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IQ

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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IQ biography
Founded in Southampton, England in 1981

⭐ Collaborators Top Prog Album of 2019 ⭐

What's the difference between a band and a cult band? A charismatic frontman, able to seduce the audience with a single look? A mastermind, conducting his fellow geniuses to sheer excellence? A dedicated and addicted following lasting three decades? An outstanding live concept combining stage charisma, true emotions and self-ironic humor?

Take it all, add a catalogue in which every new entry is described as "the latest masterpiece" and you get IQ.

Rising from the ashes of THE LENS in 1981, the original line up of Peter NICHOLLS, Michael HOLMES, Martin ORFORD, Paul COOK and Tim ESAU formed a band achieving the impossible - the combination of such diverse styles as prog, punk, jazz and even reggae. Their first cassette album, later re-released on GEP as "SEVEN STORIES INTO 98", is still an outstanding example of that.

Both their first vinyl albums "TALES FROM THE LUSH ATTIC" and "THE WAKE" gained instant classic status in the "new wave of British progressive rock". Soon the band became a regular in London's world famous Marquee club, performed more than 200 gigs each year in the UK (as seen in the "LIVE FROM LONDON" video from 1985), and quickly attained a strong and loyal following.

After signing to POLYGRAM in 1987 with new singer Paul MENEL, they released "NOMZAMO" featuring the single "PROMISES" which made it high in the Dutch charts. European tours and the album "ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY?" followed, but MENEL and bass player Tim ESAU left the band shortly after in 1989.

What could have been the end was in fact just another beginning. NICHOLLS rejoined and was welcomed back enthusiastically at concerts in London and Paris. At the same time GEP was founded by musicians and associates of IQ with the rarities album "J'AI POLLETTE D'ARNU" becoming the label's debut release.

In 1993 IQ's new album "EVER" thrilled fans old and new with a modern and yet traditional interpretation of progressive rock. With new bassist John JOWITT (ex-ARK) the band embarked on a storming tour of the UK and mainland Europe, and played acclaimed festival appearances in the USA and South America. The tour was captured on film at the celebrated "F...
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IQ discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

IQ top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.82 | 553 ratings
Tales from the Lush Attic
1983
3.80 | 660 ratings
The Wake
1985
2.82 | 387 ratings
Nomzamo
1987
2.78 | 351 ratings
Are You Sitting Comfortably ?
1989
4.07 | 753 ratings
Ever
1993
4.01 | 750 ratings
Subterranea
1997
3.40 | 189 ratings
Seven Stories into 98
1998
4.00 | 746 ratings
The Seventh House
2000
4.06 | 1015 ratings
Dark Matter
2004
4.11 | 1004 ratings
Frequency
2009
4.25 | 1386 ratings
The Road of Bones
2014
4.17 | 514 ratings
Resistance
2019

IQ Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.09 | 96 ratings
Living Proof
1986
3.91 | 111 ratings
Forever Live
1996
4.18 | 22 ratings
Subterranea Tour Live Germany
1999
4.10 | 20 ratings
Head Long to Argentina
1999
4.10 | 20 ratings
La Maroquinerie, Paris 18 Nov. 2000
2000
4.29 | 95 ratings
Subterranea: The Concert
2000
4.46 | 41 ratings
The Archive Collection - IQ20
2002
4.54 | 77 ratings
The Wake - Live At De Boerderij, Zoetermeer
2010
4.50 | 6 ratings
De Boerderij Zoetermeer Holland 23 October 2011
2012
4.65 | 57 ratings
Live On The Road Of Bones
2015
4.81 | 17 ratings
A Show of Resistance
2020
4.92 | 17 ratings
IQ40: Forty Years of Prog Nonsense
2023
5.00 | 1 ratings
Subterranea Live At De Boerderij
2023

IQ Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.35 | 75 ratings
Subterranea - The Concert
2000
4.42 | 67 ratings
IQ20 - The Twentieth Anniversary Show
2004
3.79 | 37 ratings
Live From London
2005
4.42 | 129 ratings
Stage
2006
3.93 | 38 ratings
Forever Live
2007
4.47 | 40 ratings
Scrape Across the Sky
2017

IQ Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.31 | 71 ratings
J'ai Pollette d'Arnu
1991
4.66 | 36 ratings
For Ever Live
1996
3.44 | 80 ratings
The Lost Attic - A Collection Of Rarities (1983-1999)
1999
4.38 | 59 ratings
The Wake 2010 Remaster
2010
3.06 | 18 ratings
Re:Mixed
2011
4.62 | 106 ratings
Tales from the Lush Attic 2013 Remix
2013
4.73 | 43 ratings
Ever - 2018 Remix - 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition
2018
4.67 | 6 ratings
The Archive Collection 2003-2017
2021

