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IQ Dark Matter album cover
4.06 | 1026 ratings | 121 reviews | 41% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sacred Sound (11:40)
2. Red Dust Shadow (5:53)
3. You Never Will (4:54)
4. Born Brilliant (5:20)
5. Harvest of Souls (24:29) :
- i. First of the Last
- ii. The Wrong Host
- iii. Nocturne
- iv. Frame and Form
- v. Mortal Procession
- vi. Ghosts of Days

Total Time 52:16

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Nicholls / lead & backing vocals
- Mike Holmes / electric & acoustic (6- & 12-string) guitars, EBow, effects, producer
- Martin Orford / Korg CX-3 organ, synths (Kurzweil K2500, Access Virus KB, Yamaha SY85, Roland JV-1080, Korg Triton), samples, Moog bass pedals, backing vocals, pre-production
- John Jowitt / basses (4-, 5-string & fretless), backing vocals
- Paul Cook / drums, percussion

Releases information

ArtWork: Peter Nicholls with Tony Lythgoe (Art Direction)

LP Primal Vinyl Records - PVR0001LP (2008, UK)

CD Giant Electric Pea - GEPCD 1034 (2004, UK)
CD Inside Out Music America - IOMACD 2084 (2004, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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IQ Dark Matter ratings distribution

(1026 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(41%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (12%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

IQ Dark Matter reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
4 stars "Dark Matter" is truly nothing short of the truth with IQ digging into their "noir souls" and reaching right out to grab us right from the opening foreboding synthesizer swells of "Sacred Sound" to the epic "Harvest Of Souls". Okay so this I suppose will sound like a cliché but what the heck, but this album really brings back the early IQ feel with some darker (aka "The Wake") eerie transitions and darker melodies. The membership of IQ is still Paul Cook (drums), Mike Holmes (guitars), John Jowitt (bass), Martin Orford (keys) and Peter Nicholls (vox). As you would expect the musicianship, vocals and lyrics are nothing short of beathtaking with some tremendous musical moments for your little ears to enjoy. Epic track "Harvest Of Souls" is a real doozie with 6 parts with hints of YES, PINK FLOYD, MARILLION and of course the one and only IQ. "Dark Matter" is definitely forever for me !
Review by lor68
3 stars As an estimator of the most complex Progressive Music in the vein of After Crying, Isildurs Bane, Anglagard or stuff like that, you know that I don't like such English Neo- Prog very much, and this album actually deserves a "2 stars and an half" rating, as for the reason I like to explain in the following comments: the present issue by IQ is a derivative work, especially by considering the old atmosphere of the early prog in the eighties (from the UK or the USA),but the production is good and I can make an exception for such clever derivative works like this (the production of Glass Hammer is another example, for sure much better than this one, but it never minds): coming back to the present issue, honestly I don't appreciate their approach in all the circumstances, but you can recognizing their typical dark and romantic breaks through and this is already a coherent mood, if you regard of their last publications!! The album is characterized by five tracks,together composing fifty minutes of well produced music (and sometimes uneven too!!). Their repertoire is well balanced, nevertheless - despite of the vocals by Nicholls being as usual so much personal- the output is sometimes a bit repetitive..there are some good lyrics, often in the vein of their debut work, even though the use of old synths doesn't help us to change idea!!

Besides the opener track - "Sacred Sound"- is in the vein of such Art Rock stuff of the early eighties, sometimes resembling the "Crimsonian" sound (talking about the guitars) which is remarkable, but without the same result...the organ sound doesn't captivate me and therefore this is a sort of tribute to their old famous track "the Enemy Smacks"!! Well this is not a work in progress,as a matter of fact they are exploring their past here!!But it never minds, cause their taste is acceptable!! Then I remark the controversial song " Red Dust Shadow ", which makes me fall asleep (as well as it's established for the main character of the story),despite of finding a pretty acoustic guitar within, and an intelligent gentle atmosphere too. Sometimes this style is in the vein of a few songs by Pink Floyd, in the era of "Dark Side Of The Moon", but I don't like the Organ sound very fact once again Martin Orford has chosen to come back to his roots! However I can accept this new controversial emulation, like that following one: "You never will", which is resembling the style of S. Hackett here; and despite of a clock, disturbing me just a bit, it becomes interesting,as long as the track " Next Born Brilliant" partially makes me change idea.By regarding their hammering bass- enriched with a "retro-sound" (Mellotron) and some radio voices as well into the final section, this time I stay listening to them: but this effect reminds me of the same radio effect into "Script for a Jester's" by Marillion, and actually there was a more original "radio pitch adjustment" inside this album in comparison to the invention by IQ: so all these reasons are pushing me to express a more critical opinion, after a repetitive listening!! Finally the last suite, "Harvest Of Souls",which is twenty-five minutes long, and my patience is coming to an end!!. This epic number is not their attempt to "beat" the glory of Supper's Ready by Genesis, but anyway, by means of such 70's instrumentation like the Hammond, the Mellotron and the analogical synths (seldom replaced by the digital modern ones),their music crescendo brings the listener to the pleasant guitar solo... this latter is not performed in the intelligent manner of "Ever", where Holmes looked for some more personal harmonic solutions, but once again it never minds!! Probably "Ever" remains as their most personal and original album of the nineties, talking about their recent production, even though I don't get crazy for this operation, sometimes reducing our progressive genre to the melodic mainstream genre (fortunately in a few circumstances only!!)

However I give their quality production a 3 stars rating, also for such usual aggressive breaks through, but as a derivative work it seldom takes off and the score remains inferior...actually they have failed in a few and already listened music passages, because - unlike "Ever" or also "Subterranea" (even though honestly also these latter sometimes are a bit repetitive and boring...), their effort to work in progress does not continue and the production was much more modern inside those albums; but that was another story...

Review by Dick Heath
4 stars I've been playing 'the most recent studio recordings by IQ, 'Dark Matter' and 'The Seventh House', back to back. 'The Seventh House' the earlier of the two I greatly enjoyed, in way previous of their album hadn't. However, 'Dark Matter' comes some distance ahead, and to me the best new progressive rock album I've heard in 2004. A excellent set of tunes, very well arranged to give a minor symphonic masterpiece - but it is naive to give the album the full 5 stars so soon after its release, simply it is too new to have stood the test of time and any one reasonable person can't have too many masterpieces to pick from.

The lyrics are reflective and occasionally melancholic, for which Peter Nicholl's voice is very well suited. Indeed the Mellotron (or similar) is used to great effect to add to that vocal sound of doubt. Maximum marks go to Mark Orford's keyboards, which are present virtually the whole 50 minutes or more of the recording. These are not intrusive, and instead they hold the structure together - providing the emphasis and the punctuation to the lead instrument or voice at any moment. And when the keys take the lead, Orford's soloing is well balanced and never out stays it welcome.

An album for the neo prog and symphonic rock fans - and also those like me, who have grown tired of many of the bands in this field.

Review by Clayreon
4 stars We had to wait four years for this new IQ studio album. And as "The Seventh House" never really got out of the shadow of "Subterranea", I almost dare say that I've waited seven years for this one. But it has been worth it, because this is the best album IQ released since "Ever", which always has been my favourite.

