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IQ

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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IQ biography
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 classic double concept album with a very fresh approach which amazed both critics and fans alike. Brought to the stage with a stunning visual ...
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IQ official website

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Tales From the Lush Attic 2013 Re-MixTales From the Lush Attic 2013 Re-Mix
Import
Ais 2013
Audio CD$17.31
$28.95 (used)
The Road of BonesThe Road of Bones
Import
Imports 2014
Audio CD$17.38
$17.39 (used)
The Wake 25th Anniversary Box SetThe Wake 25th Anniversary Box Set
Import
Indie Europe/Zoom 2010
Audio CD$35.58
$30.59 (used)
Subterranea (2CD)Subterranea (2CD)
Inside Out Music 2012
Audio CD$12.49
$12.47 (used)
Dark Matter (Slipsleeve)Dark Matter (Slipsleeve)
Inside Out Music 2012
Audio CD$11.87
$7.97 (used)
The Seventh HouseThe Seventh House
Inside Out Music 2012
Audio CD$10.00
$9.25 (used)
EverEver
Inside Out Music 2012
Audio CD$12.55
$16.98 (used)
Forever Live (2CD)Forever Live (2CD)
Inside Out Music 2012
Audio CD$10.73
$9.00 (used)
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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)

3.85 | 391 ratings
Tales From The Lush Attic
1983
3.78 | 484 ratings
The Wake
1985
2.79 | 280 ratings
Nomzamo
1987
2.69 | 256 ratings
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
1989
4.05 | 537 ratings
Ever
1993
3.94 | 550 ratings
Subterranea
1997
3.47 | 117 ratings
Seven Stories Into 98
1998
4.00 | 547 ratings
The Seventh House
2000
4.03 | 794 ratings
Dark Matter
2004
4.10 | 773 ratings
Frequency
2009
4.27 | 931 ratings
The Road Of Bones
2014

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

2.98 | 69 ratings
Living Proof
1986
3.83 | 83 ratings
Forever Live
1996
4.36 | 14 ratings
Subterranea Tour Live Germany
1999
4.22 | 13 ratings
Head Long to Argentina
1999
4.29 | 14 ratings
La Maroquinerie, Paris 18 Nov. 2000
2000
4.24 | 66 ratings
Subterranea: The Concert
2000
4.58 | 27 ratings
The Archive Collection - IQ20
2002
4.50 | 54 ratings
The Wake - Live At De Boerderij, Zoetermeer
2010
4.79 | 15 ratings
Live On The Road Of Bones
2015

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

4.33 | 52 ratings
Subterranea - The Concert
2000
4.42 | 52 ratings
IQ20 - The Twentieth Anniversary Show
2004
3.75 | 25 ratings
Live From London
2005
4.47 | 101 ratings
Stage
2006
3.82 | 25 ratings
Forever Live
2007

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

3.28 | 52 ratings
J'ai Pollette d'Arnu
1991
4.70 | 28 ratings
For Ever Live
1996
3.41 | 59 ratings
The Lost Attic - A Collection Of Rarities (1983-1999)
1999
4.33 | 30 ratings
The Wake 2010 Remaster
2010
3.42 | 12 ratings
Re:Mixed
2011
4.59 | 77 ratings
Tales from the Lush Attic 2013 Remix
2013

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

2.00 | 1 ratings
Fascination
1982
2.00 | 1 ratings
Awake And Nervous
1983
2.00 | 4 ratings
Barbell Is In
1984
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Legendary IQ Free Record
1984
2.72 | 31 ratings
Nine in a Pond is Here
1985
2.00 | 1 ratings
Corners
1985
2.00 | 1 ratings
Nomzamo
1986
3.00 | 2 ratings
Intelligence Quotient
1986
2.00 | 1 ratings
Promises (As The Years Go By)
1987
3.75 | 4 ratings
Here There And Everywhere
1987
2.00 | 1 ratings
No Love Lost
1987
3.00 | 3 ratings
Passing Strangers
1987
2.00 | 1 ratings
One More Boxer
1989
3.22 | 9 ratings
Sold On You
1989
2.00 | 1 ratings
Drive On
1989
2.00 | 1 ratings
Bulba Neeny Noo
1992
3.75 | 4 ratings
The Darkest Hour
1993
3.68 | 29 ratings
Frequency Tour
2008

IQ Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Are You Sitting Comfortably? by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.69 | 256 ratings

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Are You Sitting Comfortably?
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

1 stars I take pride in the fact that i always try to find something good in an album that is universally panned and often i have the exact opposite reaction to a certain type of experiment in a group's discography that doesn't sit well with hardcore fans, but there are times when an album deserves every bit of hatred that is bestowed upon it and the neo-prog pioneers IQ hit their absolute nadir on their 4th studio release ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY? This is the epitome of a musical disaster in a band's career where really nothing went right. The pathetic thing about this one is the fact that the band sounds like they are so serious in trying to pull it off together.

