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IQ - Ever CD (album) cover





4.05 | 676 ratings

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4 stars With Ever, IQ move from their 80s synth-dominated sound to a the more modern Neo Progressive style that they would continue to develop until the present day. From this point on, there would be no drastic changes in style, unless one considers the ultimate sophistication of Dark Matter a progression to a more Symphonic sound. In any case, Ever is turning point for a band that had faltered for a few years as lead singer Peter Nicholls left the group. The band are back in full form, with wonderfully tight and calculated performances. The drumming, in particular, is spot-on. I should warn the reader that if you like a degree of unpredictability and and spontaneity in your prog, then you won't find it here. The Neo Progressive genre isn't about that sort of thing, it seems, but rather sticks to carefully crafted compositions. IQ are unique in their Neo Prog niche, because their songs are so chock-full of hooks that you may begin to think you're listening to a pop song. A song like "Came Down," with its addictive chord progression, vocal melody, and rather standard song structure, seems to be very much a standard rock song, but if you're at all familiar with IQ, you know that they have moments of gentle and simple music between their ferocious prog jams. It is a carefully considered process of building up tension and releasing the listener with a calming song. "Came Down" indeed. But enough about IQ's general style, on to Ever.

I was reluctant to get Ever, because I had fortuitously come across Forever Live in a local record store. This release has 4 out of the 6 songs on ever, and I never felt the urge to finish out the collection of songs, and proceeded to get the rest of the essential IQ albums. Now, I can finally comment on Ever as a whole. Every single song here is memorable and enjoyable. There is generally a lot more energy on Ever than on Dark Matter, but about the same as on Subterranea. The band seems to want to cram an insane amount of ideas on a small amount of songs. This is especially evident on "The Darkest Hour," which never lets up! I find myself becoming very fond of Paul Cook's minimalist drumming. As I listen to the record, it is evident that his drumming fits the music perfectly without being overly busy, in the same way I couldn't imagine Arena with any other than Mick Pointer's simple but fitting drumming. It just works. All members of IQ are given plenty of opportunities to contribute to the composition, with piano interludes, chunky base lines, and guitar leads. Throughout the effort is Peter Nicholls's identifiable and soothing voice. It is one of a kind. My only gripe about Ever is that the production can make the album seem inoffensive and a bit monolithic. Generally, this seems to either be no problem or a good thing, but every so often I'll reflect upon what I've heard and wonder if it could have been better with a more varied sound. Other than that, there's nothing I can level against this album. The songs don't offend me into not giving it 5 stars, but they just seem worthy of 4 stars.

For the general Neo Prog or IQ fan, Ever is essential. For the inquisitive Symphonic/Neo Prog fan Ever should definitely be looked into.

stonebeard | 4/5 |


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