IQ Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.20 | 5 ratings
Fascination
1982
3.80 | 5 ratings
Awake And Nervous
1983
2.85 | 13 ratings
Barbell Is In
1984
4.14 | 7 ratings
The Legendary IQ Free Record
1984
2.80 | 5 ratings
Corners
1985
2.72 | 40 ratings
Nine in a Pond Is Here
1985
3.20 | 5 ratings
Nomzamo
1986
3.33 | 6 ratings
Intelligence Quotient
1986
2.87 | 6 ratings
Promises (As The Years Go By)
1987
3.25 | 4 ratings
Here There And Everywhere
1987
3.00 | 4 ratings
No Love Lost
1987
3.22 | 9 ratings
Passing Strangers
1987
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Big Balls Of Bert Christ
1989
2.00 | 2 ratings
One More Boxer
1989
3.27 | 11 ratings
Sold On You
1989
3.00 | 3 ratings
Drive On
1989
2.00 | 2 ratings
Bulba Neeny Noo
1992
4.00 | 7 ratings
The Darkest Hour
1993
3.67 | 32 ratings
Frequency Tour
2008
4.08 | 31 ratings
Tales from a Dark Christmas
2017

IQ Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 IQ40: Forty Years of Prog Nonsense by IQ album cover Live, 2023
4.92 | 17 ratings

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IQ40: Forty Years of Prog Nonsense
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars On 16th September 2022 IQ stepped onstage in Barcelona and performed the concert we now have here, celebrating 40 years as a progressive rock act. That it was a year overdue was caused by the pandemic of course, but that it was a special night was never in doubt. Mike Holmes has been the only constant throughout the band's career, but Paul Cook, Peter Nicholls and Tim Esau were all there at the beginning as well, it is just that they all had some time off for good behaviour. The line-up is, of course, completed by Neil Durant, who has now been there for more than a decade, and it is strange to think that at one time he was an avid fan of the band he now plays in (as with Mike Varty in Credo, one of Neil's key roles is reducing the average age of the band).

I first saw IQ when they supported Magnum some time a million years ago, and unless one was heavily involved in the prog scene back in 1993 it is hard to understand just how huge 'Ever' was when it was released, heralding the return of IQ with Peter Nicholls back in the fold alongside Mike, Paul, Martin and new bassist, ex-Ark stalwart John Jowitt. That album kicked off with "The Darkest Hour", showing that IQ were back to lay claim to the prog throne as they belted into one of their heaviest numbers, and after an intro that is the first song on this set, sounding just as powerful and dramatic as it did nearly 30 years earlier. This is then followed by "It All Stops Here", taken from the 'Seven Stories Into Eight' demo before we move into the latest album.

That they can do this so seamlessly displays the depth of material available to them, and it must have been a nightmare to devise a setlist which covers their career but ensures they do not miss out on the latest albums of 'Resistance' and 'The Road of Bones'. I was not the biggest fan of the album prior to those, 'Frequency', but given I have awarded every other album of theirs the highest marks possible it is fair to say they have had an amazing career so far, and even with a running time of 135 minutes there are still many classics missing from this set. Anyone who has been a fan for any length of time will always complain something should have been included, but given the delights on offer, combined with stunning performances throughout, any comments like that are quite churlish indeed.

Highlights? Oh yes, way too many to mention. The band sound as tight as one who have been playing together for many years yet are still fresh and vibrant ? this is not a group of hacks who are only in it for the money, they are exciting and powerful. Listen to "No Love Lost", where Peter makes the song very much his own, even though it was originally sung by Paul Menel, and Neil has somehow managed to totally capture the original synth sounds while Cookie is still rolling around the kit, Tim provides additional bass runs, and Mike is the perfect foil, rocking hard at some points and keeping it tight at others.

I would have to check the racks to see how many live IQ albums I have, but it is a few. The one I generally play most often is 2000's 'Subterranea: The Concert', as that always struck me as very special indeed, but there is something about this mix of old classics and new which really captures the essence of IQ and is indispensable to both fans of the band and those who may be wondering just what is the fuss all about? IQ ? 40 years young, and still leading the way.

 Resistance by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.17 | 514 ratings

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Resistance
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. I just can't give that fifth star despite wanting to. I want to because I like how they have changed things up on this album. It reminds me of when "Dark Matter" came out with that heavier sound, well this one just sounds different because of the new keyboardist Neil Durant who joined the band on the previous effort "The Road Of Bones". We get the same lineup as the previous recording in fact.

There's more space on this album, more atmosphere. My first spin through that second disc had me consciously saying I've never heard so much organ on an IQ album. Peter Nicholls sounds better than ever if that is possible. If you don't like Peter's vocals you probably don't like this band because he dominates each album as he does here.

Great album cover, that gate fold opens up looking apocalyptic then opening the package we get cold and ice as everything is blue and white. Contrasts right? Both apocalyptic but different. We get plenty of contrasts on here. Album of the year on here for 2019? A Neo Prog album? Says something right there because that was a first for this site. I like how balanced this record is although more heaviness would have been appreciated as they do seem to meander a lot in those spacey moments. Again I'm okay with this I'm just excited at how good this one is and how slightly different it is as well.

We get three massive tracks with the 15 1/2 minute closer "For Another Lifetime" on disc one plus the 22 minute opener "The Great Spirit Way" on disc two along with the 20 minute closer "Fallout". "The Missile" and "Rise" the first two songs off disc one start the recording off perfectly in my opinion, that nice heavy crunch plus some emotion is what this band is all about.

Without question a top five album for me for 2019 and really the only other Neo band that comes close right now in the '20's is PENDRAGON.