This is the second album to feature Paul Menel on vocals after Peter Nicholls departed following "The Wake." The rest of the musical cast is the same as "Nonzamo." It does seem that the band were feeling some sort of jealousy over the success of their heroes in Genesis while they were killing it on the pop charts in the 80s and raking in the dough. IQ were also tempted by the pop side of the musical force and tried to emulate their influences by going in that direction. Unfortunately however, while Genesis and Gabriel had the chops to actually construct catchy pop albums, Orford and company weren't so lucky. This album just reeks of wannabeism and ultimately falls short in every manner. Dreadfully Menel's vocals display the first weakness and most obvious inferiority complex here. Although he tries, he just lacks the zingy passion that Nicholls dished out. Add the limp songwriting, lackadaisical keyboards, lazy percussion, flaccid guitar performances and woefully insipid overall production and we get a big fat turkey here but not the kind you wanna eat for Thanksgiving.

"War Heroes" starts off ok and while it doesn't sound like any particular peak of 80s neo-prog, it also isn't the most horrendous sounding track of the lot. It does however sound like a rather weak version of an 80s Peter Gabriel solo offering. Things go south VERY quickly on the second track "Drive On" where we're greeted (or cheated rather) with the most cheesy of synthesizers accompanied by an even cheesier drum beat. The lyrics are absolutely horrendous and the whole thing comes across as a Duran Duran reject that wouldn't have even reemerged as a bonus track. It really is just so very baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad and i do mean bad meaning bad, not bad meaning good. The next track "Nostalgia" tries to pull off some instrumental stratagem into gaining a foothold into a more progified universe, but ends up just sounding cheap because other than the attempt to create some atmospheric sounds comes across like a weak 4/4 timed attempt to sound new wave eight years too late and then the cheesy drums and lyrics come in all gussied up with synthesized dressing and ends up sounding totally lame.

I don't need to go on. This one is just the worst attempt for a prog band to enter into the pop universe that i've ever heard and i'm hugely tolerant of progressive pop. Good pop music is a talent all itself and while many a prog band had successful navigated their talents into that musical realm, IQ were clearly out of their element. In fact, it's actually the case that the band were masters of one specific sub genre only and continue shine within it, but once stepping outside of its murky boundaries find themselves playing the role of not only a fish out of water, but a fish in the party punch with a tutu on. No disrespect for any fish that wish to do so, of course, i only am pointing out a pointless musical meandering into an almost parody zone. This one is just so bad that it truly is the worst of the worst. I found life in "Nonzamo" to the point that i could give it 3 stars, but ARE YOU SITTING COMFORABLY? just makes me feel like i'm sitting in the emergency room in line with a bunch of coughing and hacking indigents while crossing my legs because i have to pee and the bathroom is closed because someone clogged up the toilets. A classic example of WTF were you thinking, guys? Luckily, IQ would come back on the next album "Ever" and never punish us with such crap again.

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 Frequency by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.10 | 773 ratings

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Frequency
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars IQ's best album of the 2000's

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

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

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

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

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 J'ai Pollette d'Arnu by IQ album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1991
3.28 | 52 ratings

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J'ai Pollette d'Arnu
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

2 stars 2.5 stars

Don't rely on the minimalistic cover art, this compilation contains a few interesting and enchanting tracks. "J'ai Pollette d'Arnu" are supposedly the first French words the band understood, althought it does not mean anything in Voltaire's tongue. Half-studio, half-live, the set-list is quite heterogeneous, featuring singer Paul Menel, except for one song with Peter Nicholls. The studio part contains 2 previously unreleased tracks and 2 reworked compositions from the debut 1981 cassette "Seven Stories Into Eight". The live part covers the 80's albums, and - unfortunately especially - the second half of the decade, more commercial oriented.

