westworth keyboard (that would fit perfectly into The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway ). The climax itself is a majestic and epic guitar solo from Holmes, divided into three sections. The song calms down for a post-climax in his 11 minutes, ending with just piano and vocals.

But wait! This is not the end of the album! Closer still there, and if there is a track that got me was this. I had already said in my review for The Mountain as I love it when an album ends on a more intimate and positive note, after a big climax, and this is the case. While some may find it drags too beyond measure, I think this is a song that has the size you should. In fact I swear I could spend five minutes listening to the close of it, which is one of the most beautiful and graceful things I've ever heard.

5 stars well-applied. No doubt, this is one of the best neo-prog albums I've ever heard, and I will not forget it anytime soon.

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Posted Saturday, March 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars IQ is one of the more established Genesis clones (with a touch of Yes-like upliftiness, in places). But, unlike some of the giants, their creating engine runs smoothly for 30 years now. You'll notice their last albums are actually their highest rated. Deservingly so. Frequency adds modern feel and a well-needed punch to their neo-prog sound. They don't cross over to metal, like some of their peers, but this results in a well-flowing, finger-tapping progressive epic music. One thing that annoys sometimes is the abundance of vocal parts. No, Nichols sings remarkably well for his limited range, but his tone is often weak and whiny to dominate the proceedings. Especially when instrumental backing is so good, with busy drums, singing guitar parts and varying keyboard sounds.
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Posted Thursday, May 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars IQ's 2009 album 'Frequency' is the only album I've heard by this British progressive rock band. For whatever reason they are a band which has slipped under my radar over the years, so in reviewing this album I had no references to their previous albums. I have to say that overall I'm pretty impressed by the music on offer here - while it's not exactly original, borrowing heavy influence from Marillion, Genesis and even Rush in places, I still find it overall an enjoyable album. For one thing its much heavier (in places) than I expected, with some definite metal leanings in a few places. Having said that most of the album is definitely embedded in the mellower side of prog than the heavy side...

There are seven songs on 'Frequency', with an average song length of just under nine minutes - so we are in pretty familiar progressive territory in terms of song length. The music is enjoyable, but not exactly original or ground-breaking in anyway. There is also my normal bug-bear with a lot of prog bands - too many lyrics! A prog band shouldn't be afraid to have 4-5 minute instrumental passages during their longer songs - there is no need to sing over everything - allow the music to take centre stage.

There are definitely a couple of real stand-out tracks on the album. The opener, 'Frequency', is a superb piece of progressive rock/metal and I love every second of it. The fifth track, 'Ryker Skies', I feel is also very strong. The other songs are a bit more of a mixed bag compositionally; they all have fun moments, but aren't as coherent as the two I've mentioned, and it feels like there is a bit of filler mixed in to rack up the song length.

They are definitely a band I'd like to hear more of, but in terms of neo-prog I'd still say Marillion are the reference point. A rating for this one is somewhere between 3 and 4 stars. I'll be negative and give it 3 stars, but I'm still happy to own the album for the first track and also the rather cool live DVD that came with my copy!

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Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars IQ's best album of the 2000's

It's a pity one of IQ's worst cover art is on one of their best records. Not frequently cited, this tenth studio album is quite inspired and modern, while preserving the band's musical identity. The musicians real entered the new millennium this time. Maybe a little less adventurous than previously, the songs are however more coherent, incorporates elements of other progressive styles such as heavy prog or prog metal, and the quality is present.

The heavy title track contains all what you can expect from IQ at the beginning of the 21st century: a dark opening, rocky passages, enchanting trademark keyboards, pretty melodies and powerful soli. Simply one the best compositions from the band! "Life Support" can be divided in two parts. The melancholic first half is dominated by piano-driven, whereas the second half displays unreal eerie music typical if IQ. The progressive "Stronger Than Friction" is also good, alternating dark, smooth and epic atmospheres. Ironically, the romantic ballad "One Fatal Mistake" is rather soapy and out of place. Fortunately, this song is also the shortest. Therefore, this little mistake is far from being fatal for the disc.

Serious business comes back with the GENESIS-influenced "Ryker Skies", however darker and more modern. Another nice composition in the style of the band, with a good progression, futuristic beat and a spacey passage. "The Province" is the longest track of the record. It first starts with beautiful delicate guitars to then surprising become more ferocious and heavy. I bet you were not expecting that. The contrast is striking, and the dream is turning into a nightmare! Really efficient. Unfortunately, this nearly flawless hour of music concludes with the insipid and repetitive "Closer". The dark side of neo-prog...

Containing only two weak tracks, more convincing and personal than its predecessor, "Dark Matter", "Frequency" finally shows the musicians modernizing their style while preserving their soul and composition quality. Melancholic and somber, smooth and oppressive, nonetheless recommended to IQ fans, this opus is one of the best neo-progressive albums of the 21st century! Also adapted to discover the band if you're not familiar with this genre.

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Posted Tuesday, May 17, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Early 2018 IQ have announced that they will do their annual Christmas Bash gig in The Netherlands on December 15th, that is something to look forward to. Because after all those many years IQ is still 'alive and neo-progging', since the release of their debut album entitled Tales From The Lush Attic from 1983. And during the years IQ have delivered so many quality albums, this album from 2009 entitled Frequency is my favourite one of the last two decades.

The album opens with the titeltrack, first sounds effects and then we can enjoy IQ in its full splendour: slow rhythms with a bombastic atmosphere featuring fiery and howling electric guitar runs and moving violin- and choir Mellotron eruptions, by Mark Westworth who has replaced founding member Martin Orford in 2007. For me this is IQ their trademark, very compelling and exciting. And what a tension and dynamics, and what a very promising first composition.

In the other six tracks IQ also finds a perfect balance: between dreamy atmospheres, propulsive mid-tempo rhythms and bombastic outbursts, embellished with great work on guitar and keyboards (with frequent mid- Genesis undertones). From wonderful guitar play with the volume pedal, majestic choir-Mellotron and sensational synthesizer flights in Life Support to a strong vocal performance and a spectacular break in the varied Stronger Than Friction. How wonderful and alternating is the short, dreamy One Fatal Mistake: acoustic rhythm guitar, soaring strings and warm vocals, concluded with Tony Banks sounding choir-Mellotron drops. We can enjoy a mouth-watering vintage keyboard sound (Hammond, Mellotron, Minimoog) and propulsive bass play in Ryker Skies and strong vocals with tasteful guitar ' and keyboard colouring in the beautiful ballad Closer.

But my absolute highlight is the magnum opus The Province, a constant 'neo-symphonic eargasm' of almost 14 minutes. The keyboard work is outstanding and varied: lush Hammond, impressive choir- Mellotron layers and flashy Minimoog runs (halfway a hypnotizing solo that reminds me of Tony Banks in Supper's Ready from Genesis). There is a compelling tension between the flowing shifting moods, from wonderful twanging 12-string acoustic guitar to sumptuous eruptions. We can enjoy an exciting part featuring propulsive guitar riffs and drums (by newcomer Andy Edwards) with powerful Hammond and a moving electric guitar solo with violin- Mellotron waves. And a warm conclusion with intense vocals and tender piano.

It's incredible how IQ have matured since Martin Orford and Mike Holmes founded the band in 1981: it has become an experienced unit, John Jowitt's powerful and creative bass work is omnipresent, Peter Nicholls sings as never before and new keyboardist Mark Westworth shines. What an outstanding and very exciting album, it comes close to my 'all time favourite IQ album' The Wake (from 1985), highly recommended!

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Posted Saturday, March 31, 2018 | Review Permalink

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