"Dark Matter" has no real new elements but has all the IQ qualities you can wish for. Take all the good elements from their previous albums, give it a perfect production, add some extra keyboard and guitar sounds, let Peter sing at his best and you get "Dark Matter".

The opener "Sacred Sound" is already a long track full of variation. The song must be a gig opener for the next few tours, I guess (and I hope). Peter's voice is getting better every album and the chorus contains a wonderful vocal line. Martin has brought some vintage keyboard sounds, especially the Mellotron, which gives some references to the early GENESIS, but in this first track he impresses me most with the fabulous church organ sound that precedes a great guitar solo by Michael. It's a bit weird, but the guitar sound on this album reminds me a lot of the "Nomzamo" period ("Nostalgia-Falling apart at the seems").

"Red Dust Shadow" opens quietly with an acoustic guitar. In this track the vocals are accompanied by a spacey keyboard sound, which gives them an extra special dimension. The track also contains a simple, but very effective, guitar riff to make you remember the track for some time.

"You Never Will" has nothing special, except a great keyboard solo. If you start a track like "Born Brilliant" with some machine noises like these, you can't avoid being compared to "Welcome to the Machine" by PINK FLOYD. The song has some typical IQ rhythms and ends with an instrumental, chaotic (for IQ standards), but beautiful piece that also has some FLOYDian influences.

The best track on "Dark Matter" is without any doubt "Harvest of Souls", the longest track ever written by IQ. Being the longest track doesn't mean that it's automatically their best, but in this case the quantity is directly proportional to the quality and vice versa. This track contains six subtitles and the built-up to the end has been very well thought off. It starts quiet with an acoustic guitar and the vocals. When the keyboards join in, it really feels like "Entangled" (GENESIS). The second part has a beautiful vocal line, followed by a great speedy instrumental piece. The third part is a quiet vocal piece that ends heavier with some Mellotron sounds. (Strange combination, but it works.) The next piece is introduced by a staccato piano and once again contains a great melody. The track ends with an anthem on guitar.

IQ certainly remains on top of my list of symphonic, progressive bands. With this album, there's nothing new, but something better under the sun.

>>> Review by Danny (9/10) <<<

Review by richardh
3 stars Judging by other reveiws here I'm probably the only one who feels a little underwhelmed by IQ's latest album.It's a return to the complex symphonic prog of their debut 'Tales From The Lush Attic' and certainly is an ambitious effort.However by comparison very little of it is as inspired while the songs are not as good as those on 'The Seventh House' or 'Ever'.Probably IQ's weakest album since 'Are You Sitting Comfortably' but not bad all the same.It still has some polished playing from all concerned and the 24 minute 'Harvest Of Souls' should make a good live track.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I got this CD very late when all of you have got it. Pity me, I live in "rest of the world" so I got it late. This is the fastest I could get because I am lucky that my friend, Tom Malik, went to US couple weeks ago. So I got my order shipped to his hotel in Maryland. (Thanks, amazon! Great service!) Tom is one of my prog gurus in my home country. He was so lucky that he attended the CALIFONIA PROG FEST a few weeks ago and had a chance to be photographed with NEAL MORSE! Uuughhh .. What a great experience hah ..??? ----

SUMMARY. Thanks God! IQ is still consistent with their music direction. This is what Marillion should have done. They should consistent with the kind of music they played since their birth. Even with great vocal quality of Hogarth and great musicianship of instrumentalists, they actually can outperform IQ. Unfortunately, they are too proud with "just" Marbles album which is way below Dark Matter standard, I would say. Marillion is too explorative and at the end came up with an unclear musical direction. Hold on .. why should I discuss Marillion with IQ? Two reasons: 1. the two were born around the same period when music industry was highly dominated by new wave / punk, and 2. they started their career in the same vein that later was called as neo- progressive rock. So, for these two reasons, it does make sense to compare between the two. At early stage of their career, I definitely loved MARILLION more than IQ. I had been totally Marillionized! . until Fish left the band. When Hogarth came in, I am just "so and so" with Marillion - it depends on my mood. The case is significantly different with IQ. By the passage of time this band has perfected their music. I think the band reached its peak and "stabilized" with their music when they released EVER. Onwards, they always produced great albums overall!! EVER, SUBTERRANEA, THE SEVENTH HOUSE and DARK MATTER are all great albums. I don't mean their previous albums were not good. I like 'em as well.

DARK MATTER is a masterpiece. Is it too naïve? No no no..!! I have a compelling reason for this statement. The first time I listened to their concept album SUBTERRANEA I experienced almost the same thing. I sensed that the album would be a masterpiece. Indeed it is, because having been enjoying Subterranea many years I still get my adrenalin boosted when I spin the CD. Now, I feel amazed with DARK MATTER as I feel like in the journey of experiencing great music with deep, touchy and memorable melodies! I could not stand having my heart cries (uh . what is it?) with wonderful melody these guys have created in many musical segments of this album! You MUST experience yourself! BUY THIS CD! (Hey, I have no financial interest at all with the band. In fact I am not the registered fan of the band. Nicholls, Jowitt, Orford, Holmes or Cook never know my name at all. But .. I am their great fan! I love what they have been doing so far. Hope they will never "marbles" themselves .)

SACRED SOUND (11:40) takes my sense by surprise, the first time I listened to it. It starts with a church organ sound in the vein of "Watcher of The Skies". (Don't get me wrong, the band does not copy Genesis at all. When I refer to "Watcher ." it's just the musical nuance. No melody is alike.) This opening organ is so relieving. It reminds me being on the beach, laying my body to the sand and turns IQ music and enjoy. This track seems flat at the beginning. The music flows with great keyboard sound accompanying Nicholls singing. Sometimes Holmes guitar sound fills in between vocal melody. The guitar part is in the same style as IQ music; it's stunning. The interlude part is wonderful (especially in minute 9:00 onwards); excellent keyboard and guitar. This interlude really kills me! It's so fascinating!! (especially if you play it LOUD). RED DUST SHADOW (5:53) is opened with a soft acoustic guitar rhythm with keyboard sound at background. Nicholls voice enters the scene nicely ..""Lights are out on Neon Drive .". The melody part is stunning when Nicholls sings "I see the red dust shadows .." and it reaches its peak, melody-wise, at part when short instrumental part after he ends "Words can't bring you back" with simple guitar melody. The song brings us to another peak again when Nicholls sings "Tears I've tried .". What surprise me is at the end part of this track there is a mellotron (or the like) sound dominating the music; the same nuance of early KING CRIMSON. It's a great ballad song.

YOU NEVER WILL (4:54) flows seamlessly from previous track. It has more upbeat teampo with, again, great melody. The organ sound accentuates the musical nuance of this track. The interlude part at minute 3:00 is stunning: perfect harmony of keyboard and guitar sounds.

BORN BRILLIANT (5:20) may create a perception to you that this is similar to Genesis as the beats used in this track is similar to "Foxtrot"; to be specific is "Supper's Ready". It's up to you, but I think this track is definitely excellent. I especially like the solo keyboard and guitar in the middle of the track. I tend to play this track LOUDly. It's an amazing track with great ending (keyboard sound).

