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5 stars If an album was ever worth the wait it was this one. IQ prove again that Ever, Subterranea and 7th House were no flukes; they are the best prog band out there at the moment.

Sacred Sound kicks off the album in fine, if traditonal, IQ form. At just under 12 minutes it sets you up nicely for what is to come and contains some of Martin Orford's most beautiful keyboard playing - the church/cathedral organ sound is superb. Nicholl's voice sounds as good as ever (or 'ever'!) and Mike Holmes guitar playing is his usual excellent standard. If this isn't a gig opener, I am a wet lettuce.

Red Dust Shadow seems a slight departure for the band, although some of the music could fit into Subterranea. A standout track from last year's Progeny gig, this is highely emotive with Nicholls vocals and lyrics at their most effective. A beautiful subdued melancholy acoustic guitar is joined by a lovely mellotron hum and Nicholl's heartbreaking vocals start. If his singing of 'no, no where did my daddy go' doesn't get to you, you have no soul. 6 minutes of beauty and emotion. This is a classic.

You Never Will is the most immediate track on the album, starting with a tick tocking watch and a memorable Jowitt bass riff (a much undersung player, Jowitt throws away bass runs other people use for 3 or four albums). With a virtually singalong chorus, this is destined to be a live favourite.

Born Brilliant starts with touches of Pink Floyd (think Empty Spaces from the Wall) and leads into a song seemingly full of self loathing in the first person from Nicholls (Who is this about? Answers on a postcard, please). Using all the normal IQ time signature change tricks (How does Cooky on drums keep up with this on virtually every track? God knows, but he does it in superb style), but with perhaps a more lighthanded feel than has previously been the case. On the whole, definitely a bit out of the ordinary for IQ, but none the worse for it.

Harvest Of Souls is the epic that all IQ fans have been waiting to hear since the rumours started to surface. 24 and a half minutes in length, this has some superb moments in it. A quick synopsis:

The virtually acoustic First Of The Last (Homes's playing is beautiful and light here), with Nicholls voice at its most fragile, gently leading (over the first 5 minutes or so) into:

The second part of the epic The Wrong Host, which will undoubtedly get some comments from the bands US fans, being very critical of the US's foreign policy - many of us will undoubtedly agree with Peter's sentiments here. This part of the track is underpinned by a simple but effective Orford keyboard piece, which gives way to a simple marching theme with Nicholls chilling lyrics played out on top: "Hide where you can, we will shoot you where you stand". Leading into staccato gun shoots bass and drums, and a more typical (ala Subterranea) up tempo IQ style. A tempo change to:

Nocturne, again some Subterranea like music here, great guitar again from Holmes, effective simple piano from Orford and some sublime melody from Nicholls. Gorgeous.

Straight into Frame And Form which couldn't be more different: the band let lose with some great ensemble playing and some highley unnerving sound effects mixed into the background, leading to another sparse sounding 'song', ending with Orford's classical style piano runs into:

Mortal Procession and back into typical IQ territory with beautiful keyboard and guitar lines. Part of the lyrics seem to be directed against the US dream of the perfect Hollywood body and face "And beauty born is strictly for the birds". This part of the track builds superbly; we are heading towards the climax.

Ghosts Of Days, a beautiful track to reconcile the previous 20 odd minutes - again Holmes throws out wonderful guitar lines against a soaring Orford mellotron backing. Fade out and let's play the whole thing again!

There is obviously far more to get from Harvest Of Souls and many more plays will, I'm sure, glean more detail and highlights.

Overall, this is probably the best album IQ have ever released, although I'm positive the arguments on this could go on for days. It may not be a masterpiece, but there is no doubt that it is essential.

Report this review (#30155)
Posted Sunday, May 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Dark Matter" is truly nothing short of the truth with IQ digging into their "noir souls" and reaching right out to grab us right from the opening foreboding synthesizer swells of "Sacred Sound" to the epic "Harvest Of Souls". Okay so this I suppose will sound like a cliché but what the heck, but this album really brings back the early IQ feel with some darker (aka "The Wake") eerie transitions and darker melodies. The membership of IQ is still Paul Cook (drums), Mike Holmes (guitars), John Jowitt (bass), Martin Orford (keys) and Peter Nicholls (vox). As you would expect the musicianship, vocals and lyrics are nothing short of beathtaking with some tremendous musical moments for your little ears to enjoy. Epic track "Harvest Of Souls" is a real doozie with 6 parts with hints of YES, PINK FLOYD, MARILLION and of course the one and only IQ. "Dark Matter" is definitely forever for me !
Report this review (#30159)
Posted Monday, May 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars As an estimator of the most complex Progressive Music in the vein of After Crying, Isildurs Bane, Anglagard or stuff like that, you know that I don't like such English Neo- Prog very much, and this album actually deserves a "2 stars and an half" rating, as for the reason I like to explain in the following comments: the present issue by IQ is a derivative work, especially by considering the old atmosphere of the early prog in the eighties (from the UK or the USA),but the production is good and I can make an exception for such clever derivative works like this (the production of Glass Hammer is another example, for sure much better than this one, but it never minds): coming back to the present issue, honestly I don't appreciate their approach in all the circumstances, but you can recognizing their typical dark and romantic breaks through and this is already a coherent mood, if you regard of their last publications!! The album is characterized by five tracks,together composing fifty minutes of well produced music (and sometimes uneven too!!). Their repertoire is well balanced, nevertheless - despite of the vocals by Nicholls being as usual so much personal- the output is sometimes a bit repetitive..there are some good lyrics, often in the vein of their debut work, even though the use of old synths doesn't help us to change idea!!

Besides the opener track - "Sacred Sound"- is in the vein of such Art Rock stuff of the early eighties, sometimes resembling the "Crimsonian" sound (talking about the guitars) which is remarkable, but without the same result...the organ sound doesn't captivate me and therefore this is a sort of tribute to their old famous track "the Enemy Smacks"!! Well this is not a work in progress,as a matter of fact they are exploring their past here!!But it never minds, cause their taste is acceptable!! Then I remark the controversial song " Red Dust Shadow ", which makes me fall asleep (as well as it's established for the main character of the story),despite of finding a pretty acoustic guitar within, and an intelligent gentle atmosphere too. Sometimes this style is in the vein of a few songs by Pink Floyd, in the era of "Dark Side Of The Moon", but I don't like the Organ sound very fact once again Martin Orford has chosen to come back to his roots! However I can accept this new controversial emulation, like that following one: "You never will", which is resembling the style of S. Hackett here; and despite of a clock, disturbing me just a bit, it becomes interesting,as long as the track " Next Born Brilliant" partially makes me change idea.By regarding their hammering bass- enriched with a "retro-sound" (Mellotron) and some radio voices as well into the final section, this time I stay listening to them: but this effect reminds me of the same radio effect into "Script for a Jester's" by Marillion, and actually there was a more original "radio pitch adjustment" inside this album in comparison to the invention by IQ: so all these reasons are pushing me to express a more critical opinion, after a repetitive listening!! Finally the last suite, "Harvest Of Souls",which is twenty-five minutes long, and my patience is coming to an end!!. This epic number is not their attempt to "beat" the glory of Supper's Ready by Genesis, but anyway, by means of such 70's instrumentation like the Hammond, the Mellotron and the analogical synths (seldom replaced by the digital modern ones),their music crescendo brings the listener to the pleasant guitar solo... this latter is not performed in the intelligent manner of "Ever", where Holmes looked for some more personal harmonic solutions, but once again it never minds!! Probably "Ever" remains as their most personal and original album of the nineties, talking about their recent production, even though I don't get crazy for this operation, sometimes reducing our progressive genre to the melodic mainstream genre (fortunately in a few circumstances only!!)

However I give their quality production a 3 stars rating, also for such usual aggressive breaks through, but as a derivative work it seldom takes off and the score remains inferior...actually they have failed in a few and already listened music passages, because - unlike "Ever" or also "Subterranea" (even though honestly also these latter sometimes are a bit repetitive and boring...), their effort to work in progress does not continue and the production was much more modern inside those albums; but that was another story...

Report this review (#30163)
Posted Tuesday, June 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Dick Heath
Jazz-Rock Specialist
4 stars I've been playing 'the most recent studio recordings by IQ, 'Dark Matter' and 'The Seventh House', back to back. 'The Seventh House' the earlier of the two I greatly enjoyed, in way previous of their album hadn't. However, 'Dark Matter' comes some distance ahead, and to me the best new progressive rock album I've heard in 2004. A excellent set of tunes, very well arranged to give a minor symphonic masterpiece - but it is naive to give the album the full 5 stars so soon after its release, simply it is too new to have stood the test of time and any one reasonable person can't have too many masterpieces to pick from.

The lyrics are reflective and occasionally melancholic, for which Peter Nicholl's voice is very well suited. Indeed the Mellotron (or similar) is used to great effect to add to that vocal sound of doubt. Maximum marks go to Mark Orford's keyboards, which are present virtually the whole 50 minutes or more of the recording. These are not intrusive, and instead they hold the structure together - providing the emphasis and the punctuation to the lead instrument or voice at any moment. And when the keys take the lead, Orford's soloing is well balanced and never out stays it welcome.

An album for the neo prog and symphonic rock fans - and also those like me, who have grown tired of many of the bands in this field.

Report this review (#30164)
Posted Monday, June 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think that this album is without dubt one of their best, at the same level of ever,subterranea ,the seventh house. The tunes are very good and sound is ever clear and loveful....I red above about someone that does't approve the album...I would like to ask them:how must be an album for rising stars??!!?? All IQ's fans don't worry...go out to buy will enjoy for sure!!!! :-)))) Personally I thank a lot the Band for giving us all works like this......
Report this review (#30165)
Posted Monday, June 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars We had to wait four years for this new IQ studio album. And as "The Seventh House" never really got out of the shadow of "Subterranea", I almost dare say that I've waited seven years for this one. But it has been worth it, because this is the best album IQ released since "Ever", which always has been my favourite.

"Dark Matter" has no real new elements but has all the IQ qualities you can wish for. Take all the good elements from their previous albums, give it a perfect production, add some extra keyboard and guitar sounds, let Peter sing at his best and you get "Dark Matter".

The opener "Sacred Sound" is already a long track full of variation. The song must be a gig opener for the next few tours, I guess (and I hope). Peter's voice is getting better every album and the chorus contains a wonderful vocal line. Martin has brought some vintage keyboard sounds, especially the Mellotron, which gives some references to the early GENESIS, but in this first track he impresses me most with the fabulous church organ sound that precedes a great guitar solo by Michael. It's a bit weird, but the guitar sound on this album reminds me a lot of the "Nomzamo" period ("Nostalgia-Falling apart at the seems").

"Red Dust Shadow" opens quietly with an acoustic guitar. In this track the vocals are accompanied by a spacey keyboard sound, which gives them an extra special dimension. The track also contains a simple, but very effective, guitar riff to make you remember the track for some time.

"You Never Will" has nothing special, except a great keyboard solo. If you start a track like "Born Brilliant" with some machine noises like these, you can't avoid being compared to "Welcome to the Machine" by PINK FLOYD. The song has some typical IQ rhythms and ends with an instrumental, chaotic (for IQ standards), but beautiful piece that also has some FLOYDian influences.

The best track on "Dark Matter" is without any doubt "Harvest of Souls", the longest track ever written by IQ. Being the longest track doesn't mean that it's automatically their best, but in this case the quantity is directly proportional to the quality and vice versa. This track contains six subtitles and the built-up to the end has been very well thought off. It starts quiet with an acoustic guitar and the vocals. When the keyboards join in, it really feels like "Entangled" (GENESIS). The second part has a beautiful vocal line, followed by a great speedy instrumental piece. The third part is a quiet vocal piece that ends heavier with some Mellotron sounds. (Strange combination, but it works.) The next piece is introduced by a staccato piano and once again contains a great melody. The track ends with an anthem on guitar.

IQ certainly remains on top of my list of symphonic, progressive bands. With this album, there's nothing new, but something better under the sun.

>>> Review by Danny (9/10) <<<

Report this review (#30166)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've been following the band's fortunes, and misfortunes, for 21 years now, ever since I bought my original copy of the old blue-covered "Tales From The Lush Attic" LP. Through the years, the band has had a few ups and downs, especially in the middle years (remember Paul Menel ?), but ever since Peter Nicholls rejoined, each album that they have produced has kept them in the "up" zone ! "Ever" brought the band back to the real progressive sound of their early days. "Subterranea" was to follow, thought by many to be the ultimate IQ masterpiece. The album itself and the incredible stage show that illustrated it received both critical and fan praise. Let it be said that it can be quite difficult to follow such an amazing piece of work, but the band kept on going forward and did not make the mistake of trying to repeat the "Subby" formula. "The Seventh House" is quite a great piece of work in its own right, but it has often been underrated simply because it DID follow "the masterpiece" ! Now, here comes the new IQ album, "Dark Matter". If ever there was a challenger for the title of "ultimate IQ masterpiece", this is it !!! I'm not going to go through all the songs on the album, you have heard them just as I did, but I will say this : get yourself a copy of the album, fix yourself a nice drink, sit comfortably, put your feet up, and let IQ take you away into a world where intelligence and melody takes precedent over anything else. "Dark Matter" is a great album, perhaps their greatest so far, laced with mellotron and madness, and beautifully crafted most of all. But don't be too quick to stick the "ultimate IQ masterpiece" label on it. The band is still very much alive, and you never know what the future holds ! "Dark Matter" and "Subterranea" are BOTH masterpieces. Let us hope that the band will stay around for a long time to come, and that they will keep on offering us fans such wonderful music !

To your health ! Richard Hebert

Report this review (#30167)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Judging by other reveiws here I'm probably the only one who feels a little underwhelmed by IQ's latest album.It's a return to the complex symphonic prog of their debut 'Tales From The Lush Attic' and certainly is an ambitious effort.However by comparison very little of it is as inspired while the songs are not as good as those on 'The Seventh House' or 'Ever'.Probably IQ's weakest album since 'Are You Sitting Comfortably' but not bad all the same.It still has some polished playing from all concerned and the 24 minute 'Harvest Of Souls' should make a good live track.
Report this review (#30168)
Posted Monday, June 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars In reality this album gets 2 1/2 stars. Why? Because the first four tracks are amazing while the final track ("Harvest Of Souls" - which makes up half of the album) is a giant turd wrapped in mediocre prog rock.

I have been a fan of IQ for some time now, and ever since 'The Seventh House' was released, I elevated the band to one of my favorites. Not surprisingly, I have been eagerly awaiting this new album. I knew it was going to be darker than their previous work, and I was looking forward to seeing what they did. As mentioned above, the album gets off to a great start with the first four songs. "Sacred Sounds" is up to par with any of the songs from IQ's last three albums. The three shorter songs, "Red Dust Shadow," "You Never Will," and "Born Brilliant" are all very dark, but contain some of Pete Nicholls' best song writing in years. Regardless of their underlying intentions, these songs contain poigniant comentary on life and politics. The music is also incredible: I love the driving rhythm of "Born Brilliant." The sound of the song is a perfect fit for the scathing lyrics. However, after that point, everything goes downhill....

First of all, you (the reader) will have to excuse me for getting up on my soap box. I also have to warn you that I'm going to express some of my political views which will likely differ from those of the majority of people who gave this album four or five stars. I DO HOPE TO MAKE AN INTELLECTUAL CASE FOR MY OPINIONS RATHER THAN SPEW OUT A BUNCH OF CRAP LIKE THE INDIVIDUAL ABOVE WHO SLAMMED THIS ALBUM AND ALL IQ FANS. Please remember that I still consider myself a fan of this band and I look forward to hearing what they release in the future.

"Harvest Of Souls" is yet another song in a long line of similar songs that questions America's foriegn policy. As an american myself, I have absolutely no problems with people questioning my country's methods or tactics. The ability to openly question the government's motives is part of what makes this country great. My problem is this: did Pete Nicholls and company really need to spend 25 minutes insinuating that America and americans are the scourge of the Earth? I particularly object to the blatent assertion in "The Wrong Host" that americans in general believe that they are infalible and have God on their side. While I recognize that there are some people out there who hold this opinion, I am not one. In fact, I don't know of anyone in my life who actually holds those beliefs. I am afraid that Mr. Nicholls has, in writing these lyrics, decided to rely on gross stereotypes held by many non-americans. If you are going to use President Bush as your template for all americans, you are just as guilty of the intollerance and ignorance typically lumped on people in my country. The rest of the song is peppered with scathing references to western comercialism and the belief that everyone in the United States believes in some sort of world-wide manifest destiny ("In the valley of the dollar, we rejoice/For plastic is the currency of choice/And beauty born is strictly for the birds/Your cash is fine but credit is preferred"). Nicholls also implies that americans are a bunch of soulless followers intent on doing their master's bidding ("As you sign on the dotted line, as you do what you're told/All you sell is your soul"). Once again, these are all based on stereotypes perpetuated by a media that loves to pigeon-hole everyone. So where do independent thinking, critical people like myself fit in? Nowhere. Certainly not in any of Pete Nicholls' lyrics.

I find it remarkably ballsy that IQ would choose to make such a blatent anti-America statement on their first album to be distributed in the States in over fifteen years. Whether intentional or not, I find it quite ironic that the band makes a conscious effort to bite one of the hands that is all too willing to feed it. I bought this album purely on faith--faith that the band would deliver another incredible performance worthy of their previous efforts. As mentioned earlier, I am not giving up on IQ. However, I will not make the mistake of going out and buying their music in the future without listening to it first.

Report this review (#30171)
Posted Friday, July 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I´m a big time IQ fan, but this album did not fill my expectations 100 %.I read a lot of positive reviews regarding Dark Matter, but maybe because of that, when I got the CD in my hands and quickly ran to play it, I felt a little underwhelmed. Sure, from the start is the typical IQ sound, full of changes, musical virtuosity, and Orford at it´s best, but in my opinion Subterranea, Ever and The Seventh House are still better options. Of Course this aslbum is highly recommended but far from being a Masterpiece.
Report this review (#30172)
Posted Friday, July 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I got this CD very late when all of you have got it. Pity me, I live in "rest of the world" so I got it late. This is the fastest I could get because I am lucky that my friend, Tom Malik, went to US couple weeks ago. So I got my order shipped to his hotel in Maryland. (Thanks, amazon! Great service!) Tom is one of my prog gurus in my home country. He was so lucky that he attended the CALIFONIA PROG FEST a few weeks ago and had a chance to be photographed with NEAL MORSE! Uuughhh .. What a great experience hah ..??? ----

SUMMARY. Thanks God! IQ is still consistent with their music direction. This is what Marillion should have done. They should consistent with the kind of music they played since their birth. Even with great vocal quality of Hogarth and great musicianship of instrumentalists, they actually can outperform IQ. Unfortunately, they are too proud with "just" Marbles album which is way below Dark Matter standard, I would say. Marillion is too explorative and at the end came up with an unclear musical direction. Hold on .. why should I discuss Marillion with IQ? Two reasons: 1. the two were born around the same period when music industry was highly dominated by new wave / punk, and 2. they started their career in the same vein that later was called as neo- progressive rock. So, for these two reasons, it does make sense to compare between the two. At early stage of their career, I definitely loved MARILLION more than IQ. I had been totally Marillionized! . until Fish left the band. When Hogarth came in, I am just "so and so" with Marillion - it depends on my mood. The case is significantly different with IQ. By the passage of time this band has perfected their music. I think the band reached its peak and "stabilized" with their music when they released EVER. Onwards, they always produced great albums overall!! EVER, SUBTERRANEA, THE SEVENTH HOUSE and DARK MATTER are all great albums. I don't mean their previous albums were not good. I like 'em as well.

DARK MATTER is a masterpiece. Is it too naïve? No no no..!! I have a compelling reason for this statement. The first time I listened to their concept album SUBTERRANEA I experienced almost the same thing. I sensed that the album would be a masterpiece. Indeed it is, because having been enjoying Subterranea many years I still get my adrenalin boosted when I spin the CD. Now, I feel amazed with DARK MATTER as I feel like in the journey of experiencing great music with deep, touchy and memorable melodies! I could not stand having my heart cries (uh . what is it?) with wonderful melody these guys have created in many musical segments of this album! You MUST experience yourself! BUY THIS CD! (Hey, I have no financial interest at all with the band. In fact I am not the registered fan of the band. Nicholls, Jowitt, Orford, Holmes or Cook never know my name at all. But .. I am their great fan! I love what they have been doing so far. Hope they will never "marbles" themselves .)

SACRED SOUND (11:40) takes my sense by surprise, the first time I listened to it. It starts with a church organ sound in the vein of "Watcher of The Skies". (Don't get me wrong, the band does not copy Genesis at all. When I refer to "Watcher ." it's just the musical nuance. No melody is alike.) This opening organ is so relieving. It reminds me being on the beach, laying my body to the sand and turns IQ music and enjoy. This track seems flat at the beginning. The music flows with great keyboard sound accompanying Nicholls singing. Sometimes Holmes guitar sound fills in between vocal melody. The guitar part is in the same style as IQ music; it's stunning. The interlude part is wonderful (especially in minute 9:00 onwards); excellent keyboard and guitar. This interlude really kills me! It's so fascinating!! (especially if you play it LOUD). RED DUST SHADOW (5:53) is opened with a soft acoustic guitar rhythm with keyboard sound at background. Nicholls voice enters the scene nicely ..""Lights are out on Neon Drive .". The melody part is stunning when Nicholls sings "I see the red dust shadows .." and it reaches its peak, melody-wise, at part when short instrumental part after he ends "Words can't bring you back" with simple guitar melody. The song brings us to another peak again when Nicholls sings "Tears I've tried .". What surprise me is at the end part of this track there is a mellotron (or the like) sound dominating the music; the same nuance of early KING CRIMSON. It's a great ballad song.

YOU NEVER WILL (4:54) flows seamlessly from previous track. It has more upbeat teampo with, again, great melody. The organ sound accentuates the musical nuance of this track. The interlude part at minute 3:00 is stunning: perfect harmony of keyboard and guitar sounds.

BORN BRILLIANT (5:20) may create a perception to you that this is similar to Genesis as the beats used in this track is similar to "Foxtrot"; to be specific is "Supper's Ready". It's up to you, but I think this track is definitely excellent. I especially like the solo keyboard and guitar in the middle of the track. I tend to play this track LOUDly. It's an amazing track with great ending (keyboard sound).

HARVEST OF SOULS (24:29) is en epic track with great acoustic guitar fills and vocals at intro part. Again, you may perceive the structure is of similar with the opening part of "Supper's Ready" .."Walking across the sitting room I turn my television off .". I don't blame you on this, especially on the acoustic guitar part. Luckily, the melody is much more nice here and it's more mellow. When the music enters second part "The Wrong Host" starting Nicholls sings "The sky lights up above America" . wow .. I like the organ (which sounds like a "boiling water") accompanying vocal. Really great piece here. The song moving up to higher tempo in this second part with stunning instrumentation sounds (just before Nicholls sings "I've walked a million miles .."). Well, this epic track deserves more deep review, actually. I would not do it here as you may have thought that this review is too long already.

OVERALL this album has great songwriting, composition, musicianship and good production. Production quality is not as excellent as SUBTERRANEA. That's why I just put "good" not excellent. However, buy this CD! It's a neo progressive rock to the corner, my friend! Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia

Report this review (#30173)
Posted Thursday, July 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Just a minute before putting "Dark Matter" on my cd player, I thought "the same thing again", because I have (had?) some prejudices about neo progressive, particularly about IQ. But is never too late to recognize silly mistakes, and now I'm enjoying this wonderful stuff.