"It All Stops Here" is one of the main interest of the records. Its powerful RUSH-esque intro unveils multiple changing rhythms and as well as nervous, spacey and melancholic atmospheres. A great neo-progressive composition! This is one of the best released version of this song, with the one from "Nine in a Pond is Here", rock-ier than the original from their debut and faster than the later reworked version of "Seven Stories Into 98". In contrast, "Sera Sera", is an enjoyable soft guitar ballad recorded in 1989. "Intelligence Quotient" is the other song from the debut cassette. It also features different atmospheres, but contains cheesy moments, lacks coherency and is uneven. Only track featuring Peter Nicholls, "Dans Le Parc Du Chateau Noir" is however the other true highlight of the disc. Composed in 1984, as its title suggests, the ambiance is dark and haunting, with a beautifully touching keyboard passage and an epic finale. Quite original for IQ and neo-prog, and one their best creations! This track can now be found as a bonus on the remastered version of "The Wake".

Concerning the live part, only "Medley" is worth the listen, as it mixes extracts of material from the first half of the eighties (the good one): "The Last Human Gateway", "Outer Limits", "It All Stops Here" and "The Enemy Smacks". Not much to say about the insipid "Common Ground" and the awful "Promises", as they both come from "Nomzamo", the weakest IQ record. "Wurensh" is an anagram for "New Rush", and is also one of the best tracks from their second worst opus, "Are You Sitting Comfortably?". This unfortunately just means just an average song.

This compilation is more for connoisseurs of the band than for newcomers. Without surprises, only tracks composed in 1981-1985 are really interesting, especially "It All Stops Here" and "Dans Le Parc Du Chateau Noir". In conclusion, this disc is a bit uneven and unbalanced, only intended for IQ lovers.

Anyway, "J'ai Pollette d'Arnu" was worth it, because its hidden goal was to finance IQ's next studio album, marking the return of Peter Nicholls...

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 The Wake by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.78 | 484 ratings

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The Wake
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The Wake of IQ?

1985 was an important year for the development of the neo-progressive genre. IQ's "The Wake" was second to MARILLION's (overrated) album "Misplaced Childhood" in terms of notoriety, however I personally prefer PENDRAGON's debut "The Jewel". This third album is the last 80's IQ's record featuring singer Peter Nicholls, and therefore marks the end of the band's first period.

Musically, the style is roughly the same as on its predecessor "Tales From The Lush Attic". However, the band matured and begins to define their identity by digesting their initial Gabriel-GENESIS roots, even if they're still noticeable. The compositions on "The Wake" are shorter and rather keyboards-driven, but also more coherent and with better sound quality. All this creates a particular atmosphere mixing darkness, melancholic, hope and joy, that will later become IQ's trademark. Each song narrates a step of reincarnation, from death to the beginning of a new life. The best track is the catchy opener "Outer Limits". It contains a depressive synthesizer overture, powerful and melancholic moments and various soli. A classic from the band. Typical of neo-prog, the enjoyable title track alternates somber, oppressive and bright moments. Then comes "The Magic Roundabout" with its spacey introduction, heroic rocking and calm passages and great finale. This piece is however uneven as it can unfortunately get a bit soapy at times.

"Corners" is one the weak tracks of the record with its dated percussions and useless sitar, whereas the very nice "Widow's Peak" is the longest and most progressive composition. The first half shows strong early-GENESIS influences, but with eighties sonorities and spacey keyboards. The second half is rock-ier with its floating guitar Ó la Steve Hillage. A magical fairytale song. In contrast, the joyful "The Thousand Days" is a cheesy 80's pop track. You can have a preview of IQ's material during the late 80's here... The soft melancholic "Headlong" also features changing atmospheres but the result is average this time.

The bonus track "Dans Le Parc Du Chateau Noir" is one of IQ's best 80's compositions. An enchanting and haunting piece, essential for IQ fans...

Less adventurous but more mature than "Tales From The Lush Attic", less rock and more synthesized than its predecessor, "The Wake" is also unequal but overall pleasant. The musicians offers ambiances from another world and therefore begins to become IQ, slowly emancipating from their 70's progressive roots. Don't miss this disc if you're an IQ or a neo-prog fan.