HARVEST OF SOULS (24:29) is en epic track with great acoustic guitar fills and vocals at intro part. Again, you may perceive the structure is of similar with the opening part of "Supper's Ready" .."Walking across the sitting room I turn my television off .". I don't blame you on this, especially on the acoustic guitar part. Luckily, the melody is much more nice here and it's more mellow. When the music enters second part "The Wrong Host" starting Nicholls sings "The sky lights up above America" . wow .. I like the organ (which sounds like a "boiling water") accompanying vocal. Really great piece here. The song moving up to higher tempo in this second part with stunning instrumentation sounds (just before Nicholls sings "I've walked a million miles .."). Well, this epic track deserves more deep review, actually. I would not do it here as you may have thought that this review is too long already.

OVERALL this album has great songwriting, composition, musicianship and good production. Production quality is not as excellent as SUBTERRANEA. That's why I just put "good" not excellent. However, buy this CD! It's a neo progressive rock to the corner, my friend! Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia

Review by Marcelo
4 stars Just a minute before putting "Dark Matter" on my cd player, I thought "the same thing again", because I have (had?) some prejudices about neo progressive, particularly about IQ. But is never too late to recognize silly mistakes, and now I'm enjoying this wonderful stuff.

OK, it is the same band sounding obviously inspired in GENESIS/ MARILLION, but compositions are in a very high level (much better than "The Seventh House", my former favorite IQ album). And, in "Dark Matter", keyboards have a very important role, like never before.

After the first four tracks with the typical IQ signature, but melodical and atmospherically better achieved, "Harvest of Souls" appears. This is the longest theme in the extense IQ discography and, IMHO, the best. Emotive, plenty of variations and classic prog keyboards invading the listener. Too beautiful, it's one of these suites that every progressive fan wants to hear again and again. Too "Genesianish"? Perhaps, and welcome.

Highly recommended album, even for those who dislike neo cliches. Surely, it will be one of the best 2004 records (probably the number one).

Review by Blacksword
4 stars I love this album, but something holds me back from awarding 5 stars. It may be that no real ground is being broken here, nothing new is being presented to the listerner. Maybe, that is unfair in itself, because what IQ have produced here is a brilliant progressive rock album. Nothing more, nothing less. It may have its ample share of Gabriel -isms, but there is no faulting the songs. They are passionate, well performed and well produced. The lyrics are intense and quite dark - Pete Nicholls is a master at this.

The opening track 'Sacred sound' had me sitting up and paying close attention right away. Superb Hammond organ work throughout, surrounding by melodic guitar licks, in some instances very Hackett like, and some unforgettable vocal melodies. The song almost brought tears to my eyes in the middle section, where nicholls accompaied by just a keyboard and a distant sounding bell, sings : 'Night falling, gathers at my heels, fear creeps along the cavalcade..' When you hear this bit you'll know what I'm talking about.

'Red dust shadow' is a poignant song, and continues the albums thread of melancholy, laced with bitterness. The song 'Born Brilliant' has a very sharp and cold edge to it. Nicholls lists all his personal failiures in a musical collage of self doubt. It's like Morissey meats Fish in a head on collision! The result is a song that grabs your attention and screams into your face. The back bone of the song is its robust though irregular rhythm, behind walls of swirling choral keyboard sounds and Nicholls acidic voice.

'Harvest of souls' closes this fine album. At almost 25 minutes, I will not attempt to disect this song into its componant parts. Suffice to say its an epic, and very topical. It forsees the fall of America, and bemoans all that the US could have been. The song has episodes of anger, and some moments of great sadness which are penned brilliantly by this underrated band. What a great thing it is to see a band penning an epic track like this in 2004. It gives one hope!!

Brilliant album. Highly recommended.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What IQ has delivered in their last effort to date is one of the absolute prog highlights of 2004. "Dark Matter" is a collection of great compositions, all if them arranged with taste and musical elegance, and performed with skill and conviction. Some have stated that no new grounds are being broken here, and I agree with them: in fact, the band's strategy at writing this new stuff sounds to me very similar to that used in "The Seventh House" - a fluid compromise between the symphonic splendour of "Ever" and the dense, somewhat distant mystery of "Subterranea". But that's not all to it. Unlike its predecessor, "Dark Matter" resumes some of the frontal rocky energy that IQ had displayed in their early recordings, so what we've got here is, all in all, a well adjusted recapitulation of the best of their 80's era - aggressive intensity - and the best of their current era - musical maturity -. Su the bottom line here is this: IQ remains loyal to the sonic creature they created, and at the same time, they introduce a healthy amount of variations to keep that creature as a still interesting invention (of course, born out of some influences that are still noticeable). The first and the last tracks are the longest ones (11+ and 24+ minutes, respectively), so it's pretty obvious that they are designed to become the highlights of the album. 'Sacred Sound' kicks off the album with a synth multi-layered interlude that soon gives way to an exhibition of maximum bombast - effective melodic lines, complex rhythm patterns, and ballsy solos on guitar and keyboard. The hyper-ambitious six-part suite 'Harvest of Souls' closes down the album with a more developed bombast. Its peaks are incarnated mostly in the dramatic contrast between the calmer and the rockier segments - some of the former are full of pure melancholy, while other are meditative and thoughtful; some of the latter are almost plethoric heavy metal, while other are clearly framed into the orchestral pomposity of your typical symph prog. I like this one better that 'The Last Human Gateway' ("Tales from the Lush Attic") and 'The Narrow Margin' ("Subterranea"), because it's more successfully cohesive than the former and more decidedly explosive that the latter. It als ocontains one of the most controversial lines in recent prog history - the words "Hide where you can / We will shoot you where you stand" frontally reek of anti-Bush spirit. They are delivered by Nicholls with a mixture of cold anger and sarcastic arrogance, making the threat sound strangely haunting. 'Red Dust Shadow' finds the band wandering smoothly along the territories of gloomy psychedelia in tight connection with the sad subject of the lyrics, and later on, in 'Born Brilliant', that same psychedelia reappears in a more directly aggressive guise. Between these two, 'You Never Will' offers a lighter display of colour, with a poppier mood, but always in tune with the overall harsh tendency comprised in the material. A special mention goes to Jowitt's bass lines, which properly sustain the song's overall cadence in perfect consonnace with its punchy mood. How about the musicians' skills? Nothing new: Holmes, Orford, Jowitt and Cook are as terrific as usual, while Peter Nicholls' emotional singing remains a peculiar factor in the band's own signature sound. In conclusion: "Dark Matter" is yet another masterpiece from my fave modern symphonic band. It feels so good not being disappointed by any band you've learned to love so much all through the years.
Review by Guillermo
4 stars This is the first IQ album that I have listened to. It is really a "Dark Matter" album, with lyrics about loneliness. Loneliness is a theme present in all the songs. Introspection, nostalgia, even depression. I don`t know if this album is really a "concept album", but the mood of the lyrics is "dark", with the singer always singing lines in first person. Musically, I think that there are several very good moments. The members of the band are really very good musicians. There are some influences from old Prog bands like Marillion (with Fish), Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd. Sometimes the music and the arrangements are so good that I wish that the lyrics were about other topics. There are sounds from old keyboards like analogic synthesizers and mellotrons. I don`t know if these sounds were created with modern digital keyboards using sound samples from those old instruments. The best songs in this album are "Sacred Ground" and "Harvest of Souls". The majestic long piece "Harvest of Souls" has some critical comments about the U.S. international politics. I was surprised to hear an English band criticizing the U.S. politics! Intelligent lyrics, in my opinion, and I did my interpretation about the lyrics in this song in particular. Listen to this album, read the lyrics, and take your own conclusions!
Review by Menswear
5 stars I find néo-prog boring, repetitive and univentive. Illuvatar, Pallas, Pendragon, Violet District, Carptree and lots of stuff by Marillion just turns me off. They all want to be Genesis so bad it's sickening. Get a grip for crying out loud. Boring and just sad.