OK, it is the same band sounding obviously inspired in GENESIS/ MARILLION, but compositions are in a very high level (much better than "The Seventh House", my former favorite IQ album). And, in "Dark Matter", keyboards have a very important role, like never before.

After the first four tracks with the typical IQ signature, but melodical and atmospherically better achieved, "Harvest of Souls" appears. This is the longest theme in the extense IQ discography and, IMHO, the best. Emotive, plenty of variations and classic prog keyboards invading the listener. Too beautiful, it's one of these suites that every progressive fan wants to hear again and again. Too "Genesianish"? Perhaps, and welcome.

Highly recommended album, even for those who dislike neo cliches. Surely, it will be one of the best 2004 records (probably the number one).

Report this review (#30174)
Posted Friday, July 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm very dissapointed! I have waited 4 years and i'm dissapointed.IQ made an album which contains all things wich i heard before(subterranea,the 7th house).Nothing new.Production of this album is of course very good(you can say even perfect) but music isn't as good as it could be. Sacred Sound is OK(typical IQ concept) the next songs are average.MAybe You Never Will can be remembered but chorus in this song is banal for me.Harvest of souls..strange epic song. There are moments when i love this song(the hand of god..., final solo or instrumentals in the middle)but id doesn't sound as good as "Guiding LIght" or "Falisafe". The record could be more analogue than it is. Sound on dark matter is completely digital and it makes the album (i cannot find different word) "sweet" too sweet for me.
Report this review (#30175)
Posted Saturday, July 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A great, great album. I reached my musical maturity on the English prog of the 70s (at that time I was in high school, than college) and loved Genesis, Camel, Renaissance, Yes, Triumverat, ELP and Tull. By the late 70's prog seemed to dissapear. While I still listened to music, there was little new music that interested me. The progressive radio station I played never played any neo and until a few years ago I never even knew neo or 70's Italian prog even existed. Then, a few years ago, I discovered Fish era Marillion, and heard about neo bands like IQ, Pendragon, etc., but never heard anything by them, and for the most part, their music wasn't sold in any record stores. A few months ago I discovered this site, and for the first time was able to hear these bands. However, until I bought Dark Matter 2 weeks ago, the only IQ I heard were the mp3s on this site. Dark Matter is a fantastic album. Yes, there are very strong Genesis influences therein, but its not derivitive. Sacred Ground is one of the best openning songs I have ever heard on an album. Red Dust Shadows is a great follow up, and You Never Will is another incredible song. Born Brillant is as true as its name to the climax and centerpiece of the album, Harvest of Souls. Many revies are comparing it to Genesis' Suppers Ready. Both are brillant songs. I think Harvest of Souls is a bit more serious, but there are some keyboard and base rifts that have their roots in Suppers Ready. Some incredible keyboard work throughout the album, but particularly in Harvest of Souls. Peter Nichols is a better singer than Peter Gabriel. This my be the first IQ album I have heard in its entirety, and it has given me a hunger for more. Maybe if I was more familiar with IQ, my rating wouldn't be so high, but since IQ is new to me, all I can say is I loved the album. In the 2 weeks I have had Dark Matter, it has hardly left my CD player. JUst an excellent album, which I highly recommend.
Report this review (#30176)
Posted Friday, July 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars In the Prog world, a five-track album is not something new, but ther's always something new when it comes to IQ. This Star-class band has got itself a new masterpiece, then one of the greatest albums ever recorded on Neo-Prog history. Altough Clearly (oh, not again) influenced by Peter Gabriel era Genesis, "Dark Matter" has a different edge, a darker one, provided by Orford's musical sense of space and the emotionally deep background of the Mellotron, and with a thicker sound provided by John Jowitt's bass playing. A true masterpiece, and probably 2004's most commented album. Favorite Tracks: "Sacred Ground" (perfect intro track) and "Harvest Of Souls" (anyone remembers "Supper's Ready").
Report this review (#30177)
Posted Thursday, August 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars For about the first twenty plays, I tended to agree with the previous lukewarm reviews: "good stuff, but nothing that new". I've now reached about 40 plays and have changed my mind. In fact this is IQ's best album, and I suspect prog rock's finest moment of all. The musical ideas and execution are what you'd expect, but what makes it special is its willingness to deal with real and current issues; the social/political conscience of the band, and their angry emotional response to the suffering of others, are obvious throughout. That makes it a thousand times more entertaining and more relevant than self- important songs about deep personal reveries or pop songs giving vague advice on how to live your life a la recent Marillion. Even if you don't agree with IQ's take on recent events, it's great that there's a genuine rock band prepared to try and make music matter again.
Report this review (#30178)
Posted Wednesday, September 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, I'm going to disagree with some of the above opinions. Funny how people like the same bands, but often for different reasons. For me, The Seventh House reached the pinnacle of its genre and I'm going to post my review of that. Dark Matter is good prog stuff, for sure, but when I have finished listening to it, I always feel there's something missing, maybe a track too short, clocking in at only 52 minutes, almost half of which is taken up with the Harvest Of Souls. Three of the tracks are at about the 5 minute mark, which to me rate more as "songs" rather than classic "progressive rock"

Sacred Sound, timed at 11:40 is a classic prog start, which I agree will surely be a show opener for a year or two, (although I would still prefer the Wrong Side Of Weird which I feel is stronger), but has a slighly heavy ponderous beat at times, and parts have a slightly dated melotron sound. Red Dust Shadow is a solid guitar-based song but again I can't help comparing it unfavourably to Erosion. You Never Will has a great chorus line but a rather poor lead up for me. Ditto Born Brilliant, which for me has a bit of a plod to the verses, but a decent chorus and a great guitar outro running into a celestial-voices type finish. And so to Harvest Of Souls the magnum opus of this CD; it is certainly strong in parts but for me does seem like a collection of parts at times and does not always hang together too well musically; there are comparables to both their earlier Narrow Margin from Subterranea and the classic Supper's Ready at times, but perhaps that's inevitable in a 20 + minute track. It's good prog stuff, but doesn't quite rank as a classic for me.

In summary, it's a good album, with excellent plaintive Peter Nichols vocals, strong guitar work and keyboards, and if you like the present IQ as anyone looking here hopefully will, then it's a must have, but for me only a 7 or an 8, whereas I rate The Seveth House as a 9. I don't find any tracks quite equalling The Wrong Side Of Weird, Erosion, The Seventh House or the massively powerful and passionate Guiding Light.

Report this review (#30180)
Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Without a doubt one of the best prog albums of the year. As good as Subtrerrenea and The seventh house.Great melodies and the keyboards..WOW! They sounds so great! It is not so neo-prog but it sounds so good! For those who likes their prog like in the '70s and a bit like 2004.
Report this review (#30182)
Posted Tuesday, October 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I love this album, but something holds me back from awarding 5 stars. It may be that no real ground is being broken here, nothing new is being presented to the listerner. Maybe, that is unfair in itself, because what IQ have produced here is a brilliant progressive rock album. Nothing more, nothing less. It may have its ample share of Gabriel -isms, but there is no faulting the songs. They are passionate, well performed and well produced. The lyrics are intense and quite dark - Pete Nicholls is a master at this.

The opening track 'Sacred sound' had me sitting up and paying close attention right away. Superb Hammond organ work throughout, surrounding by melodic guitar licks, in some instances very Hackett like, and some unforgettable vocal melodies. The song almost brought tears to my eyes in the middle section, where nicholls accompaied by just a keyboard and a distant sounding bell, sings : 'Night falling, gathers at my heels, fear creeps along the cavalcade..' When you hear this bit you'll know what I'm talking about.

'Red dust shadow' is a poignant song, and continues the albums thread of melancholy, laced with bitterness. The song 'Born Brilliant' has a very sharp and cold edge to it. Nicholls lists all his personal failiures in a musical collage of self doubt. It's like Morissey meats Fish in a head on collision! The result is a song that grabs your attention and screams into your face. The back bone of the song is its robust though irregular rhythm, behind walls of swirling choral keyboard sounds and Nicholls acidic voice.

'Harvest of souls' closes this fine album. At almost 25 minutes, I will not attempt to disect this song into its componant parts. Suffice to say its an epic, and very topical. It forsees the fall of America, and bemoans all that the US could have been. The song has episodes of anger, and some moments of great sadness which are penned brilliantly by this underrated band. What a great thing it is to see a band penning an epic track like this in 2004. It gives one hope!!

Brilliant album. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#30183)
Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What IQ has delivered in their last effort to date is one of the absolute prog highlights of 2004. "Dark Matter" is a collection of great compositions, all if them arranged with taste and musical elegance, and performed with skill and conviction. Some have stated that no new grounds are being broken here, and I agree with them: in fact, the band's strategy at writing this new stuff sounds to me very similar to that used in "The Seventh House" - a fluid compromise between the symphonic splendour of "Ever" and the dense, somewhat distant mystery of "Subterranea". But that's not all to it. Unlike its predecessor, "Dark Matter" resumes some of the frontal rocky energy that IQ had displayed in their early recordings, so what we've got here is, all in all, a well adjusted recapitulation of the best of their 80's era - aggressive intensity - and the best of their current era - musical maturity -. Su the bottom line here is this: IQ remains loyal to the sonic creature they created, and at the same time, they introduce a healthy amount of variations to keep that creature as a still interesting invention (of course, born out of some influences that are still noticeable). The first and the last tracks are the longest ones (11+ and 24+ minutes, respectively), so it's pretty obvious that they are designed to become the highlights of the album. 'Sacred Sound' kicks off the album with a synth multi-layered interlude that soon gives way to an exhibition of maximum bombast - effective melodic lines, complex rhythm patterns, and ballsy solos on guitar and keyboard. The hyper-ambitious six-part suite 'Harvest of Souls' closes down the album with a more developed bombast. Its peaks are incarnated mostly in the dramatic contrast between the calmer and the rockier segments - some of the former are full of pure melancholy, while other are meditative and thoughtful; some of the latter are almost plethoric heavy metal, while other are clearly framed into the orchestral pomposity of your typical symph prog. I like this one better that 'The Last Human Gateway' ("Tales from the Lush Attic") and 'The Narrow Margin' ("Subterranea"), because it's more successfully cohesive than the former and more decidedly explosive that the latter. It als ocontains one of the most controversial lines in recent prog history - the words "Hide where you can / We will shoot you where you stand" frontally reek of anti-Bush spirit. They are delivered by Nicholls with a mixture of cold anger and sarcastic arrogance, making the threat sound strangely haunting. 'Red Dust Shadow' finds the band wandering smoothly along the territories of gloomy psychedelia in tight connection with the sad subject of the lyrics, and later on, in 'Born Brilliant', that same psychedelia reappears in a more directly aggressive guise. Between these two, 'You Never Will' offers a lighter display of colour, with a poppier mood, but always in tune with the overall harsh tendency comprised in the material. A special mention goes to Jowitt's bass lines, which properly sustain the song's overall cadence in perfect consonnace with its punchy mood. How about the musicians' skills? Nothing new: Holmes, Orford, Jowitt and Cook are as terrific as usual, while Peter Nicholls' emotional singing remains a peculiar factor in the band's own signature sound. In conclusion: "Dark Matter" is yet another masterpiece from my fave modern symphonic band. It feels so good not being disappointed by any band you've learned to love so much all through the years.
Report this review (#30184)
Posted Thursday, October 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Unfortunately, as a fan of early Genesis, I've only just come across IQ and Dark Matter is the first album I've listened to. I say,'unfortunately' because I think it's brilliant as does my mate who introduced it to me. It contains all of the elements that matter - great 'tunes', superb 'musicality' and vaocals and of course, 'theatre'. A 'must' for any prog rock fan! I now can't wait to hear the other albums!
Report this review (#30186)
Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was my introduction to IQ, as it is the first IQ disc distributed in America. I have had it in my CD player more than any other disc since I received it.

This disc delivers two epics, and three shorter songs, all above average. Other reviews have gone through track by track descriptions of the songs, so I will not bore the reader with my comments. Suffice it to say that each song has its high points. My personal favorite is "Born Brilliant", one of the shorter tracks, in which Peter Nicholls delivers a litany of personal flaws that make even some of my co-workers look like angels. All of the songs are accessible, yet the musicianship and production take the songs above your average pop band. Peter Nicholls voice fits the music perfectly.

This disc was a great introduction to this prolific band. I have since hunted down and purchased earlier IQ discs, and intend on purchasing even more. When a disc can turn you into a fan of the band after never hearing them before, I would have to say it is an excellent disc.

I do not give this disc five stars, however, as it is not "essential". There are certainly other discs on this website that a person beginning his or her prog collection needs in their collection before this disc. This disc is fantastic all the way through, and has grown on me through repeated listenings. Do yourself a favor, and pick this up!

Report this review (#30187)
Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the first IQ album that I have listened to. It is really a "Dark Matter" album, with lyrics about loneliness. Loneliness is a theme present in all the songs. Introspection, nostalgia, even depression. I don`t know if this album is really a "concept album", but the mood of the lyrics is "dark", with the singer always singing lines in first person. Musically, I think that there are several very good moments. The members of the band are really very good musicians. There are some influences from old Prog bands like Marillion (with Fish), Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd. Sometimes the music and the arrangements are so good that I wish that the lyrics were about other topics. There are sounds from old keyboards like analogic synthesizers and mellotrons. I don`t know if these sounds were created with modern digital keyboards using sound samples from those old instruments. The best songs in this album are "Sacred Ground" and "Harvest of Souls". The majestic long piece "Harvest of Souls" has some critical comments about the U.S. international politics. I was surprised to hear an English band criticizing the U.S. politics! Intelligent lyrics, in my opinion, and I did my interpretation about the lyrics in this song in particular. Listen to this album, read the lyrics, and take your own conclusions!
Report this review (#30188)
Posted Saturday, December 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
marty adshead
3 stars Three stars i think for this one,and by no means is it a bad album.It's very typically IQ throuhout,and has that unique IQ style that i love, unfortunately thats as far as it goes for me. I can't help but feel that nothing groundbreaking has been achieved here,and to be honest,after such a masterpiece that "The seventh house" is, i did have my reservations about its follow up.As i said ealier,it is a good album,its just it all seems to have been done before.There's very defined echoes (in my opinion) of "Heart of the sunrise"(YES) and "Suppers' ready" (GENESIS) in "Havest of souls",which i found a little ammusing when i heard it.Still,if you are a fan of IQ, i suppose you'll know exactly where you are with this,which isn't always a bad thing.
Report this review (#30190)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I find néo-prog boring, repetitive and univentive. Illuvatar, Pallas, Pendragon, Violet District, Carptree and lots of stuff by Marillion just turns me off. They all want to be Genesis so bad it's sickening. Get a grip for crying out loud. Boring and just sad.

So imagine my reserves to IQ, one of the main princes of néo-bore. And then, I'm here to say loud and proud that, as an Anglagard/ Gentle Giant/ Echolyn type of guy, I'm enjoying big time this piece of fine work. It's funny, it clicked so well at the first listen. Dark Matter really flattered the pop lover in me and got me curious of their song patterns.

First of all the voice of Peter Nicholls is much alike the one of Suede's Brett Anderson, one of the finest pop singers in UK. I had the album Head Music (5 stars) by Suede and Dark Matter is reminding me almost constantly the lightness and catchyness the record provided. The high pitched light voice, the organ keyboards and the guitar lines....everything seemed to fall into place to have a jolly good time intelligently. Sure, IQ is NOT the most challenging band around but this is why I love Dark Matter so much. When I want cool and super-catchy choruses, this is a very intelligent choice. Combines a certain amout of skills but stays accessible the whole time.

If I had to pick a néo-bore record and only one....this would be my numero uno. My first heart-shaped suggestion of 2005!

Report this review (#30191)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a very good and solid album, and deserves a 3.5. IQ make a strong effort to break away from Neo-Prog, and it shows. The album almost sounds like a progressive album, it certainly has many of the elements of the progressive sound down pat, if you can ignore that fact that some of the progressive nuances and layered textures are missing. Good album? Yes. So why am I not so impressed? I noted that after listening to it, I was left without any impression or image, good or bad - as if nothing was retained. I thought that I did not listen attentively, and gave it another spin - still the same results. So that's what's wrong with it, it does not add anything original or unique, and rather recycles old ideas. Unless you are an IQ fan, (in which case you will certainly go crazy over this album) save your bucks for the Flower Kings, Glass Hammer, After Crying or Anglagard - if you are looking for originality.
Report this review (#30193)
Posted Monday, January 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Since this is my maiden voyage with IQ - MARILLION, The FLOWER KINGS and Peter GABRIEL came to mind more than once while listing to their spectacular new album "Dark Matter". Peter Nicholls has a very entrancing vocal style, much like the lead singers of the bands I just mentioned. If you look at the track listing, there are only five, yet if you look at the time of each individual track the time begins to pile up very quickly.

The way "Sacred Sound" opens up the album, it makes you feel that a Lon Chaney movie is about to begin, not to worry though, everything changes and develops quite rapidly inside an IQ song. "Harvest Of Souls," their curtain closing magnum opus chimes in at 24:29 and it is sheer brilliance, prog-rock at its very best, it gave me chills up and down my spine several times. Soaring sweet vocals punctuated by powerful guitar riffs and sweeping magnificent keyboard strokes are what their songs consist of. In its entirety, this album is the stuff dreams are made of, you can take that to the bank. Any prog-rock enthusiast will devour this ear candy with splendor; I have absolute confidence in that. I would go as far as saying that it rivals MARILLION's new masterpiece "Marbles", and that my friends is a huge compliment as that album will stand as one of the best of 2004, and I have no doubt that this one will as well, it is that strong. "Born Brilliant" is a song that cuts like a razor's edge with thoughts and attitudes that come from the depths of a deranged mind.

The first verse goes like this - "I'm cold and unapproachable, deceptive and a fraud, don't need to keep attention, I hate to be ignored, the soul of no discretion, belligerent, won't think outside the box, I'm critical and careless, my open mind is shut and firmly locked." and "The baggage that I carry would sink a thousand ships." Oh my, sounds like the kind of person you would want to avoid at all cost!

The cover is unquestionably eye grabbing isn't it? It reminds me of the scene in the Wizard of OZ when Dorothy and her cohorts bring the broom of the wicked witch of the west to the fiery wizard. The title of the album obviously points to the dark matter or matters should I say that lie in the depth of our brains, the stuff nobody wants to admit or ever talk about. Nothing is taboo in the world of music and it is the best vehicle for our subconscious minds to play out all of those less tasteful scenarios and fantasies. Some songs always say everything we really want to say in our heart of hearts. I may have not been born brilliant (thank God) but I know great music when I hear it, this is a superb rendering of progressive rock wizardry. To think that this is only the beginning for me, how exciting is that? Now I must seek out their entire back catalog and see what else that is in the dark matter of IQ to explore.

Report this review (#30195)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is the only IQ album I have heard to date. On the first listen a few months ago I found it totally unimpressive and wondered what all the fuss was about, but there are these little riffs scattered here and there that made me want to listen again, and after a few spins I was finally hooked. It's symphonic neo-Progressive music and very accessible (but not simplistic, by any means). To those who dislike the epithet 'neo-Prog', I can't apologise as the sound fits my concept of what the term represents. The playing and production are absolutely top-notch. If you like PENDRAGON's music, you'll probably like this album too.

Is it just me, or does Peter Nicholls sound like Neil Tennant of PET SHOP BOYS?! Can't say it's my favourite voice, but Nicholls does sing well.

'Sacred Sound' starts off almost sounding like TANGERINE DREAM before a catchy beat takes over and the track turns into quite a catchy song with a good tune replete with keyboards. The aforementioned keyboards are very pleasant, as are all the other instruments. There is even some ecclesiastical-sounding organ in there with the synthesizers to make classic-Prog fans feel at home.

'Red Dust Shadow' is a mellower affair, with a killer guitar riff that comes in short bursts throughout the track, just to tantalise you. I'm slightly reminded of PORCUPINE TREE by this one. This track I find very pleasing.

'You Never Will' is a catchy number, starting with the tick-tock of a clock and a funky bass.

The machine sounds on 'Born Brilliant' are very reminiscent of the FLOYD's 'Welcome To The Machine'. In fact, come to think of it, this track seems to borrow from the FLOYD quite a bit. Another good track.

'Harvest Of Souls' is a 24-minute mega track, and has generated polemic in a forum on this Web site due to its criticism of the USA. I'm a little ashamed to say that, if it weren't for the forum discussion, I would probably not yet have realised the subject matter: I just don't really take-in the lyrics on this album, despite the singing being clear as a bell and mixed to the front. I suppose I'm too busy following the tunes. The CD comes with a nice booklet with all the lyrics, so I'll have to read it sometime, although I feel no great urge to do so.

Perhaps I'm not taking the lyrics on any of the tracks as seriously as I should simply because I hear catchy and rather commercial tunes. Can't say for sure, but I'm more inclined to whistle or hum than follow the words. OK, 'Harvest Of Souls' has short bursts of 'serious' sounds such as soldiers drilling, emulated machinegun fire and shelling plus some more-intense instrumental parts, but much of the music itself still sounds quite upbeat to me. 'Harvest Of Souls', like 'Red Dust Shadow', tantalises here and there with some catchy guitar riffs and melodies. I read reviews using words like "dark" and "profound" which are at odds with the music I hear. I'll just have to make the effort to concentrate on the words, I suppose.

The bottom line: good melodies, good playing, good production, good instruments and 'incidentals', and well sung (albeit with a voice not quite to my taste). Quite a commercial feel, despite all the clever Progressive Rock keyboards and other fancy sounds (but I happily listen to all sorts of music, so I have no trouble there). I'm not sure what it is about the album that stops me shouting about it from the rooftops but, whatever it is, it's frustrating. I find the music rather like marzipan: I have to keep trying it to see if I like it or not. I bought the CD after listening several times to all the tracks, so I suppose I must like it! I don't know why I still feel ambivalent about the music but, given my uncertainty, I'm going for 3 stars on this one (Good, but non-essential).

Report this review (#30196)
Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars IQ are a brilliant neo-progressive band...

..who have outdone themselves with their latest release, "Dark Matter". To me, before, they sounded too generic, there was nothing outstanding whatsoever. This time round, they show emotion, which comes through to the listener. I'm hearing Floyd here. I'm hearing Genesis. I'm hearing Yes, and I'm hearing IQ!. But that just about says it all, where IS the originality?!!

All tracks are worthy of being on the CD, but IQ are still not _quite_ original enough for me to say theyre in the top10 of later prog or anything.

As the last poster stated, save your money for something original. Download it for a sample somewhere by all means, then you'll know if you like it. As for recent releases - Magenta's Seven was the best album of last year by a stretch, much better than IQ's...I think even Glass Hammer's last was better than this.

So don't get me wrong - I am NOT contradicting myself here, IQ ARE a great band, they just weren't before. If they carry on in this direction another album or two down the line and they may just become #1 in Neo-Prog. They do have a long way to go though, only not so long as a few years back!.

Report this review (#30197)
Posted Sunday, February 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars IQ is one my favorite neo prog band: the last 3 albums, Ever, Subterranea and Seventh house, have a perfect atmospheric & emotional neo prog full of organ and modern keyboards. However, IQ definitely removed the atmospheric, modern & fresh mood on Dark Matter, and they rather use vintage keyboards, mostly organ, mellotron, mini moog and piano. So, this album is no longer neo prog. What happens when you expect another album sounding like the 3 previous ones, and rather discover a come back to the old school? Disappointment would be the first reaction. Despite Dark Matter remains very good, it contains many irritating elements.