As in the album, the band will have to die to revive again. After the departure of Peter Nicholls, the members will recruit singer Paul Menel for the next two albums, much more commercial oriented. The fans will have to wait 8 years for another IQ studio opus with Nicholls, and also with this quality. However, this next reincarnation will result in one of their best records... ever...

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 Tales From The Lush Attic by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.85 | 391 ratings

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Tales From The Lush Attic
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Tales From The Genesis Attic

As one of the first neo-progressive album, with MARILLION's "Script for a Jester's Tear", "Tales From The Genesis Attic" is in fact IQ's second album, after the cassette-only "Seven Stories into Eight". Greatly influenced by symphonic early GENESIS, the music lacks a bit of creativity and identity. Furthermore, Peter Nicholls' voices is strongly similar to Peter Gabriel's. Still nowadays, IQ remains the "classic" neo-prog band the most resembling GENESIS.

Recorded in only in five days, the composition is also not always mastered. However, the music manages to bring a few scattered new 80's elements and the result is overall pleasant.

The 20 minutes "The Last Human Gateway" is one of the longest progressive suite from the beginning of the 80's. It contains different ambiances typical of symphonic rock, mixed with eighties' sonorities: hard rocking epic passages, haunting atmospheres, calm spacey interludes, as well as average and cheesy moments. The synthesizer solos are not always convincing, the result is uneven and sometimes sounds unbalanced. However, this song is overall varied and nice. After all, at this time, progressive music was not very popular, and not many tracks were this adventurous. The short "Through The Corridors" is a punchy pleasant hard prog piece.

"Awake And Nervous" is also enjoyable, with some rocking passages, while "My Baby Treats Me Right" is a small pretty piano interlude. Nonetheless, the best track of side 2 and of the record is "The Enemy Smacks". More coherent than the opener, this song possesses his own charm, even if the mellotron, guitar and Nicholls' singing clearly exposes the band's GENESIS' and PINK FLOYD's roots. It features a catchy opening, nervous moments and melancholic atmospheres different from the seventies' classic prog material.

The bonus track "Just Changing Hands" is optional.

Although a bit immature, not always mastered and marked by the influences of Peter Gabriel and co., "Tales From The Lush Attic" is nevertheless a promising album. As MARILLION, IQ incorporates the urgency and sharpness of the 80's decade in their compositions, but more discreetly. The musical identity still needs refining. Anyway, this second opus was welcomed in the desert progressive landscape of 1983.

A good entry point to discover IQ and the neo-progressive (sub)genre. Also recommended to early-GENESIS fans.

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 The Road Of Bones by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.27 | 931 ratings

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The Road Of Bones
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Bucklebutt

3 stars I distinctly remember the hype around this release which I was involved in initially, but I soon completely forgot about this album. Recently I was looking through the neo-prog genre for something new to listen to when I noticed Road of Bones. As I am writing this, Road of Bones is currently sitting at the top of the neo-prog genre, it is the highest rated album of 2014, and it's made its way to the top 100 prog albums of all time. I figured I'd give it a few listens seeing that I remembered the release fondly to see if it's held up. Now, I know that I shouldn't take others acclaim for the album into consideration for my review, but I have a feeling that hype may have played a role here for many people, majority of the 5* reviews here are within a month or 2 of the albums release. Perhaps the hype was due a notable classic prog rock group releasing their first album in 5 years, who knows. I guess it should be noted that I am not a huge IQ fan, I did however really enjoy their last release, Frequency.

From the Outside In starts creating a dreary atmosphere which is then cut short by a hammering rhythm guitar bit and basic drum beat. If this sounds familiar, it's probably because this is the same exact way they started their Frequency album. But where Frequency goes places from there, this song pretty much maintains this throughout its entirety besides a decent atmospheric synth section. One of the weaker tracks on the album, feels a bit one note. 2/5 stars

The Road of Bones actually has some buildup. It starts with a slow vocal and synth bit, leads into a simple groove interspersed with a great little xylophone riff, builds up to a decent breakdown, and finally revert back to the initial jam. One of the better tracks on the album but it is still a bit basic sounding, nothing super interesting going on here. 3.5/5stars

Without Walls is the epic of the album, clocking in at 19:15. There is a bit of a buildup which leads into another hammering rhythm guitar bit and a basic drum beat, if this sounds familiar, it's the same thing I said for From the Outside In. It is worth noting here there is some great synth work going along with this jam elevating it a bit above From the Outside In. The chorus section, which is repeated quite a bit, is probably the weakest part of the song. The ladder part of this track shifts it's atmosphere from dreary to a lighter more hopeful sound and ends with a solid outro jam. The synth work here in general is worth noting , it sets the atmosphere well and there are a few synth solos that stand out, but everything else is pretty standard/boring. 3.5/5 stars.