So imagine my reserves to IQ, one of the main princes of néo-bore. And then, I'm here to say loud and proud that, as an Anglagard/ Gentle Giant/ Echolyn type of guy, I'm enjoying big time this piece of fine work. It's funny, it clicked so well at the first listen. Dark Matter really flattered the pop lover in me and got me curious of their song patterns.

First of all the voice of Peter Nicholls is much alike the one of Suede's Brett Anderson, one of the finest pop singers in UK. I had the album Head Music (5 stars) by Suede and Dark Matter is reminding me almost constantly the lightness and catchyness the record provided. The high pitched light voice, the organ keyboards and the guitar lines....everything seemed to fall into place to have a jolly good time intelligently. Sure, IQ is NOT the most challenging band around but this is why I love Dark Matter so much. When I want cool and super-catchy choruses, this is a very intelligent choice. Combines a certain amout of skills but stays accessible the whole time.

If I had to pick a néo-bore record and only one....this would be my numero uno. My first heart-shaped suggestion of 2005!

Review by Muzikman
4 stars Since this is my maiden voyage with IQ - MARILLION, The FLOWER KINGS and Peter GABRIEL came to mind more than once while listing to their spectacular new album "Dark Matter". Peter Nicholls has a very entrancing vocal style, much like the lead singers of the bands I just mentioned. If you look at the track listing, there are only five, yet if you look at the time of each individual track the time begins to pile up very quickly.

The way "Sacred Sound" opens up the album, it makes you feel that a Lon Chaney movie is about to begin, not to worry though, everything changes and develops quite rapidly inside an IQ song. "Harvest Of Souls," their curtain closing magnum opus chimes in at 24:29 and it is sheer brilliance, prog-rock at its very best, it gave me chills up and down my spine several times. Soaring sweet vocals punctuated by powerful guitar riffs and sweeping magnificent keyboard strokes are what their songs consist of. In its entirety, this album is the stuff dreams are made of, you can take that to the bank. Any prog-rock enthusiast will devour this ear candy with splendor; I have absolute confidence in that. I would go as far as saying that it rivals MARILLION's new masterpiece "Marbles", and that my friends is a huge compliment as that album will stand as one of the best of 2004, and I have no doubt that this one will as well, it is that strong. "Born Brilliant" is a song that cuts like a razor's edge with thoughts and attitudes that come from the depths of a deranged mind.

The first verse goes like this - "I'm cold and unapproachable, deceptive and a fraud, don't need to keep attention, I hate to be ignored, the soul of no discretion, belligerent, won't think outside the box, I'm critical and careless, my open mind is shut and firmly locked." and "The baggage that I carry would sink a thousand ships." Oh my, sounds like the kind of person you would want to avoid at all cost!

The cover is unquestionably eye grabbing isn't it? It reminds me of the scene in the Wizard of OZ when Dorothy and her cohorts bring the broom of the wicked witch of the west to the fiery wizard. The title of the album obviously points to the dark matter or matters should I say that lie in the depth of our brains, the stuff nobody wants to admit or ever talk about. Nothing is taboo in the world of music and it is the best vehicle for our subconscious minds to play out all of those less tasteful scenarios and fantasies. Some songs always say everything we really want to say in our heart of hearts. I may have not been born brilliant (thank God) but I know great music when I hear it, this is a superb rendering of progressive rock wizardry. To think that this is only the beginning for me, how exciting is that? Now I must seek out their entire back catalog and see what else that is in the dark matter of IQ to explore.

Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is the only IQ album I have heard to date. On the first listen a few months ago I found it totally unimpressive and wondered what all the fuss was about, but there are these little riffs scattered here and there that made me want to listen again, and after a few spins I was finally hooked. It's symphonic neo-Progressive music and very accessible (but not simplistic, by any means). To those who dislike the epithet 'neo-Prog', I can't apologise as the sound fits my concept of what the term represents. The playing and production are absolutely top-notch. If you like PENDRAGON's music, you'll probably like this album too.

Is it just me, or does Peter Nicholls sound like Neil Tennant of PET SHOP BOYS?! Can't say it's my favourite voice, but Nicholls does sing well.

'Sacred Sound' starts off almost sounding like TANGERINE DREAM before a catchy beat takes over and the track turns into quite a catchy song with a good tune replete with keyboards. The aforementioned keyboards are very pleasant, as are all the other instruments. There is even some ecclesiastical-sounding organ in there with the synthesizers to make classic-Prog fans feel at home.

'Red Dust Shadow' is a mellower affair, with a killer guitar riff that comes in short bursts throughout the track, just to tantalise you. I'm slightly reminded of PORCUPINE TREE by this one. This track I find very pleasing.

'You Never Will' is a catchy number, starting with the tick-tock of a clock and a funky bass.

The machine sounds on 'Born Brilliant' are very reminiscent of the FLOYD's 'Welcome To The Machine'. In fact, come to think of it, this track seems to borrow from the FLOYD quite a bit. Another good track.

'Harvest Of Souls' is a 24-minute mega track, and has generated polemic in a forum on this Web site due to its criticism of the USA. I'm a little ashamed to say that, if it weren't for the forum discussion, I would probably not yet have realised the subject matter: I just don't really take-in the lyrics on this album, despite the singing being clear as a bell and mixed to the front. I suppose I'm too busy following the tunes. The CD comes with a nice booklet with all the lyrics, so I'll have to read it sometime, although I feel no great urge to do so.

Perhaps I'm not taking the lyrics on any of the tracks as seriously as I should simply because I hear catchy and rather commercial tunes. Can't say for sure, but I'm more inclined to whistle or hum than follow the words. OK, 'Harvest Of Souls' has short bursts of 'serious' sounds such as soldiers drilling, emulated machinegun fire and shelling plus some more-intense instrumental parts, but much of the music itself still sounds quite upbeat to me. 'Harvest Of Souls', like 'Red Dust Shadow', tantalises here and there with some catchy guitar riffs and melodies. I read reviews using words like "dark" and "profound" which are at odds with the music I hear. I'll just have to make the effort to concentrate on the words, I suppose.