"Sacred ground" contains one the the best drums parts by Paul Cook: very fast and elaborated. Plus, the organ sound is absolutely outstanding: after the 9th minute, this floating organ BURNS like an infinite source of energy, shining over the other instruments!

"Red dust shadow" is less good: i don't like the effect on the synthesizer and on the lead vocals, recalling me the dull style on some of the Marillion's Brave album parts.

"You never will" is their worst track! Actually, I'm wondering if it is not the worst track by IQ! Apart the main refrain, the music seems to go nowhere! It is absolutely not catchy at all. Even the moog solo is accompanied by textures that go nowhere. Thanks God, Cook's drums are excellent, and the final too short guitar solo is among the best one on this album, at least for the sound and the melody.

"Born brilliant" starts with the "Welcome to the machine" sound (Wish you were here), followed by an excellent floating mellotron? sounding like "Silent sorrow in empty boats" (Lamb lies down on Broadway). Unfortunately, the track is, again, very ordinary, as reveals the very low frequency keyboards sounds and repetitive boring slow beat.

Fortunately, the last track, "Harvest of souls", lasting around 24 minutes, is the best and the most progressive one of the album. Nicholls sings very well, and it seems Orford abundantly uses organ and piano. The track has very well synchronized fast parts, however not really bringing emotion nor addiction. I prefer the mellow parts, because they are more catchy and atmospheric. At 8:40, we have the really first catchy atmospheric part of the album, reminding the moods on the previous albums, although the keyboards and the electric guitar solos could be more expressive. There are many bizarre dark sounds, probably created by voices and keyboards, which are really annoying. At 12:20, there is another atmospheric & catchy part, rhythmic piano oriented, very pleasant to hear, despite, more than ever, the lack of shine from the guitar department. At 21:20, you have the feeling to hear another version of the finale of "Common ground" (Nomzamo)! This part is the third and final catchy atmospheric one on this track.

Nicholls's voice is often less meowing, more serious and better.

Dark Matter has obviously weak points: the electric guitar lacks some sound enhancement, especially the solos: the sound is more conservative, removing a significant ambience that was so pleasant to hear on the previous albums, because of the guitar sound. We feel a loss of global solidarity from each instrument, as if each musician was playing in his corner. Finally, needless to say that Martin Orford tries here some sonorities that are not really convincing.

Finally, this record is not better than Nomzamo! I wish IQ come back to their previous modern, catchy, emotional and atmospheric sound!

Report this review (#30198)
Posted Friday, February 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Dark Matter is IMO one of the best albums of 2004!

I have been a neo-prog fan for over fifteen years now, following bands like Marillion, Pendragon and Arena and subsequent side-projects, but though I knew the name IQ, I never bothered to search hard and buy any of their albums. What a mistake that was. Because of this late interest in this band Dark Matter was the first album I bought, and the rest of them followed shortly (7 to go for completement :-).)

IQ produces a sound that totally encompasses the neo-prog sound as I know and love it. Symphonic keyboards together with good drum rhythms and driving bass-play laying a foundation on which the music develops, interweaving melodie-lines with extended guitar and keyboard solo's, and a great voice.

1. Sacred Sound (11:40) An atmospheric keyboard opens the song, which then kicks into gear with a pulsing beat and great melodie line Nicholls Voice being an extra musical instrument (don't mind the lyrics, just the voice!!!). a very powerfull song with some tempo and atmospere changes. Love this song, it's totally uplifting, with some great keyboard passages. 2. Red Dust Shadow (5:53) This starts with an accoustic guitar sound, acompagnied by the ever present synth of Martin Orford, again beautifully sung. The song get's heavier as it develops. 3. You Never Will (4:54) A very heavy bass line sets the tone for this song, Great melody lines overflow, with a great sing-a-long chorus, a live favourite for sure. 4. Born Brilliant (5:20) A Floydian opening, with a driving bass-line and superb vocals, it's impossible to not get excited when you hear this song. Brilliant

5. Harvest of Souls (24:29) The best song from this album, opens as a soft ballad, with accoustic guitars and distant keyboards, with Nicholls on top of his form. Alternating slow melodic pieces and heavy rock structures, with some great solo's and some astonishing bass-play. Really a great song, it should be played at the highest of possible volume.

This album was my introduction (together with some downloads) to IQ. And it is a wonderfull album, rich in atmosphere melodies and textures. I'm sold to this band. Highly recommended to all who enjoy melodic progressive rock music.

Report this review (#30199)
Posted Tuesday, February 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Imagine this (admittedly unlikely) scenario: after the release of Seconds Out, Phil Collins left Genesis to concentrate on his solo career. Rutherford, Banks and Hackett recruited a new drummer and a Peter Gabriel styled vocalist and set about refining their 1970s musical style - the result would have sounded something like this. The guitar usually sounds like Hackett, the keyboards like Banks and the bass like Rutherford. Paul Cook plays drums in a more straightforward rock style than Collins, but acquits himself well.

This is my first IQ album. I've never been a great fan of neo prog, but this is a genuinely good album even if it is highly derivative - as well as the melange of Genesis influences there are elements of Pink Floyd's Welcome To The Machine and Yes's Gates of Delirium added to the recipe. The playing is solid and the writing is melodic and well crafted, without ever really becoming inspired, but there are no substandard tracks either. Thankfully, they avoid over reaching themselves, and they wisely leave out the kind of 'comedy' numbers that so frequently misfired on early Genesis and ELP albums. The 24 minute epic 'Harvest of Souls' could be 'Supper's Ready' part 2, but IQ are sufficiently accomplished writers and performers to pull it off.

Essentially, Dark Matter is the kind of album they don't make any more. It could have been recorded at any time in the last 25 years, but it's a more solid, well crafted and well produced album than any of their main inspirations have released in that time. If you're looking for an enjoyable slice of 70s style prog this is the CD for you, but don't expect any innovation or adventurousness.

Report this review (#30200)
Posted Sunday, February 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Dark Matter" is my first acquaintance with IQ. What can I say? Its good progressive rock. "Sacred Sound" is a fabulous opener and "Harvest of Souls" is a great epic. There's no denying that this five man band can create some great music. Unfortunately, I can't say that this album is essential for a prog collection. A few things turn me off about this album. First, there is very little thats original about this music. In listening to progressive rock, I'd like to think that it really is "progressing" in some way... groups like Dream Theater and Spock's Beard, although not my favorite groups, have taken the progressive sound of their predecessors and altered it in some way. What if every metal band just rehashed Guns n' Roses, Metallica, and Judas Priest? What would the point be? Similarly, what good is there in a band rehashing the music of Genesis and Marillion? Even Marillion was more original than this! As previous reviewers have said, the resemblances between this album and Genesis' Foxtrot are striking. "Harvest of Souls" and "Supper's Ready" have some uncanny similarities... the acousic guitar intro, most of the organ parts, and the end of the song, and the end that sounds like " Apocalypse in 9/8". Another beef I have with this album is the political commentary that appears in "Harvest". Although the band has the freedom of speech and may say what they want in their songs, I don't think this section benefits the song or its listeners. "Hide where you can, we will shoot you where you stand." Does America really do this? Its a little overkill if you ask me. In any event, I don't much approve, but again, they can do what they wish. Finally, the three songs in the middle of the album aren't that spectacular. But, despite these criticisms, the music is truly fantastic, and if you're looking for some Genesis-like prog, this is definitely for you. On the merit of Sacred Sound and Harvest of Souls alone, I give this album three stars.
Report this review (#30201)
Posted Sunday, February 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I find it quite unbelievable that 3 weeks ago I had never heard of "IQ" and it was only to the thanks of Amazon that I was pointed in their direction. I downloaded 2 minute segments from the album DARK MATTER from their website and then loaded them up on my MP3 player - It took me only a few listens to make the decision to purchase this album (And The Seventh House & the 20th Anniversay DVD) and when it arrived I was not dissapointed. Where have these guys been all my life ? - Three weeks later and I have also purchased 6 more studio albums plus Martin Orfords solo album at a total cost of over £ 100.00 - Any regrets ? NO - This is wonderful melodic prog rock, great keyboard playing by the forementioned Martin Orford (Great soundscapes), awesome guitar from Michael Holmes backed up by superb bass & bass pedals from John Jowett and thumping drumming from Paul Cook (What fantastic tempo changes !!). The band is completed by the distinct vocal of Peter Nicholls - When I first listened I was not too sure if he was the weak link in the band but after 3 weeks, Peter is just as important to the band as the other four and somehow his vocals are correct for IQ's music style. I can't get enough of these guys at present and have my MP3 player glued to my ears at all opportune moments, much to the upset of my wife who thinks I am now married to IQ !!. I now find out that these guys are only a "Part Time" band, all have regular jobs and only to the music thing on evenings and weekends - Maybe this is why I had never heard of them. Get this album, and the previous 7 (You may want to give a miss to the 2 albums where Peter Nicholls left as these are less prog rock and more commercial but still have their moments) and I guarantee you will not be dissapointed. Can't wait for the next album in 2006 but a great pity that Paul Cook has decided to leave the band - They will struggle to find a like for like replacement.
Report this review (#30203)
Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Progressive as a word or concept connotes an act of progression or moving upward to a next level. Thus, progressive rock may means a genre of music, that is rock, which offers progression from previous form to the next one, whatever the form is. If such a loose definition is applied to the music of IQ, say from their masterpiece Subterranea (1997), then, their latest release, Dark Matter (2004), can hardly be touted as progressing. If you like, IQ is a neo progressive band. The characteristics of a so called neo-prog rock are there, yet, when one listen carefully to their latest music, particularly on the epic Harvest of Souls (track 5), Genesis (Gabriel era) music is audible there all along the length of the song! No neo-prog sound. Was this a progression? Or regression?

Mind you, I grew up listening to Genesis (Gabriel era, I must emphasize) and built some sort of progrock sound standard based upon their music, which always there to gauge any progrock release. The IQ release was no exception. Such being the case, I love this regression!!! I could not stop spinning this cd, and it goes from my bedroom, the computer to the car and back, a whole day, a whole week and month. And it is coming back regularly to my player up to this moment.

Sacred Sound (11:40) starts the regression journey nicely and majestically. It is an instant classic IQ, with wonderful interplay between keyboard and guitar that defines IQ's sound (believe it, there IS an IQ's sound). This magnificent journey was ended with a magnum opus, Harvest of Soul (24:29): unique vocal with chilling delivery, keyboard sound that harked back to the heyday of a one Tony Banks, powerful guitar riff, crisp bass line. Just name it, this is a sheer brilliant progrock song!!. The rest three songs, Red Dust Shadow (5:53), You Never Will (4:54) and Born Brilliant (5:20) offered plenty of nice and memorable progrock sound bites that stays longer in your head.

In all, I was glad that IQ has made a progress-to-the-past kind of musical journey. This is a progrock at its very best!!! (Nirarta, Indonesia).

Report this review (#30206)
Posted Wednesday, March 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've never been a fan of the neo-prog sound. While Marillion made some great music, there at least 50 classic progressive rock bands whose sound I prefer to the tones of Marillion and I certainly have had very little time for the "lesser lights" of neo-prog like Pendragon, Pallas, Galahad and Violet District. Until now, that is.

I must say that while I'd heard a smattering of IQ music over the years, Dark Matter was the first album I sat through properly (for the record I've owned and sold Pendragon and Galahad albums). I really enjoyed this album which I thought to be a clever blend of synth-driven pop and creative rock music. In fact, as time has gone on, I've come to rank this work as a contender alongside Marillion's Script For A Jester's Tear and Misplaced Childhood as the best neo-prog album ever.

The opener Sacred Sound took me a while to get into, and in fact for a long time was my least favourite of the 5 pieces here, but I now really enjoy the bass-work, the church organ interludes and Martin Orford's synth leads towards the end. Red Dust Shadow starts off life as a murky acoustic guitar piece before Peter Nicholls kicks in with a lovely vocal melody that will appeal to most fans of melodic rock. A swell of strings and psychedelic keyboard fills lead to a build-up and an epic-sounding riff which only confirms that IQ were listening to a lot of Pink Floyd at the time they made this (I also kept thinking of Suede's Dog Man Star album incidentally).

You Never Will is a different beast althogether. After a ticking-clock intro, the main song kicks in. Powered by a rumbling bass, it boasts an intriguing verse and an absolutely glorious (and somehow rather massive) chorus. After this fun goes on for a couple of rounds, a stunning but all too-brief synth solo bursts in. It turns out to be a teaser for a lovely outro that sees more solo-ing before the chorus returns to wrap proceedings up. It is a fantastic song that finally confirmed my affection for this band. The snide Born Brilliant is a vocally dominated cut, that bursts (after a couple of minutes) into one of those stop-start rhythms that modern prog bands are oh-so-fond-of. It's far from "conventional" symphonic prog, but I really like this song.

Harvest Of Souls is the 25 minute epic that defines the album. It opens with layered guitars and a pop melody, but around the 4 minute mark band joins in with the "America" sub-section and things really take off. At the 6 minute mark a drum roll heralds a juicy, dark and very fast interlude of virtuositic playing. Yes fans will definitely hear echoes of Heart Of The Sunrise at one point. I love the synth melody that comes in at 9 minute before the songs returns to its intro melody. Then at the 11 minute mark there is a nice organ led section with some horror movie effects that are added to by massed vocals, at the 16 minute mark Nicholls comes in with another biting vocal section. At the 18 minute mark another off-beat moment comes in that's a dead ringer for a segment of Genesis' Supper's Ready. When I first got into this album, I used to think that the outro was dragged on a little too long and actually felt a sense of relief when it all finally ended, but I'm now totally into the great melodies and epic feel of Harvest of Souls.

Surely one of the greatest prog albums of the decade, I find that I enjoy Dark Matter a little more every time I return to it, which is surprisingly often ... 70% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#30207)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The old, ugly neo vs. whatever prog argument always raises its head when IQ album is up for review. This album appears to gave gained the most acclaim of all the group's albums because it sounds the most traditionally "prog" (meaning sorta sounds like Genesis or Yes). That may be so. The band's previous work was very "neo", meaning, I guess, more concise, very melodic songs that sound like an intellectual AOR. Those albums were enjoyable, but not amongst my favourites, although I really like "The Seventh House". Neo or not, "Dark Matter" finds IQ stepping up their game, big time, and maybe it is because of the more tradional 70s-ish sounds. The first 4, shorter tracks, are more typical IQ- intensely melodic pop tunes, with great keyboard textures from Orford. He really makes an impact on this album with a selection of vintage patches, of which I am happy to say mellotron is the most prominent. The lyrics are equally intense. Some don't like the vicious "Born Brilliant", but I think Nicholls' sharp analysis of a narcissistic personality is, well, brilliant. The album's crowning glory, however, is "Harvest of Souls", 25 minutes of searing criticism of the new post 9/11 world order. It works so well for me because the lyrics are still poetic, but current as well, showing that "prog" is not a dinosaur genre at all- contemorary commentary can be expressed beautifully through the medium of this music. And there are so many wonderful melodies packed into the piece that I can't even bother counting. The musicianship is awesome, and I could enjoy listening to the bass and drum interaction alone. Every moment counts, right down to Mike Holmes' awesome closing solo, a perfect emotional resolution worthy of Gilmour or Latimer. This was unquestionably album of the year for me, simply because every song is a pleasure, genre be damned.
Report this review (#30208)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The atmosphere I like the most. A very dark and even kinda gothic. The opening track is greatly cold; "Red Dust Shadow" has one of my favouritest breaks here ("tears I've cried... "); the third one is a bit short and KCrimsonic but with nice neo-prog refrain; "BORN BRILLIANT" - !!! - one of my favourities EVER with biting lyrics and the most driving beat I heard from them (very unusual). "Harvest of Souls",a "Supper's Ready" of 21th century, now is my FAVOURITEST epic from 2000s so far! When the closing part (from 15:36) begins, you may understand why Neo-Prog is still alive and living well. You MUST experience this. Run to the shops!!!
Report this review (#30210)
Posted Sunday, April 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars dark matter follow 2 masterpieces but i'm afraid to write it's a little deception very good but too much classic music they return at their roots but i wait new things thay able to made the best, they re only good on dark matter the long epic is not a masterpiece, remebering me some old genesis stuff i hope the new album will be more interesting and follow the good line of seventh house O.P
Report this review (#30213)
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have read alot of criticism concerning this album, most of it directed at the final track,"HARVEST OF SOULS."

There are 5 songs on this album,3 of which are good, 1 of which is better than average and 1 of which is just plain boring.

Starting with Harvest, it is clear alot of thought went into this 24 minute epic. The maturity of the musicians is showcased in a wonderfully improvisational middle section that ends with grandier and majesty. It's not exactly "SUPPER'S READY" but then... what really is?

The opening stanza, "SACRED SOUND" is fresh territory for IQ and is one of their least contrived and "formulaic" compositions in some time.

YOU NEVER WILL is the last of the 5 that I can recommend as RED DUST SHADOW sounds like acid dribble from PINK FLOYD's early days and BORN BRILLIANT is more akin to born with down syndrome. The 4th star is strictly due to HARVEST.

Report this review (#30215)
Posted Sunday, May 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars A bumper harvest

"Dark Matter" has become something of a controversial album on the forum section of this site, due to the lyrics of the feature track "Harvest of souls", which are perceived to be critical of the USA. While I do not intend to become embroiled in that debate, it is interesting to consider that had the album been made by an Italian prog band, most English speaking people would have been none the wiser, and assessed the album purely on the quality of the music.

It is impossible to ignore the lyrical content completely, but I intend here to focus primarily on the musical aspects. To do so is in fact a highly rewarding move, as there is much to enjoy, to the extent that I consider this to be IQ's best album to date (of those I have heard!).

A criticism often directed at neo-prog bands is that they lack originality, or do not "filter" their influences sufficiently. There are certainly more than passing references to the music of Gabriel/Hackett era Genesis throughout "Dark Matter", but the question really should be "does this matter"? With Genesis having long since abandoned the idea of making a pure prog album, we should perhaps be grateful for the fact that bands such as IQ are carrying the torch.

"Dark matter" has a mere 5 tracks in total, with three shorter 5-6 minute tracks being book-ended by a pair of neo-prog classics.

The album opens with "Sacred ground", a 12 minute epic which borrows significantly from Genesis "Watcher of the skies". The solo mellotron intro and Hackett like guitar work sound wonderfully familiar, with only the lighter more pop like vocals of Peter Nicholls betraying the fact that this is a much more recent release. The track is highly melodic, with plenty of instrumental passages.

Of the short tracks, both "Red dust shadow" with its "Seven stones" like mellotron ending, and "Born Brilliant" with its simplified "Apocalypse in 9/8" rhythm, offer further nods to early Genesis.

The final track, "Harvest of souls" is a magnificent 24 minute epic in the strongest traditions of all that is good about prog. The choral mellotron sound used here, and the initial structure of the track reminded me of Pendragon, and specifically "The shadow" from Masquerade overture". Later, a staccato instrumental pays tribute to the early music of Yes, and when the band sing the word "America" it further puts in mind Yes' cover of the Simon and Garfunkel song of that name. It's good to hear too some old fashioned stereo (speaker to speaker) effects with the mellotron sound later. The track moves seamlessly from section to section before reaching the climactic ending featuring more Hackett like guitar.

Coming to this album, my expectations were limited. I have enjoyed the music of IQ presented on previous albums, but considered them to be lower league. "Dark matter" however represents a true masterpiece of the genre.

Report this review (#30218)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent work of this incredible group. Sacred Sound opens with majestic keyboards introducing to a dark atmosphere which pervades the whole album, which is already clear from cover illustrations by Peter Nicholls. Red Dust Shadow is a good song but not my favourite. The album flows through other two good songs as You Never Will and Born Brilliant to end with the monumental Harvest of Souls,: approx 25 minutes of unbelieveble good music and power where lyrics also play an important role. What to say? Another gem from IQ, which leaves us no chance rather than hope and wait for the next masterpiece!
Report this review (#30220)
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars IQ has long been my favorite Neo-prog band and I was eagerly awaiting this album. I am sorry to report that this is the least consistent effort from the band since the weak Nomzamo and Are You Sitting Comfortably? lps released those many years ago. I read a lot of positive reviews before purchasing and it just does not do well. One reviewer reported that it sounds as if they are bashing the US or US politics and that certainly seems the case. I listen to music to escape from politics, not to be beat over the head with it. Even if I am off base on the meaning of the lyrics, the music just does not gel well. It meanders and lacks substance. Sure there is some nice playing but on this release, but the best parts seem to be stuck in in various spots, not coheesive parts of the compositions. I still put IQ at the top of the Neo camp, however, this album is a disappointment in both composition and subjet. I would only recommend this to the most ardent IQ fan.
Report this review (#37301)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've been experiencing IQ's latest, DARK MATTER (2004) for a few weeks now, in preparation for writing this review, and I have immensely enjoyed the task. With some discs, listening enough times to write knowledgeably about the contents can be a decided chore, but that has certainly not been the case with this fine slice of "neo" prog.

Now, some of you may object to the whole notion of "neo prog." You may believe - not without reason - that this present-day prog should more accurately be dubbed "regressive progressive" or "retro prog," because it tends to stick firmly to "the path laid long before," instead of taking the genre to any really new territory. That's a mindset you are entitled to hold, and one review of mine is not likely to change your mind if you tend to think that it was all over for truly "progressive" rock after the mid to late 70s.

True, when I listen to the classic "symphonic" prog sound of IQ, I am immediately aware that the band - whether consciously, or by "osmosis" - derives its chief inspiration from classic Genesis, but I have no problem with that. I'm a huge fan of early Genesis, but as that first-rank progressive group stopped making consistently top-quality prog around 1977, I am grateful for the existence of bands who, like IQ, can convincingly deliver strong new material in the style of the old masters, without being slavishly imitative or too obviously derivative. Yes, it's a fine line that "neo prog" bands tread in the quest to appeal to fans of a bygone era (while yet being acceptably "original" enough so as not become a mere parody of the past), and IQ navigate that artistic high wire more sure-footedly than most. With DARK MATTER, the seasoned English outfit (they've been together for over twenty years) have released one of the most satisfying works of their extensive catalogue.

All of the five songs found here are quite good, for my tastes, yet two are particular standouts. Album opener "Sacred Sound" blows me away with its scope, power, and memorable lyrics, choruses, and melodies - I've even caught my wife and kids singing along. A prog song's ability to appeal to a broad audience might seem like a decided non-recommendation to some purists, but I believe it points to successful and relevant songwriting within the strictures of a style that can often be difficult for mainstream music fans to relate to. (See Rush, Yes's "Roundabout" or Pink Floyd's DARK SIDE OF THE MOON for classic examples of such "crossover hits" that managed to retain intelligence and integrity.) "Sacred Sound" is simply a darn good prog song of epic proportions (almost twelve minutes), that you'll likely find yourself playing often, and loudly. Sing along on the chorus, if you wish - it's okay to find pleasure in the present! Yep, "Sacred Sound" is alone almost enough to justify shelling out your shekels for DARK MATTER.

The CD's major work, however, is the over twenty-four minute opus "Harvest of Souls." Unlike some, I won't go so far as to directly compare it to Genesis' masterpiece "Supper's Ready" - that would be near sacrilege -- but if you're ready for a challenging, engaging and varied longer prog song (that has a release date well after the bell bottoms and peace sign period) look no further! IQ is a band well able to deliver prog's alternating passages of power and sensitivity with practiced ease, and it all comes wonderfully together here, with writing, vocals and musicianship that push all the right buttons - a truly satisfying epic!