Ocean carries over the light/hopeful atmosphere from Without Walls into a very nice uplifting track. This is the only track that I've listened to regularly since the album's release. It is a poppier tune and I remember thinking that it was sort of my 'guilty pleasure track', it isn't going to blow anyone away, but it is a very nice track that I really like. 4.5/5stars

Until the End does very little to distinguish itself from the rest of the album so any of the problems I had with the other tracks can be said about this out. It does everything that the rest of the tracks have already done and goes nowhere new which wouldn't particularly be a crime if I had enjoyed the rest of the album more. 2.5/5 stars

As someone who fancies themselves as a drummer, I typically find a few grooves, fills, transitions, or even solos that blow me away due to their creativity or technical ability. This is perhaps my biggest draw into prog music. Besides the solid groove in Ocean, there is very little going on here that I haven't heard before and better (Frequency).

I typically find that my taste align with the prog-archives community but here I don't. I have to wonder if everyone did go back and listen to this after the hype died down, if it would have any impact on the albums reviews. 3/5 stars.

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 Frequency by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.10 | 773 ratings

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Frequency
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by AndyJ

3 stars IQ's 2009 album 'Frequency' is the only album I've heard by this British progressive rock band. For whatever reason they are a band which has slipped under my radar over the years, so in reviewing this album I had no references to their previous albums. I have to say that overall I'm pretty impressed by the music on offer here - while it's not exactly original, borrowing heavy influence from Marillion, Genesis and even Rush in places, I still find it overall an enjoyable album. For one thing its much heavier (in places) than I expected, with some definite metal leanings in a few places. Having said that most of the album is definitely embedded in the mellower side of prog than the heavy side...

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

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

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

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 Nomzamo by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1987
2.79 | 280 ratings

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Nomzamo
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars NOMZAMO marks the period where IQ entered the crisis zone even if they didn't realize it at the time. After two albums lead singer Peter Nicholls left the band (due to touring pressures and band tensions) so he could form his own alternative rock band Niadem's Ghost and possibly hoping to jump on board a more popular and more profitable form of music as the late 80s weren't exactly progger's paradise still being forced to the extreme outskirt niches of the musical world. Remember this was before ┼nglagard and Anekdoten came around in the 90s and gave progressive rock a much needed kick in the arse. After the loss of Nicholls the band recruited Paul Menel to report for vocal duty and he would stick around for two albums before Nicholls rejoined the band.

Due to the fact that neo-prog was steadily gaining followers in the 80s is what caught the attention of record companies especially after the success of Marillion's "Misplaced Childhood." And because of the fact that IQ had been around for a few years and had begun to follow in their footsteps towards some kind of success, they got scouted out by Vertigo Records and headed into the chipper sounding Chipping Norton Recording Studios. What should have been a reason to celebrate soon turned into a prog band's worst nightmare as the record company demanded a more commercial product than the band were planning and the result was NOMZAMO which together with the next release "Are You Sitting Comfortably?" has become one of the most hated albums in their discography and it's easy to understand why once you put this one for a spin. But does it really deserve the vitriol heaped upon it? I don't think it's as bad as many make it out to be although i concede that this period was indubitably the weakest part of the band's career.

The title NOMZAMO comes from the name of a small township in the Western Cape of South Africa and the the title track is even about apartheid. The album isn't exactly a concept album but there are the common neo-prog themes of love and sadness and the usual emotional tugs that we can expect so the lyrical content or emotional connections aren't what make this a weak album by any means. It's not like the band were pushed into the world of mindless water-downed synth pop for heavy MTV rotation. While the musicianship is still as good as it always was the weak part of this album lies in the simple songwriting itself. While i find many of these tracks are excellent if taken as a pop rock album of the era, it is obvious that the sound is just a tad too esoteric to please the pop prog Asia fans and way too tame for progheads. Tracks like "Passing Strangers" are particularly cringe worthy as the canned electronic drums, insipid pop hooks and nary-a-care gleefulness of Menel's vocals represent the bottom of the creativity well. There is also time where the album has too much of an AOR sound especially with the Kenny G sax solos!