The bottom line: good melodies, good playing, good production, good instruments and 'incidentals', and well sung (albeit with a voice not quite to my taste). Quite a commercial feel, despite all the clever Progressive Rock keyboards and other fancy sounds (but I happily listen to all sorts of music, so I have no trouble there). I'm not sure what it is about the album that stops me shouting about it from the rooftops but, whatever it is, it's frustrating. I find the music rather like marzipan: I have to keep trying it to see if I like it or not. I bought the CD after listening several times to all the tracks, so I suppose I must like it! I don't know why I still feel ambivalent about the music but, given my uncertainty, I'm going for 3 stars on this one (Good, but non-essential).

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars IQ is one my favorite neo prog band: the last 3 albums, Ever, Subterranea and Seventh house, have a perfect atmospheric & emotional neo prog full of organ and modern keyboards. However, IQ definitely removed the atmospheric, modern & fresh mood on Dark Matter, and they rather use vintage keyboards, mostly organ, mellotron, mini moog and piano. So, this album is no longer neo prog. What happens when you expect another album sounding like the 3 previous ones, and rather discover a come back to the old school? Disappointment would be the first reaction. Despite Dark Matter remains very good, it contains many irritating elements.

"Sacred ground" contains one the the best drums parts by Paul Cook: very fast and elaborated. Plus, the organ sound is absolutely outstanding: after the 9th minute, this floating organ BURNS like an infinite source of energy, shining over the other instruments!

"Red dust shadow" is less good: i don't like the effect on the synthesizer and on the lead vocals, recalling me the dull style on some of the Marillion's Brave album parts.

"You never will" is their worst track! Actually, I'm wondering if it is not the worst track by IQ! Apart the main refrain, the music seems to go nowhere! It is absolutely not catchy at all. Even the moog solo is accompanied by textures that go nowhere. Thanks God, Cook's drums are excellent, and the final too short guitar solo is among the best one on this album, at least for the sound and the melody.

"Born brilliant" starts with the "Welcome to the machine" sound (Wish you were here), followed by an excellent floating mellotron? sounding like "Silent sorrow in empty boats" (Lamb lies down on Broadway). Unfortunately, the track is, again, very ordinary, as reveals the very low frequency keyboards sounds and repetitive boring slow beat.

Fortunately, the last track, "Harvest of souls", lasting around 24 minutes, is the best and the most progressive one of the album. Nicholls sings very well, and it seems Orford abundantly uses organ and piano. The track has very well synchronized fast parts, however not really bringing emotion nor addiction. I prefer the mellow parts, because they are more catchy and atmospheric. At 8:40, we have the really first catchy atmospheric part of the album, reminding the moods on the previous albums, although the keyboards and the electric guitar solos could be more expressive. There are many bizarre dark sounds, probably created by voices and keyboards, which are really annoying. At 12:20, there is another atmospheric & catchy part, rhythmic piano oriented, very pleasant to hear, despite, more than ever, the lack of shine from the guitar department. At 21:20, you have the feeling to hear another version of the finale of "Common ground" (Nomzamo)! This part is the third and final catchy atmospheric one on this track.

Nicholls's voice is often less meowing, more serious and better.

Dark Matter has obviously weak points: the electric guitar lacks some sound enhancement, especially the solos: the sound is more conservative, removing a significant ambience that was so pleasant to hear on the previous albums, because of the guitar sound. We feel a loss of global solidarity from each instrument, as if each musician was playing in his corner. Finally, needless to say that Martin Orford tries here some sonorities that are not really convincing.

Finally, this record is not better than Nomzamo! I wish IQ come back to their previous modern, catchy, emotional and atmospheric sound!

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Imagine this (admittedly unlikely) scenario: after the release of Seconds Out, Phil Collins left Genesis to concentrate on his solo career. Rutherford, Banks and Hackett recruited a new drummer and a Peter Gabriel styled vocalist and set about refining their 1970s musical style - the result would have sounded something like this. The guitar usually sounds like Hackett, the keyboards like Banks and the bass like Rutherford. Paul Cook plays drums in a more straightforward rock style than Collins, but acquits himself well.

This is my first IQ album. I've never been a great fan of neo prog, but this is a genuinely good album even if it is highly derivative - as well as the melange of Genesis influences there are elements of Pink Floyd's Welcome To The Machine and Yes's Gates of Delirium added to the recipe. The playing is solid and the writing is melodic and well crafted, without ever really becoming inspired, but there are no substandard tracks either. Thankfully, they avoid over reaching themselves, and they wisely leave out the kind of 'comedy' numbers that so frequently misfired on early Genesis and ELP albums. The 24 minute epic 'Harvest of Souls' could be 'Supper's Ready' part 2, but IQ are sufficiently accomplished writers and performers to pull it off.

Essentially, Dark Matter is the kind of album they don't make any more. It could have been recorded at any time in the last 25 years, but it's a more solid, well crafted and well produced album than any of their main inspirations have released in that time. If you're looking for an enjoyable slice of 70s style prog this is the CD for you, but don't expect any innovation or adventurousness.

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've never been a fan of the neo-prog sound. While Marillion made some great music, there at least 50 classic progressive rock bands whose sound I prefer to the tones of Marillion and I certainly have had very little time for the "lesser lights" of neo-prog like Pendragon, Pallas, Galahad and Violet District. Until now, that is.

I must say that while I'd heard a smattering of IQ music over the years, Dark Matter was the first album I sat through properly (for the record I've owned and sold Pendragon and Galahad albums). I really enjoyed this album which I thought to be a clever blend of synth-driven pop and creative rock music. In fact, as time has gone on, I've come to rank this work as a contender alongside Marillion's Script For A Jester's Tear and Misplaced Childhood as the best neo-prog album ever.

The opener Sacred Sound took me a while to get into, and in fact for a long time was my least favourite of the 5 pieces here, but I now really enjoy the bass-work, the church organ interludes and Martin Orford's synth leads towards the end. Red Dust Shadow starts off life as a murky acoustic guitar piece before Peter Nicholls kicks in with a lovely vocal melody that will appeal to most fans of melodic rock. A swell of strings and psychedelic keyboard fills lead to a build-up and an epic-sounding riff which only confirms that IQ were listening to a lot of Pink Floyd at the time they made this (I also kept thinking of Suede's Dog Man Star album incidentally).

You Never Will is a different beast althogether. After a ticking-clock intro, the main song kicks in. Powered by a rumbling bass, it boasts an intriguing verse and an absolutely glorious (and somehow rather massive) chorus. After this fun goes on for a couple of rounds, a stunning but all too-brief synth solo bursts in. It turns out to be a teaser for a lovely outro that sees more solo-ing before the chorus returns to wrap proceedings up. It is a fantastic song that finally confirmed my affection for this band. The snide Born Brilliant is a vocally dominated cut, that bursts (after a couple of minutes) into one of those stop-start rhythms that modern prog bands are oh-so-fond-of. It's far from "conventional" symphonic prog, but I really like this song.

