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IQ

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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IQ biography
Founded in Southampton, England in 1981

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 'FOREVER LIVE' show in Kleve and was released in a special box set featuring video, double CD and large booklet.

In 1997, IQ released 'SUBTERRENEA', a ...
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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)

3.81 | 522 ratings
Tales from the Lush Attic
1983
3.80 | 619 ratings
The Wake
1985
2.84 | 363 ratings
Nomzamo
1987
2.78 | 338 ratings
Are You Sitting Comfortably ?
1989
4.05 | 710 ratings
Ever
1993
3.98 | 715 ratings
Subterranea
1997
3.38 | 174 ratings
Seven Stories into 98
1998
4.01 | 710 ratings
The Seventh House
2000
4.04 | 975 ratings
Dark Matter
2004
4.10 | 963 ratings
Frequency
2009
4.23 | 1324 ratings
The Road of Bones
2014
4.14 | 456 ratings
Resistance
2019

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

3.08 | 91 ratings
Living Proof
1986
3.90 | 104 ratings
Forever Live
1996
4.05 | 22 ratings
Subterranea Tour Live Germany
1999
4.03 | 19 ratings
Head Long to Argentina
1999
3.95 | 20 ratings
La Maroquinerie, Paris 18 Nov. 2000
2000
4.26 | 90 ratings
Subterranea: The Concert
2000
4.43 | 37 ratings
The Archive Collection - IQ20
2002
4.50 | 73 ratings
The Wake - Live At De Boerderij, Zoetermeer
2010
3.25 | 4 ratings
De Boerderij Zoetermeer Holland 23 October 2011
2012
4.58 | 51 ratings
Live On The Road Of Bones
2015
4.56 | 9 ratings
A Show of Resistance
2020

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

4.34 | 70 ratings
Subterranea - The Concert
2000
4.42 | 63 ratings
IQ20 - The Twentieth Anniversary Show
2004
3.77 | 35 ratings
Live From London
2005
4.42 | 127 ratings
Stage
2006
3.87 | 35 ratings
Forever Live
2007
4.43 | 35 ratings
Scrape Across The Sky
2017

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

3.29 | 65 ratings
J'ai Pollette d'Arnu
1991
4.65 | 34 ratings
For Ever Live
1996
3.43 | 75 ratings
The Lost Attic - A Collection Of Rarities (1983-1999)
1999
4.35 | 53 ratings
The Wake 2010 Remaster
2010
3.29 | 17 ratings
Re:Mixed
2011
4.63 | 100 ratings
Tales from the Lush Attic 2013 Remix
2013
4.88 | 29 ratings
Ever - 2018 Remix - 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition
2018

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

3.00 | 3 ratings
Fascination
1982
4.00 | 4 ratings
Awake And Nervous
1983
2.92 | 12 ratings
Barbell Is In
1984
4.17 | 6 ratings
The Legendary IQ Free Record
1984
3.20 | 5 ratings
Corners
1985
2.73 | 39 ratings
Nine in a Pond is Here
1985
3.33 | 3 ratings
Nomzamo
1986
3.20 | 5 ratings
Intelligence Quotient
1986
2.92 | 4 ratings
Promises (As The Years Go By)
1987
3.75 | 4 ratings
Here There And Everywhere
1987
3.33 | 3 ratings
No Love Lost
1987
3.29 | 7 ratings
Passing Strangers
1987
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Big Balls Of Bert Christ
1989
2.00 | 1 ratings
One More Boxer
1989
3.20 | 10 ratings
Sold On You
1989
2.00 | 1 ratings
Drive On
1989
2.00 | 2 ratings
Bulba Neeny Noo
1992
4.00 | 6 ratings
The Darkest Hour
1993
3.68 | 31 ratings
Frequency Tour
2008
4.04 | 27 ratings
Tales from a Dark Christmas
2017

IQ Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Ever by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.05 | 710 ratings

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Ever
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by ElChanclas

4 stars As a fairly new IQ band (started digging into their catalog barely mid 2020) I do have one clear thought and disclaimer: I can't picture the band without Nicholls on vocals, not that I don't think that Paul Menel (Nomzamo & Are you sitting comfortably) might be a good singer, I just think that Peter is the best suit to this band's frontman role. With that being said, Ever pinpoints the return of Nicholls on vocals and to my ears the first IQ album to register that particular sound, melody craft and song-album structure that will be the band's signature to date.

The opening track The Darkest Hour starts with that characteristic fat bass line accompanied by some keys and electric guitar nuances before fading into the song body per se, sounding more late 80's style than early 90's? maybe more Marillion-like and I point Paul Cook's drumming for bringing that feeling to this mini epic and memorable tune. There's a light but important change midways, switching from the bright melodic atmosphere to a more darker and sinister statement in accordance with the lyrical content showcasing the brilliance that these musicians accomplish in their creations, beautiful guitar licks then lead to the final 2 plus minutes where the light came back to illuminate the listener's experience, classic IQ. The very emotional Fading Senses blends in without notice in a celestial and mellow way, with Nicholls performing at a very mature level transmitting the beautiful sadness of the concept before Mike Holmes brings the iconic Horror-like guitar licks like a haunted castle conductor for the rhythmic section, so tight and to the point that it almost goes without notice, same unique melody feel that Martin's keyboards will add to the table before the ending of the song? then some backing bird tweeting prepare the listener to another rhythmic section debate for the beginning of Out of Nowhere, the rocker of the album. Holmes heavy metal-like riffing opens a new mood sounding more like their previous work opposing (without degrading) the more prog sound of the first two songs with Nichols vocals resembling the Wake era, but not for long?coincidentally or smart enough that's the shortest piece of the record. Further away brings back the epic we were craving all along in a 14 plus minutes exceptional musical crafting. Blueprint Neo Prog melodic bass and keys mark the steps on which Nichols builds his vocal entrance, then again comes the heavy (but more dense and compact) riffing from Holmes while Cook's drumming confirms why he is one of the most beloved drummers of the genre