After all is said and done, i find NOMZAMO to have many very good tracks such as the catchy Zeppelin-esque opener "No Love Lost," the excellent title track and well crafted neo-pop-prog canzonets like "Human Nature." The closer "Common Ground" is pretty cool as well. So true that this is hardly the best the band has dished out in their thirty plus year career and truth be told this is one that i've avoided based on bad reputation alone but as i come to this after hearing all their ones before and most after, i have to also admit that i don't find this to be the horror of all horrors it's made out to be. There are still plenty of lush keyboard sweeps, melodic guitar hooks and good neo-prog energy lurking about with only a few duds. This very well could have undergone a more rigorous progification process and become a more decent album. Certainly not the album to begin with IQ but i could hardly own their complete collection with this missing on the shelf! And to top it off there are actually decent tracks on here! And yes, Menel does the neo-prog vocal thang quite well.

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 The Wake by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.78 | 484 ratings

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The Wake
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars After the rushed debut album "Tales From The Lush Attic" which turned out brilliantly albeit not to the band's satisfaction, the band spent a lot more time and money on their follow-up THE WAKE which was indeed riding the new wave of 80s progressive rock that they, Marillion and Pallas were ushering in to revive a sub genre of rock that was experiencing an increasingly decrease of listeners and at this time was only being kept on life support by the hardcore proggers of the day. All this special attention was particularly paid to fine tuning more accessible sounds and song structures that helped THE WAKE hit the market and become the only album of their lengthy discography to enter the UK album chart albeit for only one week and peaking at a mere #72. However the tides were clearly turning as the new neo-prog movement had taken root and with albums like THE WAKE and Marillion's "Misplaced Childhood" that was released at the same time, it was clear that a revival was taking place and the momentum was increasing after every new release.

THE WAKE is a concept album where each track is based on the psychological traumas that haunt the soul of a recently deceased man, who after having passed away recounts his earthly existence ("The Outer Limits") and laments the unfolding events in a state of regret and remorse ("The Wake"). He begins to see an illuminating light in front of him ("The Magic Roundabout") but fears the consequences of going near it so he decides to hide in the nooks and crannies of limbo while he works out his anguish ("Corners"). As he reflects on his physical life that he has recently left, he focuses primarily on his relationship with his wife ("Widow's Peak") and after an adequate amount of self-reflection he becomes enlightened and understands that the unfolding tale of his experiences in the physical plane were necessary for spiritual growth ("The Thousand Days"). He ultimately comes to peace with it all, leaves the dark crevices of limbo and heads back to the light ("Headlong").

Musically this is a much more diverse album than "Tales From The Lush Attic." While there are still progressive lengthy tracks here, the musical style relies more in pop-infused hooks that incorporate synthpop aspects of the era especially with the programmed sounding drums on "Corners," a trait that would carry on the following two albums where the band abandoned much of its progressive qualities in favor of more accessible material. THE WAKE certainly stepped up IQ's compositional fortitude as far as distancing themselves from the Marillion comparisons of the debut. While the Genesis connections are still in full force with Banks- esque keyboards, Hackett inspired guitar runs and the face-painted theatrical Gabriel flair of lead vocalist Peter Nicholls, the compositions are beginning to sound uniquely theirs thus expanding the neo-prog style in their own direction that they would continue to steer down their own progressive highway.

While i don't find this release to be my absolute favorite of the lot i have to give it credit for its accomplishments and pleasant listenability. If you happen to like this one a lot more than i do, you may even consider splurging on the four disc 25th anniversary edition completely remastered which contains rare videos, demos, a double sided poster and a 60-page booklet with every possible thing under the sun about this album. For me, i'm happy just having this simple original version sans bonus tracks and letting the original music as intended stand on its own two feet which presents the tale of a soul struggling to make sense of his life that didn't work out exactly the way he had hoped. Lyrically an interesting concept that slaps us with concepts of unknown afterlife experience and musically another evolutionary step up the symphonic prog rock arena.

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 Live On The Road Of Bones by IQ album cover Live, 2015
4.79 | 15 ratings

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Live On The Road Of Bones
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by progbethyname

5 stars Well, did anyone actually think this album could've sucked?