Harvest Of Souls is the 25 minute epic that defines the album. It opens with layered guitars and a pop melody, but around the 4 minute mark band joins in with the "America" sub-section and things really take off. At the 6 minute mark a drum roll heralds a juicy, dark and very fast interlude of virtuositic playing. Yes fans will definitely hear echoes of Heart Of The Sunrise at one point. I love the synth melody that comes in at 9 minute before the songs returns to its intro melody. Then at the 11 minute mark there is a nice organ led section with some horror movie effects that are added to by massed vocals, at the 16 minute mark Nicholls comes in with another biting vocal section. At the 18 minute mark another off-beat moment comes in that's a dead ringer for a segment of Genesis' Supper's Ready. When I first got into this album, I used to think that the outro was dragged on a little too long and actually felt a sense of relief when it all finally ended, but I'm now totally into the great melodies and epic feel of Harvest of Souls.

Surely one of the greatest prog albums of the decade, I find that I enjoy Dark Matter a little more every time I return to it, which is surprisingly often ... 70% on the MPV scale

Review by Heptade
5 stars The old, ugly neo vs. whatever prog argument always raises its head when IQ album is up for review. This album appears to gave gained the most acclaim of all the group's albums because it sounds the most traditionally "prog" (meaning sorta sounds like Genesis or Yes). That may be so. The band's previous work was very "neo", meaning, I guess, more concise, very melodic songs that sound like an intellectual AOR. Those albums were enjoyable, but not amongst my favourites, although I really like "The Seventh House". Neo or not, "Dark Matter" finds IQ stepping up their game, big time, and maybe it is because of the more tradional 70s-ish sounds. The first 4, shorter tracks, are more typical IQ- intensely melodic pop tunes, with great keyboard textures from Orford. He really makes an impact on this album with a selection of vintage patches, of which I am happy to say mellotron is the most prominent. The lyrics are equally intense. Some don't like the vicious "Born Brilliant", but I think Nicholls' sharp analysis of a narcissistic personality is, well, brilliant. The album's crowning glory, however, is "Harvest of Souls", 25 minutes of searing criticism of the new post 9/11 world order. It works so well for me because the lyrics are still poetic, but current as well, showing that "prog" is not a dinosaur genre at all- contemorary commentary can be expressed beautifully through the medium of this music. And there are so many wonderful melodies packed into the piece that I can't even bother counting. The musicianship is awesome, and I could enjoy listening to the bass and drum interaction alone. Every moment counts, right down to Mike Holmes' awesome closing solo, a perfect emotional resolution worthy of Gilmour or Latimer. This was unquestionably album of the year for me, simply because every song is a pleasure, genre be damned.
Review by Prog-jester
5 stars The atmosphere I like the most. A very dark and even kinda gothic. The opening track is greatly cold; "Red Dust Shadow" has one of my favouritest breaks here ("tears I've cried... "); the third one is a bit short and KCrimsonic but with nice neo-prog refrain; "BORN BRILLIANT" - !!! - one of my favourities EVER with biting lyrics and the most driving beat I heard from them (very unusual). "Harvest of Souls",a "Supper's Ready" of 21th century, now is my FAVOURITEST epic from 2000s so far! When the closing part (from 15:36) begins, you may understand why Neo-Prog is still alive and living well. You MUST experience this. Run to the shops!!!
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars A bumper harvest

"Dark Matter" has become something of a controversial album on the forum section of this site, due to the lyrics of the feature track "Harvest of souls", which are perceived to be critical of the USA. While I do not intend to become embroiled in that debate, it is interesting to consider that had the album been made by an Italian prog band, most English speaking people would have been none the wiser, and assessed the album purely on the quality of the music.

It is impossible to ignore the lyrical content completely, but I intend here to focus primarily on the musical aspects. To do so is in fact a highly rewarding move, as there is much to enjoy, to the extent that I consider this to be IQ's best album to date (of those I have heard!).

A criticism often directed at neo-prog bands is that they lack originality, or do not "filter" their influences sufficiently. There are certainly more than passing references to the music of Gabriel/Hackett era Genesis throughout "Dark Matter", but the question really should be "does this matter"? With Genesis having long since abandoned the idea of making a pure prog album, we should perhaps be grateful for the fact that bands such as IQ are carrying the torch.

"Dark matter" has a mere 5 tracks in total, with three shorter 5-6 minute tracks being book-ended by a pair of neo-prog classics.

The album opens with "Sacred ground", a 12 minute epic which borrows significantly from Genesis "Watcher of the skies". The solo mellotron intro and Hackett like guitar work sound wonderfully familiar, with only the lighter more pop like vocals of Peter Nicholls betraying the fact that this is a much more recent release. The track is highly melodic, with plenty of instrumental passages.

Of the short tracks, both "Red dust shadow" with its "Seven stones" like mellotron ending, and "Born Brilliant" with its simplified "Apocalypse in 9/8" rhythm, offer further nods to early Genesis.

The final track, "Harvest of souls" is a magnificent 24 minute epic in the strongest traditions of all that is good about prog. The choral mellotron sound used here, and the initial structure of the track reminded me of Pendragon, and specifically "The shadow" from Masquerade overture". Later, a staccato instrumental pays tribute to the early music of Yes, and when the band sing the word "America" it further puts in mind Yes' cover of the Simon and Garfunkel song of that name. It's good to hear too some old fashioned stereo (speaker to speaker) effects with the mellotron sound later. The track moves seamlessly from section to section before reaching the climactic ending featuring more Hackett like guitar.

Coming to this album, my expectations were limited. I have enjoyed the music of IQ presented on previous albums, but considered them to be lower league. "Dark matter" however represents a true masterpiece of the genre.

Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've been experiencing IQ's latest, DARK MATTER (2004) for a few weeks now, in preparation for writing this review, and I have immensely enjoyed the task. With some discs, listening enough times to write knowledgeably about the contents can be a decided chore, but that has certainly not been the case with this fine slice of "neo" prog.

Now, some of you may object to the whole notion of "neo prog." You may believe - not without reason - that this present-day prog should more accurately be dubbed "regressive progressive" or "retro prog," because it tends to stick firmly to "the path laid long before," instead of taking the genre to any really new territory. That's a mindset you are entitled to hold, and one review of mine is not likely to change your mind if you tend to think that it was all over for truly "progressive" rock after the mid to late 70s.

True, when I listen to the classic "symphonic" prog sound of IQ, I am immediately aware that the band - whether consciously, or by "osmosis" - derives its chief inspiration from classic Genesis, but I have no problem with that. I'm a huge fan of early Genesis, but as that first-rank progressive group stopped making consistently top-quality prog around 1977, I am grateful for the existence of bands who, like IQ, can convincingly deliver strong new material in the style of the old masters, without being slavishly imitative or too obviously derivative. Yes, it's a fine line that "neo prog" bands tread in the quest to appeal to fans of a bygone era (while yet being acceptably "original" enough so as not become a mere parody of the past), and IQ navigate that artistic high wire more sure-footedly than most. With DARK MATTER, the seasoned English outfit (they've been together for over twenty years) have released one of the most satisfying works of their extensive catalogue.