 The Road of Bones by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.25 | 1386 ratings

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The Road of Bones
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N 684

Few things could be as exciting to a prog rock fan, including myself, than a new IQ album, especially considering they take some time to releasing them. They're one of the few remaining prog rock acts to have truly grown and improved with each release, or at least, their last releases hit a peak of quality very close but hard to outdo of their albums "Ever", "The Seventh House", "Subterranea" and "Dark Matter". They're all great examples of the best prog, expertly mingling heartfelt emotion with a complex but eminently melodic musical sensibility. IQ is my favourite British prog band today.

Since their beginnings in the 80's they've been dubbed neo-prog for their borrowing of the prevalent symphonic and emotional tendencies of some 70's bands like Genesis. They play prog rock in a comfortable and atmospheric way. Their synth rich style generates an atmosphere that gravitates around spacey sounds as much as the symphonic, incorporating the two into long and extended backdrops before which the well defined rhythms proceed in due course. But, the most obvious is the vocal performance of Peter Nicholls. In terms of mood his unique style is difficult to describe, it's not quite downcast and not uplifting, but seems to find a stable and comforting temperament in-between.

Thus, after five years of waiting, the UK progressive rock legend, IQ, a band who have worked hard at keeping the "second wave of prog" from the early 80's alive now for over thirty years, returned with their eleventh studio album "The Road Of Bones", which was released in 2014. It's the first album to feature Neil Durant on keyboards and it marks the return of original members Paul Cook on drums and Tim Esau on bass, the latter appearing on an IQ album for the first time since 1989. So, the line up on "The Road Of Bones" is Peter Nicholls (lead and backing vocals), Mike Holmes (guitars), Neil Durant (keyboards), Tim Esau (bass guitars and bass pedals) and Paul Cook (drums and percussion).

There are two versions of the album, the single and the limited version. The single version has five tracks. "From The Outside In" is a great opener full of power. Opening with suitably spooky atmospheric synths, things soon get going with some solid pumping bass lines backed by synth flourishes and Peter's voice cutting through it all. There's more atmospherics to come, before a return to the pumping rhythms. This is a great sign of things to come. "The Road Of Bones" is the title track. It starts quiet and really builds to a climax. It has a new slow burner opening again with synths and piano. This is a particularly haunting track, and Peter's lyrics and vocals are astounding. The slow understated bass driven take us to an amazing tension all over the song. This is a wonderful track that showcases IQ's talent for building tension in their music. It's one of IQ's finest tracks, indeed. "Without Walls" is the first long track clocking it at nineteen minutes. It starts simple with piano and a drum machine, and again it builds and builds. There are some nice sections and some good soloing all over it. The first couple of minutes are very simple but during its nineteen minutes it morphs several times and ends up going all over the place quite brilliantly. This is actually quite common right across the album, which is what makes it so appealing. There's always something unexpected around the corner. "Ocean" is a pleasant song with a nice chorus. It's the shortest track on the album and one of the less energetic. But, there's power, warmth and intricacy that carries it along quite nicely to a satisfying conclusion. All in all, this is a pleasant track and a good breather between the two most epic tracks on the album. "Until The End" starts with a haunting theme that takes us to an intense musical journey. This is another stunner with plenty of atmospherics and an amazing performance by all band's members. It's another highlight, an unexpected way to close the album with a very refreshing ending, indeed.

I must admit that I bought the limited version and I really enjoyed the second disc as well. Some of the material is very strong, but it's quite evident why the tracks were left out of the album, as they don't seem to keep the composure throughout the duration, most of the time. Still, the material is better than most bands' best tracks. And that's saying a lot, indeed. IQ must be one of the best choosers of tracks for albums and many prog rock bands could learn something with them about trimming down albums. We don't need 80 minute albums if half of the music seems unfinished or raw.

Conclusion: It's hard to believe a band keeping getting better and more ambitious with each release after thirty years of career, but IQ does it. In every aspect, from the choice of sounds to the lyrics not forgetting the performances, this is a work of true masters. IQ has lost nothing with the personnel changes. In fact I think they're probably a tighter unit, both musically and as a band. As I said before, the sound quality is excellent and the playing is some of the best IQ has produced. "The Road Of Bones" first disk alone is a garden of melodic delights, unquestionably one of the best musical rides that we can get, but that wasn't enough for IQ. They had to throw a second disc. The second disk would have suited quite well on its own as the new album. Still, the first album is definitely the more cohesive listening experience.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Frequency by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.11 | 1004 ratings

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Frequency
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N 679

IQ has been at the forefront of prog rock music for more than forty years. Along with some other like minded British outfits, IQ picked up the torch and carried it proudly into the 80's and beyond, beginning with their cassette 'Seven Stories Into 98' of 1982 but only released in 1998. 'Frequency' is the ninth studio album of IQ and was released in 2009. A special edition with a bonus DVD, which is mine, was also released. This DVD contains the complete recordings of the live performed on 1 December 2007 at the Boerderij in Zoetermeer, in Holland, which is a nice addition to the album.

'Frequency' is the first album from the group recorded with the two new band's members, Andy Edwards on drums and Mark Westworth on keyboards. They substituted their two former band's members the drummer Paul Cook and the keyboardist Martin Orford. Both left the group at the same time. So, the line up of 'Frequency' is Peter Nicholls (lead and backing vocals), Mike Holmes (guitars and keyboards), Mark Westworth (backing vocals and keyboards), John Jowitt (backing vocals and bass) and Andy Edwards (drums and percussion).

