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IQ - Subterranea CD (album) cover





3.99 | 721 ratings

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5 stars A definite must-have for any neo-prog lover (or to anyone wishing to discover neo-prog).

I took quiet a time prior publishing my review on the IQ Subterranea album. As you can imagine, given my nickname, I have a special admiration for this masterpiece double-album.

Indeed, I consider that two albums are the synthesis and the summum of the neo-progressive movement that started in the mid '80s : Misplaced Childhood from Marillion (that contributed to define the genre and gave him significant visibility by including two "hits" in the mainstream radio with Kayleigh & Lavender) and Subterranea from IQ (that get composed and released in the late '90s).

First thing we notice is the size of the project, with this album IQ doesn't deliver 45' or even 70' but nearly two hours of music on this 2 CD release. Of course size is not everything and we see too often albums filled by some "garbage" between the good tracks. This is definitely not the case here and IQ succeed in providing us two hours of quality music to listen in one session.

Taken apart from each other, the tracks are good, but this is really a concept album where tracks are closely related to each other presenting a story. Each song has its own melody but the transition between songs are created smoothly.

When pressing the play button, you get introducted by the "Overture" track that start as a classical music concert opening with orchestra tuning their instruments. You then get to a strong intro very melodic while powerfull.

Another great moment is the tittle track "Subterranea", the powerfull "Failsafe" followed by the balad "Speak my name" and the rythmic "Tunnel vision". The "Sense of Insanity" is another ballad filled with feelings. I wont' get through all separate tracks given they are all excellent even if very different from each others.

Also to mention are the last track of the first CD and the second track of the second CD ("State of Mine" and "Laid Low") that really ensure the junction between the two part by presenting the same melodic base in two different ways. These instrimental tracks really work like the yin and the yang.

The only weaker part is the last track "the Narrow Margin" that doesn't fill its 20' in a consistent way. This stay a good track but could have been avoided and isn't as good as the other parts of the album.

As a whole this album sounds like a prog-rock musical of broadway : The Phantom of the Opera meets prog-rock ! With a good balance between songs where Peter Nicholls's voice gives a particular musical color and important full instrumental sections.

Before closing this review, two last remarks : - The Subterranean album is one of these albums that you keep in mind and that the more you listen, the more you appreciate. You need at least two or three listening sessions to really "feel" the music ... but this is worth the effort (and it is not really an effort given it is pure pleasure). - You will likely prefer the studio album to the live version of Subterranea given it more accurately delivers the musical message as the band build it ... The live is nice but less accurate (wich is often a problem of Nicholls live) but for sure they play and sing with their hearths (but this will be more sensitive when attending a concert than when listening to its record) ... Over 1 hour of "bis" at the end of a concert, I only saw this with IQ ... but this is another story !

So, get this album and make you own opinion. Mine is now well known : this is the best IQ album to date. If I could rate it six stars, I would.

Subterranean | 5/5 |


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