Lyrics: "Tension seekers and public speakers defend these they have come to judge, seasonned liars and false messiahs descend to lay on the feeling touch, and I've seen too much, day by day and I don't know why...after all, don't we matter the same?", and then the classic IQ guitar licks with the fat bass lines and fantasy built keyboards?too much?too perfect?too IQ, smartest of music played by amazingly talented musicians? and next fairytale bright melodies to bring balance to the darkness

Lyrics: "I was the first in that sinister bed closing the shutters and cutting the thread, shackled and fettered I know who you are bleeding the heart and the mind as the rivers run red, somebody said, "Here is Hell" how can someone make so sinister and sad lyrics sound so beautiful?

Leap of Faith, my favorite song from the album simply feels like an upgraded continuation of the previous song, so intelligently placed in the queue to almost distract the listener who's trying to decipher when it ends or when it begins, magnificent. Martin and Holmes battle for the primary roll giving us the pleasure of hearing such an exquisite tándem, a musical legacy like no other. I would have loved to see that tour live, watch all these incredible performances on stage, flawless and pristine, like all they do. Nothing lasts forever, unfortunately?Came Down follows the greatness already described, maintaining the same mood, look and feel of the previous 40 plus minutes, this time accepting the unwanted job of ending the masterpiece?vocal harmonies, guitar licks, tight rhythmic section and tasty and elegant keys all over again. If you reading this review have never listened to this band before this is your must to go album, success guaranteed!

 Resistance by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.14 | 456 ratings

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Resistance
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by The Ace Face

5 stars IQ experienced a breakthrough on 2014's Road of Bones, as a new keyboardist and returned bassist spurred a creative period that led to a full double album of brilliantly written, tightly constructed and played prog, a new peak for them. 5 years later, they come back with another double album of material, and as much as I love Road of Bones, this manages to top that. A first disc of shorter songs that all seem to thematically connect and cohere followed by a second disc with dual epics and more shorter songs? Yes please. Let's dive in:

A Missile: This is one hell of an opener, with hard charging and super heavy riffing breaking out of the gate into a stone cold classic. The organ and synthesizer complement the heaviness perfectly, but this song breaks through when it adds the second chorus, breaking out of the darkness to epic bombast courtesy of Neil Durant's synthesizers. The usual slow breakdown section is nice and eerie, with the keyboards sounding JUST a tad too "midi", but it doesn't take away from the song. Also evident on this song, which will become a theme with this album, Paul Cook's drums are going so fast and so chaotic it feels like the whole enterprise is notes away from flying off the rails and collapsing. That it never does is testament to their tightness, but man this guy is cutting loose on this album.

Rise: ambient keyboard intros with some haunting lyrics from Nicholls in the opening, leading to the heavy yet atmospheric riffing section. The riffs keep dropping out for more of the haunting vocals, and it's so hard to describe but the overall effect of these choices creates an emotional reality for the song that grabs you and holds on. Nicholls desperate lyrics about angels dying, the age of man, create this feeling of a far off battle for the soul of the universe, which reflects the album's cosmic cover beautifully. The song builds and builds to a crashing climax, with a soft coda at the end. IQ manages to make these songs memorable without needing to break into the usual prog fireworks of solos because their composition strength has grown to the point where the band themselves are the flash, rather than the chops.

Stay Down: stunningly beautiful piano melody starts us off while Nicholls sings about time standing still, mournful and sad. Chiming acoustic guitar begins to accompany this, before picking up to double time while the classic choir mellotron accompanies. This is basically a Genesis passage, but it works and is of a piece with IQ's sound. Beautiful stuff, and the melody then gradually becomes sinister as Nicholls' voice rises higher and higher and the song takes a dark turn. The moment he cries "Damn your eyes and you stay down" is the purely masterful work of a band that knows how to craft their emotional and cathartic climaxes. The crashing guitar and drums give way to a drum roll with some lovely guitar lead work from Holmes, the first we've heard him play as soloist on the album so far. That restraint makes it all the more worth it when it comes. The urgent drums underpin Nicholls' final vocal section that drives to the final crashing climax. Just masterfully done.

Alampandria: Spacey keyboards dominate most of this sort song before a short rock section with vocals and a guitar solo end it, but that brevity belies the feel of the song, which almost feels like a continuation of Stay Down's harder climax. All strung together intentionally for maximum impact of emotional climaxes and the necessary lulls and interludes.

Shallow Bay: Nice mournful piano notes, and a good slower paced song with a great emotional sound. Mellotron backing up a nice beat and melodies from the bass and guitar. Just a perfectly written and developed song with great shifts in key and tone, followed by one of Holmes' classic soulful soaring guitar solos.