As for the other three tracks that fill the space between those weighty numbers, "Red Dust Shadow" is an unnerving/melancholy treatment of loss and regret, while "You Never Will" picks up the pace, while still sticking with the album's prevailing thematic "dark matter." Paul Cook's drumming is especially hard-hitting here, and Michael Holmes' lead soars.

"Born Brilliant" is another winner that starts out slow and creepy, before a driving bass and keyboard line from John Jowitt and Martin Orford, respectively, asserts itself for the remainder of a song that also cries out for high volume delivery. The evocative lyrics, Peter Nicholls' voice and Holmes' guitar all work notably well for me on this one.

Thus, if you're at all receptive to "neo" prog, and the efforts of newer bands that draw their antecedents from a vaunted vanished day, you would do well to buy this fine CD. DARK MATTER would be an excellent addition to the collection of the open-minded prog fan who is not "stuck in the 70s." Turn it up, and smile again!

Report this review (#38561)
Posted Tuesday, July 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
Bob Greece
5 stars I first found out about IQ from the site and what a find they have turned out to be. Dark Matter contains such variety, I think that even prog fans who don't normally like neo prog will be interested in this release. The quality of the playing is excellent and Peter Nicholls has a unique and brilliant voice. Every track on this album is quality. The album finishes with the 24 minute epic Harvest of Souls. This is a prog classic. The ending of Harvest of Souls is just a perfect end to a great song and a great album. I'll certainly be buying more IQ CDs.
Report this review (#41990)
Posted Monday, August 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I haven't been entirely convinced by IQ in the past. Subterranea is good, but I haven't liked some of their other stuff. This album has changed my mind however, it's by far the best thing I've heard from IQ. It starts off with the powerful "Sacred Sound" in 7/4, which has a splendid chorus and some nice keyboard/guitar work. "Red Dust Shadow" starts off with some gentle acoustic guitar and builds up to a powerful ending. "You Never Will" is a mid-pace song with some nice Banks-ish keyboard work. "Born Brilliant" reminds me a bit of Pink Floyd, but the real gem here is the 25 minute epic "Harvest Of Souls". I won't comment on the lyrics which I haven't studied yet, but this is probably the best prog "epic" I've heard since "Awaken". It starts off with gentle acoustic guitar reminiscent of "Entangled" or the intro to "Supper's Ready" and this section has one of the most beautiful melodies I've ever heard in prog ("day after day"). There is some nice keyboard mellotron backing. This is the best section of the song for me but it builds into a real epic making this album an essential purchase for IQ and Genesis fans, if only for this song.
Report this review (#43212)
Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars I had huge expectations from this album because it was such an acclaimed one in the reviews in progrock mgazines all over the world. And I'm an IQ fan from the beginning and I have embraced them since Marillion was no longer my taste after Fish left and Steve Hogarth came. But this album is not mine, it has so many obvious hints to so many symphonic rock dinosaurs that it sounds like a BBC Progrock Quiz Hour! Of course there is plenty to enjoy on this album but at least half of this album my attention is slipping away.

Sorry but I cannot understand all those euphoric reviews, I'm more pleased with new progrock bands like NEMO, NEXUS, AMAGRAMA, ANGULART, MIKROMIDAS, BIJOU and JAIME ROSAS CUARTETO, they deserve more attention on this wonderful site, in my opinion.

Report this review (#43216)
Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm new to IQ, this being the first CD I have from them. That being said, I don't see that they are ripping off Genesis here, like I have seen mentioned in the reviews above. I find the music to be in a similar vein, but I can hear the influence of Yes, Pink Floyd, and even Supertramp in this music. I think "Sacred Sound" is an outstanding number, as well as "You Never Will". This album reminds be of 70s progressive albums with much better mixing. If you pine for new music in the style of the artists mentioned above, you will enjoy Dark Matter.
Report this review (#43594)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars 01) SACRED SOUND. This song, dissimilar from other forewords, begins with a way too histrionic opening with the synth chords. It has "epic" written all over it, save the length, due to such the emphasis on a "diffusive" scene, brought to us by keyboardist Martin Orford, and although it doubtless wouldn't have been one of my first choices for the first release in four years, it was nonetheless pleasurable to hear the band play again.

The odd thing is, around forty-five seconds into the track, the impact fades into a more IQ-ish tenor, with nothing sinister or eerie about the instruments, at least from what I could hear. The guys were just jamming, and it echoed great.

"Even after all the days are gone," dear God, it's great hearing Nicholls' vocals - way better than "The Seventh House." Divergent from trendy belief, I really am impressed. If truth be told, admiration belongs to three things: Peter Nicholls' vocal chords, Martin Orford's keys and the chorus. Without much embellishment, Orford overwhelms this song.

02) RED DUST SHADOW. I've heard this song live a few times before these guys put it in the album, and I have to say, I benefited from the prior accounts healthier. Sure, this one has far more dark effects and echoes, but when they sang it live, it was pure and uninhabited, like it should be. A gorgeous cry, even so, with melancholic acoustic drama atop ascetic keyboarding.

03) YOU NEVER WILL. A rapid ticking endows the beginning, quickly obscures by John Jowitt's bass riff that persists rather erratically. Not the best accretion, but great vocalization makes this song worth my time.

04) BORN BRILLIANT. Personally, I never much admired alliterative titles, but that's just me; and this track makes no exception. "Born Brilliant," to be candid, is a hideous title. Perceptive words by Nicholls and a cadence that resurrects constituents of "The Wake." With such mesmerizing mellotron work, no one can ever call IQ derivative, or at least can be taken seriously.

(THE SONG OF CHOICE.) 05) HARVESTER OF SOULS. Where Sacred Sound failed, this song outdoes; from guitar to bass to drums to vocals; from prologue to climax to finale; from sheer appeal to astonishing re-appearance, this song openly articulates the quintessence that is IQ. Cliché-packed, though it may be, this epic all the same is pleasing to a degree that IQ loyalists won't be disillusioned . . . at least, I'd think otherwise.

In closing, this is by no means the ensemble's best release, but it unquestionably is memorable, and immense for a four-year absence in the progressive world. "Welcome back, guys," would be in order, but I'm not that kind of analyst.

Report this review (#45677)
Posted Monday, September 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars While "Born Brilliant" and "Red Dust Shadow" and "You Never Will" are good good songs to retain a neo-prog status, "Harvest Of Souls"and "Sacred Sound" is almost everything you can love in a progressive music. While "Sacred Sound" has an excellent rhytem to start an album from and the second best song on this album, "Harvest Of Souls" is probably one of the best neo-prog songs ever composed and written. Not because the sounds, nor the rhytem and even not because of the fantastic sound of instruments - but a whole composition written beautifully to reflect a wide picture. This album should be in every progressive collection that respects its owners.
Report this review (#52529)
Posted Thursday, October 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars No doubt about the rating here. This kicks off with one of the greatest prog songs in recent memory. Try not to get chills when you hear "these are the last remaining days"! This is yet another band I've discovered through progarchives, and I am forever in debt. Time to go through the back catalog of yet another prog band.. an well, there are worse hobbies! I seriously hope these guys stay together and keep churning out quality music.

Yes. Five stars. No question.

Report this review (#53737)
Posted Friday, October 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars what a great album! it took me a while to understand how great this album is, but eventually i can recomend it to everyone. a very genesis atmosphere, especcially in the first song ( reminds me of watcher of the skies), but in every song you can hear the iq touch. this is not a clone album! this is a great prog rock album, with obvious influetion but with a greater original touch. you cn hear iq everywhere. most recomended ( in deed i would say all the album) are track number one and five, "the harvest of souls", the greatest iq song. great lyrics, great music, changing moods and rhytims, soft and aggressive, fast and slow, for 25 minutes, you can't get bored. truly recomended!!
Report this review (#59922)
Posted Friday, December 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Is IQ the best Neo Prog going now?I think you would be hard pressed to find better with the possibe exception of some Swedish bands this is about as good as it gets.This said Neo Prog will never be full blown Progressive rock music.It lacks the musicianship of bands like Univers Zero,Yes,Henry Cow,ELP,Dream Theater and early Genesis which is the primary influence of bands like IQ.Dark Matter is a must buy.
Report this review (#60356)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Intense, intelligent, incredible, insightful, intuitive, these are all words I think of when I think of the letter I in the context of the band IQ. If you listened to this album, you would agree with me. Although it isn't the greatest IQ album (I reserve that for their debut), this one is nothing but stunning, with intense atmosphere, intelligent and insightful lyrics, and incredible and intuitive musicianship. Whether you're a fan of The Wake or a fan of The Seventh House, there is something to enjoy on this album, from the anxious opening of Sacred Sound with the Supper's Ready type ending of Harvest of Souls.

Sacred Sound opens the album. A strong 7/4 main theme combined with some top- notch lyrical and vocal material create a sense of ambiguity as the band connects and cohesively tramples through the song. Red Dust Shadow is a more somber song, with remorseful lyrics in "Oh no, no, where did my daddy go?" and some strong guitar from Mike Holmes. You Never Will is the next track, which again takes a slower pace at first, and then picks up during the chorus. Born Brilliant finds Peter Nicholls in the middle of self-analysis with such phrases as "I'm cold and unapproachable/Deceptive and a fraud", and more strong riffs continue, most notably a 6/4 riff that has a reprisal in the next track, the epic to end all epics as it seems to be.

Harvest of Souls has strong Genesis overtones in that it is structured similarly in the very beginning and end. 12 string guitar and keyboard dominate the first 4 minutes of the song, and then as the second section The Wrong Host begins, the main musical theme of the song begins. This song is often debated because of its anti-American sentiments "The hand of God defends America/And who would not defend America?" but despite this, the track has some stunning work from all members of the group, especially Mike Holmes, who shines throughout with lead and rhythm work.

Overall, IQ hit the mark again with this sensational statement of an album. Hopefully they will grace America one day with a tour, but until then, we can only wait. This album is one of their very best, although it doesn't have that masterpiece feel to it. My only real gripe is that sometimes the riffs feel out of place or they sound a little off-beat, but maybe that's just me. You can't get much better than this, I give this a very high recommendation for those who are just getting into IQ. 4/5.

Report this review (#68334)
Posted Saturday, February 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Pretty much has been said about this CD on this side. It is just brilliant. The five tracks blend into each other fairly well and the musicianship and song writing are superb. I particulaly like the opener and the closing track, which are the two longer pieces on the CD. The chemistry between the members of the band seems very good. Overall, a very strong release. The only reason that I did not give it five stars is because I feel that they have other even stronger releases, like "Ever" and "Subterranea - The Concert".

I had the chance to see them live in Montreal last summer and I was just blown away. They played three tracks from this CD (the two long tracks and "Born Brilliant") as well as other classics from their repertoire. I felt extremely fortunate to be able to see them live because they do about 10 concerts a year. If you ever have a chance to see them live, do not miss your chance!

Report this review (#69197)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Right from the start, the latest album by my favorite Neo band roxs! In fact, the first two tracks remind me of past glories, circa the "Ever" album; gloomy, gothic and just plain IQish! No one does it like them! Track three, 'You Never Will' is a short track, but I really enjoy their short ones and for some reason, I gravitate to the drumming. It's so interesting how Cook uses such a light touch here and there, especially during the chorus. I love it! After 'Born Brillant' comes the track most people comment about, the mammoth 'Harvest of Souls', there 'Close To The Edge' if you will. Does it stand up? Not exactly. Oh, it has it's moments. After the relative calm of the beginning, pseudo machine gun ala guitar roar in and begin the ascent into the middle section which I enjoy the most. It runs its course about 20 minutes in and goes a bit flat to the end. Yet, for all its faults, the lyrics never let up and neither does Paul's voice. Man, has it held up during all these years, (saw them at NEARfest last year...awesome!). So, if you have enjoyed the last few albums, then you'll no doubt enjoy this one. For first time listeners, it's not a bad choice, although I'd start out with "Ever". So take a dip into some 'Dark Matter'!
Report this review (#69745)
Posted Friday, February 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars When progressive really started to take over my music listening, people told me to try Pallas, Pendragon, and IQ. I've invested heavily in all three and have been pleasantly surprised. None as much as IQ's Dark Matter. It was the first IQ I bought and is still my favorite (barely edging out Subterranea).

All of the tracks on this disc are amazing; however, "Harvest Of Souls" just really shines. It's 20+ minutes of different colors and moods that simply sucks you in. A truly amazing effort by an outrageously talented band! I look forward to the follow up!

Report this review (#70360)
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars In spite of the fact i'm not a fan of Neo Progressive, i really enjoy every time i listen to this album, it is an excellent release and a very fine example of style and good songwritting. In general it is very emotional as Neo Prog in generall, but in contrast to most Neo albums i've listened to, this has also a high quality level of musicianship. All over the album you can find this dark atmosphere that really fits on the main theme, really a great job on the keyboards, but sometimes this is mixed with 'white'and emotional melodies and lyrics, and this drives you to a strange feeling while listening to it,sometimes touchy and sometimes more obscure . The drumming may not be as complex as many progressive compositions, but it shows a wonderfull taste and delicacy, i can say the same to the bass lines with a very consistent work, and the guitar solos are beautifull and not even one is out of place. The album starts with a keyboard intro, that tries to get you into those Dark but touchy feelings, in Sacred Sound. Sacred Sound can be described as a beautifull and emotional song, with fine and strong melodies, at first not a very variable song, but then it starts being a dinamic song, with a really intresting drumming,specially in the instrumental only parts when there are some fine pasages , and with intresting mood changes, and always very atmosferic, i like very much the keyboards work here in this track. At the end the song kind of reaches it's emotive peak at the end of the song. To sum up a great song this one. The second track contrast the first one,this is a melancholic and depresive track, thet turns you down in a second after the emotive first track. Emotive ?, yes,a lot, but in a dark and depresive way. Musically maybe the weakest song, but it is not bad at all. It starts with an acoustic guitar, and then the keyboards setting kind of a melancholic and quiet atmosphere, the vocals start with a depressive tone. Then when the quietness breack and the drumms appear the song turns to be more agressive, but still melancholic. Drums are good here too. 3 - You Never Will . It continues in the mood that the last song ended, more agressive and melancholic, but i find it a little boring, not very dinamic this one, and predictible, on the other hand melodies are strong and consistent. This is the weakest song of the album. 4- Born Brilliant. This Song is excellent!, it has a dark mood, the black surronding given by the keyboards and the agressive singing at the beginning makes you go to a state of angry emotionallity, and this is the main subject of the song. It's strong, very strong, the singing and songwritting here is excellent. The keyboards and sound effects are perfect, the band in generall showed a really good taste IMO. 5- Harvest Of Souls - The first time i heard this epic reminded me to Supper's Ready. This is by far the best Track of the album, and one of the best compositions of the 21st century. Harvest of Souls is awesome, it has everything, emotion, beauty, strong melodies, and passages of high quality music. When listening to this you kind of pass throguh every state and feeling you had in the past tracks. It's very cleverly done, a gem. At the beginning it starts with an acoustic guitar beautifully played, and at this point it's very white ambiented and the singing is very touchy. At some point, it brakes into a more dinamic and agressive part, with really good instrumentation. This part has awesome and dinamic drumming, mood changes and breaks perfectly played and very clever. Then it continues with all the mood changes, with beautifull guitar solos, beautifull and sometimes agressive melodies,always changing, some hard passages, and some high quality ( in musical terms) passages. It seems like everything is were it has to be, not one single note out of place, excellent job, very touchy. To sum up, the album is very very good, and you should give it a chance even if you don't like Neo Prog (It worked for me, now it is one of my favourites albums).

It deserves 4 stars.

Report this review (#70868)
Posted Wednesday, March 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I only know this album from IQ. I feel that it is just a re-interpretation of old genesis music, but with a modern touch. The album starts with a 'watcher of the skies' type of intro that doesn't do justice to the original. Then it goes on with generic prog stuff, until 'harvest of soul' that is structured like 'supper's ready', so much, even the ending fading out on a guitar solo! The only thing missing is a little piece of classical guitar before it! I'm surprised they didn't think about it. You can't call it a masterpiece, cause you'd have to give the credit to Genesis in the first place. You better listen to your Foxtrot or SEBTP, album for the thousand times, this was pure genius, not IQ.
Report this review (#72387)
Posted Monday, March 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a very strong piece of work that is chock full of engaging melodies, strong musicianship and high quality song writing. The musicianship is probably less visceral than other modern prog bands but in my opinion it conspires to add to the quality of thesongs on offer here rather than create a technically flash and soulless outing. There have been comparisons the Genesis bandied about in various other reviews and while there are some slight similarities this band are by no means a derivative generic clone. There are several highlights on offer here "Red Dust Shadow" evokes a sombre brooding atmosphere. "Born Brilliant" has a very simple yet wonderfully hypnotic vibe that draws you in. The epic "Harvester of Souls" is also a very well constructed tune that never fails to engage and also never gives the appearance of being hobbled together.

Overall, this is a very strong album. Whether you like "Neo Prog" or not it is a worthy addition to any collection.

Report this review (#74102)
Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars IQ's album Dark Matter is my introduction to this Neo-Prog band. Having heard that they are contemporaries of Marillion but (at least originally) they weren't quite in the same league, I decided to find out for myself what this five-some are like. In short, I am impressed by this work and thoroughly enjoy it.

After Listening to this album the thing that strikes me most is that this appears to be a band that are trying to make music that could be passed of in the charts and produce 10+ minute epics that could be placed in the Pantheon of prog greatness alongside such luminaries like Marillion and Yes. And to an extent they succeed. The middle three tracks Red Dust Shadow, You'll Never Know and Born Brilliant are quite obviously attempts to create the prog pop single, even if they were never going to be treated as such by anyone. But don't let that stop you from listening to these tracks as they are well thought out and constructed with rather thoughtful lyrics. Each of these songs contains something unique that other songs on this album don't share.

Now for the epics. The opus, Harvest Of Souls is actually one of the better 20 minute + songs that I've heard. It starts with a nice and long acoustic start, going to a nice, mellow tune with lyrics that are, most likely, taking the mick out of America and the way that the international community believes that America views the world. For those that don't like these kind of lyrics, ignore them and enjoy the music instead. This moves on to a much harder edged sound before the album closes in another of their nice melodies. However this song does bare a striking resembalence to the Genesis classic Suppers Ready, right down to the structer and length of the song. I think that this song takes the mik out of more than just America, with its similarities to Genesis being so overt that I wouldnt be supprised if it was deliberatly done as a twisted joke, whilst still trying to maintain their musical integraty. The album opener Sacred Sound is a good semi-epic with a strong uplifting feel to it, but it doesn't strike me as a classic, just a good song and that really sums up the album, its good but not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination.

Get it if your a fan of Neo Prog, or just a general prog fan. If your not a Neo prog fan then you'll probably hate it with the possible exception of Harvest Of Souls. Me, I like it so I'll give it 4 stars.

Report this review (#78267)
Posted Monday, May 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my first attempt at writing a music review, so bear with me. I have no idea how to analyze music, or how to call everything, so Il'l write in my own way.

I was actually introduced to IQ by my dad in 2002, who had collected a whole lot of IQ's and let me listen to albums such as "Subterrannea" and "The Seventh House". From 2003 on, I saw several IQ gigs here in Holland, and as it happens I was at the first "Dark Mattour" gig, where this album was released. Already being a big fan of IQ, and Peter Nicholls' voice and lyrics, I bought this album as soon as I saw it, and I've never stopped enjoying it.

The album starts of very ambient with Sacred Sound, a dark introduction that works perfect on stage (as well as being a bit longer live), and then it goes over into some smart and catchy tunes with cymbals by Cookie, Martin's keys, and John's complex fretless bass. Peter Nicholl's voice sounds very clear, though somewhat apathetic, but it fits the whole concept of the album well. The song goes over into a dark ambient section towards the end, followed by a beautiful Mike Holmes guitar solo that rides on the waves of Jowitt and Cookie.

Red Dust Show is a softer song about a boy in bed, seeing shadows on the walls, frightening him. The keys are beautiful and soft, and Peter's voice sounds more emotional and mellow than on the previous track. He almost sounds sad, even...though very soothing and beautiful. Truth to be told, the rougher parts of the song didn't sound as enjoyable to me as other parts of the album, but hey, you can't like everything.

Anyway, it immediate goes over into You Never Will, starting with a creepy clock-like sound and even creepier basslines. In fact, the whole song has the same kind of "spider's web in the dark cold cave" kind of feeling. Especially Martin's keys and Peter's theatrical vocals near the end is an enjoyable experience, even more so when seen live, which should be possible on the upcoming "Dark Mattour" DVD.

Born Brilliant is the next song, and, well, it evokes one word in my mind. "Self pity", something I'm no stranger to. Maybe that's why this is my favorite song on the album. It sounds very very evil, in an intelligent and clever way. Nicholls basically explains that he is a bastard and liar, and shouldn't be trusted, but at least he is honest about it. "Unlike mine, your family line were all born brilliant liars." *le sigh* Got to love this song. Especially the catchy guitar/bass/drum rhythm is very addictive for me.

The album ends with Harvest of Souls, a 25 minute epic consisting of six different parts. I'll discuss the individual parts, to keep it simple. Part 1 is a sad light guitar/keys tune with Nicholls' sad and regretful lyrics of someone he lost. For personal reasons, this is a part that touches me greatly, and helped me through a rough patch.

Part 2 is a bit of a sarcastic "We all love America, it's the greatest!" tune that ends with military drumwork, which I don't really enjoy, but then goes over in a rough dark part, which I do love to bits. The double vocals sound quite haunting.

Then it gives room for Part 3, which is another sad piece with beautiful guitars and piano. This part is another one that touches me personally. It's less sad than part 1, as it contains the acceptance of one's sad and lonely fate. *le sigh* Poetic. Thank you, Peter.

Anyway, Part 4 starts after some heavy gunfire, with catchy piano and guitars. It gives off a whole positive air, even though the world's dark and covered in smoke, and everything we know will change. I like this change in the album, as it remains dark, but in a postive, almost relieved way.

Part 5 is an aggressive piece, with an aggressive Nicholls on vocals, along with the mean riffs by Holmes and Jowitt. Later on, it mimicks the previous Born Brilliant rhythm again, accompanied by haunting vocoded vocals by Nicholls, giving an extra creepy feeling to this part. Later on, it combines Harvest of Souls Part 1 with Born Brilliant, giving a really great sound. Then the album ends with Part 6, repeating part of Part 2 (sadly). It's a soft epic end to the album, like looking at a sunset over the ocean. Calm, but it works.

*le sigh* Beautiful album. Recommended if you're a fan of IQ, neoprog, or dark atmospheric and melodic lyrics. And on a sidenote, I hope I did well writing my first review.

Yours, Tailscent

Report this review (#85581)
Posted Thursday, August 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you like IQ - you'll love this album.

It's almost as though they've picked up where SUBTERRANEA left off, as to be expected excellent muscianship and production coupled with the masterful skill of the genre that they now control makes for an album that pushes all the right buttons.

From the opening swelling panoramic keyboards that open the album to the anthematic guitar solo playout the album contrives and succeeds in showing that IQ are the masters of this genre - long live IQ.

Wish they'd release their new album though...

Report this review (#91865)
Posted Sunday, September 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars IQ - Dark Matter

I discovered IQ by their brilliant last album "Dark Matter" and what an introduction is was! As many reviews already have been written about this album I will keep it brief.

"Dark Matter" is probably one of IQ's best albums up-to-date, together with "Ever", "Subterranea" and "The Seventh House".

Anyone who liked "Marillion" or "Genesis" in the Peter Gabriel - era, should give IQ a chance, because it certainly is a great band and their fine lyrics, great instrumentation and harmonic compositions really stand out.

