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IQ - Nomzamo CD (album) cover

NOMZAMO

IQ

 

Neo-Prog

2.86 | 336 ratings

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ScorchedFirth
1 stars (3/10)

Nomzamo was quite a let down, after then triumph of "The Wake". Peter Nicholls left the band, and was replaced by Paul Menel. Now, Paul Menel was competent, but Peter Nicholls he was not, and IQ lost a lot of their character as a result. I don't think (most of) the blame lies with Menel though, he isn't a bad singer. It seems like the real problem was that IQ moved to a major label, that wanted them to become a lot more commercial, and way less prog, and thus IQ went the way of Genesis. Everything became poppier, and less complex, the musicianship was far less impressive, far less moving, and IQ stopped being special.

Probably the worst offender of the album is "Promises (As The Years Go By)", a very obvious attempt at a hit. The cheesy lyrics (repeated chorus of "don't make any false promises as the years go by"), complete with pop-style harmonies and backing vocals, the unimaginative structure, the uninspired and repetitive rhythms backing it all up - it was all tragically standard, right down to a truly awful music video that I would advise you not to hunt down on YouTube. Mediocre AOR rather than prog. These criticisms could also equally apply to "Passing Strangers", another forgettable song in the same vein. Even the normally excellent Mike Holmes supplies a really generic guitar solo. Martin Orford also takes a real step down. On "Screaming" he uses some truly ridiculous keyboard sounds.

Occasionally the band does shine through, and "Human Nature" is a track I might even be generous enough to call 'good', given that it actually progresses interestingly, and has some intelligent use of the saxophone, as well as a few darker atmospheres. "No Love Lost" is kind of pleasant too, especially vocally. The anti-war "Common Ground" manages some emotion, with a sombre atmosphere and a driving guitar led ending, and I suppose "Nomzamo" (the song) has some pretty cool moments too. Some of these songs manage to have some interesting rythmic moments, and a few slightly more epic sounding moments than one might expect, but nothing really leaps out.

"Nomzamo" (the album) just ends up feeling insubstantial, especially compared with the two albums that preceded it. There's very little here that excites me, and I can only see this album being of potential interest to existing IQ fans. Those new to IQ should definitely start with something from the albums with Peter Nicholls. The two with Paul Menel are really dated, and take out a lot of the symphonic and darker elements which made IQ great in the first place.

"Nomzamo" is an album that will require not much effort to gain a passing enjoyment from, but also has a very low long term pay-off. It's definitely not (all) awful, there are moments that can be enjoyed, but the bad moments are rather cringe-inducing and ugly. From IQ this can only be seen as a disappointment.

[P.S. If anybody knows what a Nomzamo is, please tell me. I am actually very curious about this]

ScorchedFirth | 1/5 |

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