If Anything: a beautiful slower paced ballad, with a drum machine of all things, that is a beautiful pacing choice after Shallow Bay brought the first part of the first disc to an emotional high. Low keyboards, fretless bass, classical guitar all accentuate Nicholls' beautiful vocal. The early fadeout makes room for some crashing sounds, like the darkness from earlier returning, and several haunting organ chords take us into the next song.

For Another Lifetime: A carnival calliope sound gets this 15 minute epic closer off to an off kilter start. The melody goes from creepy and odd to more emotional and back again, as Nicholls' lyrics predictably seem both meaningful and meaningless at the same time, but always seem perfectly suited to the music. The band kicks in with a slow moving section, progressing the eerie melodies from before into some great lead guitar parts with synths coloring in the margins to complete the atmosphere. The bass has some great riffs and licks. Nicholls' sings in the new section before the tempo kicks up and the synth and guitar leads take the song into another gear. Another slower but much heavier section follows, with some creative riffing and dark mellotron voice parts continuing to intensify the atmosphere. This heavier section seamlessly segues, bit by bit, into a more upbeat and uplifting melody in such a brilliant series of shifts. This final section ends, classically, with beautiful guitar solos and mellotron choirs taking us up to the heavens, and a piano and vocal ending to bring a nice coda.

The Great Spirit Way: Harvest of Souls topped the Last Human Gateway, Without Walls topped Harvest of Souls, and now the Great Spirit Way tops Without Walls as the best epic IQ has done, and maybe the best song they've ever done period. Starts out usual, with spacey atmospherics and then the drums kick in with some excellent jazzy fills to build up to the stunningly vibrant first opening instrumental section, guitar soaring and drums positively hitting every beat there is to be hit and then some, before introducing the first vocal section with some unpredictable riffing and building keyboard chords that all mesh together beautifully. The drums are going so nuts underneath it seems again like the train is going to run off the tracks but the band keeps up with him, driving forward with force and beauty like they've never done before. Nicholls' beautiful lyrics complement the music nicely. The band finally slows down after charging ahead for a lovely 6/8 instrumental melody section with all instruments interplaying effortlessly. Nicholls' vocals in this section continue with the cosmic spiritual theme that seems loose but intentional. It ends after the 7 minute mark, with the keyboard theme from the opening returning to lead the band into a more intense and complicated section as Holmes' guitar takes the lead melody, and Cook's drums continue their ramshackle attempt to constantly be adding fills while still driving the band forward and brilliantly succeeding. Durant's keyboards complement Nicholls' vocals nicely as the lyrics take a more sinister tone. Durant adds a tasteful synthesizer solo that doesn't overstay its welcome and fits perfectly with everything else. Drums remain in overdrive constantly urgently champing at the bit. The driving music settles down slightly, and the piano and classical guitar duet with melodies as the drums slowly drop out, and the cavernous bass synths carry the music down to its quiet interlude section. Keyboard theme returns again, with intermittent bass and bass drum thumps to remind us the band isn't gone, they're just resting. Piano melody starts to creep in as Nicholls' voice sings us through the rest until the drums roll in to build to a new section, with synth melody taking over a la supper's ready and driving the song back up to a new peak. Following this, a glorious reprise of the opening section and beautiful 6/8 time section again, with the organ truly shining while the bass riffs wherever it wants to, just the sound of a band totally in sync with one another. The song winds down beautifully into classical guitar, a tour de force. There's a direct segue into?

Fire and Security: Weakest song on the album, but a nice creepy little song with good playing and a good guitar solo

Perfect Space: I've listened to this song many times but cannot pin it down. In 8 minutes, IQ morph this song through so many stages its impossible to classify. More of that breakneck drumming, driving this song through. Extremely excellent playing from everyone, continuing the high water mark this album is setting.

Fallout: The final song on the second disc, and the second 20 minute epic. This one is less climactic than a bit of a comedown for the album as a whole, which is a nice way to end it. Ending on the great spirit way would be a bit cliché. A spacey opening section lads to a nice vocal, and this song takes lots of unexpected turns. Lots of great guitar solos from Holmes, who has been mostly restrained throughout the album.

 The Road of Bones by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.23 | 1324 ratings

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The Road of Bones
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by The Ace Face

5 stars After releasing a string of strong albums that occasionally reach levels of brilliance, IQ finally hit their highest peak here. Original bassist Tim Esau returns after 25 years, but the big change here is another keyboardist, Neil Durant. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what changes here in IQ's overall approach, but there's definitely a heavier edge, more metal, and the songwriting is unique, distinct from song to song and unified in approach. This is their first true essential master piece, more than 30 years into their career.

From the Outside In: huge strong opener here, heavy riffing with all the instruments coalescing around the main riff to color the outside spaces with different melodies and textures, so instead of sounding like a metal song it sounds like a prog song. This new heavier style compliments Nicholls' voice very well, whose tone seems to change and sound angrier without losing its angelic quality. Neil Durant proves himself the new star of the band, using many textures and sounds through out to flesh out the band's sound to a full and robust style. A slow section with great keyboards is among their best, and the lyrics seem more strange and paranoid than ever before. Dark, but tempered. Beautiful. The closing section features keyboard and bass interplay that will come to characterize this new IQ era: creatively flourishing, shaking off the stagnancy that previously held them back. Each instrumental section sounds new rather than like an older song.