All of the five songs found here are quite good, for my tastes, yet two are particular standouts. Album opener "Sacred Sound" blows me away with its scope, power, and memorable lyrics, choruses, and melodies - I've even caught my wife and kids singing along. A prog song's ability to appeal to a broad audience might seem like a decided non-recommendation to some purists, but I believe it points to successful and relevant songwriting within the strictures of a style that can often be difficult for mainstream music fans to relate to. (See Rush, Yes's "Roundabout" or Pink Floyd's DARK SIDE OF THE MOON for classic examples of such "crossover hits" that managed to retain intelligence and integrity.) "Sacred Sound" is simply a darn good prog song of epic proportions (almost twelve minutes), that you'll likely find yourself playing often, and loudly. Sing along on the chorus, if you wish - it's okay to find pleasure in the present! Yep, "Sacred Sound" is alone almost enough to justify shelling out your shekels for DARK MATTER.

The CD's major work, however, is the over twenty-four minute opus "Harvest of Souls." Unlike some, I won't go so far as to directly compare it to Genesis' masterpiece "Supper's Ready" - that would be near sacrilege -- but if you're ready for a challenging, engaging and varied longer prog song (that has a release date well after the bell bottoms and peace sign period) look no further! IQ is a band well able to deliver prog's alternating passages of power and sensitivity with practiced ease, and it all comes wonderfully together here, with writing, vocals and musicianship that push all the right buttons - a truly satisfying epic!

As for the other three tracks that fill the space between those weighty numbers, "Red Dust Shadow" is an unnerving/melancholy treatment of loss and regret, while "You Never Will" picks up the pace, while still sticking with the album's prevailing thematic "dark matter." Paul Cook's drumming is especially hard-hitting here, and Michael Holmes' lead soars.

"Born Brilliant" is another winner that starts out slow and creepy, before a driving bass and keyboard line from John Jowitt and Martin Orford, respectively, asserts itself for the remainder of a song that also cries out for high volume delivery. The evocative lyrics, Peter Nicholls' voice and Holmes' guitar all work notably well for me on this one.

Thus, if you're at all receptive to "neo" prog, and the efforts of newer bands that draw their antecedents from a vaunted vanished day, you would do well to buy this fine CD. DARK MATTER would be an excellent addition to the collection of the open-minded prog fan who is not "stuck in the 70s." Turn it up, and smile again!

Review by Bob Greece
5 stars I first found out about IQ from the site and what a find they have turned out to be. Dark Matter contains such variety, I think that even prog fans who don't normally like neo prog will be interested in this release. The quality of the playing is excellent and Peter Nicholls has a unique and brilliant voice. Every track on this album is quality. The album finishes with the 24 minute epic Harvest of Souls. This is a prog classic. The ending of Harvest of Souls is just a perfect end to a great song and a great album. I'll certainly be buying more IQ CDs.
Review by chopper
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I haven't been entirely convinced by IQ in the past. Subterranea is good, but I haven't liked some of their other stuff. This album has changed my mind however, it's by far the best thing I've heard from IQ. It starts off with the powerful "Sacred Sound" in 7/4, which has a splendid chorus and some nice keyboard/guitar work. "Red Dust Shadow" starts off with some gentle acoustic guitar and builds up to a powerful ending. "You Never Will" is a mid-pace song with some nice Banks-ish keyboard work. "Born Brilliant" reminds me a bit of Pink Floyd, but the real gem here is the 25 minute epic "Harvest Of Souls". I won't comment on the lyrics which I haven't studied yet, but this is probably the best prog "epic" I've heard since "Awaken". It starts off with gentle acoustic guitar reminiscent of "Entangled" or the intro to "Supper's Ready" and this section has one of the most beautiful melodies I've ever heard in prog ("day after day"). There is some nice keyboard mellotron backing. This is the best section of the song for me but it builds into a real epic making this album an essential purchase for IQ and Genesis fans, if only for this song.
Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars I had huge expectations from this album because it was such an acclaimed one in the reviews in progrock mgazines all over the world. And I'm an IQ fan from the beginning and I have embraced them since Marillion was no longer my taste after Fish left and Steve Hogarth came. But this album is not mine, it has so many obvious hints to so many symphonic rock dinosaurs that it sounds like a BBC Progrock Quiz Hour! Of course there is plenty to enjoy on this album but at least half of this album my attention is slipping away.

Sorry but I cannot understand all those euphoric reviews, I'm more pleased with new progrock bands like NEMO, NEXUS, AMAGRAMA, ANGULART, MIKROMIDAS, BIJOU and JAIME ROSAS CUARTETO, they deserve more attention on this wonderful site, in my opinion.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Intense, intelligent, incredible, insightful, intuitive, these are all words I think of when I think of the letter I in the context of the band IQ. If you listened to this album, you would agree with me. Although it isn't the greatest IQ album (I reserve that for their debut), this one is nothing but stunning, with intense atmosphere, intelligent and insightful lyrics, and incredible and intuitive musicianship. Whether you're a fan of The Wake or a fan of The Seventh House, there is something to enjoy on this album, from the anxious opening of Sacred Sound with the Supper's Ready type ending of Harvest of Souls.

Sacred Sound opens the album. A strong 7/4 main theme combined with some top- notch lyrical and vocal material create a sense of ambiguity as the band connects and cohesively tramples through the song. Red Dust Shadow is a more somber song, with remorseful lyrics in "Oh no, no, where did my daddy go?" and some strong guitar from Mike Holmes. You Never Will is the next track, which again takes a slower pace at first, and then picks up during the chorus. Born Brilliant finds Peter Nicholls in the middle of self-analysis with such phrases as "I'm cold and unapproachable/Deceptive and a fraud", and more strong riffs continue, most notably a 6/4 riff that has a reprisal in the next track, the epic to end all epics as it seems to be.

Harvest of Souls has strong Genesis overtones in that it is structured similarly in the very beginning and end. 12 string guitar and keyboard dominate the first 4 minutes of the song, and then as the second section The Wrong Host begins, the main musical theme of the song begins. This song is often debated because of its anti-American sentiments "The hand of God defends America/And who would not defend America?" but despite this, the track has some stunning work from all members of the group, especially Mike Holmes, who shines throughout with lead and rhythm work.

Overall, IQ hit the mark again with this sensational statement of an album. Hopefully they will grace America one day with a tour, but until then, we can only wait. This album is one of their very best, although it doesn't have that masterpiece feel to it. My only real gripe is that sometimes the riffs feel out of place or they sound a little off-beat, but maybe that's just me. You can't get much better than this, I give this a very high recommendation for those who are just getting into IQ. 4/5.

