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IQ - Ever CD (album) cover





4.05 | 679 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars And then like a waking up from a bad dream, IQ emerged from a tumultuous and heartbreaking period. First there were the two albums with P. L. Menel as vocalist where the band steered towards a more commercial sounding blandness but secondly and most important was a series of deaths of band members' friends and family. Not only did they lose their bassist Les Marshall a few years back but both guitarist Mike Holmes and Peter Nicholls would lose their fathers as well as their good friend Georf Mann who was taken out by cancer. After all this turmoil IQ reconvened along with original vocalist Peter Nicholls and not only rediscovered their original musical prowess that should have continued after "The Wake," but with their sixth studio album EVER initiated a new creative period that would continue up to the present. While such missteps and events can easily destroy a band's trajectory, IQ proved they were up to the challenge of channeling all of the negativity and constructing a new reality.

As with such tragedy and unfortunate events that change our realities, the members of IQ expressed their grief through their music. In addition to going back to their original goals of creating captivating neo-prog music, Peter Nicholls was back on vocals and John Jowitt would replace Tim Esau on bass. All this change and lament resulted in a therapy session via musical expression and while the universe may have taken away, it also rewarded with a refreshed and inspired direction for the band to take and one that they have not strayed from ever since. Faced with all this melancholy the band channeled their energies into their renaissance album that displays all their early confidence and deftly crafted a beautiful album that deals with the loss of friends and family and of the insecurities we all face with the fleeting impermanence of life.

With brilliantly delivered lyrical content that is strongly poetic and an excellent production to boot, each band member shines like a ray of sun through a darkened catacomb offering a glimmer of hope in the cold and brutal world. From the first energetic burst of energy as "The Darkest Hour" initiates the album's overall melancholy, we are treated to extraordinarily strong musical material with Paul Cook stepping up his drumming skills, Mike Holmes creating soaring guitar licks and Martin Orford icing the cake with his atmospheric keyboard magic as well as taking the liberty to show off some virtuosity in the mix. John Jowitt's bass playing skills are the perfect rhythmic and melodic complement to the other musicians and Nicholls proves he was the man who meant to deliver the vocals with a renewed sense of self-assurance. While there are no weak tracks on EVER, some are stronger than others. The 14 and a half minute prog workout "Further Away" takes the listener to another world with strong melodies and developments that run the gamut of the neo-prog universe with perfect execution.

While few bands recover from the major tumble IQ undertook with two unpopular albums and a series of personal cataclysms, not only did Orford and company pull themselves together with dignity but in the process not only revived their own musical career but also contributed to awakening the entire sleeping prog universe in the early 90s when a new wave of progressive rock was slowly crawling from its sleeping chambers and proving that it still had not just a pulse left but enough vitality to make a full blown comeback after lurking in the darkness for the previous decade. Yes, the nightmare had ended and EVER would become one of the most successful comeback albums in the prog universe and would turn the page and start a new chapter in its history.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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