Isn't it amazing how a band with a nearly 35 year-old tenure of making huge innovations in the progressive music scene can now be at their best? For me personally, IQ have always been incredible when lead by their truly great frontman, Mr. Peter Nichols. Ever since 'Ever' in 1993, which marked a glorious return of Mr. Nichols himself IQ have provided a consistency of making some of the best modernized symphonic Prog rock the UK or even the world for that matter, has ever produced or has to offer. There really are only a handful of bands out there that can keep the flame burning brightly after even 20 years, but IQ have managed to defy the odds and still stay very relevant and quite popular for the many that worship and absolutely adore the Progressive rock genre. 35 years is a long time, so IQ definitely have me singing their praises.

In 2014, IQ stormed back into the progressive world after a five year break and released which many now feel their best album to date, The Road Of Bones. Honestly I was one of those Prog listeners, who felt that The Road Of Bones double album did blow away or had annihilated the competition, so the rightful title of 'Album Of The Year' was greatly and well deserved for IQ back in 2014. Actually, I felt the album was so good that it wasn't even fair.

In late 2015, we get what is now the latest IQ offering to date and it's a double live album that, in my opinion, can't fail who ever out there truly loves this band and like myself, adored The Road Of Bones offering. To talk briefly about this album is next impossible because the level of character and musically it has is off the charts, but I shall try and do my best so I don't bore you, the reader.

Live: On The Road Of Bones is an archival release listed at #007 (yes, like the secret agent. I know. How awesomely British can that be) and the album is and can only be purchased exclusively on their Giant Electric Pea (GEP) website, so I know obtaining this album may be a wallet crusher for those who reside outside of the U.K or Europe, but for every extra schilling you have to fork over I can assure you it's highly worth it. After all, how can we put a price on great music anyway? To continue, Live On The Road Of Bones was staged at The Met, which is in Bury, England on September 2015. A date that many of us like myself, may have ingrained into our heads because an absolute huge musical achievement was put forth by IQ and I feel that this is a live album that is already a classic in the making. Furthermore, the set list is brilliant. You get all five tracks of the actual Road Of Bones album from disc 1 and a few tracks from The Wake (1985) The Seventh House (2000) Dark Matter (2005) and 2009's Frequency. There is also 1 track selected from 1993's Ever album and it's "Out Of Nowhere" which has a pretty clever and humorous twist added to it to inject some light hearted, humorous spirit which smartly balances out the set list. As many of us know, the subject matter in most IQ albums/ tracks is not cheery, so to step outside the Macabre or introspective look into a serial killer's mind, IQ took an excerpt or chorus passage from the broadway musical, Mama 'Mia and threw it into the middle section of "Out of Nowhere" ! Did it work you ask? Strangely enough, I feel it did! Definitely, IQ get full marks for trying to add a little levity to their Bone chilling or serious setlist. A nice highlight. Other great performances that stood out largely in my eyes would be the incredible mind jobs ' The Road Of Bones' and 'Without Walls.' I cannot even begin to tell you how many times my spine has shivered with anticipation and the epic joy I get each time I've listened to both these songs on this album. It is so refreshing to hear both 'The Road Of Bones' and 'Without Walls' performed live in their entirety and I think many who are new and old to discovering IQ will garner more respect for just how good of a live act IQ really is. Everything is going IQ's way right now and I feel their current line up of Nicholls, Durant, Holmes, Cook and Esau is their most chemically potent yet. I know many are major fans of what The former keyboardist and synth wizard, Martin Orford did for the band but Neil Durant is more than an adequate replacement to fill Orford's fairly large shoes. Most of you savvy listeners out there will really hear where Durant adds his own sonic flavorings that were of course originally constructed by Orford. For instance, 'Guiding Light' off the 'Seventh House' is cared for beautifully by Durant for the way his additions, by adding different tonalities to some of the lengthier piano and synth passages, really shine through to the uniqueness of the kind of player Durant is. 'Guiding Light' certainly serves as another nice highlight to this incredible live double album. Meanwhile, of course Peter Nicholls VOX are still incredible! I thought as you get older your voice gets deeper and most lose a bit of range in the higher octave region, but this is massively not the case for Nicholls himself. He has not lost one bit of an edge to his voice. Nicholls is a true professional and I consider him to be a premier vocalists. He is unique and he is a terrific frontman who embodies some of that Peter Gabriel like spirit we proggers love so much. For example, a narrative introduction is given to each track before it's performed. I have always loved this kind of style and presentation hook. Nicholls, like Gabriel does such a great job of doing just that. The listener is easily transported into the mind of the thematic and conceptual serial killer who terrorizes a small town through a series of 'nighttime activities' through Nicholls's poignant spirit. On another note...well the guitar side of things if you will, Mike Holmes I feel is really now one of the very best in the business. Holmes is an amazing guitar player. Virtually every song played on this live album is an assured highlight of greatness. I never actually realized how fast Holmes can play! His fret and finger speed is exceptionally high and very dexterous. All tracks performed on both live discs is an essential highlight. Holmes guitar playing embodies so much of the spirit that is IQ as a band. If I had to pick a track I'd say that "Born Brilliant" is really a Michael Holmes special. The track title is a true testament to his make up as a human being and as guitar player. Fearless fret work unleashed! Moreover, as the Bass work by Tim Esau is nothing short of powerful, punchy and charismatic on a usual basis I feel that the Esau presence' is definitely very strong On The Road Of Bones. Esau is a brilliant bass player and he reminds me a lot of Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike and The Mechanics) by the way he can bring down the house with those Moog Minitaur bass synths and powerful Roland bass pedals he uses in his arsenal of destruction. My whole house vibrates as if I live in a train station or something whenever I have these guys play in my living room. Above all, the Esau presence is felt greatly and I for one am so glad he is back with the band. I love his bass work on 'Ryker Skies' and of course The Road Of Bones s/t track. Truly , a thing of low end beauty. Last but not least. Paul Cook. This is a guy who could put on a clinic to show how you can make drums sound interesting by even just hitting a snare drum and having fun with cymbal crashes all day. Like Esau, I am so glad 'Cookie' is back with the band. His drum roll offs are exceptional, lively and energetic. Cook is a real definition of a spark plug with in the IQ band. I feel that on the 1985 album, 'The Wake' Cook put on a drumming clinic, so it no surprise that on this live album 'The Wake, The Outer Limits and the mini epic 'Headlong' are pure 'Cookie' magic moments performed on this live album. As I said earlier, everyone in the IQ band are on top of their games and what we, as listeners, have on our hands is a top tier live album. As Peter Nicholls would say, " What did you expect? It's an IQ gig. "