"Dark Matter" is one of the finest IQ compositions because of its variety in songs, varying from the pumping up-tempo track "Born Brilliant" to the >20 minute epos "Harvest Of Souls" about the attacks on America on September the 11th 2001. Especially part II from "Harvest Of Souls", called "The Wrong Host" kicking off by "The Sky lights up above America." is simply beautiful!

I think this album deserves 4.5 stars (9/10) , but as we have to limit 5 stars to the real "masterpieces of progressive rock" only, I will rate it 4 stars.

Report this review (#91938)
Posted Monday, September 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5 stars really.

Well, first off, the band themselves claim that this in not an America/Bush bashing album. The songs are reflections of current events, but are not directed at any particular nation or leader. Right. I must say that I think the fit very nicely into my view of George W. Bush and his junta. But this is not about politics, this is about reviewing the music on this album.

The thing I noticed right away is that IQ is derivative on this album of their early style found on their first two albums............which is itself derivative of early Genesis and similar 70's prog bands. Now this is not necessarily a bad thing, and in the case of this album I don't mind at all. Just a certain lack of originality in my opinion. Overall though IQ does have their own sound, and they seem to have refined it quite well on this album. The obvious highlights are the first and last tracks, but personally I find the shorter songs in the middle more interesting and varied than those two. Which is certainly not to say that I don't like them. They are well constructed and come across very well.

The main reason I can't give a higher rating is the homogenous nature of the writing and overall sound. There is just not that much variation in style and sound and it all starts to blend together over the course of the album. With later IQ in general, I have difficulty telling songs apart (a problem with Neo Prog in general). But I still think this album is pretty good, and when I saw the band live at NearFest 2005, Harvest Of Souls was a definite standout track. So I will go with a solid 3.5 stars. It comes close to being excellent, and if you like their other work you will certainly like this one.

Report this review (#95259)
Posted Friday, October 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars An absolute masterpiece. This is IQ at their best, even surpassing their 1997 opus magnum Subterranea. If that album was at some points overly long, if that conceptual art piece had a couple too many songs (actually, most of the second disc), Dark Matter, with only 5 tracks, has not one track, or better said, has not one MINUTE too many! The absolute equilibrium achieved by the english greats between long and short tracks, mellow and complicated moments, electric and acoustic sounds, atmospheric and vibrant moods, is a testament to this band's deserved place among prog-rock's all-time masters. As a matter of fact, personally, of the original "neo-prog" groups that were born from Genesis's womb in the 80's, is not Marillion but IQ that really captures my heart and mind, and were it not for Arena, it would be my favorite of all Neo-prog. And mainly because of this rock-painting the british have crafted.

Besides the fact that IQ is formed by extremely talented instrumentalists, this quintet is what it is because of their marvelous singer: Peter Nicholls has a distinct, unique voice, capable of reaching high notes but also capable of incredibly delicate melody-singing, a powerful voice that manages to stand out of the rich music that provides him a canvas background few artists have at their disposal. If we were to draw comparisons, maybe the closest one would be to Jon Anderson, the legendary frontman of Yes. But that's trying to find vocals that resemble Nicholls' at any cost, for, the truth is, he's in a dimension of his own.

Sacred Sound (10/10), a fantastic semi-epic that starts in a dark mood, grows incesantly and when the vocal part appears turns into a totally IQ-ish sounding track, a showcase for Nicholls capabilities with a great chorus that returns twice before the instrumental section, an amazing keyboard-guitar tour de force, and re-appears near the finale, in all his glory. A dark song that develops into a illuminated, self-assuring anthem. Fantastic.

Red Dust Shadow (8/10), the lesser track in the album...and it's still great! A very melodic, mellow song, short, where the vocal chords master Nichollos once again has his chance to shine as the portent he is. Beautiful keyboards.

You never will (10/10), now this is what I love about prog and about this particular band: a short, relatively simple song that is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. After the clock ticks, the main riff blasts into the stage with all the power of affirmative keyboard chords and thunderous bass. After the verse, one of the best, if not THE best, in all of IQ's chorus: a catchy-yet- deep, a imposing, definitive musical statement about this art form's utter simplicity and beauty in that simplicity. Outstanding.

Born Brilliant, (8/10) a great track that starts in full Pink Floyd mood, close to that of Welcome to The machine. Ironic lyrics talk off stubborness, dumbness, in other words, this song pays hommage to US President's Bush's brilliant mind...

Harvest of Souls (10/10), an amazing epic dealing, again, with America and his utter brilliance in going to a war... It starts slow, pensive, sad, then erupts, then becomes a kind of burlesque-anthem pro-america (off course, is the opposite), then it goes back to the tense momenst of the beginning, and finally explodes in angry affirmation of principles and ideas. All of this performed with the highest level of musicianship and sung by one of the genres's best voices. Incredible.

Recommended for: EVERYBODY. GET ONE. If you have to stop eating for a day in order to hear this music, well, water is man's real life-giver, water, and MUSIC LIKE THIS.

Report this review (#96106)
Posted Saturday, October 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars At first I was a bit harsh on this album, giving it only 1 star. A couple of relistens have made me realise that this is far from a bad album. Not really loving the neo prog genre, I must still say that this is a quite enjoyable album for any progger. Highlights include Sacred Sound and Born Brilliant.

Recommended for the Neo-proggers, a good listen for the rest.

Report this review (#97136)
Posted Sunday, November 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
5 stars Masterpiece. I mean, truly a masterpiece. These days, I don't get easily amazed by all means but "Dark Matter" certainly left me eyes wide open. This album's got to be the best piece of work by the English band that among others, gave birth to Neo Prog. "Dark Matter" is a strong, mighty album. To me, it has become a turning point on nowadays prog scene, reaching the unthinkable in such little time. Meaning, even though twenty-one years had to go by from their first studio release in order for IQ to heavenly display their most powerful creation, "Dark Matter" rapidly took one step after another in the progressive preferences of fans and media to conquer the pinnacle of their promising career that started back in the early eighties, the most convulsed decade for Progressive Rock to outstand in my opinion.

I came across "Dark Matter" out of chance. As I've underlined a couple of times over several reviews, some albums are quite difficult to get around here. But happily, IQ is setting off at the display cd-racks among the most respectable prog rock bands at the principal record stores here in Mexico. Well, I ended up going for it after constant recommendations from my prog fellows. They were quite short on their appreciation about this jewel, "Dark Matter" breaks off every possible musical boundaries.

Now, let's get down to it. The album takes off with "Sacred Sound". Deeply, this obscure sound of keyboards create such a mystical ambiance for the perfect start to "Dark Matter". Clattering cymbals meddle in between to let us scream in silence out of the power of a thunder struck drum. The song flows down a captivating, constant beat. The slight approach of a backing guitar joins carefully to make the choirs sparkle bright, and just by the beginning of the climax, that guitar crunches away with the supporting sound of some church-like music coming out of Martin ORFORD's Korg CX-3 Organ. An almost twelve minutes long breaking scene was just the perfect touch to carry this album away.

Kicking right after, "Red Dust Shadow" settles on comfortably through the strings of this paused acoustic guitar taken away by Michael HOLMES. The hypnotic voice of Peter NICHOLLS lead us all the way throughout revealing, deep lyrics that speak of reminiscent memories and some bitter-like childhood experiences. If not feeling disturbed enough at this point, "You Never Will" would do the trick for you. Ticking, tapping, unease noises coming out this anxious clock waiting to burst out, open up a clear view to what's about to be displayed in this third chapter. The tuned up sound of John JOWITT's Rickenbacker 4003, shuts that clock up just to clear the way for thundering drums to appear. Then again by the middle of the song, more of the same musical dose to make your head spin, but this time, along the keys of Mr. ORFORD's Kurzweil K-2500.

"Born Brilliant" is not only the prologue to a marvelous epic, it is indeed an outstanding song that clearly shows the power and the passion put together to accomplish this album. There are a couple of things that caught my attention immediately. This is a song where the bass guitar outstands from the rest of the instruments. I used to consider that listening to a wailing guitar all along during a track, was more than spiritual reward to my ears. But this time, I enjoyed that bass guitar more than the rest of the instrumentation. And secondly, the harsh lyrics. Remarkable song writing I must say. Very acid, relentless and simply amazing. I like that sarcastic yet edgy touch on a song, and well, the title to this track pretty much gives away that essence to me.

Thus, the epilog suite that under my appreciation, turned this record into the "Best Prog Rock Album" of 2004. I think of the previous four steps to be taken on this album to get to this point, as a red carpet to reveal such a brilliant creation. "Harvest Of Souls" has become a must among my favorite top epics, it's got the wit, the passion, the strength, the entireness, the wonderful music, the provocative lyrics and all in all, the detailed musical progressiveness. When all that happens within the depths of a single song like this one, you truly believe that almost 25 minutes of total running time are not only more than not even enough, but even the beginning to enjoy such a lyrical dream. I consider the context described in "Harvest Of Souls" as the voice of millions, besides the itchy lyrics and the impressive arrangements; as the tormented ambiguity represented on a map of the world. Like I said at the very beginning of this review, this very piece of work transcends far beyond every possible musical frontier and gets straight into our mind, soul and heart. Somehow, this is a novel of our nowadays global landscape, described in six episodes ("First Of The Last", "The Wrong Host", "Nocturne", "Frame And Form", "Mortal Procession" & "Ghosts Of Days") that speak out loud and irreparably soulful. Just let yourselves drift away into this song, and you'll surely come up with you own perspective. This is IQ to the world.

Report this review (#99012)
Posted Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Tremendous. First time I listened to this I was moved to play it again straight away and since then it's on heavy rotation. I haven't been as impressed by a new (to me) album since the first time I heard Selling England by the Pound in 73. Highlights are "Born Brilliant" with it's insistent bass line and the multilayered "Harvest of Souls". Since buying this I'm working my way through their catalogue and enjoying every minute. Recommended to fans of Genesis, Yes, Spock's Beard and Marillion. Good good stuff.
Report this review (#101913)
Posted Wednesday, December 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars This was my first foray into the category known as neo-progressive. I wanted to explore a bit and, encouraged by some favorable reviews, I decided to give IQ a try. Let me say up front that I imagine the members of this group do the very best they can and most likely work very hard at their craft. However, I have listened to this CD five or six times now and I've given it every fair chance to grow on me but I always come away thinking that these guys are just never going to be anything more than the "B" team. The junior varsity. The runners-up. In other words, no matter how hard he tries, the singer will never be as good as Gabriel, the drummer will never be as proficient as Bruford, the keyboard man will never be the equal of Emerson. Well, you get the picture. And there's nothing wrong with that. We all can't be virtuosos. And perhaps that wouldn't matter if they weren't such obvious and inferior copycats of the great progressive rock groups of the 1970s.

The album starts out promisingly enough with swelling synthesized strings leading into an organ-based pattern in 7/8 time. I'm thinking that this is the kind of stuff I like. I'm anticipating great things. Then Peter Nichols starts singing "Sacred Sound." He has a nasally voice. He sounds sorta like David Bowie during his "Space Oddity" phase but not nearly that gifted. Meanwhile, the band seems to be playing the song (and most of the album) completely devoid of any feel. There's no depth to the sound and it's extremely sterile. They then transition into a sequence that is weakly imitative of late 70s Genesis before introducing a sappy melodramatic melody that sounds like something Styx would have done on one of their early albums. Lyrically we get lines like "Night falling gathers at my heels, lines the contours of the cold parade." which take us nowhere. They segue into a direct aping of Rick Wakeman's cathedral organ bit from "Close to the Edge" before returning to the fast-paced Genesis-like riff and ending the whole thing abruptly. "Red Dust Shadow" starts off with a nice acoustic guitar and a decent melody but once again words such as "No, no, why did my Daddy go away? None will say, when I wake up I'll know" make me cringe. Then the electric guitar and organ come in sounding somewhat like CSN on "Wooden Ships." But kudos to John Jowitt for his fretless bass work towards the end of this song. It's pretty good stuff. Next up is "You Never Will" that starts with the sound of a watch ticking much like you'd expect to hear on a Pink Floyd classic. Unfortunately, this may be the worst song on the CD. It's just amateur writing and composing all the way through, never challenging the listener. And you'd think that someone would have told Paul Cook (the drummer) that the odd spasms he's incorporating aren't working in the context of this song. Moving on to "Born Brilliant" we actually find some interesting lyrics for a change with some clever sarcastic overtones but the attempt to musically mimic the riff from the "Apocalypse in 9/8" section of Genesis' "Suppers Ready" is unforgivably embarrassing. Lastly we have the band's longest cut, "Harvest of Souls." It starts with a 12-string acoustic with Nichols singing about lost love over a melody that isn't half bad called "First of the Last." Then we move on to the second part entitled "The Wrong Host" which lyrically has nothing whatsoever to do with the first part and only serves as a platform for the group to bash America. (Which part of America? North? South? Central? Both continents combined?) It's certainly their right to do so but musicians who live in the glass house formerly known as the British EMPIRE really shouldn't throw stones. And, furthermore, the "With God On Our Side" theme was explored by Bob Dylan over four decades ago and much more intelligently. As if the pompous vocal wasn't enough we get a military march from the snare drum so we morons will get the point. Then they tear into a thinly disguised rip-off of Yes' "Heart of the Sunrise!" (Have you no shame?) What follows is a "war" sequence that is so corny it sounds like something from a bad psychedelic garage combo. Once we get over that hurdle we are actually treated to (musically speaking) the best part of the album though the words are still juvenile in nature and the subject matter is scattered all over the place. It's hard to believe but they actually go into yet another "Apocalypse in 9/8" mime complete with a poor imitation of Tony Banks' signature organ solo from Martin Orford on the keyboards. The ending is a reprise of the "America" theme I spoke of earlier and the song fades out after more than 24 long minutes.

It was not my intention to attack this album or its creators but there is a large chasm separating being influenced positively by other groups and unabashed imitation and near-plagiarism. My thinking was, since this is their eighth studio album, they would be much better than this. And I don't really mind inferior work as long as it is creative. But maybe this is the best they can possibly do. So be it. I don't plan to delve into their earlier work to find out. Maybe what they need is an outside producer to come in and give them a fresh view from outside of their inclusive box. Michael Holmes, the guitarist, is credited as the man at the helm and perhaps he's too far inside the circle to be objective. Whatever. At least the art direction and packaging is superb. But it's the only thing original about "Dark Matter" that I was able to find.

Report this review (#109771)
Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
5 stars This was my first IQ CD and I must say I was completely overtaken by it. Unlike some reviewers here I think they are quite original. Of course they have some obvious influences, but who does not? Since I started reading about rock music is the same thing. Today´s copycat will be tomorrow´s classic. No one escaped criticism and some were utterly unfair (remember Marillion in the 80´s?). So, in the end, what does really matter? It matters only if you like the music and can identify with the sound.

Well, I do. IQ may sound strange sometimes, they don´t really play like no one in particular and they could make it easier for themselves if they followed some trend. But that are those particularities that will make them some next generation legends, I guess. Peter NIcholls voice may not be everybody´s cup of tea. I certainly can name dozens of better singers. Still I think he fits so well in the band, it is no wonder their sound did not work at all with Paul Menel (a better singer, by the way, but not as passionate).

Dark Matter is a wonderful CD. A great achievement for a band who´s been on the road for so many years. Harvest Of Souls is just fantastic, the perfect epic in all its glorious 24 minutes! I don't have words to describe this tune. All I can say is that is the kind of track you would always expect from a true symphonic prog band: great melodies, tight musicanship, shifting moods during its many sections, inspired solos, insightful lyrics and a grand finale that sends shivers down your spine! This track alone is worth the price of the CDm but there is more. They still have a lot to say and I won´t go to every track to discuss about them (some reviewers laready did a great job). Just listen without prejudice and make your statement about it. I have heard hundreds of prog albums and I can tell it is nothing less than excellent. A classic? Hell, yeah!

Report this review (#109814)
Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Originality: this should be in every form of art, not only in music. These guys sure lack it, and love to borrow old and new ideas instead of creating their own ones. What's the problem with it if it's well done? - you may ask. I mean, i am an ELOY fan, and consider it one of the best bands ever, even if they took a lot of influence from URIAH HEEP and JETHRO TULL on their early hard-rock era, and then deciding to recycle the mystic FLOYDian flavour on their late 70's albums. The difference is that ELOY does it with charm, they never stole melodies for the sake of stealing and trying to be the "new" FLOYD (or the "new band" they are being influenced from). ELOY made it just to ADD that to their already stablished signature sound. ELOY has a signature sound, and if you don't realise that you're either deaf/dumb/blind - no ofence or pun intended, it is just a way of saying "listen carefully to them before judging their credit on composing music or simply ripping the floyds off". I will discuss more of this "ELOY signature sound" thing on a proper ELOY review. The point here is: i don't see any "own" sound on IQ, they are having their influences? They sure are, but they are overusing it and recycling old ideas in the wrong way, blatantly ripping off GENESIS in a pathetic and unaccetable way. Many people go and say "ANGLAGARD has a lot of KC influence". Yes, they have, but they also their characteristic sound, not like IQ's Dark Matter, a lame attempt of meeting Foxtrot (GENESIS) and Lightbulb Sun (PORCUPINE TREE). It's the same thing with the old "dinosaurs" like KC, GENESIS, YES: they have their influences from classical music, jazz, you name it. But they do and construct a signature sound of their own, while using in a wise way their influences. ANGLAGARD does it this way too, digging dinosaur KC's bones without losing their characteristic sound, the difference is that they are taking their basis on a modern band, not directly on the classic era, like KC did. IQ just rips off, and rips off, and then rips more off.

Starting with the vocals. The vocalist's name is PETER, but he is certainly not PETER GABRIEL although he tries with effort and lack of some shame to be like him. He manages to make a whiny version of GABE, and does not have the charm GENESIS' once leader had. To the songs now: all of them are pleasant to a certain extent, but once when they try to reprise Watcher of the Skies on the opening track just to close the album with an effective Supper's Ready wannabe i feel indecisive if i should hate/respect/enjoying this band, having mixed feelings about them. The tracks in the middle sometimes just go and remind me of PT, and this is very sad because it shows they are copying even modern bands in a shameless way. The reason i have a tortured heard with this band is that they manage to make songs with some neat moments, like the rocking section of the epic track, and pass a fine message. But i feel let down when i have the "i've heard it all before!" sensation, so the motive of my mixed feelings on this album. It is nothing special, nothing impressive and nothing horrible or even average. It is well executed but lacks what i seek more on music: creativity. So, even if it may deserve a bit more than two stars, i give it this rating because it definetely let me down for searching more through this Neo prog land, as i still had some hope that "they like to be GENESIS' copycats" rumours and babblings weren't true, but, unfortunately, they are.

Report this review (#111016)
Posted Thursday, February 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars A deception

I've never been an unconditional of the so-called neo-progressive music, but I often gave tries to releases of this genre and really enjoy some great moments from IQ, in particular their long songs, for their magic and originality. "Dark Matter" has been described as one of their strongest release. I was eager to listen to this album, the cover art was great... but after I feel a bit disappointed... for the record and the band. For sure, it contains some enjoyable passages, but hardly no "IQ's feel", very few "IQ's personality". Here, most of the time, the band tries to sound like PINK FLOYD and early GENESIS (one of my favorite progressive rock bands). There is little from IQ's energetic and powerful epics from the 80's or the typical enchantment of "Ever" for example. "Dark Matter" could as well have been played by another progressive band... Now let's talk about the music itself.

The record opens with "Sacred Sounds" and its pretty mysterious introduction. The organ grows up in intensity, the vocals are not bad, but after the song tends to become a bit repetitive and boring. Fortunately, the second part is more interesting and changing. The smooth ballad "Red Dust Shadow" is maybe the best track of the album, well and slightly constructed with a catchy guitar riff." You Never Will" is an average song, alternating good and weaker moments. Then it goes down... the introduction of "Born Brilliant" ressembles a lot to PINK FLOYD's "Welcome to the Machine", and the rest of the tune is lazy and fail to lift off.

At least comes the epic "Harvest of Souls" which is IQ's longest composition, often regarded and acclaimed as one of the best suites in progressive rock... In fact, I have to say it sounds to me a bit like a poor man's "Supper's Ready". Peter Nicholls really wants to sing like Peter Gabriel but simply cannot... The whole song has many echoes from GENESIS' iconic suite, but never truly manages to catch my attention and had rather bored me. There are some interesting passages, but unfortunately too rare, and the overall is not quite original.

Dark Matter is an uneven and a bit deceiving offering from IQ, as they try to copy some 70's progressive rock pioneers without really bringing something new to the genre and without their own "touch", their own "spirit", their own "magic", in other words their own "music", what I love from the band. I give 2 stars for "Red Dust Shadow" and moments of "Sacred Souls".

Report this review (#112920)
Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
el böthy
4 stars IQ´s last album to date, which will change any time this year, may very well be their best. which is nothing but a surprise for their fans, after all how many times can you say that a band that has been around for more than 20 years makes it´s best album in their latter period? Respect IQ for that, I know I respect them. Having said that...this album, although it may be their best, is no masterpiece... well, you can´t have it all, right?

IQ´s music hasn´t changed that much since Ever, as it seems that with that sound they are at their best and more confortable, but it has gotten more sophisticated yet harder, for this ears at least. A proofe of this is the opening track "Sacred sound", a long song in which you get what IQ is all about, polished Neo-prog with lot of keyboard and that distingtive voice of mr. Nicholls (who also has gotten better with age if you ask me). A great track, typicall IQ...maybe too typicall? Maybe, but it´s a great song non the less.

"Red Dust Shadow" is the ballad of the album, although it´s really not a ballad, but a sad, slow song. I can´t say I am a big fan of it, as it has nothing that makes it very fact, I don´t think that the three songs in the middle of the album, the short songs, have anything memorable, at least not as much as the first and the last track. "You Never Will", although a good song, also suffers from being non memorable. "Born brilliant" might be the exception, as you can´t help but notice the lyrics from this song, so I guess that makes it more memorable, and it might be the best of this three, but again, no where as good as the first and last song.

And then, we get to the BIG final epic, IQ´s longest song ever... is it also their best? Well, I haven´t heard all of IQ´s material, but... it could be. YET (and this yet is really important)... this song would never, ever win any contest as "Most original song" or anything like that as... how can I say it...well, here I go; "Harvest of soul" is "Suppers ready" little brother. And I mean, the resemblence is uncanny in some places. It starts almoust the same, with that acoustic riff (not the exact same... but) and thank God Nicholls doesn´t start singing right away like Gabriel, he waits two turns for it...otherwise it could have been too obvious. The way the song builds up is also quite the copy of the original "Suppers ready" with the keys entering with the drums and the song slightly changes to a more happy beat (like in "The guaranteed eternal sanctuary man" part). Then of a moment the coping stops...until...the band starts to play in a very peculiar way, that resemblence "Apocalypse in 9/8" and you know what?...It´s in 9/8 also!!! And what´s the cherry of the cake? Nicholls sings with some vocal effects, that make him sound just like in some parts of "The lamb lies down at Broadway"! By this moment you know this is no coincidence. Both songs laso end quite similar, returning to the first movement and then a fade out... But, you know what? It might be a total rip off from "Suppers ready"...but I tell you, it doesn´t matter, "Harvest of soul" might not be original, but it is extremly good, I mean it´s a brilliant song! you see, my opinion on this matter is quite torn, on one hand the lack of originality is a bittersweet thing to swallow, on the other hand... it´s an incredible song! So, I discided to give it a high rating because of the final product is great, and I guess that´s the most important thing.

Highly recommended to any Neo fan or retro prog fan and to any Genesis fan also, if you shut your eyes for a while, you can hear another Gabriel era epic...