'Frequency' has seven tracks. All songs were written by IQ and all lyrics were written by Peter Nicholls. The first track is the title track 'Frequency'. It's an excellent and very interesting track where IQ also manages to join to their usual trademark sound an extra dose of energy and heaviness. This is really a track perfectly divided into the antagonistic feelings, melody and aggression, old and new, which is clearly destined to become a classic IQ song. The second track 'Life Support' features Westworth's piano and a beautiful vocal performance by Nicholls. Some subtle orchestrations and a tiny bit of guitar conclude well the first part of the song. The second part of the song is for Holmes' guitar and Westworth's keyboards, very well supported by a delightful drumming by Edwards and a great bass line by Jowitt. The last final part of the song is a very ambient sounding piece of music. This is another great track, indeed. The third track 'Stronger Than Fiction' represents the second great epic of the album. This is a mid tempo song at the beginning with a melancholic singing and leading by Westworth. The second part of the song is more powerful and Nicholls' voice can be heard on both channels changing from left to right. The last part of the song is perfectly in the same vein of the best music that IQ could offer, carried of great keyboard sounds. The fourth track 'One Fatal Mistake' is the ballad on the album. The first part of the song is compared with the second track of the album and in the second part the music contains some musical elements of ambient music as well as the first notes from the next track 'Ryker Skies'. This is in general considered the weakest song on the album, and there is may be some truth in that, indeed. However, this is a very beautiful and lovely song and it's truly a pleasure to hear it. The fifth track 'Ryker Skies' is another lengthy track that gives once more the opportunity to each member shine. This is probably one of the most interesting tracks on the album that shows a different and modern edged side of the group. This is may be mainly due to the presence of the two new band's members. In reality, it's a very dark track with a very heavy keyboard work. This is really a great track with some incredible musical contributions by Westworth. The sixth track 'The Province' is the lengthiest track on the album. It starts with Holmes' strings soon followed by Westworth's keyboards. Again, we have good vocal performance by Nicholls especially in the acoustic first parts. The track changes to a more powerful piece of music featuring the music sounding between Genesis and Dream Theater. The powerful and rhythmic organ driven some musical moments which brings to my memory Tony Banks on 'The Return Of The Giant Hogweed' and 'The Musical Box' of Genesis. The seventh and last track 'Closer' is a very beautiful ballad and a very sensitive piece of music with a touch of pop music blended in all IQ musical moments. This is a very nice way to close this excellent and surprising album from IQ.

Conclusion: Since their landmark fifth studio album 'Ever' released in 1993, IQ have been producing great studio works that range from their most complex and consistent studio album to date 'Subterranea', released in 1997, their weaker but even excellent album 'The Seventh House', released in 2000 and their probably most brilliant album 'Dark Matter', released in 2004. So, until today, they are a perfect guarantee of a great quality work. And 'Frequency' isn't an exception. This is an outstanding offering by IQ and proves that with Westword and Edwards in the line up, the band is yet reaching their peak. 'Frequency' is a must for every IQ fan and is highly recommended to all fans of the melodic progressive rock, especially for fans of Genesis in the 70's. And, as I wrote above, if you have the luck of have a copy of the special edition, you have an extra DVD as a bonus. It features the wonderful full live gig in Zoetermeer, that includes two old tracks 'Awake And Nervous' and 'It All Stops Here', recent tracks from 'Subterranea' and 'The Seventh House' and two new tracks from 'Frequency', 'Frequency' and 'Crashed And Burned' ('Stronger Than Friction').

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Dark Matter by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.06 | 1015 ratings

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Dark Matter
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N 659

'Dark Matter' is the eighth studio album of IQ and that was released in 2004. How many bands can manage to maintain a consistent quality over all their albums and all over the years? There are very few bands really. Unfortunately, the list is, undoubtedly very small, indeed. But one of those bands that securely fit the bill is the English progressive band, IQ.

The line up on 'Dark Matter' is the same of their last three studio albums 'Ever', 'Subterranea' and 'The Seventh House'. So, the line up here is Peter Nicholls (lead and backing vocals), Mike Holmes (guitars), Martin Orford (backing vocals and keyboards), John Jowitt (backing vocals and bass) and Paul Cook (drums and percussion).

