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IQ - The Road of Bones CD (album) cover





4.23 | 1324 ratings

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4 stars Since first buying "Frequency" two years ago, I have kept IQ at the forefront of my listening choices. Whether mixing a playlist for my iPhone or burning a playlist to CD, or choosing albums to listen to during the week, IQ have more often than not made the selection cut. I have "Ever", "Subterranea", and "Dark Matter" as well, and "Seventh House" and "The Wake" are also on standby for a intended future purchases. I enjoy the mixture of heavy guitar, moody and dark or solemn music, the keyboards, and Peter Nichols' voice from the 90's onward. So when "Road of Bones" came out it was just a question of how soon I would order it. And I ordered the double disc version because I was sure it would be worth the extra money.

As others have written, disc one is the new album that tells a serial killer's story and disc two is extra material that didn't follow the story of disc one but the band still felt worthy of releasing. I read a detailed review of both discs on a music blog and I had some ideas of what to expect. That reviewer said disc one was very good but some songs carried on a bit long and disc two was better but neither were as good as "Frequency". As "Frequency" remains my favourite IQ album, I approached "Road of Bones" with a little caution.

First, I was impressed by how well the band sounded like IQ. They develop their sound over each album little by little but a few years pass between each release. Yes, some bands sound the same as they did 20 years ago these days but IQ have a slow evolution thing going on. Surely, much of the perceived change is due to the shuffling in the line up with only Nichols and guitarist Mike Holmes remaining from "Frequency", and yet the band is still IQ. In a way, this album is a very natural progression from "Frequency" without any drastic new change.

One of the main changes I noticed is in the keyboard sound. That classic neo-prog synthesizer sound is still there but with some new sounds like vibraphone and a bit of electronica hinted at without taking the plunge like Galahad have done. These sounds have been added to the overall IQ sound without altering the sound of the band.

The guitar in general strikes me as having been simplified. It serves more as a rhythm and mood instrument and less as a lead. I liked that Holmes actually didn't come in with his customary heavy chords in the title track until well into the song. It meant that by track two we were already hearing something different from the usual IQ dark sound. The album's epic track "Without Walls" is a little easier to digest than "Harvest of Souls" from "Dark Matter", in my opinion.

The second disc begins with "Knucklehead" which sounds in every way like part of the "Road of Bones" story. It has the whispered voices from disc one and some of the lyrics sound very much like they belong to the story. "1312 Overture" is a little uneventful for me. I kept expecting some exciting keyboard adventure to begin but this sounds more like a backing track. The other songs on disc two are all enjoyable as is pretty much the whole double disc album. I feel as the other reviewer felt that "Frequency" is more exciting though that may be because the drumming had more flare and intensity at times. There were also songs like "Closer" which are very pretty, and "Road of Bones" doesn't get pretty for as long on either of the discs, though it still has its fair share of beautiful music in between the dark, heavy stuff.

Honestly, though, I have no real criticisms about either disc. This is a very good IQ album and nothing to be disappointed with as far as I can see. It's not a total killer but it's definitely an album worth having. Both discs.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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