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IQ - Ever CD (album) cover





4.05 | 676 ratings

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4 stars EVER, a 1993 entry from IQ, is my third acquisition from these quintessential neo-proggers, and provides me with yet more impetus to further explore the English band's catalogue: I've not been disappointed yet.

Yes, this is another very strong album from the group who are arguably the strongest act working today in "neo progressive," the sub-genre which hearkens back to the classic prog of the 70s. Given that EVER is a neo prog album, there is really no "new" musical ground being broken here, but that's not why we listen to IQ. No, we don't play IQ to explore strange new musical lands (leave that, perhaps, to bands such as the Mars Volta, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Deus Ex Machina, and others). Rather, one listens to IQ to re-visit the pomp and magic of early prog - albeit through a modern sonic and technological filter. For my money, no current band can evoke that vaunted bygone era better than IQ. If you're a fan of classic "symphonic" progressive rock, and are open to discovering some newer stuff in the same vein, you need to get into these guys!

Nor are IQ mere pale imitations (see Pendragon) of their honoured predecessors. Although their sound and inspiration clearly go back to acts like mid-seventies Genesis (as with Marillion, if there had been no Genesis, there'd likely have been no IQ - at least not in this form), IQ display enough originality and just plain strong songwriting skills to steer adequately clear of "rip-off" or "clone" territory. On this disc (as on others - see my reviews of THE WAKE and DARK MATTER), IQ push all of the right prog buttons, and at the right time. (Indeed, they show laudable restraint in not employing the entirety of their classic prog palate in every song. Unlike certain other popular neo acts, they know when to end a song - or album - and keep matters tight and focused.) There is prog rock power and polish to spare on EVER, in harmonious balance with generous amounts of real beauty, evocative lyrics that bear more than a cursory examination, and, as ever, top-notch musicianship and a deserving conviction in the material.

Each of the six pieces here represents prog listening time very well spent, so I'll forgo track by track analysis, but to say that the fourteen minute-plus "Further Away" is truly epic, awesome and varied just as longer prog pieces should be. The last two numbers, "Leap of Faith" and "Came Down" (which dovetail into a unitary whole) are also especially good - there is a grandeur here that hasn't been so convincingly heard since before Hackett left Genesis, or ELP alienated many of their fans with the tangential excesses of their WORKS albums.

From thunderous opening to majestic close, EVER is an album to play again and again. Symphonic and neo fans take heed: IQ is a band to listen to, and you just can't go wrong with EVER. Four stars: unless your prog listening sticks stubbornly to the 70s, you should have this delightful disc in your collection. Great stuff -- crank it up, close your eyes, and smile!

Peter | 4/5 |


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