Report this review (#113324)
Posted Friday, February 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars wow I' m amazed!!! I don't remember any of the neo-prog albums reaching such musical (probably that's why IQ is my favourite neo-prog band) This is one of the few neo-prog albums, by which a band came little close to the legendary bands like Yes, Genesis and others... I have heard some arguments that no one will be remembering this band in few years, this may be true most of the listeners already don't remember about it but who cares?? this album will stay in my playlist forever. Of course the last song Harvest of souls is the greatest not only in this album but in the discography as well... hope that guys will continue working and offer us some more amazing pieces of music
Report this review (#115829)
Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A hidden gem! Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's an album that doesn't seem recognized at all outside the prog community, and what a shame it is. It contains great riffs, vocals, keyboards, lyrics and so on. My first album of IQ and probably not the last, this is an amazing album. The stand outs clearly are the first and the last song - "Sacred Sound" and "Harvest of Souls", the latter an excellent 25 minute long epic. The songs in between are good also, but not great.

Recommended for all listeners, not just fans of neo-prog. Indeed an excellent addition to any music collection!

Report this review (#120903)
Posted Sunday, May 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well,here we are talking about neo progressive music,IQ",yes,great band,dark matter,their last album to the date.we find some elements great here,the voice,the concept,the words of the songs are amazing,something diferent,like: far BEYOND"..obviusly the influences of Genesis and yes are strong.. But let´s forget that a little, because IQ is something beautiful!

when i heard this album to the first time,i was like::wow"",good music on this one , but i was not very happy in the begining .. after listened to this album like seven times it grows up on me..the songs are perfectly realized..i think that this is their best album to the date..sorry for the anothers ones but this is the best one..and i am waiting for the new one,i hope so:)

the voice of PETER is simply amazing! the guitar of mike works perfectly all the stuff is great..

the best song of IQ EVER IS HARVESTER OF SOULS,what a great song,epic,dinamic,beatiful,good chorus,inteligent music,great voices,the words,simply amazing.....keep on the good work guys...4.4 stars ( almost a five star raiting )

Five stars songs - 2. Red dust shadows- 5. Harvest of souls..

Four Stars Songs- 1-sacred Sound- 3. you never will - 4. born brilliant..


Report this review (#123398)
Posted Friday, May 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album is good, there are some decent vocal melodies, some interesting synth work and some ok guitar work. The bass and the drums don't really stand out at all, and are somewhat hidden in the background of lush synth lines. The guitar is heard but only makes the predictable contributions to the music.

The best song on the album is Harvest Of Souls, the 24 minute epic track. It has a nice flow and has enough of change to remain interesting for the entire length of the song. As with the rest of the album, the song is held together by the keyboards. They are the best part of the band and are almost always present.

This is the only IQ album I have heard, and it wasn't a bad album by any means, just decent. It stands out when compared to most Neo-prog bands. IQ is unique and creates an interesting sound.

My problem with the album is that there are too much keyboards and it leads to a feeling of all the songs being just a bit too similar.

If your a fan of the band though, I would imagine that you would really enjoy this album. If you enjoy a heavy dose of keyboards then you'll love it. If your like me and don't like that as much, then you'll probably find this to be a decent album with plenty of substance.

Report this review (#126065)
Posted Saturday, June 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Almost twenty years after their great debut album, IQ released another one. A fresh and constructive one. Of course, all the aspects of their music are represented here. No earthquake, don't worry.

Martin is still everwhere and displays great keys throughout the album (but especially during "Sacred Sound" which opens brilliantly). Mike has a bit more exposure (this was already to be noticed on the previous IQ album). Peter is still poignant and tortured and the ryhtmic section supports the band accurately (although that this will be the last studio album for Paul Cook).

Of course, Genesis is not far away either (very much during "Sacred Sound", "Harvest"). In fact, they sit at every corner of this album. But that's not a problem. We've been used to this throughout all these years.

This album is of course dominated by two songs. The opener (as outlined already) and the closing number. A true prog epic that deserves consideration. I was glad to attend an IQ concert in October 2005 (Verviers - Spirit Of 66), during which they played not only "Harvest Of Souls" but we got the pleasure to have "The Last Human Gateway" in full as well. A great concert, indeed.

This song has some close links with "Supper's". Same kind of acoustic intro, same kind of keyboard play when the rhythm becomes stronger. Again, I'm not against this. There will be even a short passage completely reminiscent of "Heart Of The Sunrise". Which is still fine with me.

This song is quite diversified, which helps in keeping the interest of the listener pretty high. I have listened a lot of times to this song when I discovered it and I have never been bored. Every two or three minutes or so, there's a theme changes without lacking in the unity of the song actually; which is not easy to achieve. We'll get a bit of "The Apocalypse" part as well a little further in the track just before a great keys solo. Should I say whose ones it reminds me ?

This is a great and very pleasant song. As was "Grendel", another epic which took its roots in "Supper's Ready". An excellent closing number, like ...

The other songs featured on this album are more the kind of traditional IQ songs : "Red Dust Shadow" is a melancholic one during which Peter can use all his vocal abilities to touch us. At times, the song gets harder while Martin pumps out heavy sounds from his keys. Grand finale, though.

"You Never Will" sounds pretty much like "Sacred Sound". A bit too much actually. It's a good song, but IQ is cloning IQ. During the intro of "Born Brilliant", both Peter are really close. Nicholls, almost miming the voice of "The Winkler" in "Get'em Out By Friday". The music bringing us back again in "Supper's".

It is one of my preferred Genesis album. Sorry, IQ album. Still a bit more personality would have been welcome. Four stars.

Report this review (#131436)
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars I think IQ have made 6 excellent studio albums (including this one) up to this point in time. And in my opinion this is the best one yet ! I find this to be pretty amazing considering it's been 21 years from their debut to this one. I just can't find any fault with this record at all. Orford is simply incredible on this release, but it would be unfair to leave out Cook's fantastic drumming or Jowitt's subtle bass lines or Holmes tasteful guitar melodies or of course Nicholl's uplifting vocals. Everyone is at the top of their game on "Dark Matter".

It starts off with "Sacred Sound" a song that I cannot listen to without smiling. The guitar is so warm and inviting and Orford's a genius ! Nicholl's simply moves me emotionally on this track for some reason. About half way through Orford really reminds me of Banks in that great instrumental passage.We get a quiet section before the organ and vocals return. Actually i'm sure that's church organ I hear at one point. The guitar comes back late as well. "Red Dust Shadow" opens with strummed acoustic guitar, gentle vocals and mellotron. 1 1/2 minutes in we get some PORCUPINE TREE sounding synths, actually the whole song including the intro has PORCUPINE TREE written all over it. Mellotron is back 5 minutes in. This song is such a good change of pace for the band. "You Never Will" features some upfront drumming like on the opening song. The lyrics are cool in this one, especially the way the title of it is used at the end of the sentence. A collage of sounds 3 1/2 minutes in is followed by pulsating keys.The guitar arrives and it sounds so amazing as does Nicholls. Sampled mellotron throughout this tune.

"Born Brilliant" opens with lots of atmosphere and is very PINK FLOYD sounding. Processed vocals before 2 minutes when the song kicks in. This one has a good beat and the organ is fantastic. The guitar cries out in the background and the PINK FLOYD vibe is back. Another great tune. "Harvest Of Souls" is a side long suite at almost 25 minutes. It opens with beautiful acoustic guitar and vocals. Mellotron comes in at 3 minutes as a fuller sound comes in a minute after that. Nice.The tempo picks up speed 6 1/2 minutes in and the mellotron is back.There is a beautiful section 10 1/2 minutes in. Pulsating keys ala Banks and mellotron follow. Piano melodies before 15 minutes, and then passionate vocals in another terrific passage before 17 minutes. The song eventually ends with some excellent guitar melodies. Whew !

I don't know how they can possibly top this one, and with word out that Martin Orford has left the band it's going to be difficult.

Report this review (#133162)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a case study of the need to give albums time and many listens before writing a review: a year ago, this would have been a solid four star album. Now, it's a high three at best. Why? Well, most of the songs don't age very well (Harvest of Souls excluded), and they aren't that creativeor engaging to begin with. IQ always seems to rely heavily on their songwriting, as opposed to virtuosic playing or divserse instrumentation, and here it lets them down in places.

Sacred Sound. Definitely cool soundsccapes and arrangements, but overall this lilting tune is a bit boring and becomes repetitive over time (espeically the beginning). The one absolute highlight comes at the 13/8 time part near the end with tight drumming, Hackett-esque guitar, and soaring mellotron. This definitely a good song and album opener, but not spectacular.

Red Dust Shadow, You Never Will, Born Brilliant. These songs can be described as slow-developing (even boring), cliche (especially the chorus), and simplistic, respectively. There's nothing truly aversive, but Born Brilliant is the only one of these that I come back to, with the cool rhythm (to be reprised in Harvest of Souls) and a great spacey guitar solo.

Harvest of Souls. Take the song structure of Supper's Ready (bouncy verse over 12-string guitar, main chorus introduction, an aggressive bit, a playful vocal bit, a multilayer keyboard section in odd time, and a majestic recreation of the original chorus), tone down both the goofy parts (yes, Willow Farm), scale back the power of the final segments, improve the production, and you have Harvest of Souls. It's a good format, and I can't hold it against IQ for using it--in fact, I'm very impressed that they largely pulled it off. I disagree with some: this is not a total knock-off. The melodies, lyrics, and arrangements are IQ originals, and it takes a band that has been around a while, is well-schooled in prog, and wants to pay respects to prog's founding fathers to pull of a song of this magnitude. For that, I think IQ deserve a round of applause instead of bashing. Oh well, that's just me!

One great (though derivative) song, another solid one, and three that are rather forgettable: three stars seems appropriate.

Report this review (#139885)
Posted Saturday, September 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I suppose this album is the band's darkest yet, so it is appropriately named, but considering the band's sound, you know it can't be that dark. After a definitely dark ambient intro an unexpectedly peppy keyboard line fades in and gets the song going in true IQ form. That song, "Sacred Sound" turns out to be one of the band's finest to date. It's got many memorable sections and great musicianship start to finish. Plus, it and the rest of the disc have a more prominent atmosphere than any of their discs to date. I particularly like the 7/8 section toward the end with that one sweet bassline. You'll know what I'm talking about when you listen to it. You should, at least. After the 11+ minutes of that sweetness, we are given a series of three shorter songs, lasting 5-6 minutes each. "Red Dust Shadow" has a pretty nice chord pattern and it gradually builds to a nice climactic ending. "You Never Will" is definitely the low point on the disc. It's pretty formulaic and I don't think the recurring drum fill in the chorus was well chosen by the drummer, or group for that matter. "Born Brilliant" is a return to form featuring a hard-driving rhythm for most of the tune. Then we have the 24-minute epic "Harvest of Souls" to close the disc with. This one is a wild ride! It's got plenty of variety, a lot of ideas new to the band's music are introduced here and I think they are rockin' harder than ever before. The piece even recapitulates themes from the rest of the album with a fresh set of vocals & lyrics - very well planned and executed, especially when they bring back the rockin' rhythm of "Born Brilliant" for the penultimate movement. It's very powerful!

Sonically this is easily the band's best album to date, compositionally it's their second best, behind Subterranea. If the band can capture the glory of their longer pieces in the shorter songs, they will blow their peers away. After being around for so long, it's quite amazing that the band is still improving. It's a rare case where a band of this nature especially is better after 20+ years of making music. I'm looking forward to their next output, but for now, I am happy listening to "Sacred Sound" and "Harvest of Souls."

Report this review (#150860)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 Stars - Neo prog at its finest!

"Dark Matter" was my first discovery of IQ shortly after it was released. For whatever reason, I always put off exploring the music of IQ and put them on the backburner and went on to listen other prog bands. After about the 10th listen of this album, it finally clicked. And once it did, I catapulted IQ into the upper tier of neo prog bands. Here is a song by song review:

1) Sacred Sound - A very nice beginning with warm synths as it created a very plush atmosphere, something that has become a trademark of IQ. Once the drums start in, we are in for treat. Peter Nicholls' vocals are very distinct and its an acquired taste to really appreciate his style. But they blend nicely into the music itself, not standing out, but not too far in the background either. At no point does the vocals ever become the real focus on this album, but the music as a whole. The guitar solo spots are very effective, reaching climatic points at the proper times during this song. I love the transition at the 5:40 mark as IQ does this so well, almost better than any other band. Their breaks and tempo changes, like at the 6:45 mark, are a staple of their sound. They transition into soft vocals and make great use of the pipe organ sound. Follow all this up with a beautiful keyboard solo toward the end of the song....and we are done. A fantastic opener and very well done. 8/10

2) Red Dust Shadow - This is a very simple song that starts with acoustic guitar and vocal work. Then the keyboard comes in and creates a very unsettling atmosphere. Later the drums start up and then subsides again. A very mellow number, but not at all bad by any means. Although I feel with is the weakest track of the album. 6/10

3) You Never Will - I dont know why, but this is a song that grabbed my attention. Its a shorter song, but packed full with goodies. After a clock begins ticking, a great baseline starts up. Incredibly nice drum fills add to this song. There is a well timed break at the 2:43 mark which goes into a nice keyboard solo after which if followed with almost haunting vocals and organ. Incredibly effective and one of my favorites. 8/10

4) Born Brilliant - I always seemed to skip this song and go directly to the main course...but after repeated listens, I might have been passing up a very decent song here. There is fantastic opening with a distinct bass line and distant vocals. Once the song gets into full gear, it is quite pleasant. It maintains a great tempo and bass guitar seems to be a focus in this one. 6/10

5) Harvest of Souls - OK, the main event...This song is divided into 6 sections. I won't get into the anti American sediments and lyrics on this one, but it seems to fit the overall theme of this song. It has a beautiful beginning with light guitars and vocals. At the 4 minute mark the drums and bass kick up and begins to build. Then a dark turn at 6:15 followed with a much faster tempo. There seems to be an almost chaotic feel in this section. It is then followed by a lush keyboard solo. At 9:00, it slows down again and we hear some more pleasing vocal work which then turns into another chaotic ambush of keyboards and drums. At the 12:18 mark, this is where the song is catapulted into the upper level of epics. There is a great piano section followed by keyboard and tempo changes, a neo progger's dream come true. Beautiful vocals along with soothing soundscapes and a wonderful melody, this is what progressive music is all about! Music rarely gets any better than this. Again, more beautiful piano work at the 14:30 mark followed by a bombastic organ and bass driven section. There are fantastic transitions and crunching guitar work followed by a wonderful outro the revisits each section. It ends perfectly just a tad shy of 25 minutes. Now THAT is how you make an epic! Continually building until it climaxes at the latter stage and regresses back to where it began.....brilliant song! 10/10

I am glad this was my first IQ experience. I think this album really sums up what they are all about, especially the final song. I then delved into their previous releases, but none of them tugged at me like Dark Matter. Again, at first listen or two, it may not fully grasp your attention, but once it clicks, the rewards are worth the effort. I give it 4.5 stars...but round down to 4 for the sake of this format, just shy of the masterpiece excellent addition to any music collection! - May prog be with you!!!

Report this review (#154954)
Posted Monday, December 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars In my review of Ever I mentioned that even though I'm adept in neo somehow IQ has never been and will never be really my band. And actually this album is an example why. Because Ever was an album with a great and a few good tracks and baerly got 4 stars because of that, these tracks are lacking on this album.

Still this is their most significant album to date looking at the number of ratings on our site and it also reaches a high average and in fact I can also understand that in a way. My not being impressed I do recognize as something personal and I'm not claiming to be the expert telling the truth here. Why is it not too great for me ? I already mentioned there are no highlights for me and that's also the most important reason. But I think I will have some more explaining to do because there are a few epics on this album amongs which the very long Harvest of Souls. And in fact with this epic there lies the problem. The three shorter songs are forgettable for me, I rarely like IQ's short songs and here it's no exeption. In a minute I will go into the other (shorter) epic but now first Harvest. The track starts with some slow singing by Peter Nicholl accompanied by a.o. acoustic guitar. After a few minutes the electric guitar and organ like keyboards join the execution. After 6 1/2 minutes an instrumental part but not long only a bit impressive. Rest of the song vocal and instrumental parts take turns but the song never reaches the high level so many other long epics do. Like I said, it's just my personal feeling and opinion about it but I can't get carried away by a song that should have been (a lot) better imo. The smaller epic Sacred Sound is better for me but can't cause a high rating for this album by me.

Not really bad in the end, I don't want to exxagerate here but it just doesn't touch or grasp me at all in any way. Mediocre effort by IQ for my taste.

Report this review (#160719)
Posted Monday, February 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
5 stars "Neo" or "Mature" prog?

In this occasion, the answer is both. By far IQ's most sophisticated release, Dark Matter effectively combines the 'pleasant' neo-prog feeling with darker tunes and a heavy dose of irony; Irony is the main feature of the sound of this album, through which they try to get their message through. And they definitely succeed.

Dominant is a 'hammondish' sound, giving a distinct taste to this record overall. Sacred Sound begins with a characteristic 'a la Camel' keyboard melody and progresses to an interesting mid-tempo track. I have the feeling that IQ vocals are included in the 'love or hate' category, consisting of this characteristic English accent, which I personally find controversial but unique. The first track is almost 12 minutes long, involving variations and excellent drum work. Red Dust Shadow very much reminds of Porcupine Tree's latest works, with a spacey refrain and a 'Floydish' guitar passage.

The clock then ticks for You Never Will where the initial bass line gives its place to some 'happy' vocal melodies which assist the track to flow in a highly pleasant atmosphere; the same happens in the more adventurous Born Brilliant where a 3/4 tempo is dominant. One of the most mature and complete pieces of music I lately experienced is Harvest of Souls, which is possibly the best epic this band has produced. This is a perfect way of ending the album, which although lasting more than 24 minutes, does not lack interest at any point. In my opinion, it can be (musically, lyrically and qualitatively) compared with symphonic epics of Genesis or Yes. Breaks, music variations and speed alterations comprise this gem, which is highly recommended for all prog fans.

Two features (among others) really drew my attention to this record: Firstly, the excellent lyrics combined with the ironic way sung, and secondly, the structure of the record that starts with a semi-epic, continues with three relatively short tracks that lead to a final lengthy track which (intentionally) represents the highlight. It would have been unfair to rate this album with less than 4.5 stars, being the most complete work of IQ till now.

Oh, and don't forget: the hand of God defends America. hahaha.

Report this review (#163826)
Posted Thursday, March 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album seems to me that have left enough good ordered with respect to the order of the songs, the disc opens with "Sacred Sound" that is a song that lasts about 12 minutes, this song begins with a bottom keyboard, soon takes step to him to the battery and slowly they begin to unite all the other instruments, is an excellent song and very good to give an idea us of which it will be the rest of the album. soon it follows the song "Red Dust Shadow" that begins with an acoustic guitar of single with the bottom keyboard, is "a somewhat slow" song, but it does not stop being quite good, later come You Never Will" who to my seem to be the best song of the album, that begins we say that with the slowness of second and increases, in this song seems to me that they found an order between all the instruments and the vocals, the disc follows with the song "Born Brilliant" who continuing with which the other songs have a slow beginning but in the case of this song Peter Nicholls is we say the one that begin it, and close the disc with "Harvest of Souls" a song of 24 minutes, that has all the characteristics of a good progressive song, since it begins with slow and very smooth rate, and around the 6 min has a drastic change and it becomes one more a faster song, and more ahead it is repeating the speed changes and rate in the song
Report this review (#182694)
Posted Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Though IQ may not be trying many new things these days, it still impresses me how strong each successive album can end up being.

In truth, Dark Matter looks back on previous IQ albums pretty heavily. The construction of their songs is still mostly the same. They've got the usual solid opener and the usual extended epic song. For the most part, there is little to this record that, if you've listened to the rest of IQ's music, you haven't heard before. Nevertheless, the band is in fine form, and for a twenty year old musical act, they hold their own against the newer ranks of young and rising bands. The sort of angst and melancholy from their previous albums seems exaggerated here, with some downright whiny lyrics at points and some deeper and more meaningful ones elsewhere. So while here we have an album that doesn't really tread much new ground, it still is able to get a three star rating through the strength of that old ground it seems to be retreading.

Most of the songs here are composed very well. Sacred Sound is a longer one one the album, featuring some wonderful organ sounds and a terribly catchy vocal melody. Red Dust Shadow is a sad and melancholic song about a young boy losing his father, and it is the slowest and least exciting song here. You Never Will is a mildly whiny song with some really odd but some really fascinating drum work. Born Brilliant is probably the whiniest song here, and it is very reminiscent of something off Ever. The long epic track that probably instantly drew every prog nerd's eye, Harvest of Souls, talks of immigrants in America and how unfortunately hard that is. It starts out very much in the vein of the famed Genesis track Supper's Ready, but ends up going its own way. There is a lot of nice piano sprinkled throughout Dark Matter, and it is strongest here on the final track.

If you like IQ, chances are you'll like this one too. It's nothing terribly out of the ordinary, but it is very much so an interesting listen. Not a bad place to start for IQ, either. Recommended for all fans of neo-prog, of course. If you are looking for really complicated or forward-thinking compositions, however, you might want to look elsewhere.

Report this review (#184481)
Posted Thursday, October 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I pre-ordered this CD and got it when it came out. Definately the best Symphonic prog CD released in 2004 by a country mile. TQ (neo progressive??) just a cotton pickin moment, what we have here is a genuine top-class SYMPHONIC PROG band, probably the best outside of Genesis and Yes. This CD is nothing short of MIRACULOUS, and unlike Selling England By The Pound and Close To The Edge, this CD does not have a crap track. In other words it is as essential to any prog colection as those two seminal and widely accepted materpeices, Loads of people will shout DERIVATIVE GENESIS WANNABEES at me , eeer yes, all of the decent prog bands of the eighties, nineties and noughties are very YES/GENESIS derivative, thats why they are good. I mean that I'd rather listen to an IQ CD than any by Pink Floyd for instance..... Anyway to this CD. Sacred Sound from the synth intro to the superb vocal melodies and cleverly crafting of an absolutely wizard breeze of a symphonic progressive rock track, it's awesome. Red Dust Shadow is melancholic and superb synth chords accompanied by acoustic guitar is very reminiscent of wind & wuthering, IQ always include little intros that you can find on classic prog albums (like the clock (Hackett) and the Machine noise (Pink Floyd) I reckon it amuses them. I love Yiu necer will - excellent lyrics and the vocal harmonies just work and do nice things in my ears. Born Brillian has some FANTASTIC mellotron (I love the sound it's ace). The HARVEST OF SOULS, the suppers ready comparisons are obvious, but so what, this is an awsome 23 minute exploration of symphonic prog and if you don't like it then I suggest you get off this site and start listening to boyzone or whatever, ITS ESSENTIAL PROG AND GET IT IN YOUR COLLECTION PRONTO. Obvious FIVE STARS in fact this should get TEN!!!!!
Report this review (#185342)
Posted Saturday, October 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars First of all, sorry for my bad English. For obvious reasons this is my first written review after many ratings here in PA: I decided to do so because I "must" review this masterpiece. For me, this is not Neo-prog, but only one of the best prog albums I ever heard, at the same level of "Selling.., Close to., Pawn Hearts., In the court..", etc. What can I say more? here is all that a prog lover may wish: beautiful melodies, great voice, long tracks, interesting lyrics, odd times, abrupt changes and really wonderful keyboard sounds (I can't believe that Hammond in this album is a clone!). Musicians are all at their best and all tracks are beautiful, especially the interlude of "Sacred sounds", which is for me one of the most beautiful musical sequences in history (maybe I exaggerate? I don't think so). I loved "Ever" and "Subterranea" also, that musically can be easily placed in the same period that they were made, but I think that "Dark Matter" is a masterpiece without time! Prog61, Italy

Report this review (#188882)
Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A darker way to Foxtrot

Neo-Prog is likely the most interesting subgenre of progressive music for a number of reasons. By this I don't mean that the music itself is the most 'interesting', that title belongs to the artists in the Zeuhl catagory for being just plain weird, but absolutely listenable. By saying 'interesting' here we're talking about a number of different things here, including the debate about whether the bands who play Neo music should even be considered progressive because of their retro way of writing music. That discussion can be saved for another time, but regardless of if you think that these bands are trying to devolve music or not you can't deny that they play a very close style to the prog greats of old. And that's just a problem for some listeners. Some people really don't want to hear something similar to what came out back in ye olden days - and we really have to give a hand to the neo-bands who still release music in this fashion and get met with harsh criticisms.