The Road of Bones: one of IQ's absolute best songs. Beautiful piano and keyboard set an incredibly spooky atmosphere, appropriate considering the title of the song. Next, Nicholls' voice enters with lyrics describing "my night's work", seemingly suggesting someone committed murder in the night time, and they grow to build out the creepy and dark atmosphere. When the band kicks in, the drums and bass find an incredibly funky groove that actually fits the atmosphere rather than distracting, and the song just BUILDs to the climax. Absolute perfection, and hauntingly beautiful and dark lyrics. Absolutely masterful full band work here.

Without Walls: A 20 minute epic, akin to Harvest of Souls, but better written and more tightly constructed. Beginning with a lovely piano theme from Durant, and a drum machine that actually fits. Very wistful and soft lyrics about losing your sense of order? Always hard to describe, but Nicholls is at his best here. Things take a minor key turn before breaking into some heavy riffing and mellotron work from Holmes and Durant. The bass yet again is almost funky, standing out in a way it hasn't before. Lyrics take a dark turn to match the music, and the organ melody helps build the pre chorus and drive the energy up. Keyboard work is especially strong, adding choir mellotron and a syncopated synth melody to keep the atmosphere changing and darkening. Then the band drops out and Durant carries the next section entirely by himself, with at least 5 different keyboard voices developing different melodies overlapping. The bass and bass drum pulse eventually help but it's really Durant here. Stunning work, seemingly boundless creativity. Acoustic guitar comes in for the next vocal section, while the keyboards and atmospheric guitars keep evolving the atmosphere surrounding Nicholls voice. Full band kicks back in for a soaring guitar and synth trade off solo from Holmes and Durant before they sync up melody wise. The key is different and the tone is more upbeat, but the same keyboard patterns find their way in, making this a truly cohesive piece with themes recurring in different contexts throughout. As the build becomes unbearable, the vocals drop out and the band kicks into high instrumental gear, with a tricky time signature, guitar and synth parts bouncing off one another as the drums and bass keep things driving. Nicholls comes in for one more climactic soaring yell before the crashing climax comes, full of dissonant mellotron choirs and booming bass synths, before the final section hits, a reprise of the opening piano section but, of course, as pompous and triumphant rock section complete with guitar solo. Just perfectly executed form with the 20 minute epic here, not a note wasted and incredibly tight writing and performing.

Ocean: lovely keyboard/xylophone voice? Melody opens up this shorter, mellow, but still lovely and excellent song. The piano takes over the melody as Nicholls gives one of his most heartfelt but still cryptic lyrical performances. Acoustic guitar, bass synths, bass guitar, some creative drumming, all these elements come together to make a lovely piece. Neil Durant uses his keyboards with such a light touch and perfectly complements the full band sound. Eventually he hits the organ as the song builds slightly, and the sound is just perfect. Great little piece Until the End: typical keyboard mood setting intro, dark and atmospheric, with the guitar melody adding before Nicholls comes in, with his voice being altered to fade in and out with dark tones. An eastern sounding set of instruments, strummed and drummed comes in to begin to push us forward. At the three minute mark exactly, the band kicks in, and Durant is again the star with a magnificent organ sound, but the bass shines also, create riffs and fills. The synthesizer swaps solos with guitar melodies as the band stretches out in some of its best instrumental work on the album. Vocals come back with the same melody set over the more urgent music. A trickier and more off kilter section follows, with the drums taking as prominent a role as the voice, and there is a seamless transition to the triumphant guitar melody that follows and will bring this song home to its conclusion with beautiful organ, singing, bass synths and guitar. The last few minutes take the band out and leave just piano and voice with a touch of classical guitar, beautiful and touching note to end the first disc on.

Now the second disc here is technically a bonus disc, but it's clear the band had hit such a creatively fertile period they just kept firing on all cylinders, and I consider this a double album.

Knucklehead: Unexpected beginning here with the bass getting funky again while the drums get a full workout of rhythms, patterns and beats while the keyboards for once are the backing instrument. Acoustic guitar brings in the vocal. The way the vocals start 'and I can't go outside', as if picking up midsentence, to me it suggests the happy ending of the last disc wasn't all great, things keep going beyond a happy ending, life continues. Very nice touch. Some very heavy riffing and keyboards follow. The guitars take on interesting tones here, keeping the creativity flowing. A fast paced heavy section follows with great syncopated beats from the guitar and drums while Nicholls' voice flies effortlessly across the top. We return to the acoustic beginning and funky bass with more driving instrumental to close it off. Nice track, lots of new ground broken every song on this album.

1312 Overture: opening with a portion of the 1812 overture (haha) before the band drops right in with a tricky riff in a tricky time signature, choir mellotrons soaring overhead. Great little song, instrumental with great playing from all.

Constellations: More creative playing in the intro here, a unique time signature with the drums taking the lead, seemingly a theme on the second disc, with dissonant choir mellotron before the melody comes in brighter, and Nicholls trades lovely melodies with Holmes on the guitar. Neil Durant's arrival and the return of Tim Esau on bass seems to have given everyone in the band a new spurt of creativity that doesn't even end with this album. This song goes through many classic prog moments, and though IQ's sound always becomes familiar over the course of an album, the songs themselves are distinct and unique rather than same-y sounding. Great synth solo followed by an equally great guitar solo in the middle section, followed by a beautiful piano and mellotron led vocal section. Following this is the triumphant ending section, but it oddly alternates to be slightly more off key in some of the verses, again maybe suggesting things aren't as great as they seem? Great guitar and organ playing, and the final 2 minutes really build up but then the song just fades out, an interesting anti climax with no real melodic resolution. Fall and Rise: A lower key song with some mystical keyboard melodies whose voice I cannot identify, with the bass and drums again having a more prominent role. Almost like this disc is the rhythm section getting to write songs and the others have to build on them. Bass especially is essentially the lead instrument here. Classical guitar comes in for a little, but the song is loose with a spacey feeling, with the absence of electric guitar creating a hole that actually is a plus for the song creatively, generating an entirely new feel. The song doesn't develop further than that, but gets by on creativity and mood. Great stuff.