'Dark Matter' has five tracks. All songs were written by IQ and all lyrics were written by Peter Nicholls. The first track 'Sacred Sound' opens the album with an IQ's classic sound. This is one of those typical IQ album's openers that immediately makes you like of this release and therefore compare it with other classic IQ's songs like 'Darkest Hour' and 'Wrong Side Of Weird'. Martin Orford is the big star on this song, creating soundscapes, mainly on church organ, and he plays it solo after solo. Most of the keyboard sounds that Orford chose for this album have a real retrospective feel that reminds us the good old 70's progressive days. By the other hand Mike Holmes plays his usual melodic guitar solos, Peter Nicholls' imaginative lyrics are sung with beautiful and often catchy melodies, and as for the rhythm section, Paul Cook's is at his best and is very well complemented by John Jowitt on bass. It's a terrific album's opener which sets the tone for the rest of the album. The second track 'Red Dust Shadow' takes the mood down with a very plaintive acoustic guitar style over a stark keyboard sound. It starts as an emotional ballad with some delightful guitar work, both acoustic and electric, and halfway the full band comes in and turns into a massive progressive rock song with dark guitars and menacing organ. It's a song that sounds to me as a reminiscent of some of the more reflective musical pieces on 'Ever'. This is probably one of the most emotional music pieces in all IQ's musical repertoire. The third track 'You Never Will' is a song that begins with a clicking clock that provides the percussive introduction to the song. But, suddenly, it's soon drowned out by John Jowitt's crisp bass riff that recurs throughout the song. Some energetic drumming by Paul Cook leads into a quieter keyboard musical section, the lull before the storm, as the ticking clock reappears, and its stopping signalling the unleashed of an explosive maelstrom of guitar and keyboards. The fourth track 'Born Brilliant' is one of the most interesting tracks on the album because it shows a certain little venture into their music. It starts with a dark keyboard and bass rhythms that reminds us in a certain way 'Welcome To The Machine' of Pink Floyd. Peter Nicholls recites the lyrics in a monotonous way, with a distorted voice and the bass line, consisting of the characteristic IQ sound, driving the song forward to the climax of roaring guitar and effects. The song ends with a sound clip from the mood landing. This is, in reality, a splendid song with great lyrics that takes IQ in a new and interesting musical direction. The fifth and last track of the album 'Harvest Of Souls' is divided into six parts 'First Of The Last', 'The Wrong Host', 'Nocturne', 'Frame Of Form', 'Mortal Procession' and 'Ghosts Of Days'. No matter what the rest of the album contains, but there's no doubt that the major focus would fall on this last track. With almost twenty five minutes long, it's the longest track IQ has ever recorded and represents, without any doubt, the best and the great epic on the album. Furthermore, what really strikes me more with this song is that the so called British neo-prog bands that emerged in the mid of the 80's, all seemed to be heavily influenced by Genesis, but this is probably that IQ really sounds more like that 70's giant band. It's an epic, separated by several musical sections with a terrific musical composition where there is literally never a dull moment. 'Dark Matter' is progressive rock music at their best, indeed.

Conclusion: With 'Dark Matter' IQ produced another fine and classic album, another masterpiece. Everything on it, is of the highest quality, the writing, playing, production, art work and lay out defy the limited budgets that are available to the band. They have even encased the album in a slipcase that shows off the rather disturbing artwork to a full effect. Who usually read my reviews on Progarchives knows that I wasn't particularly impressed with IQ previous studio effort 'The Seventh House'. But, with 'Dark Matter', fortunately for them and particularly for me, IQ went back to their roots and created a truly masterpiece and one of the best works produced in the beginning of this new century. Recognition is probably the best word to describe this great album, because, all the things on this album sounds mostly like IQ. By going for the typical IQ sound and not worrying about trying to be too much innovative, the group have created a very accessible and instantly likeable progressive album. Concluding, with 'Dark Matter' IQ created one of their best and finest studio albums. With 'Subterranea' and 'Dark Matter', IQ produced two of the best progressive rock albums ever.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 The Seventh House by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.00 | 746 ratings

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The Seventh House
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N 639

"The Seventh House" is the seventh studio album of IQ that was released in 2000. Somehow, I must confess that I was taken by surprise that IQ came up with a successor to "Subterranea" so quickly. It's not so long ago when the live version of "Subterranea" was released. And we know that IQ isn't particularly one of the most prolific bands, really. But they did that. "The Seventh House" is probably more aggressive, less unwieldy yet just as melodic as "Subterranea" is.

The line up is the same of "Ever" and "Subterranea". So we have Peter Nicholls (lead and backing vocals), Mike Holmes (guitars, guitar synthesizer and keyboards), Martin Orford (backing vocals and keyboards), John Jowitt (backing vocals and bass) and Paul Cook (drums and percussion). The album had also the participation of Tony Wright (saxophone).

"The Seventh House" has six tracks. All songs were written by IQ and all lyrics were written by Peter Nicholls. The first track "The Wrong Side Of Weird" is a great intro to the album. It starts with some nice keyboard sounds, a gently guitar slowly enters, and then, the melody line kicks in, and suddenly, the vocals begin with the characteristic and unique voice of Peter Nicholls. This is a track with some lovely instrumental parts that combines and contrasts perfectly well with the heavier parts in a very nice way. The track is a typical IQ track and represents the second lengthiest track on the album. The final result is an excellent and very recognisable IQ track. The second track "Erosion" is the shortest track on the album. Lyrically it picks up where "The Wrong Side Of Weird" ended, with the question "Where do I start?". This is a very efficient and a very strong track. It opens with synthesizers and vocals, but soon a guitar and a bass riff comes in and suddenly the bombastic middle section of the song explodes with the vocals turning from despair to anger. The song features a very dramatic melody, sung in a brilliant way by Nicholls, in both parts of the song, in the bombastic and the calmer parts of the song. This is unquestionably one of the best tracks on the album that became as one of the favourite songs of their fans. The third track "The Seventh House" is the title track song and represents the lengthiest track on the album. It starts slowly in a very typical IQ manner with a gentle combination of guitar and vocal works. The middle part of the song is introduced by a great instrumental part, with great riffs and great breaks. This is, in my humble opinion, one of the most complex songs ever made by the band. For instance, the second half features a musical section where the rhythm section is playing in a completely different time signature than vocals and keyboards. This is, without any doubt, the greatest highlight on the album. The fourth track "Zero Hour" is a more straightforward song, but nevertheless it also appeals to me. The combination of the nice melody, Peter's gentle vocal work, the simple but warm bass line, Tony's saxophone solo and the acoustic and electric guitar solos offer enough elements to make of this a very nice and enjoyable track. However, I find this one of the two less interesting tracks on the album. The fifth track "Shooting Angels" is, for me, the other less interesting track on the album, despite being also a very nice track for me. It's a track that starts with a gentle guitar opening and where the lyrics have some good lines and the saxophone sounds very nice. However and unfortunately that isn't enough to save the track of being the weakest of all the tracks on the album. Sincerely, I think that it's a shame, but it hasn't quality enough for the usual IQ standards. The sixth and last track "Guiding Light" represents fortunately another IQ classic track. It finishes the album in a great way. A quiet piano vocal part opens the song with a very lovely melody before the heavy and middle section of the song explodes in a bombastic way with dark riffs and breaks that reminds me other more heavy bands like Rush and Dream Theater. After the return of a guitar theme from "The Seventh House" the song parts into a great final, including bass pedals and a nice guitar solo. This is, without any doubt, a great song that represents an excellent way to close this great album.

