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IQ

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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IQ picture
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 'JŽAI POLLETTE DŽARNU' 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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Buy IQ Music


25th Anniversary Collector's Edition25th Anniversary Collector's Edition
Giant Electric Pea 2018
$26.82
Scrape Across the Sky [Blu-ray]Scrape Across the Sky [Blu-ray]
Giant Electric Pea 2017
$20.16
$20.17 (used)
The Road of BonesThe Road of Bones
Giant Electric Pea 2014
$17.31
$14.44 (used)
Dark MatterDark Matter
GEP 2013
$11.71
$11.69 (used)
Wake: Expanded EditionWake: Expanded Edition
Giant Electric Pea 2016
$11.64
$14.97 (used)
Seventh HouseSeventh House
Inside Out Germany 2004
$11.03
$24.37 (used)
IQ: Live From LondonIQ: Live From London
Iguana Project 2005
$44.30
$29.98 (used)
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ANEKDOTEN Vemod / 1995 / MC CASSETTE KING CRIMSON, LANDBERK, THULE, IQ, TOOL USD $23.99 Buy It Now 2h
IQ - Wake: 2010 Remastered - Expanded Edition (NEW CD) USD $15.31 Buy It Now 2h 44m
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Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Welcome To The Pleasuredome 2 x LP 1984 ZTT - ZTT IQ USD $17.99 Buy It Now 2 days
IQ Nomzamo vinyl LP album record UK VERH43 VERTIGO 1987 USD $24.72 Buy It Now 3 days
You To Me Are Everything Sonia UK cassette single ZK45121 IQ 1991 USD $13.03 Buy It Now 3 days
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Billboard Top Hits 1982 PianoDisc CD (or PianoDisc IQ Please Specify) USD $23.55 Buy It Now 3 days
A MANCHESTER COLLECTION - 1979 LP PUNK,POWERPOP - FAST CARS,IQ ZERO USD $32.61 Buy It Now 3 days
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IQ Nonzamo Album and Tour 1987 UK Poster size Press ADVERT 16x12" USD $19.50 Buy It Now 3 days
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Dark Matter by IQ (CD, Jun-2004, Inside Out Music) USD $75.00 Buy It Now 3 days
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Sonia Be Young Be Foolish Be Happy 7" vinyl single record UK ZB44935 IQ 1991 USD $14.28 Buy It Now 4 days
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IQ - Tales From The Lush Attic - Collector's Edition (NEW CD+DVD) USD $20.53 Buy It Now 5 days
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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 | 444 ratings
Tales From The Lush Attic
1983
3.80 | 541 ratings
The Wake
1985
2.80 | 316 ratings
Nomzamo
1987
2.70 | 292 ratings
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
1989
4.05 | 608 ratings
Ever
1993
3.96 | 620 ratings
Subterranea
1997
3.47 | 145 ratings
Seven Stories Into 98
1998
4.00 | 617 ratings
The Seventh House
2000
4.04 | 871 ratings
Dark Matter
2004
4.10 | 853 ratings
Frequency
2009
4.23 | 1115 ratings
The Road Of Bones
2014

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

3.01 | 80 ratings
Living Proof
1986
3.84 | 93 ratings
Forever Live
1996
4.30 | 20 ratings
Subterranea Tour Live Germany
1999
4.23 | 16 ratings
Head Long to Argentina
1999
4.28 | 18 ratings
La Maroquinerie, Paris 18 Nov. 2000
2000
4.23 | 79 ratings
Subterranea: The Concert
2000
4.55 | 34 ratings
The Archive Collection - IQ20
2002
4.49 | 65 ratings
The Wake - Live At De Boerderij, Zoetermeer
2010
4.00 | 3 ratings
De Boerderij Zoetermeer Holland 23 October 2011
2012
4.66 | 35 ratings
Live On The Road Of Bones
2015

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

4.37 | 65 ratings
Subterranea - The Concert
2000
4.43 | 57 ratings
IQ20 - The Twentieth Anniversary Show
2004
3.77 | 30 ratings
Live From London
2005
4.43 | 118 ratings
Stage
2006
3.88 | 31 ratings
Forever Live
2007
4.39 | 22 ratings
Scrape Across The Sky
2017

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

3.30 | 60 ratings
J'ai Pollette d'Arnu
1991
4.68 | 31 ratings
For Ever Live
1996
3.44 | 66 ratings
The Lost Attic - A Collection Of Rarities (1983-1999)
1999
4.33 | 40 ratings
The Wake 2010 Remaster
2010
3.31 | 16 ratings
Re:Mixed
2011
4.62 | 89 ratings
Tales from the Lush Attic 2013 Remix
2013