Ten Million Demons: A bouncy synth melody sets the song up for a hard charging, darker and heavier rock song, fitting the title. Great melody, memorably creepy lyrics, more bass and drums leading with keys soaring, guitar almost absent but it works. Weakest song on the album, but still stands out from their material as a whole. Hardcore: After an hour and thirty minutes of top tier, highest quality prog by some of the finest musicians working, you'd think IQ wouldn't have any gas in the tank for another 10 minute mini epic, but the opening is as eerie and unique as ever, quickly giving way to heavy riffing with the guitar and bass setting the mood. The heavy riffing only gets harder and more intense, practically sounding like Dream theater with less overall notes (hah). This gives way to a more eerie slower section driven by multiple keyboard melodies and voices alone, Neil Durant again showing he is a perfect addition to the band. The drums and bass jump in to take this section to the end while Holmes plays a mournful guitar solo, with the bass in particular shining again with riffs and licks to spare. Another sort of anti climax, as the melodies never really intensify or climax, but continue their mournful and sad progression until the fade out.

I've written enough about this album. Get it. It's an absolute masterpiece.

 Frequency by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.10 | 963 ratings

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Frequency
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by The Ace Face

3 stars After 2004's excellent Dark Matter, founding member of IQ Martin Orford parted ways with the band, leaving a hole for a new keyboard player to fill. This is a shame, since Dark Matter found them refining and improving their songwriting, but Frequency does a good job taking new steps. New member Mark Westworth manages to fill in for Orford and sound like him without imitating or copying. However, this album gets back to the category of albums like Ever and Seventh House: not progressing and developing their sound at all, just sort of recycling and imitating themselves.

Frequency: a strong opener, instrumental opening section followed by a mellow electric piano-led section, with Westworth taking an early leading role in setting the tone. Mike Holmes guitar notes soulfully sound off in the background, before he brings back the energy with a lead guitar theme both eerie and beautiful. The vocal section is classic IQ. Keys do great work, and the perennial mellotron choir sound is still a staple. Good driving energy to the end, but this is IQ just sort of doing what we already know they do well.

Life Support: slower song, nice piano beginning, alternating minor and major keys, with Peter Nicholls in fine form as usual, evocative and emotive. Close to halfway through turns into an eerie guitar led section, with synthesizer coming in as well. Good, but forgettable

Stronger Than Friction: A bright opening with good guitar, Nicholls singing again on point. A beautiful middle slower section for this mini epic makes it stand out, beautiful acoustic guitar and background keyboards. Leads to a dark and harsher section, leading to a bright upbeat finale. Again strong stuff, but nothing we haven't heard before.

One Fatal Mistake: Nice mellow ballad, forgettable

Ryker Skies: Another mini epic, atmospheric keys and acoustic guitar to set the mood. Say what you want about them, they know how to build up steam gradually in a song to make the climax kick that much harder. When this one kicks in it's a driving rhythm section and mellotron backing up another great guitar melody. The lyrics are more purposeful than usual, seemingly playing parts with characters, telling a story about a "hero" who has to make immoral decisions in some sort of dark system. After this section progresses we get some dark and melodic keyboards to lead us to a slower acoustic section.

The Province of the King: Longest song on the album, another mini epic with good shifts through different sections but nothing new. Frustrating and also good to listen to, an odd paradox.

Closer: A more mellow closing song, slowly building to a triumphant climax with good keyboards.

Overall, this is a step back after the excellent Dark Matter stepped forward. I almost have to call it lazy at this point, except it still takes skill and professional musicianship to produce albums like this. I just wish they would develop their sound more.

 Dark Matter by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.04 | 975 ratings

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Dark Matter
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by The Ace Face

4 stars After their rebirth with Ever, IQ had a string of solid if interchangeable and unremarkable albums. That ends with Dark Matter, their best album since The Wake. The playing isn't very different, but the songs are more distinctive and stronger compositionally, so this one stands out as unique and a more unique expression of their style.

Sacred Sound: one of my favorite IQ songs. Starting with a typical ambient keyboard into, the melody kicks in with some clever time signature riffs and good interplay between all the melodic instruments, combined with some of Nicholls' most evocative lyrics in some time. The guitar melodies between verses keep things moving, and the second, more exuberant chorus keeps the song moving and changing, adding layers and levels. The short drop to a flute interlude before kicking it back up is a Genesis-y touch, but again, welcome way to keep the song's pace from growing stale. The lyrics are expressive, seeming to show some sort of end of days time period and someone trying to find their way through it all, despite hardships. Halfway through, they throw in a building riff that seems to recall Supper's Ready but works as it's own thing, and then the obligatory slowdown section. This builds to a spectacular organ section, just top notch work from Martin Orford who would sadly depart after this album, and a instrumental reprise of sorts of the beginning with some changes and good guitar work from Mike Holmes. Tight playing, great composition and fresh combinations of their typical sounds make for an all time classic

Red Dust Shadow: immediately shifting into a lower gear, with Nicholls singing even lower than I've heard before. Doesn't stay that way for long though, alternating higher verses with lower ones and some good playing on the rockier sections. Nice little piece that stands out from their shorter ones for being dominantly acoustic and quiet, and simpler without having to do too much prog showcasing. That sounds counterproductive coming from a prog band/fan, but it works! What can I say. Great interplay between the mellotron and a bass-sort of solo in the closing section gives a unique feel to the song.