Conclusion: "The Seventh House" is a great album that remains as one of their best works that must be appreciated by all IQ fans. Still, it has its weaknesses, the two songs that I mentioned before, "Zero Hour" and especially "Shooting Angels". By the other hand, its sound seems to be as if it was chronological between "Ever" and "Subterranea", and no after the latter one, indeed. So, and despite all I said before, I really love the album and this is for me one of the best IQ albums. Still, it can't be considered by any meaning an innovative album in any sense, but a step back into their music, in a certain way. So, I wouldn't recommend "The Seventh House" as a starting point to anyone that isn't familiar with the music of this great progressive band. Sincerely I think that we are in presence of an album a bit unbalanced to be another classic album o IQ. IQ has made better studio albums and live albums. For instance "Ever" can be considered a better album because is more balanced. In my humble opinion, a beginner must start by some of their best studio albums, for instance, "Subterranea" or "Dark Matter", which are, for me, two of the best progressive albums ever made.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Ever - 2018 Remix - 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition by IQ album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2018
4.73 | 43 ratings

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Ever - 2018 Remix - 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by alainPP

4 stars IQ, JADIS, ASIA, BIG BIG TRAIN, ARK, ARENA and others, here are the few groups that speak to you and in which IQ members have also worked. IQ is one of the neo-prog dino bands that could have exploded even more than MARILLION if..... but hey, we won't repeat the past; good IQ it's prog because it's melodic, with a drawer, it's worked compositions that take you to the Charisma Label space, that of Lewis, of the rabbit, of the man in the hat. So if I put it in OMNI it's because it cleared the way for the next mega 'Subterranea', cult album more than UFO in fact, you follow me ok ... it's normal and the reason for this 'tip'.

1.' The Darkest Hour' begins quickly on synths to show the paw of the group; Martin indicates that he listened a lot and adored GENESIS, its freshness with ambient sounds of APSARAS; in short, Peter, whom many have decried, arrives with his progressive voice, he returns for the greatest pleasure after the Menuel getaway; the break is provided, complex, it reminds you that it took you time to integrate and ingest it, Mike's solo just what you need; brief delicate nugget. 2.' Fading Senses' in 2 parts, the syrupy melody and the prog incursion as one dreams of it, drum roll, gripping bass then the incisive guitar; the arrival of the nervous keyboard, the choirs, remember, it doesn't stop, the synth-guitar fusion, the oriental getaway in the background, a candy. 3. 'Out of Nowhere' connects, another progressive sign, the drums-synth on an obvious title of GENESIS, we are well inside. This heavy riff that made me prick up my ears 'at the time' in prog in the text, a proto-fusion prog metal before its time, don't forget it at the time when the progs snubbed the hard; that's said. The air on an 'Abacab' which goes to the countries that we all have in mind and that we hide from others. Small paradox in the progueux who thinks he has the best discography and who can't stand that the other next door speaks better about the group he venerates, in short. Genesis finale. 4. 'Further Away' for the big track that opens the B side for those who stayed on vinyl, it will allow them to put this LP on the turntable with a joint of CBD like in 'The Sons of Man'; consensual title for me, yes! Maybe because I'm always waiting for this obvious break that comes halfway through, diabolical with these explosions and this Wallian organ, with this Andalusian arpeggio, with Peter and his bucolic voice to the point that one would say a hit in another album; well I won't say more about this title, everything is sensitive, subjective, dreamlike and purely personal; and then I don't want some people to take my prog dreams and incorporate them, no but; only the final too long and redundant. Pearl for those who did not understand. 5. 'Leap of Faith' title in which I find the most sound of Gabriel, look at the clip it looks like his eyes inside. Well, I'm waiting for Mike's solo and I'm diving back into the sound of GENESIS 'Selling', anyone following me? Ok it's pure IQ too, good the guitar does its job accompanied by other instruments without showing off too much and Peter knows how to leave his place 6. 'Came Down' goes on, again not to let the breath fall, yes a little lame but isn't the goal to make you think about why and how this album is good? Title that comes in happy ending, a goodbye we had a good time together, like on the end of 'Wind and Wuthering'... remember.