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

3.50 | 2 ratings
Fascination
1982
3.67 | 3 ratings
Awake And Nervous
1983
2.89 | 9 ratings
Barbell Is In
1984
4.17 | 6 ratings
The Legendary IQ Free Record
1984
3.20 | 5 ratings
Corners
1985
2.72 | 36 ratings
Nine in a Pond is Here
1985
3.33 | 3 ratings
Nomzamo
1986
3.50 | 4 ratings
Intelligence Quotient
1986
2.75 | 3 ratings
Promises (As The Years Go By)
1987
3.75 | 4 ratings
Here There And Everywhere
1987
3.00 | 2 ratings
No Love Lost
1987
3.00 | 5 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
3.69 | 30 ratings
Frequency Tour
2008
4.04 | 23 ratings
Tales from a Dark Christmas
2017

IQ Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Wake by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.80 | 541 ratings

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The Wake
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The Green Album.

Sporting a weird art cover, The Wake surely attracts the eye: what is this?!? To me it's the Green Album. What does it talk about? I' I'm not sure, really. The lyrics are cryptic, as usual, but 'Never sleeping, I saw my abduction from Solid areas fallen with grace' an and such prose staggers my mind with interrogation signs. What is he talking about? I'm not even sure they know themselves!

I was 9 years old when this record came out and if I had a chance to discover it at the time, I would tell you right away that it's a long way from Duran Duran (my big fav at the time). I would've also tell you that it's very, very colorful and enigmatic; I mean, wh why is there a sad clown on the cover?

I'm aware of all the comparison between The Wake and Misplaced Childhood. Many will say that Childhood is much more accomplished, polished and coherent. The art of Childhood is irresistible, the songs are more dramatic and it creates a much deeper impact on the mind. Agreed, Childhood is one hell of a classic and breeded countless clones, more bad ones than good. But IQ created on his side a weirder monster from the 'Genesis' ashes, and this is were I'm signing in. IQ injects much more bombastic energy, almost yelling out it's message. IQ let the heartaches out and invites the dynamic theatrics in, pushing you to listen more carefully.

IQ gave birth to something unique, colorful, thickly foggy and LOUD, in a parallel lane of Marillion, but never rejoining. This is a ma mammoth of an album that rocks the crap out the 80's. It's less for girls, no soapy ballads or romantic touches, it paints an epic ca canvas in deafening rocking colors.

To be able to pull out such a vigorous rabbit out of their hat and giving life back to a dying art is a reason in itself to call it a classic.

 Subterranea by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.96 | 620 ratings

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Subterranea
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Subterranea was the confirmation that after the Peter Nicholls comeback IQ was in top form!

And here we can find thanks to a pristine production a band which has become even more ambitious than the in the excellent Ever, introducing elements like marimba and saxophone in some pieces and making their music darker and even more interesting.

The only problem I have with Subterranea is that being a double CD, some track are just filling and they are not impressive. That's a problem that almost every double disc album has, and this is not an exception. However, the music is excellent most of the time.

Conclusion: Subterranea does not reach Ever in terms of overall quality, but it was the confirmation that IQ has here to staty. Excellent work!

Best Tracks: Failsafe (Neo-Prog at its best!), Speak my Name (breathtaking), Tunnel Vision (strong, dark, solid), Breathtaker (a perfect song) and The Narrow Margin (splendid epic and a great ending for the album)

My rating: ****

 The Road Of Bones by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.23 | 1115 ratings

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The Road Of Bones
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by PureViewer

3 stars This is my first review on ProgArchives. I started listening to Neo-Prog with "The Visitor" from Arena. After listening to their other works I went for Pendragon and listened to their latest album "Men Who Climb Mountains", and then their whole discography. As a big fan of Pendragon and Arena, I had high expectations from other Neo-Prog bands, including IQ. So I chose their latest and highest-rated album. As soon as I listened to the first track, "From The Outside In", I was hooked and thought that this would be one of my favourites because you know, I really like heavy, dark music.

But I was wrong ... The first two tracks, FTOI and "The Road of Bones" are good actually. I also like the first track on the 2nd disc, "Knucklehead". They transfer the mood well. Also "Without Walls" is not bad. But why don't I like the rest, or the whole album generally? Well, it goes back to my experience with heavy music + Arena and Pendragon. My main problem with this album is that it lacks thundering, bombastic guitar/keyboard solos. Take Arena's 2015 album, "The Unquiet Sky" for example. The keyboard solos in "Time Runs Out" add some very dark, heavy mood and really make the desperation of the narrator stand out. Also the vocals are in sync with that. In contrast, the vocals on The Road of Bones seem to be relaxed and lacking excitement. So are the guitar and keyboard. Another thing to mention is the Peter Nicholls' way of singing. It has too many pauses. It's not fluent. And that's because of the lyrics. They seem to be put forciblely in the songs' structures.