You Never Will: Another short track, starting with a menacing bass riff and an eerie vocal melody from Nicholls while the organ provides atmosphere and background. Alternating the dissonant/minor key verses with a more major key verse gives it a good feel. A middle section driven by Orford's many keyboard voices and soloing make it a highlight.

Born Brilliant: Third and final short track, another menacing sounding bass throbbing riff is offset by Nicholls' melodic vocal. Great counterpoint. Nice mellotron voices providing background as the guitar comes in at various points. One of IQ's very common syncopated drum and bass riffs churns in, simply adding to the existing elements as they all tie together in classic IQ fashion. Weakest song on the album.

Harvest of Souls: The real highlight of the disc, as always prog bands, the 20+minute epic is often where they do some of their best work. This is the first time IQ has attempted this since The Last Human Gateway, in 1982. The Narrow Margin on Subterranea IS 20 minutes, but serves as climax to the story rather than a piece composed to stand on it's own. Harvest stands in a league of it's own, with serious audacity: it's structure seemingly consciously apes that of perhaps the most celebrated prog epic, Supper's Ready, while remaining it's own unique and inspired composition.

I. First of the Last: this opening section with chiming 12 string guitar melodies and vocals is a lovely intro. The shift to a minor key is like, LITERALLY exactly what the opening of Supper's Ready does. and then... II. The Wrong Host: slow but pompous rock with keyboard arpeggios is again, EXACTLY what Supper's Ready does, but that totally works as the sound is pure IQ, even if that means it inherently has some Genesis in it. Good guitar melodies. This section takes a menacing turn into a harder driving section with lots of guitar workouts. There seems to be some sort of theme about attitudes glorifying and deifying America, perhaps with a darker side? The driving section becomes lyrical and drives us into a slower, more melodic section III. Nocturne: the guitars here are just perfect, sometimes two harmonizing but very elegant playing complementing Nicholls' vocals beautifully, which leads to another heavy and frenetic instrumental section, whose darkness bottoms out in crashing noises only to be alleviated by a bright bouncy piano and guitar melody. This is truly the work of a band trying to shake itself up and make every note original. IV: Frame and Form: lovely melodies and playing from all around, an uplifting section with inspiring lyrics about communication, seguing into a descending piano melody section that leads to V: Mortal Procession: heavy pounding riffs atmospheric mellotron in the background leading to tricky time signature section driven by the organ and synth solos, recalling directly Supper's ready's keyboard insanity climax, and then a reprise of the second section, again EXACTLY lifting from Supper's ready but still it's own thing. Very hard to pull off but this band in this fine a form are the one to do it. This is the final section, called Ghosts of days.

This is one of their best, hands down.

 The Seventh House by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.01 | 710 ratings

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The Seventh House
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by The Ace Face

3 stars I.Q. continues their streak of quality if sometimes same-y albums with The Seventh House. The band has hit a stride of quality writing and playing, and this one is no exception.

The Wrong Side of Weird, great title, and suitable oddball opening synth riff, leading into a galloping section of driving rock that IQ does so well. The bass especially shines here, providing the urgent pulse that keeps pushing it forwards. Very reminiscent of Ever's opener The Darkest Hour. Love how the synths soar especially high over the other instruments anchoring. Segues into a slower and slightly minor key middle section with good piano work from Martin Orford, which builds to a dark and spooky section with some distorted guitar work from Mike Holmes before picking up the tempo again to reprise the opening.

Erosion: classic keyboard intro, but already IQ is recycling it's own ideas. Again, these are great ideas but their formula verges on becoming stale with this album. Good build to the song, dark and harder edge with a good guitar solo. Solid as ever.

Seventh House is another mini epic, with all the solid IQ elements.

Zero Hour is more mellow and laid back, with saxophone added because hey, why not. It works! Again, all solid stuff.

Shooting Angels is where this album starts to drag, not bringing any new ideas by recombining old ones into another song.

Guiding Light starts with a mournful piano melody, very good. The slow buildup and crescendo to the manic instrumental climax sets this one apart a bit from the rest, bringing some energy to the closer.

Overall, good but not essential. 3 stars.

 Subterranea by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.98 | 715 ratings

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Subterranea
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by The Ace Face

3 stars Subterranea is a weird album for me. IQ, from Ever onwards, produce consistently high quality progressive albums with great musicianship and playing... but that consistency also sort of makes a lot of them sound the same. So, Subterranea only gets a short review from me.

This is the classic prog double concept album, about a man who escapes into the world from isolation due to an experiment, has various experiences and returns to the experiment to get revenge on those who put him through it. There are lots of great tunes and moments, but none really stand out to me. It's a strong album, but not their best. So it goes with IQ, who only really have two BAD albums, without Nicholls, and the rest are all varying degrees of good- great-masterpiece.