IQ's latest album to date (with rumor of one coming in '09) has been met with a great deal of praise in the last 4 years of its existence. One thing that seems to be a growing trend in the Neo-movement is the fact that the bands all seem to be getting darker. Maybe it's the bands giving a big middle finger to the people who give them the shrug for sounding too much like their forefathers, but with releases like Dark Matter and Pendragon's Believe and Pure it would seem that the bands are starting to get a little bit more evil. Aside from the neo fans seemingly warming up to this darker approach, this album is structured just like many of the classic prog albums of old. A mini-epic opens the album fashionably and it goes through a mix of songs until it reaches the climax, which in this case is a (would-be) side long epic which deals with war as its main theme and topic matter. All of this equates to quite a good album.

Not to mention that the whole ordeal sounds rather impressive. The sound is completely clean and clear, and along with the flashy solos played fashionably on organs, guitars and keyboards, Peter Nicholls is a very pleasant singer which comes off as rather surprising because his voice is actually kind of whiny, which is usually pretty nerve grating, but combined with the music he fits in very well. The songs are still quite dominated by the organ sounds as evident right off the bat with Sacred Sound, the 11-minute ambitious mini-epic which opens up the fray. While there are times when the bass will come in to take the lead charge and the guitar will play an emotional solo its still the organ and its Gothic-church tones which make up the majority of the sound and make the large contribution to setting the tone right. This was a very good song to open up with since it is very much the epitome of what the album is ''all about'', while still leaving room for growth within the remaining tracks.

The shorter songs in the middle have personality, but are mainly used to build up to the megalodon in wait at the end of the disc. What's nice is that the songs are all rather creepy, especially with the ambient build in some songs like Red Dust Shadow coupled with the disturbing keyboards and sad guitar parts. Nicholls is right on his game again with the voicing, his lower and more emotional vocals in this track fitting in once more to the tone of the song. The other two songs, You Never Will and Born Brilliant are a little it faster paced and a little bit more angry than what has come before it, especially in lyrical content, ''you, like I were born to be a million times admired/unlike mine, your family line were all born brilliant liars''. There's some juicy gossip story behind those lyrics, that's for sure. You Never Will is led in by a nice bass riff before the organs explode from within and take over the song. A surprisingly upbeat song for how dark it is, but there's some very good melodies and tonal shifts within the song that make for a pleasing listen.

And then we get to the album's centerpiece, the 25-minute long Harvest Of Souls, the song which the album was built around as evident from the cover art and the arrangement of the tracks. The song is rather controversial being that many people feel that is a direct attack on America and their war on terror (''The hand of God protects America!''), and I'm not going to get into that because other reviewers have already done so in more detail than I possibly could have. Regardless, this is a very well composed song with everything in place. For progressive veterans the song may seem a touch unnecessary since the band have seemingly taken Supper's Ready and draped their own music over-top. There may not be a quirky section involving Winston Churchill dressed in drag, but the rest is hard in place from the thoughtful opening to the cataclysmic 9/8 section to the reprisal section in the end. Granted, the solos are nice and so are the instrumental sections, but one can never help but feel like they've been here, done that. Being that the song takes up a good half of the album as well it can lead to a touch of disappointment for people who expect something unique and mind blowing.

In the end this album will very much appeal to the Neo-fans of the world who have already made it one of their crusaders of the subgenre with the ratings it has deservingly received. Skeptics of the subgenre will be no more impressed than they will with any other neo-disc and should likely avoid this one. Still, it's an impressive album with song very good parts which is great for anyone who is willing to stand and fight for the retro style. 3.5 stars out of 5 for an album which makes for a very good listen, even if there's not a lot here that can be called wildly original.

Report this review (#190476)
Posted Tuesday, November 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Darker Side of Neo-Prog

This has been my first exposure to the music IQ, and it is nothing like I expected. The Genesis similarity is obvious - guitarist Mike Holmes does take a trick or two from the Hackett repertoire and vocalist Peter Nichols borrows more from Peter Gabriel than his first name. However, the primary influence here is something darker, something along the lines of Van Der Graaf Generator or Procul Harum. The church organ dominates the sound scape, and the lyrical matter is all quite dark. This is not to say that the music here is not completely original, because it really is, and they are technically beyond that of their contemporary peers such as Marillion.

The album sandwiches three short songs between two larger ones, notably the tremendous "Harvest of Souls." Though the short songs may be considered filler material, none of them are terrible, just not up the great standard set by the first and last numbers.

"Sacred Sound" is a great mini-epic despite having few parts parts than a verse, chorus, and bridge. The band makes great use of uneven time signatures like 13/8, over which the band members all very carefully and cleverly operate. Despite being a very dark song, it features a memorable and uplifting refrain where Nichols hits some terrific high notes.

"Red Dust Shadow," which might have dragged a bit if it weren't for a really great guitar riff, mellatron, and bass solo, follows the first track well. The production really shines here, as well as the entire album.

"You Never Will" picks up the pace a little, but leaves us wanting more. Besides an excellent keyboard solo and some really obscure drum fills, this song is somewhat uninteresting, and ventures into pretentious territory with its vague lyrics.

"Born Brilliant" is perhaps the only song on this disc likely to instantly grab the listener. Its menacing lyrics and driving beat are captivating. The band sounds like a factory as it trudges through it's rhythm. There is some ambiance that eludes to older Pink Floyd such as "Welcome to the Machine." However, it is only a preface for the following track.

Upon close investigation, "Harvest of Souls" is highly reminiscent of Genesis' "Supper's Ready," but that is not to accuse it of plagiarism. Though the multi-part structure of the two pieces are reflective of each other, the music of "Harvest of Souls" is completely unique and commendable. Each of it's six separate movements could possibly stand alone as songs of their own, but when combined in this larger piece by instrumental movements and recurring lyrical themes, they become something much stronger. Though certain segments could arguably have been omitted, and focus may seem lost at certain points, the last four minutes of reprisal are exactly what they should be, polishing the song of perfectly. In fact, all the music throughout this near 25-minute piece is top-notch, and its great length is fully justified. Though "Harvest of Souls" may not have the historical importance of a piece like "Supper's Ready," it in many ways a equally excellent effort.

This album comes at high recommendation from me. Despite accusations of excessive influence, I feel it represents among the best in Neo-Progressive music; IQ's music is equally as sophisticated as their 70's predecessors. Anyone looking for excellent modern symphonic prog with intelligent lyrics and a dark edge needs not look any further.

Report this review (#211665)
Posted Saturday, April 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Whilst looking forward to getting Frequency when it is out on general release (I don't normally pre order), I thought it was about time that I reviewed its predecessor, and a fine work it is too.

IQ are one of the leading lights of what I call the second wave of British Prog, or Neo-Prog as it is categorised on the site. I still regard Marillion as being at the forefront of this wave, but, by Heaven, IQ can't be that far behind.

The album starts with Sacred Sound, a track that comes in at over 11 minutes, and features huge organ playing by Martin Orford, combined with stunning Nicholls vocals and Holmes textured guitars. Grandiose in conception and execution, it is a fine way to start any LP.

Red Dust Shadow commences in a thoughtful manner. Nicholls is on fine form throughout the whole LP, but I especially enjoy the quiet keyboard and acoustic guitar led backdrop to his story regarding an absent father, which is very touching, whilst the track then explodes in a huge symphonic noise of all band members expressing the outrage of the leaving. This is a sad song, but with the best of sad songs, leaves the listener emotionally charged. Some great mellotron work at the end, too.

You Never Will starts off in what I regard as a Floydian vein, with the clock ticking and pulsating bass, before Nicholls and the band explode again in a huge soundscape that tells another downbeat story. Orford's organ playing dominates, and I am really interested in seeing and hearing how the band manage without his huge influence. This track is actually one for our times. Listen to "I keep hoping that you'll do something real" - it is almost a eulogy to the disillusion felt in the UK with the crooks that run our country. Holmes' guitar solo also brings home how talented he is. This track is absolutely not a filler - it is essential as a running part of the LP.

Born Brilliant follows, which, again, has a dark, almost Floydian, sense to it, reminding me of Wish You Were Here in the bass and keyboard background. Jowitt's bass absolutely thunders in his backdrop to the riff and keyboard main lead. Again, not a filler, but a continuation of the dark and brooding theme of the album.

Harvest Of Souls is the epic track on this album. Starting with a quite exquisite vocal to an acoustic guitar backdrop, this leads into one of the finest neo prog tracks ever written and performed. I have never been a supporter of the neo liberal politics of American Republican leaders in recent times, and this track absolutely encapsulates the despair that many like me feel how a great and brave nation can descend into such imperialistic egocentric tendencies. It is a great protest song, but also a great song in its own right for those (many) who have no political leanings at all. Because, some four minutes in, Nicholls blasts out his America "chorus", accompanied by quite the most exceptional keyboard and guitar leads you will ever hear. And Who Would Not Defend America, indeed. Progressive rock and protest fused at its finest.

We Will Shoot You Where You Stand leads into the epic riff and passage very reminiscent of early Crimson. It is very atmospheric, and, again, the band play together very tightly, with especially Holmes shining in his guitar work.

At times thoughtful, at times blistering, at times mixing originality with a huge nod to prog's founding father's, this is an immense track, and one I have had a great deal of pleasure listening to. A great way to end an album, the pace never relents, even in its quieter moments.

For those reading this who are looking forward to Frequency, you are not alone, and revisiting this LP is well worth the time. For those of you who have never heard IQ's work, by God you are missing a huge treat. I am still listening in amazement to Holmes, Orford, Jowitt, and Cook producing such a huge sound to accompany one of the finest vocalists the UK has ever produced. Epic in thought, epic in production, and epic in execution, this is an essential piece of modern progressive rock. 4.5 stars, rounded up to the ultimate five simply because it is worth it.

Report this review (#214602)
Posted Saturday, May 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In My Not So Humble Opinion:

"Dark Matter" by IQ is another CD showing us where Genesis could have gone had they remained progressive.

"Dark Matter" was the second IQ CD that I picked up and my initial thought was 'well, this is ok, but not as good as "The Seventh House", I wonder why this one has such high ratings'. Or something like that. A year later, my initial though is bearing fruit as both CD's are have the same ratings (4.02 for both "Dark Matter" and "The Seventh House" at the time of this writing).

I'll offer a few general comments before I get into the blow by blow. The rhythm section of John Jowitt and Paul Cook really gelled for this release. I would say this is the best IQ album in terms of the rhythm section. Peter Nichols sounds a bit gruffer on this release, though I don't mean that as a bad thing. I think his tone is great.

"Dark Matter" starts out with Martin Orford's ominous strings building the sense of suspense, before a pipe organ lead comes appears along with a jaunting 7/8 beat. I don't normally like pipe organ leads as they just don't have enough attack for a rhythm passage. For the non-musicians, with a slow attack sound like a pipe organ, there is a time of build up from when the key is pressed until the full volume is reached as opposed to the instant gratification of a fast attack sound such as a trumpet. Mr. Orford most likely cut down the attack on a typical pipe organ with great results as the organ sets the tone for pretty much the whole song. As mentioned before, the rhythm section is 'spot on 'on this one, some of the things that Misters Jowitt and Cook do at the nine minute mark are just plain sick (and by sick, I mean highly intricate and syncopated).

"Red Dust Shadow" is a fairly nondescript ballad, though Peter Nichols sounds very good in this one. The Mellotron lead at the end of the track does very little for me. "You Never Will" is another Genesis sounding tune, heavy with Mellotron. Like "Red Dust Shadow", this song doesn't really stand out as anything overly special, though it's certainly not unlistenable.

I like "Brilliant Liars", though in all honesty, it's musically about as intriguing as the previous two tracks. The lyrics, which aren't usually something I care about, are really good for this song. "I'm selfish and insensitive, I'm rotten to the core, pretentious and derivative, you've seen it all before". It makes a bold statement. The song itself has a beat reminiscent of "Apocalypse in 9/8" (Genesis, subdivision of "Supper's Ready") though they dropped three / eighths of it off. Mike Holmes does a nice dirty solo for about the last two minutes that shouldn't be missed.

. . . and now we come to the big epic ending. I'm sorry, but this is one of the less inspired of IQ's epics. I jokingly refer to it as "Harvest of Suppers" due to the extreme similarities to the previously mentioned "Supper's Ready" (SR) by Genesis. "Harvest of Souls" (HOS) starts off with an oddly familiar twelve string guitar arpeggio which goes as far as to start with the same exact note as SR. The soft guitar lasts for the first four minutes before it transitions to a more upbeat organ led part, again, similar to SR. If that's not enough, on SR the drums start at four minutes, twenty three seconds, on HOS, the drums appear at four minutes sixteen seconds. After about a minute, the upbeat part ends to return to another soft interlude followed by a chaotic section. Yes, the previous sentence applies to both songs. You get the point, both songs have a total stop in the middle, in SR it's just before "Willow Farms", in HOS it's just before the "Frame and Form" section, both at about the half way point of the song. The "Mortal Procession" section uses the same 6/8 rhythm as in "Born Brilliant" which again is a call back to "Apocalypse in 9/8". Finally, both pieces have the big ending, long drawn out chords and vocal climax. Basically, "Harvest of Souls" is an updated version of "Supper's Ready". Pardon me, but I prefer the original.

I'd love to rate this CD higher on the merits of "Sacred Sound" and "Born Brilliant" but unfortunately, a twenty four minute cover song coupled with two additional average tracks barely merits a three star rating for "Dark Matter".

Report this review (#229250)
Posted Friday, July 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Hardly born brilliant, but they finally became so with this album

I have never been particularly impressed by IQ before, but Dark Matter is, in my opinion, a very strong album and by far the best album by the band. Finally, after more than 20 years in the music business they reached their peak here. While Dark Matter is different in several ways from earlier albums by the band, it is still very much IQ. What makes this album stand out in the band's catalogue is that the compositions are all among IQ's strongest and most memorable ever and that the sound is a bit more powerful than usual. But also, and this is more important, that I sense a new-found passion and enthusiasm in this music that creates a sense of urgency that I have often found lacking in IQ's music in the past. Most of the band's previous works have seemed a bit tired and almost lethargic to my ears and especially the longer songs have often been overlong and a bit one-dimensional. Here they sound reinvigorated and energetic.

Dark Matter features only five tracks and runs for just over fifty minutes. The closing number, Harvest Of Souls, is a nearly 25 minute piece that far outshines the band's previous attempts on this grand scale. It moves through several themes and moods, but stays focused throughout with a great melody and compositional structure. The keyboards are varied and some vintage keyboards are used which creates a more organic sound without making it come across as "retro-Prog". The presence of (what sounds like a) Hammond organ gives substance and even brings a slight heaviness to the sound which is not commonly associated with IQ. This is particularly evident on the opening and closing numbers. Also, (what sounds like a) church organ gives a haunting feel to some tracks. Overall, the sound and feel of this album is about as dark, mysterious and haunting as the great cover art. The production is impeccable and every instrument comes to its full right.

The shorter songs in between are equally strong and memorable and here we get to see the acoustic side of the band. This makes the album varied yet consistent. The vocals are very strong throughout as are the lyrics. Peter Nicholls sings like he means every word - like he is delivering a message he really cares about. Passion is, after all, the sign of great music.

IQ's best, highly recommended!

Report this review (#232102)
Posted Monday, August 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Generally I don't like neo-prog at all : I hear just secondary clones of real proggers from 70-th there. Sorry!

But between neo-prog division there are few bands, that are better than hundreds of their faceless competitors. For sure, the first one is early Marillion. The next one could be IQ.

This IQ album is recorded in 2004, not the best time even for neo-prog movement. But the album surprisingly isn't bad.

There are just five long songs, all midtempo, with multi-textured sound,professional arrangements, really nice vocal. In fact, you have some kind of neo-prog standard ( in good sense) there. Plenty of keyboards, full orchestrated sound.

If I was person who was born in eightees, never heard Genesis, never new nothing about prog rock roots,etc, I think I possible will be very happy with this album.

But whenever I am not, and I don't like imitators, it's difficult for me to fall in love with this music. By my head I understand, that it is very competent early-Genesis tribute band. And whenever Peter Gabriel's Genesis doesn't exist, may be it's not bad, that someone just trying to continue their musical ideas ( can't say - "develope", just - "continue"). But I can look on it only like on original ideas translators to new generation.

Nothing is bad with it , but let say true - even high quality translator isn't original artist. And, they are working their translator's job 20+ years!

So, not bad album,especially for year 2004, but in case with IQ I prefer their earlier works. And generally in music - I prefer originals.

Report this review (#240809)
Posted Tuesday, September 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent, if unoriginal, prog!

This was my introduction to IQ, and my introduction to the entire neo-prog genre. This album made me raid the entire IQ discography, and this is one of their stronger efforts for sure. All five songs here are excellent, and the opening and closing tracks define the word "masterpiece".

So why am I giving this four stars?

Well, some of the shorter songs in the middle aren't quite worthy of five stars, even if they are great. This is also probably the least original IQ album out there. IQ is always bashed by people for being Genesis "clones", and while I do not agree with that, it would be very hard for me to argue against that when listening to "Dark Matter". The last song almost sounds like they are trying to make an epic completely modeled after Supper's Ready. With that said, everything else is absolutely perfect. Even the closing song, while it isn't original by any stretch of the imagination, is a perfect epic! I'll explain each song in more detail now.


"Sacred Sound"- I remember that this was the first IQ song I had ever heard, and I was absolutely blown away! The melodies were spot on, it had excellent guitars, Mellotron, and organ; it was anything a prog fan could dream of! It has great progressions, and the main chorus with Peter Nicholls singing beautifully and Mike Holmes' great guitar line really makes for an excellent song. A great way to open up an album!

"Red Dust Shadow"- The second song actually reminds me of Spock's Beard a little bit. It has a pretty dark main section with some nice use of the Mellotron, but also has some nice organ and guitar every now and again. It's a decent song I would rate 2.5/5.

"You Never Will"- This is the shortest song on the album, and is very enjoyable. It has some great bass, as well as the classic organ and Mellotron from IQ. This is a more straightforward rock song with some prog leanings, but it is very solid as is.

"Born Brilliant"- Easily the best of the three shorter songs, with a great chorus. I love some of the riffs, and this contains some very good vocals from Peter Nicholls.

"Harvest of Souls"- It's not prog without a 20+ minute epic, right? This is the extended composition on "Dark Matter", and it doesn't disappoint. I know this will be criticized by many for being literally a clone of Supper's Ready, but it doesn't bother me too much. It is unbelievable that both songs have almost exactly the same layout, but this song is still one of my favorite IQ epics anyway. I love the lush Mellotron and the beautiful guitar line. Sure it is by no means original, but it is an excellent and flawless epic.

I'm not one who cares too much about originality and all that, but I know some people will care more than I do. That is why I give this incredible album four, not five, stars. Some of the songs in the middle of the album aren't quite up to par either, but are still solid. However, the closing and opening songs are complete masterpieces that should be heard by every prog fan!

4 stars.

Report this review (#241784)
Posted Sunday, September 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars When I started to listen to Dark Matter it befell me as a nice surprise, I remember my growing frustration with IQ when I listened to some of their albums in the 80's. They didn't remind me at all of Marillion. Formally yes, but I didn't hear any of the passion and superb song writing that characterized Marillion.

On Dark Matter they haven't really shed off their Genesis and Marillion influences but at least they sound link a band that is comfortable with the way it sounds. (I admit, that's a bit of a dubious compliment, I guess every artist feels that way). What I meant is that they don't sound too pushy to obtain a certain sound but look as if they just do what they like. (Even if that is imitating other bands:)

The music has potential enough though. They opted for a rather organic sound mixed with lush keyboards and those typical melodious guitar leads. But my main issue with this album would actually be the vocals. I miss heart and soul in the voice; the melodies are rather predictable and slightly winy, I'd really want some more conviction and personality there. I also find that they are rather loud in the mix, but that's a minor quibble and probably just because I don't like them all that much.

The opening track is Sacred Sound is really enjoyable and is as good as neo-prog gets. For Red Dust Shadow they even picked up a trick or two from Porcupine Tree. 4 stars so far but I sinks in quickly now. You Never Will is a faceless ballad, despite nicking half of the opening riff from Gong. The Ayreon-modelled Born Brilliant is the last bright flicker before the album is soaked up by the black hole called Harvest of Souls.

Until the 25 minute epic Harvest of Souls, the album still had a good option for 3 stars. But there are too many things wrong here: the opening is soaked in poppy sentimentalism, around minute 6 minutes it gets slightly better, but the vocal melodies are still too average. The instrumental part between minute 10 and 12 is pretty good though. But as the track progresses, my clone-alert is gradually pushed to its limits. A section like between minute 18 and 20 is simply too derivative and fails to add anything to the original it is mocked-up from.

The problem is not that originality is a must for me. I can appreciate imitative artists, but then they should at least be as good as the example and preferably develop their own sound, exactly as Marillion or Änglagard did. Besides, IQ also lacks the gift to write truly remarkable melodies. Within the neo-prog field this must be a good album but I'm afraid I can't see any reason to recommend this to anyone but the fans. 2.5 stars.

Report this review (#253808)
Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I like prog rock bands that know what they have to say and don't beat around the bush. There are the prog rock acts like to take as long as they can to say what's on their mind, filling an album with 80 minutes of music (or doing a double album), inserting as many epics as they can along the way.

IQ does no such thing here. With 50 minutes of music including the longest song of their career, the 24 minute epic "Harvest of Souls", we find IQ performing some excellent Neo-Prog music.

The opener is the 10 minute Sacred Sound, which is great while playing but rarely leaves much of an impact afterwards for me. I actually appreciate the three shorter tracks that follow it a bit more; Red Dust Shadow is somewhat sad, while You Never Will and Born Brilliant have an almost arrogant selfish feel about them. In fact, this album seems to have sense of loss in all of the lyrics.

But no matter how strong the first four tracks are, the highlight of this album is Harvest of Souls. There is no denying the similarities between this song and Genesis' Supper's Ready. But Supper's Ready was an excellent song, and IQ have used those similarities quite well in this case. The song easily switches from parts with high energy to quieter parts. There is humor used in this track, as in Supper's Ready, but it has a bit more bite to it instead of whimsy. Of particular note for this is the section where Peter Nicholl's mocks plastic surgery culture.

On that note, I once again must bring up the point of Peter Nicholl's voice. I am not huge on it, and outside of this music I think I would dislike it. Yet somehow, it works well with the music that IQ writes - or perhaps the band writes music that works well with his voice. Either way, there is a charm to the way the two work together that makes his voice not only bearable, but I can't really imagine any other voice working as well here.