2.5 stars from me.

EDIT: The more I listen to the tracks mentioned (excluding "Without Walls"), the more I love them. "Knucklehead" is my most favourite and I can't decide between "From The Outside In" and "The Road of Bones". Notable moments are 1:35 in FTOI where the electric guitar starts roaring, the sudden kick of keyboards+drums in 6:25 of "The Road of Bones", the addition of atmospheric keyboards in the last storming of "Knucklehead" + when he sings "toll-taking, core-shaking". Also I highly praise the lyrics of "The Road of Bones". They're just powerful. 3 solid stars.

 The Wake 2010 Remaster by IQ album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
4.33 | 40 ratings

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The Wake 2010 Remaster
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars "Did anyone say MELLOTRON?"

Disc 1 : The original The Wake album (1985).

Shortly after IQ was founded in the early Eighties, keyboard player Martin Orford bought a second hand Mellotron M400, far simpler and reliable than the previous M300 model. And it features many new sounds, from church-organ and brass to vintage keyboards and violins. But for Martin the new section with the '8 voice choir' (4 male and 4 female) was the most interesting new Mellotron sound. Later he said in an interview when he was asked about the Mellotron: "If you think the music is becoming too bombastic, just use the Mellotron choirs!".

Well, Martin must have had many of those thoughts, the album the Wake is flooded by the unsurpassed Mellotron, especially the hailed choir section. This is an important part of early IQ their trademark blend of typical neo- prog elements (melody and harmony) and a sound like 67-77 Genesis (but less elaborate): the band easily switches from accessible melodic rock with catchy mid-tempo beats to sumptuous outbursts with floods of majestic Mellotron choirs and sensitive electric guitar runs. Just listen to compositions like The Wake, The Magic Roundabout and The Thousand Days, these songs are so wonderfully coloured by Holmes his Hackett-like sound and Orford his wide range of vintage keyboards (also the mighty Yamaha CS80 synthesizer and the legendary Memorymoog). And topped by Pete Nicholls his passionate vocals, he is not a Peter Gabriel, Greg Lake or John Wetton but he does a very inspired job.

A bit of a 'crappy maverick' is the track Corners, perhaps written as a 'tongue-in-cheek' composition, as a hint to Genesis their musical direction since ATTWT? Somewhere here on PA I read that it would have been a better idea to put the beautiful Dans Le Chateau Du Parc Noir on the original album. Unfortunately it is not on this box set, "because it was not on the original album", according to John Hewitt on questions of IQ fans about this.

You can find a lot of variety in Outer Limits (splendid keyboard sound, strong vocals and flowing electric guitar), The Magic Roundabout (sensitive Hackett guitar and lots of Trons, goose bumps!) and Headlong (shifting between dreamy and compelling, with the Mellotron loaded final part).

But my absolute highlight is Widow's Peak, what an exciting and compelling composition:

first a dreamy part with melancholical vocals

then an accellaration featuring powerful guitar riffs, fat synthesizer flights and a tight rhythm

halfway a slow rhythm with sensitive electric guitar and passionate vocals

and finally a splendid bombastic atmosphere, topped with moving electric guitar and mighty Mellotron choirs, again goose bumps!

Disc 2 and 3.

These two discs contain in total 24 versions of the 7 original tracks from The Wake, named 'work in progress demo', 'vocal outtake', writing session' and 'rough mix'. Nice and interesting, especially the four versions of my highlight Widow's Peak.

Disc 4.

This is a DVD featuring a concert from October 24th, 1984 (47 minutes). The quality is at the level of a mediocre bootleg, taken with only 1 camera position. In order to upgrade the visual experience this video also contains band pictures. But after The Enemy Smacks the video is cut off. But despite that mediocre quality the IQ diehards will be delighted about the historical value. I enjoyed watching an early IQ with the focus on the charismatic frontman Peter Nicholls, obviously influenced by Peter Gabriel (gestures, make-up, costumes). Especially during the highlight The Enemy Smacks. Funny is the reggae-like Barbell Is In and Peter as 'Mr. Nosy'.