 Resistance by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.14 | 456 ratings

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Resistance
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars IQs have taken the habit of exaggerating, of doing things big. With the previous album they had done it unofficially, presenting the second album as a bonus without being really credible, maybe they weren't sure if it worked and liked it, but this time it is officially a double album. And once again the result is incredible, the historic neo-prog band uses all their experience and expertise to make an album once again great, as they have always been able to do. The style of "Resistance", the British band's eleventh album, is roughly the dark and timidly hard sounds of the previous two albums, from the last one in particular it inherits the desire to experiment with particular sounds, even if with a little less declared courage, while from "Frequency" he draws the atmosphere in a science fiction sense, on the whole it seems to be the perfect middle ground between the two works. The cover that seems set on a planet Mars kissed by a fiery sun almost near the end of its cycle really seems to introduce us to the atmosphere of the album.

If "The Road of Bones" had a more traditional first album and a more experimental second one, here the opposite happens. The first disc is characterized by sounds that we could define as "alien" or "spatial", the songs contained in it could be inserted in any science fiction film and fit perfectly, it is not at all prohibitive to approach listening to a journey into space aboard a spacecraft but also to a black and apocalyptic night sky enlivened by a thick strip of stars, it's a bit like watching the stars on a meadow far from the city on a cool and breezy night. Dark and barely audible electronic sounds, melodies that are anything but romantic, timidly hard guitars without any metal intent, rhythmically composed and ordered songs as well as devoid of a certain instrumental dynamism, these are the characteristic ingredients in this first half of the work, specifically are the basis of songs like "A Missile", "Rise" and "Stay Down". An atmosphere of a true alien invasion can be found in "Alampandria", where a vibrant carpet and sick and psychedelic sound sketches really seem to give the idea of the roar of a spacecraft landing in a field on a silent night. The song that most differs from the spirit of the album is undoubtedly "If Anything", which offers an unusual foray into the environment and the relaxing new age, a song more than ever from the sofa in the evening after a stressful day of work , however, it seems that its presence in the album is not accidental, it seems to have the function of breaking up the tense atmosphere for a moment and offering a more pure and earthly moment. A more dreamy and delicate melody closer to the classic IQ approach is also found in "Shallow Bay" but that tense and neurotic drumming puts it in line with the disturbing atmosphere. The 15 minutes of "For Another Lifetime", introduced by sounds reminiscent of those of a harmonium, instead serve as a bridge to the second disc, a crescendo of intensity and instrumental dynamism that dissolves in the melodic ecstasy of the long finale, closer to the IQ style that suggests what the second album will be like. The second cd experiences less and is more in the typical IQ style, but always maintaining a more or less obscure approach and without a significant stylistic gap between the two discs. The sound is less spatial and more earthly, in any case always nocturnal or at least crepuscular, to prevail this time are the long, elaborate and instrumentally dynamic compositions, the guitars are less harsh and the melodies more airy and dreamy, a more typically neo- prog takes over. The two long suites can hardly disappoint progressive lovers, "The Great Spirit Way" offers truly sublime 21 minutes, a cerulean and silent intro, disturbing keyboards, instrumental fugues, sudden accelerations, robust bass lines, swirling organ suns and synthesizer, a slow and dreamy central section almost like a lake landscape, a whole mix of solutions that cannot leave you indifferent; "Fallout", on the other hand, is less unscrupulous and perhaps it may seem a bit distracting and tense but with its variety of solutions it is difficult to think of wanting to cut even just one piece, in any case the intro and the outro are a beautiful example of psychedelic and abysmal ambient. "Perfect Space" manages to concentrate everything in a less consistent duration, "Fire and Security" is on the contrary a tidy song and focused on the melody, a fairly simple, fresh and relaxed melody.

The years go by, now they are almost 40 and we know how difficult it is to keep inspiration so high for so many years, many bands after so many years no longer seem so inspired, the IQ instead the more they age the more they mature and grow, so much so that recent works they can give older ones a hard time. Albums from 2000, more precisely from "The Seventh House", up to the latest one for me personally are the pinnacle of the band's artistic expression, albums that will satisfy fans of all subgenres of prog rock.

 The Road of Bones by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.23 | 1324 ratings

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The Road of Bones
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars After five years from the last work, the British IQ, one of the bands that contributed, in a period certainly not rosy for the genre, to keep progressive rock alive, is back on the scene. In addition to historical merits, this band can boast a well-fed discography and a quality level that has always remained at the highest levels. While never bringing major innovations, over the course of thirty years of career these musicians have managed to maintain their own identity, always offering compositions of fine workmanship. So, what to expect from their 11th studio album? Should we expect "an IQ record, as they have accustomed us, or a change from the classic sound? After Frequency, the band underwent an important line-up change that saw the historic rhythm section return to formation, which had not appeared under this label (if we exclude rare collaborations) for almost twenty-five years. Furthermore, we see the new entry Neil Durant appear on the keyboards, even if in reality he has collaborated with the group since 2011; this however remains his first studio job.

The production results in a very compressed and powerful sound, which at times is "super produced", making some parts quite "plastic" and far from the real sound of the instruments. It cannot be considered a real negative point, because in fact the final result is fully enjoyable, but a more real sound would certainly have benefited an album of this kind.