Lastly, I of course want to talk about briefly about the audio production and engineering quality of this album. Many of you know by now if you've run into me on the PA Forums, that when it comes down to audio, being as it is sound pressure waves interpreted by our brains, I can be a bit of a nutcase I know. Sound quality and the art and science behind sound recording is as every bit important to me as the music is itself. I can thankfully say without the slightest grimace on my face, that On The Road Of Bones Live is absolutely pure and utter sonic ear candy for even the most discerning listener. Mainly, the maestro at the helm of the audio console is Rob Aubrey. Rob Aubrey I honestly feel, since he joined the IQ audio engineering team back in 2000 for The Seventh House, that over the last 16 years Aubrey has cemented himself like a 6th member of the band. His degree and knowledge for proper engineering skills is widely apparent on this live album. To my ears, this is one of Aubrey's greatest audio engineering achievements. The Overall mix On The Road Of Bones is absolutely sublime, Chrystal clear with an exceptional degree of instrument separation. Nothing is unclear or hazy. Above all else though, the real audio achievement on this live album is a little something called DNR. Quite simply, DNR refers to the term Dynamic Range. DNR refers to the accuracy at which high and low frequency responses are portrayed or made 'audible' with in or on an album recording, meaning where the 'loud' parts are actually made loud and the 'lower' parts (frequencies) are made softly or quieter in the overall mix/production of the album recording, but still the lower frequency responses are made very audible or clear to the human ear, which is how 'nuances' or those nitty gritty details can be heard on an album warts and all. Long story short, Aubrey is a genius at giving DNR to a recording cause it enhances the life, the immersion and realism to what you are listening to. There were many times I felt I was inside Paul cooks drum kit or at the foot end of Peter Nicholls's microphone. I can literally hear his nose whistle! All in all, I am truly grateful to have this album and it is a Masterpiece or classic in the making on every level.

Indeed. A very forceful, 5 Bones.

Prog On.

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Thanks to kev rowland for the artist addition.

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