Other items on disc 4 are commentaries by Paul Cook, Peter Nicholls and Mike Holmes (from 2010) and 2,5 hour with PM3 files, including 'writing sessions', 'unused ideas', 'demos' and 'contemporary interviews'. Also interesting is the 60-page booklet with many facts, including the increasing tension between Peter and the band, everything about the fascinating cover art, reactions from the press and stories about the Live From London gig. A wonderful bonus feature is a poster from the cover art, a painting from Peter Nicholls himself.

You can't beg for more!

 Frequency by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.10 | 853 ratings

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Frequency
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

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

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

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

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

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

 Promises (As The Years Go By) by IQ album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1987
2.75 | 3 ratings

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Promises (As The Years Go By)
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Theo Verstrael

3 stars IQ never was a commercial band nor will they ever be. Thankfully there are still good things in today's world!! Yet they did a couple of efforts to become more commercially accepted, especially during the period of Pete Nicholl's absence. 'Promises' is as close as they will ever get to being commercially successful for it is a very catchy tune with an addictive theme, an easy-to-recognize melody-chorus built-up and a suitable length. And albeit that I loathe commercially inspired music, I find this a great track that I come back to regularly. It's clever, it rocks, it appeals. And from my surroundings I know that especially this track made IQ more acceptable for those who don't fancy odd time changes, heavy riffing or extensive musical suits, IQ's trademark. 'Nomzamo' is the beautiful title track of their third full length album with Paul Menel in excellent form. The quiet music is a respectful ode to Winnie Mandela for her role in fighting the horrors of apartheid. 'No love lost' is again quite commercial and dispensable for it lacks about everything that makes 'Promises' such a great track. But you'd better buy the album ....
 Dark Matter by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.04 | 871 ratings

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Dark Matter
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The Seventh House by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.00 | 617 ratings

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The Seventh House
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars After the critical success and arguable artistic peak of their 1997 album "Subterranea" which saw the band step it up in many ways in compositional quality, the band IQ took their usual multi-year time off before releasing a new album with the bonus of a rerelease of their demo "Seven Stories Into Eight" finding its way onto the CD format for the new ages. Living up to its numerical title THE SEVENTH HOUSE is indeed the 7th studio album of Mike Holmes' and Martin Orford's successful neo-prog band that was one of the major players of the great prog revival that swept the 90s after the botched attempt to go commercial at the tail end of the 80s with their combo effect and oft-loathed "Nomzamo" and "Are You Sitting Comfortable" debacle. Not only did the band overcome the train wreck with the strong comeback "Ever," but outdid themselves and the entire neo-prog scene with their amazing masterpiece double album "Subterranea." Having enjoyed a stable lineup, THE SEVENTH HOUSE sees a return of the exact same members including the amazing vocal skills of Peter Nicholls.

IQ once again dish out a concept based album where the sound of the musicians are designed to support the lyrical content and while lyrics are rarely the goal of my musical experience, the neo-prog branch of progressive rock certainly demands an intense attention span of lyrical content due to it being the main focus of the musical delivery. THE SEVENTH HOUSE is no exception to this general rule and meanders through a fairly nebulous tale of a person who returns to a location where he was part of some unknown battle that purportedly would make the world a better place and ultimately ended up as the only survival of the group but is redeemed at the end when he meets his guardian angel who helped him survive the ordeal. While it all sounds syrupy soap opera-ish on paper (or screen rather!), somehow IQ can take a Hallmark channel type of tear jerking story and turn it into a musical bonanza that cranks out the subtle and sensual melodic developments that ratchet up the tension that can reach the intensity of crescendoing metal guitar domination.

Upon first listen THE SEVENTH HOUSE is definitely a step down from "Subterranea" in about every way, mostly in the fact that the band seems that they have settled into their respective sound quite comfortably. Also gone is the wow factor of ratcheting up the progressiveness and complexity as well as the creativity. THE SEVENTH HOUSE certainly sounds like IQ has been there, done that before with a strong connection to the "Ever" period as well as the albums that followed. However, neo-prog isn't a type of prog that demands an incessant flow of zowie wowie ideas and gimmicks. What it all boils down for me are strong catchy melodic hooks that are suavely decked out with the appropriate instrumentation all the while fortified with a strong vocal delivery and on all counts, THE SEVENTH HOUSE delivers all the goods in every checked off department. At this stage, the band had perfected their sound and despite running on autopilot, they nevertheless created a satisfying romp through the symphonic and heavy rock universe with some jazzy touches led by Nicholls' stellar ability to connect the listener to the story.