The Road of Bones opens with From the Outside In, a very articulate song that alternates psychedelic atmospheres with parts oriented almost to heavy prog. The piece essentially unfolds into four distinct parts: an atmosphere intro, then a fairly heavy section which then flows into a new softer area, of fine workmanship. Above all, the excellent work of Neil Durant is remarkable as he mixes mellotron choirs and clavinet very well. The piece concludes with a fourth and last part with full and sincerely little hidden references to the style of Genesis. A very long psychedelic introduction welcomes us to the title track, with very soft and atmospheric sounds. Only in the final does the dynamics rise, reaching a sound more akin to metal. The piece is also characterized by a very strong use of mellotron strings and pad synths, instruments that contribute to creating a relaxed and slightly melancholy atmosphere. It is the turn of Without Walls, the suite and probably the most interesting song of the LP, which strangely is placed in the center of the tracklist. We are faced with nineteen minutes full of variations that intertwine like the plot of a novel. It would be useless and not very exhaustive to explain what happens in this piece, as it must be for any self- respecting suite. I can not help but tell you to take the CD and listen to this composition, which deserves attention and detail. Ocean is introduced by a synth vibraphone that plays a very rhythmic accompaniment with sounds similar to those of an ancient music box. The song develops in different parts, maintaining a fairly constant dynamic: a mixture of soft, wide and melodious atmospheres that gently sway throughout the song, making it sweet and melancholy at the same time. It is not one of the top songs of the disc, but surely if you are inclined to this type of atmosphere it can give you some good moments. Untill the End, as the title suggests, takes us to the end of this LP. The first few minutes are particularly interesting thanks to the particular harmonies created by the sitar guitar that intertwine with the chords of the keyboards. The piece develops once again in several sections which at times are a bit forced: some solutions in particular are slightly artificial and unnatural. Perhaps they wanted to create a more complex song than the previous ones but exaggerated a little, bringing out a product that was too mental and not very smooth unlike the other songs.

There are no surprises, it is a one hundred percent IQ record: studied well and played equally well, with a composition that is not stellar but which is compensated by an excellent arrangement and by more than discreet sounds (even if "overproduced" as we said in opening). The conclusion is only one and it is quite simple: if you are a fan of neo prog and in particular of IQ, The Road of Bones is a record that will hardly disappoint you.

 Frequency by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.10 | 963 ratings

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Frequency
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars It was tough but they finally made it. In fact, it took five years for IQ, a real bulwark of the English progressive rock, to give birth to the successor of the excellent Dark Matter, published in 2004. Five years studded with continuous problems, interruptions, injuries of various kinds ( the last of which the one that blocked the singer Peter Nicholls for some time just before the start of the recordings) and above all countless line-up changes that have for several times in a short time changed the face of the group: initially the abandonment in 2005 of drummer Paul "Cookie" Cook (decided to leave the music business to take refuge in a remote part of Scotland) replaced for the occasion by Andy Edwards (already at work with Frost *). In 2007, keyboardist and founding member Martin Orford left (who had already been at odds with the rest of the band for some time, as Mike Holmes himself confirmed in the interview), suddenly replaced by Mark Westworth of Darwin's Radio. Finally, the departure of Andy Edwards himself towards the end of 2008 with the album already recorded, which led to the return to the of the historic drummer Paul Cook. After all these ups and downs, however, IQ made it and are now back on the market with a new full length, the tenth of a thirty-year career (the band was formed in 1981), entitled Frequency and released in May 2009. from Inside Out Music.

Despite the fact that the release of the album was affected by numerous problems and delays, it must be said that the result obtained is still more than excellent. There are minimal stylistic changes compared to the previous Dark Matter: this Frequency in fact always remains anchored to neo progressive rock sounds played with class, with moderate Genesis influences that peek out from time to time within the compositions and dreamy and particularly compelling atmospheres. Alongside the guitarist as well as leader and main composer of the group Mike Holmes we find for the umpteenth time a great Pete Nicholls behind the microphone, able to give added value to the compositions with his splendid voice. Excellent work done by the rhythm section, composed by the historic bassist John Jowitt and the drummer Andy Edwards, while the newcomer Mark Westworth (Darwin's Radio) replaces the defective Martin Orford on the keyboards. There are seven tracks that make up this Frequency for a total duration that does not exceed sixty-one minutes. The quality of all the songs proposed is really excellent: the compositions are in fact captivating and flowing, compact and never prolix even when the playing time is quite high. To open the disc it's up to the titletrack Frequency, an eight and a half minute track focused on dark and threatening atmospheres, with the vocal plots of Pete Nicholls to be the master. The subsequent Life Support moves instead on more melancholy and poignant tracks: initially introduced by a light piano, the song unfolds in the second part in a long instrumental section in which Mike Holmes' liquid guitar solos intertwine with the candid parts of keyboard and synthesizers beautifully executed by Mark Westworth. With Stronger than Friction we launch instead on more serene and carefree sounds, while the following One Fatal Mistake is a ballad as direct as it is compelling and fascinating. The long The Province is also very interesting, a piece played on the continuous alternation between melodic and persuasive stanzas and long energetic and powerful outbursts, while the concluding Closer, with continuous Marillion influences, stands out for its excellent melodies and for a vocal performance once again above. to the lines. Excellent production, managed directly by Mike Holmes, which is very clean and optimal from every point of view.

Ultimately we are faced with a work that is really well composed and played very well, perhaps not a masterpiece of the genre but in any case a record that can be listened to for a long time and that is able to show its best only after numerous careful listening. All the tracks are at excellent quality levels, without sensational drops and without hitches, despite the playing time of the songs is on average quite high. A great job then, in the hope that the band will finally find the right stability in terms of line up so as not to have to wait another five years to listen to the next full length.

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

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