IQ has signed an important album, pushing its limits to compose rare, beautiful, good, divine neo-prog, that's said. If there were to be only one, take this one, it smells like IQ, firm at the edges and creamy in the middle, yes that's also the zik prog, you can taste it. (4 at 4.5 for the original album).

 Subterranea by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.01 | 750 ratings

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Subterranea
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N 623

"Subterranea" is the sixth studio album of IQ that was released in 1997. "Subterranea" is a conceptual album with nineteen tracks. As a double album, it's notoriously the difficulty to pull off but the concept and the songs never reduce the work to mere ramblings. The music on "Subterranea" was written by IQ and the lyrics were written by Nicholls.

The line up on "Subterranea" is Peter Nicholls (lead and backing vocals), Mike Holmes (guitars), Martin Orford (backing vocals, flute and keyboards), John Jowitt (backing vocals and bass) and Paul Cook (drums and percussion). "Subterranea" had also the participation of Tony Wright (saxophone) as a guest musician.

In the end of 1994 the band started playing some new compositions to the audiences in their live shows. In November 1996 the band announced that the release of their new album would be in September 1997 and that the band had decided to make a double conceptual album with theatrical stage show with a full length performance of the album. So, the band worked hard at the different parts of the whole concept, the music, the lyrics, the sleeve and the stage. In June 1997 the recording sessions for the new album began. On August the finishing touches were put on the mixing process to be finally released. The album features photographic artwork and pictures that illustrate the concept of the album.

The concept of "Subterranea" is focused about a man who's been the subject of an experiment. He's been held captive throughout his whole life not having contact with the outside world, till he's let loose in the outside world. He has to digest all these new things. He gets involved with a religious cult, but he refuses to be converted. One day, he meets a girl and fall in love with her. He has a romance with her but she is taken away from him. He became very anger. He realises that he's being watched and he's part of an experiment. He decided to know why. He realises that he's not the only victim of the experiment. The victims decide to band together and take revenge. In a confrontation, he meets the responsible for the experiment. In the end, he resigns himself to going back into the same isolation where he started.

"Subterranea" is supposed to be the major work of IQ. And all means have been used to achieve that. IQ offers us more than an hour and a half of music on a double CD. To embarking on the writing of a conceptual album is a necessary passage for any self-respecting prog band but it's a huge risk too. However, they completely won the challenge. With such duration, the music of "Subterranea" is incredibly rich with a great atmosphere. As we know, IQ is a band that knows how to transcribe emotions very well. The music is rooted in IQ's neo-prog past with rather simple songs, driven by Martin Orford's keyboards and Peter Nicholls' theatrical and emotion-packed vocals, dressed in the progressive rock grandeur and with very strong melodies. This intense use of keyboards immediately leads them to be labelled neo-progressive. Its use is pushed to the extreme with the many parts where it's doubled, the synthetic chords mixing with the piano. However, unlike many bands that sound pompous, IQ plays the card of finesse, creating an impressive work.

"Overture" and above all the subsequent "Provider" are great introductions despite the initial orchestral tuning. The usual IQ clichs are mature and very well dosed and the keyboard carpets sound new. In terms of composition, it's the smaller pieces that stand out. "King Of Fools" convinces with guitar synths, as does "The Other Side", the already mentioned "Provider" and also "Laid Low" or "High Waters". Here, the leitmotifs are usually brought out or presented, which are taken up in other pieces and chased through the instruments and voices. As a result, "Subterranea" gains a coherent structure that is appropriate for a concept work. Here and there, there are also a few adventures that IQ hadn't dared to do before, like cheeky disturbing gimmicks with major and minor in keyboard solos "Failsafe", over-the-top vibrato effects, "Subterranea" and "Breathtaker", and the pitch delay as a harmony instrument on "The Other Side". And then there's "The Narrow Margin", the only long track on the album. Here we have individual parts that are brought together into a harmonious whole by many leitmotif connections, especially against the background of the album.

Conclusion: "Subterranea" is an amazing album. This conceptual album is so strong that practically eclipsed all the previous studio albums of the group. It was also easily compared with "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" of Genesis. I think there is something of it here, despite the concept be more cryptic and obscure and the music be rooted in the neo-prog style. This is generally an underrated work of them. Despite the clearly differences, it reminds me "Tales From Topographic Oceans" of Yes. Both are two very misunderstood albums by many prog fans. I never hesitated in giving the highest rating to that album and I have no problems in doing the same with this one too. For me, it's the best studio album of the band, so far, and one of the best albums ever. "Subterranea" is IQ's biggest musical accomplishment and will get under the skin of any prog fan. Definitely, I think this is certainly one of the best progressive albums of the 90's.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Ever by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.07 | 753 ratings

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Ever
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N 607

"Ever" is the fifth studio album of IQ and that was released in 1993. It features the return of their former vocalist Peter Nicholls to the line up of the group. After the release of the two first studio albums "Tales From The Lush Attic" in 1983 and "The Wake" in 1985, Peter Nicholls left the band. He was substituted by Paul Menel that participated on the two next studio albums of the band "Nomzamo" in 1987 and "Are You Sitting Comfortably?" in 1989. "Ever" was also their first album with the participation of John Jowitt as their new bass player, who substituted their former bassist Tim Essau. So, it was interesting to see how the musical direction of the band was after the last two disappointing albums.