While THE SEVENTH HOUSE won't go down as my all time favorite IQ listening experience, i can only concur that it is a consistent and satisfying one at least and a continuation of the strong albums that they would continue to unleash well into the 21st century. So overall, not a perfect album in that it continues down the path that they laid down however IQ deliver an excellent mix of symphonic mellow rock that includes piano driven segments as well as the more bombastic heavy rock episodes complete with sizzling guitar solos provided by Mike Holmes. THE SEVENTH HOUSE may not win over anyone who hasn't already joined the club but it certainly continues to keep the members who have already been admitted properly satisfied and for a neo-prog band of this calibre, that's good enough for me.

 Scrape Across The Sky by IQ album cover DVD/Video, 2017
4.39 | 22 ratings

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Scrape Across The Sky
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Metal / Heavy / RPI / Symph Prog Team

4 stars IQ has offered us many high-quality studio albums and many live releases over their career, "Road To The Bones" is no exception. This is their first Blu-Ray shot in a small club in Holland. They played all of the first cd of their last album, one from the second cd, plus classics from various albums. How can we say something wrong about this professionalism band in terms of playing display, the songs being performed faithfully to the studio versions. However, it is a little bit frustrating for me to hear many drops in the surround sound through the show, unlike the stereo sound that you can listen also in the extras with all the projections. The song "Until The End" was also shown in the extras at the Lorelei Festival. I would have preferred to see this complete show instead of the one they choose because it looks better on a bigger stage. In the extras, there's an interview between Peter Nicholls and the artist designer that will appeal to a few people. They should have done interviews with the band's members instead. So, thumbs up for the performance, the set list and thumbs down for some technical issue with the surround sound, that is still good for the spatialization. IQ score of 4
 Subterranea by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.96 | 620 ratings

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Subterranea
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars IQ had a rocky road at the latter part of the 80s with a couple sub-stellar releases but managed to find a firm footing in the progressive rock arenas once again with their 1993 comeback "Ever." Apparently deciding to never repeat the mistakes of such bellyflops as "Are You Sitting Comfortably?" ever again, the band now had a stable lineup with creative juices just bubbling over in mega-effervescence and spent four years polishing their craft before they unleashed the grandiose double album monstrosity SUBTERRANEA which took all the excesses of prog and ran away with them unapologetically. This behemoth of a musical extravaganza will require many trips to the buffet, periods of stepping back for proper digestion and then further revisitation for the full-on effect to properly gel within the listener's inner music box.

IQ stepped it up in every possible way on SUBTERRANEA. Firstly with the lyrical contents they deliver a highly complex story about a man (remaining mysterious and nameless) who was held captive for most of his life and deprived of the most ordinary of experiences that most of us take for granted on a daily basis. After being released he's deluged by the Captain America effect meaning that he has woken up to a world that has passed him by in every regard and his struggle to catch up leaves him destitute and grasping for his sanity. The story becomes a full-fledged musical soap opera as he falls in love with a girl named Maya, discovers others who have been experimented and detained against their will and joins forces to take revenge against the miscreants who carried out these atrocities. The plot fails and this same guy ends up back to the very isolation from which the story began thus creating a full circle approach to story telling all the while backed up by some of the most compelling progressive musical deliveries that the 90s had to offer.

Lucky for IQ that Peter Nicholls returned to the helm as vocalist and lyrical contributor in chief because he churns out some of the most compelling yet mysteriously vague story content of his career as done right in true prog fashion leaving the other members to focus exclusively on the musical accompaniment which is nothing short of brilliant as IQ dishes out some of the strongest melodies and song structures of their career with each cadence wresting a heart felt explosion of emotional reaction as keyboard lines tinkle their way into a gravitational pull that is utterly irresistible. The group interplay is beyond strong as even the longest of tracks such as the double-discker's closer "The Narrow Margin" keeps the listener enthralled for its entirety. Nicholls' vocal performance is absolutely top notch and each track successfully builds upon what came before and creates a true complete album experience like very few others of the newly resurrected prog universe of the 90s succeeded in accomplishing.

While it's no secret that IQ was always a Peter Gabriel era Genesis type of band, SUBTERRANEA can certainly bring the double album "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" to mind not only in its scope and delivery with accessible keyboard driven musical prosody accompanied by excellent lyrical elocution but offers a more obnubilated sense of meaning and only offers an impressionalist's perspective of a story that leaves more questions dangling about than it it answers however even if you couldn't give a flying bleep about the lyrics, the music on this one offers a diverse array of neo-prog perfection that adheres to all the genre expectations of beautifully laid out extended compositions that ratchet up the emotional responses in a systematic and melodic way. This isn't one for the casual listener and like many complex works requires some commitment to understand but with a little devotion can be easily extricated from its inscrutable initial impressions.

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

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