My favorite IQ album so far, and Harvest of Souls is good enough to (just) bump this album up to a 4 star rating.

Report this review (#258169)
Posted Monday, December 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Dark Matter was the first IQ-release that I've heard following a period where I basically exhausted Marillion's discography in my search of another excellent release from the band.

The album opener titled Sacred Sound hit it off quite well with me and I was completely mesmerized by the whole experience. Little did I know, this was going to be the only moment of greatness that Dark Matter had in store for me. The three shorter tracks had all unique approaches to the IQ-style but these compositions never came close to the excellence of the album opener. Had the album carried on in the same vain all the way to the end then it would easily have become one of my favorite Neo-Prog releases. Unfortunately it all came to a screeching halt with the albums concluding magnum opus.

The 25 minute epic Harvest Of Souls sounds too much like a been there, done that kind of affair. Comparisons to Supper's Ready are inevitable but unlike the '70s classic this one lacked the punch added by the lyrics. I honestly struggle to understand and interpret the lyrics. Is there suppose to be a political massage to it or is it just a glimpse of a dark futuristic society? Anyhow it's far from something that I'm interested in revisiting considering that there are so many considerably more exciting prog epics available out there.

I realize that this album relies heavily on the listeners appreciation for Harvest Of Souls which unfortunately I don't posses. Therefore my concluding thoughts on the album is that it's a solid Neo-Prog release that fans of the genre will probably enjoy a whole lot more than me. As for the rating, I struggle gibing it anything beyond an average good, but non-essential rating.

***** star songs: Sacred Sound (11:40)

**** star songs: Red Dust Shadow (5:53) You Never Will (4:54) Born Brilliant (5:20)

*** star songs: Harvest Of Souls (24:29)

Report this review (#279465)
Posted Monday, April 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's been four years since IQ released a CD and the wait is over now. I have to say They must have been listening too much to ancient Genesis recordings because this is the recording who has more "Genesis sounds" in It. I mean, not in a bad way but It is a relief to hear the smooth lines fronm the Mellotron on "Harvest of Souls" and the sweet lines in the guitar. This is a good CD to have and I am sure all the fans (I am one of 'em) will not be dissapointed. Solid 4 stars and a one to have in your collection.
Report this review (#298027)
Posted Wednesday, September 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars At this point in a bands career the quality of new albums nearly always pales in comparison to their earlier work. IQ are very much the exception to this rule. Dark Matter is a brilliant album.

Sacred opens the album, a long piece with some beautiful passages and deft musicianship. Red Dust is sublime. A song that should have got radio airplay with its soft, acoustic verses and crashing chorus. An impassioned vocal performance from Peter and some great bass lines and keyboard flourishes complimenting the usual guitar brilliance of Mr Holmes. You Never will is another shorter track, more keyboard led than guitar, it still rattles along with a solid bass line and a great drum part. Theres also a trademark Holmes guitar solo. Born Brilliant is a wonderfully obtuse piece. A regimented pulsing opening with nicholls lyric of self negativity. It builds to a wonderful melody before the final musical passage and more Holmes magic.

IQ leave the best till last. Harvest of Souls is amongst the finest pieces of Neo-Prog ever written. Long and complex with several movements and some dazzling musicianship. A fine lyric and vocal performance from peter nicholls tops this off.

This is IQs' best album to date (yes better than the wake). It stands as the best Neo-Prog album this century and is fully deserving of the big 5 stars

Report this review (#348487)
Posted Thursday, December 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars At last!!!! i can understand this album, my first vacation time since six years have helped i think, but i think that a personal state of mind back in 2004 overshadowed my full appreciation of this great album, on the other hand I was Highly reluctant to hear "The Harvest of Souls" because of the usage of the word "America" to make reference to the country of the United States. I live in South America, wich is named, not because it is at the south of the United States, the name is because is the southern part of America. Now, leaving behind all my regrets, i can enjoy freely this masterpiece of progrock, Harvest of Souls has some moments that reminds me of "The Last Human Gateway" the jewel of the "Tales of the Lush Attic" album, the last song was heavily inspired in on The Gates of Delirium by Yes. I really like the way that Michael Holmes (in his producer category) makes reference to the mantric rythym (Mantric Rythms are a trade mark of I.Q.!!!!!!) of "Born Brilliant" at the penultimate section fo Harvest of Souls, that is really great, great!!. "Sacred Sound" is another solid opener like "The wrong side of weird", "Frecuency" and "The Darkest Hour" last i like this album very much!!
Report this review (#439496)
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I would love to give this album five stars, I really would, because the first and last tracks are some of the best examples of modern symphonic prog I've ever heard. Sadly, the rest of the album just doesn't compare.

This is the only IQ album I'm familiar with, so I can't comment on how it compares to others. That said, compared to a lot of other modern symph-prog bands, it is stellar. The melodies are excellent, especially in the aforementioned first and last tracks. In particular, the almost 12 minute "Sacred Sound" seems to go by in no time at all, a testament to the strength of the songwriting.

Sadly, the next three songs are a bit of a let down. They're certainly not bad, but unlike some bands where the short is just as good as the long, they just can't compare. They're certainly enjoyable to listen too, but I generally find myself waiting (or, if I'm impatient, skipping) through them to get to the real centerpiece of the album, "Harvest of Souls."

Quite frankly, whenever I see a song over 20 minutes I get a little excited. Often, however, I'm disappointed. Far too many epics seem to go on simply because they can, not because they actually have anywhere to go. "Harvest of Souls," on the other hand, is simply masterful. It feels like it has direction and purpose, and, as with "Sacred Sound," the melodies are fantastic. The vocals are soaring, the instrumentals are goosebump-inducing, and the finale is, in my opinion, one of the greatest in modern progressive rock. I can hear shades of "Supper's Ready" throughout, but it never feels like a plagiarism.

Overall, a really good example of modern progressive rock, even if it is a bit unbalanced.


Report this review (#451106)
Posted Sunday, May 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Masterpiece!

Dark matter was the first IQ album I heard, and it instantly grabbed me. I wondered WHY I had never heard of them before. Neo-Prog was never my thing, I was more into the Classic Progressive bands of the late 60's and 70's. Noe-Prog is STILL not my thing, EXCEPT for this band, and Dark Matter is where it all started for me. In fact, with this album, every other IQ album fall short. This is THE IQ album. Sure, Subterranea, Seveth House and Frequency are great albums, but they just cannot compete with Dark Matter, which set the IQ standard for me.

NO weak spots here, EVERY track is brilliant, production's great, great lyrics, great vocals, great feel & mood through the entire album. This is maybe the darkest IQ ever got, but that's a GOOD thing. Nicholls voice is very expressive, sometimes sad, sometimes very dark & twisted. Very Genesis Peter Gabriel-era singing on this album, especially on "Harvest of souls", and that's also a good thing since I'm a Genesis Gabriel-era fan.

"Sacred Sound" is a great opener & classic IQ, with lots of parts & odd timesignatures. Love Nicholls vocals here. Excellent middle part were the Church-organ takes over, followed by an excellent keyboard solo.

"Red Dust Shadow" is another great song. I get a Pink Floyd-vibe from this one, especially on the chorus guitar riff, that is very much like "In the flesh"-mode. Great sad lyrics & mood through the whole song, and an outstanding Mellotron 3violin- solo a la Genesis' "Seven stones" Mellotron solo.

"You Never Will" is one of my favorites on the album. Again very dark & melacholic, with great Mellotron through the most of the song. Love the clock ticking. Great effect.

In "Born Brilliant" we find IQ in Pink Floyd-mode again. I get a "Velcome to the machine"-vibe here, and great psychedelic guitar soloing from Holmes. Love Orford's dark 8Chior Mellotron playing in the background.

And then finally "Harvest of Souls", which is the albums epic and centerpiece. Respect guys, respect. I take off my hat for this one. It is their "Suppers Ready" and "Echoes", and a stunning finale to a perfect album. Nicholls sometimes sounds excactly like Peter Gabriel in some places. I remember listening to it the first couple of times, wondering if they actually had Peter Gabriel as a guest vocalist on some of the parts. Every musician shines on this one, especially Nicholls & Orford. Great vocals & excellent Mellotron playing here.

Overall, NO weak spots, and a masterpiece of an album. Not just an essential album in Neo-Prog, but Prog in general.

Report this review (#458410)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I really am not the biggest fan of the neo-prog world, but every once in a while comes a work of a band of this sub-genre and impresses me, as is the case with "Contagion" at the Arena and "Pure" from Pendragon.

But is not the case of "Dark Matter". I really had hopes for this album, but in the end the result is somewhat disappointing.

The music is average, there is a total disgrace, I have to say, but does not impress me in the all.Only the epic final "The harvest of souls" (which tries to be a modern version of "Supper's Ready") is good, but it is irregular,unfortunately.The singer's voice sounds exhausting to me, while the keyboards are the main positive point-mellotrons excellent!

It's a shame that this album has not been so good to me.3 stars.

Report this review (#463119)
Posted Thursday, June 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Born really brilliant!!!

"Dark Matter" is one of the best IQ album along with "Ever". The style is close to Yes and, especially, Genesis. In particular, "Dark Matter" reminds "Foxtrot" in structure and in some moments even in sound.

The suite Harvest Of Soul, one of the best moments of the album, is characterized by considerable instrumental ideas and seems to be a kind of homage to "Supper's Ready", in fact the structure of these two epics is very similar (however, lyrics are very different!). Harvest Of Soul can not compete with the legendary suite of Genesis for sure, but is an inspired and convincing piece, where the band alternates, with efficacy, melodic moments to other more aggressive. You can like it or not Nicholls's voice, but I do not mind at all and, compared to the first album, I think his voice is improved a lot.

The best track of the album is, however, the opening Sacred Sound dominated by the majestic sound of the organ. The song is extraordinary with wonderful instrumental crescendo and a great support from the rhythm section. This piece would be enough to justify buying this album!

The other tracks are less memorable, but only Red Dust Shadow , mostly acoustic, is trivial. You Will Never and Born Brilliant are beautiful songs, complex although short, and worthy comprimarie of the two main pieces.

Melodic and intriguing, bombastic but also intimate, "Dark Matter" is probably the IQ best album and a great example of what neo-prog really is. Avoid it only if you do not like the neo- progressive genre.

Rating: 8/10. Four stars.

Best song: Sacred Sound

Report this review (#646669)
Posted Monday, March 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars IQ continue their incredible streak of top-quality five-star albums with Dark Matter, which would turn out to be something of a swansong for the Ever lineup, which had proved to both be IQ's most long-lasting lineup and the team who saved the band after the decidedly lukewarm albums of the Paul Menel years. The 24 minute epic Harvest of Souls, despite some Genesisisms, might be their best epic-length composition to date, whilst Sacred Sound is perhaps their most spooky and sinister song ever (and there's always been something of a dark edge to IQ's music so that's impressive). Overall, IQ are the band who just keep giving.
Report this review (#664052)
Posted Sunday, March 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars IQ - Dark matter from 2004 is no less then an excellent neo prog release and continues the tradition IQ offered since Ever album that means with no downs only highlights. To me IQ is one of the top notch neo prog bands, in my top 3 all times, they had incredible musicianship, tight arrangements and above all even they are not so prolific like other bands from prog zone they release across the years some outstanding works. Practicaly minus the two albums from late '80s the rest are all above great with no weak moments and fantastic passages. Dark matter keeps the flag high in this field with plenty of memorable passgaes, beautiful and strong vocal parts and the instrumental sections are awesome. Like we used to other IQ albums, the opening tracks are usualy killer ones, here is same Sacred Sound is a total winner to my ears, powerfullwell crafted and with excellent musicianship, a truly 12 min of pure neo prog magic. The middle of the album is ok, no bad or uninventive arrangements but doesn't get to the high of opening and lasting track. Harvest of souls ending the album in a great manner, an epic clocking around 25 min where the mellow and smooth sections are very well integrated with those more up tempo where the complex meets elegant passgaes are melted one into other in one unit. What a great and full of potential this album is, crafted and inventive. Among the best IQ albums ever, they remain one of the most important bands in neo prog zone and aswell one of the most consistent , as I said to me they are in top 3 best bands from neo filed.. 4 stars easy complex and yet melodic.
Report this review (#759484)
Posted Monday, May 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars (9/10)

It's very encouraging to see that more than 20 years after their first album, IQ are still capable of a progressive masterpieces like "Dark Matter". There are very few bands who have developed so well with time, and IQ show no sign of letting up even today. Of course, a 24 minute epic like "Harvest of Souls" was always going to catch people's attention, and drive the original hype of this album, but I think with time people have come to realise how good the other songs are too.

The album starts with the bright sounds and great dynamics of "Sacred Sound". On any other album, this would be a dominating composition, but as you may be aware there is a greater song coming up. "Sacred Sound" is an updated version of the IQ classic, and contains pretty much everything that makes IQ great in just under 12 minutes. The melodic guitar, Peter Nicholl's thoroughly assured vocals. In particular, all the different uses Martin Orford makes of his keyboard are really impressive, both in a leading and supporting capacity. He is making more use of various organ sounds than on previous albums, and making it work well.

On "Red Dust Shadow" things take a softer more melancholy turn, with mellow vocals over strummed acoustic guitar, and understated keyboard. The whole thing is basically carried by Peter Nicholl's assured vocal performance, and it's good to see a singer confident enough to be able to pull something like this off.

"You Never Will" is a song made very exciting by the combination of John Jowitt's excellent bass playing and Marting Orford's Keyboards. The bassline is even better in "Born Brilliant", the 6/8 riff from this song that it drives is revisited in the next track, and is unstoppably catchy. The sounds of this song build to a climax over the rhythms before fading away. Lyrically both songs paint negative pictures of an unnamed person, from the 3rd and then 1st person perspective (receptively), though the lyrics are kept general enough to be widely applicable, as with a lot of IQ songs.

And so we do come to the next, and final track, the epic "Harvest Of Souls", IQ's longest song to date. Structurally, the song is referencing "Supper's Ready", as others have noted, but it is also easily it's own epic. The sound is completely IQ's, this is not another case of "Grendel" by Marillion (I do like that song though). I think most people are in agreement about how great this song is. I would have to agree also, and say that it is fantastic, and probably going to be one of the leading shouted out requests at IQ gigs for the rest of the band's career. Each section is an absolute winner, with large melodies, and attractive rhythms, all tied expertly to the anti-war lyrical content (eg the guitar made gun-like noises). Each band member makes invaluable contributions, but in particular Mike Holmes shows off just what a capable and versatile guitarist he is. Along with Martin Orford and Peter Nicholls the emotional core of this song is really driven home effectively, moving through soaring melodic sections and complex heavier instrumental sections to reach its finale. You must hear this song.

So, as I said, a triumph. The band is truly unified, and the compositions themselves are fantastic, ambitious, and highly memorable. Dynamically and production-wise, this was IQ's best album at the time ("Frequency" would further push this envelope). In recent times, there have been quite a few years between IQ releases, and I would say that in this case the approach of the band taking their time to craft and perfect an album in this manner really pays off. For anyone interested in IQ, "Dark Matter" is an essential release. Do not miss out on it.

Report this review (#857727)
Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars The discovery of this website, and of all the prog activity I never knew about since my early days with Genesis/Gentle Giant/Yes/ELP, The Canterbury group and Henry Cow, has been a huge even in my life. Hitting 50 soon, and a whole new world of music that brings me back to the way music felt when I was a teenager. Thank you, truly. But, like then, when I couldn't quite "get" why certain music was popular, even here in Prog-Land, with my new compatriots, I feel strangely at odds. I began to choose new music based on the star-ratings and the kinds of adjectives people use, as well as what would tip me off as to their musical sophistication., So, here comes IQ, a band I never heard of, with some serious 4-stars-and-up ratings. Strange thing is, I responded to Dark Matter emotionally, hearing some passion, perspective, and simple, moving iconic phrases......but, with this and all other IQ albums, got bored after a maximum of twelve minutes. And then, I starting reading reviews raving about the sophistication, musicianship, and a comparison to The Lamb......and it started to hurt. I don't want to be a musical snob. I don't want to think I know more than my peers. This is music, dammit, and there are so many kinds and so many ways into the heart.....but, really? The Lamb? Some of the highest ratings of all the bands out there. So, what's my problem with IQ, as a complete newcomer to post-90's prog? FIrst, formula: As though they have three or four templates for types of chord progressions, song structure, tempo - extreme interchangeability of songs. Some of their recipes are GOOD, mind you....nothing wrong with a good, simple cookie. But, after being really happy listening most of Sacred Sound, song after song, after album after album, I heard music lego pieces being re-used again and again. I hear a solidly competent keyboardist with a feel for types of evocative but simplistic major to minor to major progressions played on limited number of synth settings; a guitarist who feels deeply while trying to find new uses for the Hackett, Howe and Cure licks and tics he practiced all those years ago; a passionate singer with an evocative but tonally and emotionally limited instrument, singing every Deeply Meaningful line as though it meant exactly the same thing as a Deeply Meaningful line in a bunch of other songs on this and other albums; a CLUNKY drummer with solid time and absolutely no groove or feel for the tone and soul of the drums (I'm a drummer, and learned from a combination of Collins/Bruford/Palmer and the jazz greats); competent no-ego bassist who does what is needed and doesn't over-reach. Basically, a shrewd and sincere group of adequate but limited musicians re-hashing the prog cliches they are capable of playing into a product that pleases fans who relate to a particular sound and vibe. This is the opposite of the Lamb, or Genesis, or Echolyn, or any of the really gifted creators of new music, of compositions that surprise and evoke emotions you didn't know you had. This is, I think, their best album, and has some memorable moments. But they are, to me, a one-trick pony, creating their trick out of moves their role models played with far greater competence and compositional variety. Not in the same musical universe as The Lamb, or Close to The Edge, or As The World, or Free Hand, or Stardust We Are. If it pleases the fans, all good....just don't call it progressive.
Report this review (#964574)
Posted Friday, May 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dark Matter is simply the best IQ album. "Sacred Sound" has some great Hammond by Widget Orford and some soaring guitar by Sherlock Holmes, underpinned by great playing from bassist John Jowls and drummer Peter Cook, topped off by that strange Gabriel/David Essex voice of Sir Douglas Nicholls. "Red Dust Shadow" is beautiful in a depressing way - And i like feeling depressed. A very heartfelt song that brings to mind being on a coach on the way to Blackpool with dark grey skies and rain beating against the coach window. "You Never Will" is a more upbeat Susan Cameron type song with more than a hint of Fatty JV too. "Born Brilliant is.......well brilliant but is somewhat spoiled by a Kimmish style of singing and some unnecessary Joker effects on Nickels voice. Apart from that it has a nice dark bony vibe and is another favourite of mine.

So to the tour de force "Harvest Of Souls" which although leans very close to "Suppers Ready" also manages to have it's own life with Nickels singing about Batmans arch enemy "The Joker being held up by rubber hooks. Mark Haymans credit is preferred in this song too. The song goes through many twists and turns, not unlike an earwig twisting and turning through and across Macy's brain and also has a lovely Bruce and Millett fence feel, as well as touching on the woes of Johnny Orzach at the hands of Matnill Moyes. The Stephen Deanish heartfelt ending is as moving as the end of "Suffers Ready" and i can pay this song no greater tribute than that. A fabulous album of great songs and ten teasing Tunisian tourists. Sadly my favourites of the band are no longer in the ranks - Keysman Widget Orford and bassist John Jowls being replaced by original bassist Tim Seesaw and keys player Neil Durand Webber.

If you only ever buy just the one IQ album, make it "Dark Matter" "Ever" "The Wake" and "Tales From The Lush Attic"

Report this review (#1034343)
Posted Friday, September 13, 2013 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #19

Can this band do much better than this? From the late news apparently so, the way the recent Road of Bones has received the highest accolades all across the board. But, there is always a but, where else can you hear this monster of an epic by the name of Harvest of Souls?

Global Appraisal

For once let's start by the end, because it's the final and longer track that deserves the highlight here: what a musical roller-coaster this HoS is, 24 plus minutes with non-stopping ups and downs, highs and lows, fasts and slows!
The album is all excellent, don't get me wrong, a true apex of the so-called Neo-Prog genre, but the epic is a case apart ' a clever long developing song that carries you on a journey of emotions, the emotions that I so dearly look for in the progressive realm: one moment you are exalted, the next deeply moved, and then again uplifted in a climax of feeling and musical explosion.

I can't resist to make a parallel with my beloved 'Gates of Delirium' (you know what I'm talking about, don't you?) in form and substance alike, not to mention equal (very HIGH) pleasurability.


The first notes immediately set the profound, prevailing somber tone which intensifies the whole emotional experience, even enhanced on repeated listens: I get back for more and indeed I keep getting more every time.

Peter Nicholls is in top form and takes the vocals to attain such a level of expressive symbiosis with the lyrics that make it really memorable and out-stand from the competition

Musicianship and production: highly professional and effective, a machine at full-speed-ahead.

Report this review (#1494481)
Posted Monday, November 30, 2015 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars IQ's "Dark Matter" is a 2004 release of Neo Prog infamy. There are only 5 tracks but the last is a 24 minute epic with 6 sections in the best traditional sense of finishing an album with a complex multi movement suite. After hearing IQ masterpieces "Ever", "Frequency" and "The Road of Bones" I knew I would return to IQ's back catalogue eventually. The revolving door of keyboardist personnel would occur following this release as it is Martin Orford's final time with the band. So here we go with perhaps the darkest IQ album.

Sacred Sound opens with melancholy atmospheres, with gentle keyboards and the crystal tones of Peter Nicholl's vocals. It builds with a strong rhythm section and moves into some great instrumental passages. Red Dust Shadow is a very tranquil song with some ethereal keyboards and a heartfelt vocal about the loneliness we feel inside and how to cope in this broken state. Again it builds into a rhythmic tempo and the organic sound has some beautiful atmospheres with an emotional resonance.

This segues into a ticking clock to signal the emergence of the next track, You Never Will. This is driven by a Hammond sound and Nicholl's powerhouse vocals "as the shadows fall on All Hallows Eve", and we "spin the tangled web" on those we deceive, and the hope that "you will come but you never will". The themes of emptiness and despair over unrequited love is recurring on the album. This song has a more accessible feel with an infectious melody and is more akin to a ballad.

Born Brilliant transitions fluidly to a darker atmosphere, with choral keys like an angel chorus, and Nicholls has a phased out vocal about nothing turning out the way he planned, including New Years Resolutions. He sings of cataloguing all his failures, and pure intentions are discarded and he feels abandoned, inarticulate and lost. Mike Holmes shines with a lead guitar break that has some soaring string bends and gives the track a melancholy edge.

Harvest of Souls (24:29) is a massive epic opening with i. First Of The Last, acoustically driven with Nicholls emotional delivery. This segues to ii. The Wrong Host, where the tempo gets stronger, then iii. Nocturne, iv. Frame And Form, v. Mortal Procession and finally vi. Ghosts Of Days. Within this epic there are many time sig changes and mood shifts including, marching drums of Paul Cook, so also plays some blast beats in one section. John Jowitt's bass lines are always present powering the music along. The themes of coping and gaining the will to carry on, forging ahead despite the lonely despair one may feel are prevalent in the lyrics. The protagonist has been betrayed and is hoping to restore the relationship but she is gone. The music reflects this emotional framework, with some very dark keyboard swells and walls crashing down.

Overall this is a solid Neo Prog album with a few moments that are innovative and masterfully executed. The darker lyrics do not resonate with me as much as the material on subsequent releases but this is nevertheless a strong album with some excellent musicianship.

Report this review (#1825353)
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2017 | Review Permalink

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