So, the line up on the album is Peter Nicholls (lead and backing vocals), Mike Holmes (guitars), Martin Orford (backing vocals, flute and keyboards), John Jowitt (backing vocals and bass guitar) and Paul Cook (drums and percussion).

"Ever" has six tracks. All songs were written by IQ and all lyrics were written by Peter Nicholls. The first track "The Darkest Hour" is a song that starts with nice guitar and keyboard works. It's a song settled into a steady paced rhythm and with a very pleasant and catchy melody. The melody is peaceful, alternating with mysterious and calm passages. All over the song there are some nice musical textures that change throughout the song. It's a very dark and moody song with catchy lyrics. This is, without any doubt, a great song with all the ingredients that all IQ fans love, including some reminiscences of Genesis. This is a great track to open the album. The second track "Fading Senses" is divided into two parts, "After All" and "Fading Senses". This is a very simple and beautiful song where the voice of Peter sounds a little bit sad as if he was alone. In my humble opinion, this is also a song with a slight touch of irony. This is basically a song divided into two different moments. In the beginning, it's a mellow song dominated by keyboards and vocals but after, about three minutes, it change its mood with heavy guitars and pounding drums taking count of it with the sound of the synthesizers coming and going. The third track "Out Of Nowhere" brings the music back into another upbeat tempo and high energy combining the work of keyboards, bass and drums nicely. It's a very strong and heavier song, a more rock oriented number, with nice guitar riffs played under Nicholls vocals. This is a song, without any doubt, with a more straight forward commercial sound. However, and despite is my less favourite track on the album, I still like this song with its melodic upbeat style and the unmistakable voice of Peter. Besides, I think that it works very well on the album. The fourth track "Further Away" represents the second great epic on the album with "The Darkest Hour". This is a real masterpiece of the band. It's a very powerful track in terms of musical composition with multi-part musical structures and many tempo changes. The first three minutes are very melodic with some very harmonious sounds, but at the end of it the music changes to a heavier mode with a powerful soft guitar work and a very dynamic bass line. The track progresses with a more complex musical structure and an incredible sonic quality. The track ends with another mellow part and with a great keyboard work. The fifth track "Leap Of Faith" is a very beautiful track with musical passages of tranquillity leading by a magnificent synthesizer and guitar works. This is a very melodic track that reminds me strongly Genesis in the era of Steve Hackett, especially "Afterglow" of "Wind And Wuthering". It's a track with all the ingredients of truly a classic progressive track and it explains way IQ is considered, probably, the band of all neo-prog bands that carries better the spirit of the symphonic classic era, especially the spirit of Genesis' music. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album. The sixth and last track "Came Down" is a very calm and peaceful track that closes the album magnificently. We even can say that "Leap Of Faith" and "Came Down" are somehow melded together to make up another long and great track. Some of the best Peter's vocals are on these two tracks. These are, in reality, two great songs. We also can say that on these two tracks there is a grandeur that hasn't been so sincerely heard before and felt since Hackett left Genesis. It's, without any doubt, the perfect way to close this magnificent album.

Conclusion: Finally, I started reviewing albums of IQ. For unknown reasons, that surprised even me. Only now after hundreds reviews that I wrote to Progarchives, I began to review one of my favourite bands. Anyway, as we usually say, it's better late than never. By the other hand, I decided to begin with "Ever" because I think "Ever" is a landmark in IQ discography. It became as a turning point into their music. It's one of their best musical works and it begins also the base of their best line up, for me. If you love symphonic progressive rock music with a catchy melody and a moderate complexity in musical composition, IQ, and particularly "Ever", is a good starting point. By the other hand, if you love, like me, the classic era of the progressive rock, especially Genesis and Yes, I'm sure that you will not be disappointed with "Ever", even for a minute. So, "Ever" is a must have for everyone who loves symphonic and prog rock in general.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Dark Matter by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.06 | 1015 ratings

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Dark Matter
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars I feel that the band got into the old shape at the end of 90's with Subterranea and Seventh House and I was out of breath at the time this album was released. IQ has always been one of the more accessible neo-prog bands, not greatly original but having enough "meat" to offer to the fans.

The album starts very strongly with the dynamic and symphonic "Sacred sound" which can indeed be taken as a sacred song for IQ fans. Orford doing great job on the Hammond-like synths and muscular bass/drums kick in at the beginning. They complex rhythm is playful and matching the melody firmly. The solemn pipe organ intermezzo is another highlight followed by the typical frenzy instrumental workout with so much of a Genesis feeling (compare with "Robbery, assault and battery").

"Red dust shadow" brings a mellow ballad where the vocal really shines especially in the higher notes. The reflective guitar and keyboards are tasteful.

The third track is a bit light on prog wizardry but let me again highlight Orford Banksy synth solo (mmmm...) and the band's gift for a melody.

"Born brilliant" didn't catch my attention so much but eagerly awaiting the 24-minute long suite and it is full of candies be it guitar/keyboard soloing, changes in the rhythm or compositionally diverse sections. All ingredients you would expect from a decent IQ suite. One common complaint I have about their dynamic instrumental parts is that they could last for longer before the singer returns to the microphone.

This is a great album of a band at full strength.

Thanks to kev rowland for the artist addition. and to projeKct for the last updates

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