Review by NJprogfan
4 stars Right from the start, the latest album by my favorite Neo band roxs! In fact, the first two tracks remind me of past glories, circa the "Ever" album; gloomy, gothic and just plain IQish! No one does it like them! Track three, 'You Never Will' is a short track, but I really enjoy their short ones and for some reason, I gravitate to the drumming. It's so interesting how Cook uses such a light touch here and there, especially during the chorus. I love it! After 'Born Brillant' comes the track most people comment about, the mammoth 'Harvest of Souls', there 'Close To The Edge' if you will. Does it stand up? Not exactly. Oh, it has it's moments. After the relative calm of the beginning, pseudo machine gun ala guitar roar in and begin the ascent into the middle section which I enjoy the most. It runs its course about 20 minutes in and goes a bit flat to the end. Yet, for all its faults, the lyrics never let up and neither does Paul's voice. Man, has it held up during all these years, (saw them at NEARfest last year...awesome!). So, if you have enjoyed the last few albums, then you'll no doubt enjoy this one. For first time listeners, it's not a bad choice, although I'd start out with "Ever". So take a dip into some 'Dark Matter'!
Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars When progressive really started to take over my music listening, people told me to try Pallas, Pendragon, and IQ. I've invested heavily in all three and have been pleasantly surprised. None as much as IQ's Dark Matter. It was the first IQ I bought and is still my favorite (barely edging out Subterranea).

All of the tracks on this disc are amazing; however, "Harvest Of Souls" just really shines. It's 20+ minutes of different colors and moods that simply sucks you in. A truly amazing effort by an outrageously talented band! I look forward to the follow up!

Review by sleeper
4 stars IQ's album Dark Matter is my introduction to this Neo-Prog band. Having heard that they are contemporaries of Marillion but (at least originally) they weren't quite in the same league, I decided to find out for myself what this five-some are like. In short, I am impressed by this work and thoroughly enjoy it.

After Listening to this album the thing that strikes me most is that this appears to be a band that are trying to make music that could be passed of in the charts and produce 10+ minute epics that could be placed in the Pantheon of prog greatness alongside such luminaries like Marillion and Yes. And to an extent they succeed. The middle three tracks Red Dust Shadow, You'll Never Know and Born Brilliant are quite obviously attempts to create the prog pop single, even if they were never going to be treated as such by anyone. But don't let that stop you from listening to these tracks as they are well thought out and constructed with rather thoughtful lyrics. Each of these songs contains something unique that other songs on this album don't share.

Now for the epics. The opus, Harvest Of Souls is actually one of the better 20 minute + songs that I've heard. It starts with a nice and long acoustic start, going to a nice, mellow tune with lyrics that are, most likely, taking the mick out of America and the way that the international community believes that America views the world. For those that don't like these kind of lyrics, ignore them and enjoy the music instead. This moves on to a much harder edged sound before the album closes in another of their nice melodies. However this song does bare a striking resembalence to the Genesis classic Suppers Ready, right down to the structer and length of the song. I think that this song takes the mik out of more than just America, with its similarities to Genesis being so overt that I wouldnt be supprised if it was deliberatly done as a twisted joke, whilst still trying to maintain their musical integraty. The album opener Sacred Sound is a good semi-epic with a strong uplifting feel to it, but it doesn't strike me as a classic, just a good song and that really sums up the album, its good but not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination.

Get it if your a fan of Neo Prog, or just a general prog fan. If your not a Neo prog fan then you'll probably hate it with the possible exception of Harvest Of Souls. Me, I like it so I'll give it 4 stars.

Review by evenless
4 stars IQ - Dark Matter

I discovered IQ by their brilliant last album "Dark Matter" and what an introduction is was! As many reviews already have been written about this album I will keep it brief.

"Dark Matter" is probably one of IQ's best albums up-to-date, together with "Ever", "Subterranea" and "The Seventh House".

Anyone who liked "Marillion" or "Genesis" in the Peter Gabriel - era, should give IQ a chance, because it certainly is a great band and their fine lyrics, great instrumentation and harmonic compositions really stand out.

"Dark Matter" is one of the finest IQ compositions because of its variety in songs, varying from the pumping up-tempo track "Born Brilliant" to the >20 minute epos "Harvest Of Souls" about the attacks on America on September the 11th 2001. Especially part II from "Harvest Of Souls", called "The Wrong Host" kicking off by "The Sky lights up above America." is simply beautiful!

I think this album deserves 4.5 stars (9/10) , but as we have to limit 5 stars to the real "masterpieces of progressive rock" only, I will rate it 4 stars.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars An absolute masterpiece. This is IQ at their best, even surpassing their 1997 opus magnum Subterranea. If that album was at some points overly long, if that conceptual art piece had a couple too many songs (actually, most of the second disc), Dark Matter, with only 5 tracks, has not one track, or better said, has not one MINUTE too many! The absolute equilibrium achieved by the english greats between long and short tracks, mellow and complicated moments, electric and acoustic sounds, atmospheric and vibrant moods, is a testament to this band's deserved place among prog-rock's all-time masters. As a matter of fact, personally, of the original "neo-prog" groups that were born from Genesis's womb in the 80's, is not Marillion but IQ that really captures my heart and mind, and were it not for Arena, it would be my favorite of all Neo-prog. And mainly because of this rock-painting the british have crafted.

Besides the fact that IQ is formed by extremely talented instrumentalists, this quintet is what it is because of their marvelous singer: Peter Nicholls has a distinct, unique voice, capable of reaching high notes but also capable of incredibly delicate melody-singing, a powerful voice that manages to stand out of the rich music that provides him a canvas background few artists have at their disposal. If we were to draw comparisons, maybe the closest one would be to Jon Anderson, the legendary frontman of Yes. But that's trying to find vocals that resemble Nicholls' at any cost, for, the truth is, he's in a dimension of his own.

Sacred Sound (10/10), a fantastic semi-epic that starts in a dark mood, grows incesantly and when the vocal part appears turns into a totally IQ-ish sounding track, a showcase for Nicholls capabilities with a great chorus that returns twice before the instrumental section, an amazing keyboard-guitar tour de force, and re-appears near the finale, in all his glory. A dark song that develops into a illuminated, self-assuring anthem. Fantastic.

Red Dust Shadow (8/10), the lesser track in the album...and it's still great! A very melodic, mellow song, short, where the vocal chords master Nichollos once again has his chance to shine as the portent he is. Beautiful keyboards.

You never will (10/10), now this is what I love about prog and about this particular band: a short, relatively simple song that is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. After the clock ticks, the main riff blasts into the stage with all the power of affirmative keyboard chords and thunderous bass. After the verse, one of the best, if not THE best, in all of IQ's chorus: a catchy-yet- deep, a imposing, definitive musical statement about this art form's utter simplicity and beauty in that simplicity. Outstanding.

Born Brilliant, (8/10) a great track that starts in full Pink Floyd mood, close to that of Welcome to The machine. Ironic lyrics talk off stubborness, dumbness, in other words, this song pays hommage to US President's Bush's brilliant mind...

Harvest of Souls (10/10), an amazing epic dealing, again, with America and his utter brilliance in going to a war... It starts slow, pensive, sad, then erupts, then becomes a kind of burlesque-anthem pro-america (off course, is the opposite), then it goes back to the tense momenst of the beginning, and finally explodes in angry affirmation of principles and ideas. All of this performed with the highest level of musicianship and sung by one of the genres's best voices. Incredible.

Recommended for: EVERYBODY. GET ONE. If you have to stop eating for a day in order to hear this music, well, water is man's real life-giver, water, and MUSIC LIKE THIS.

Review by The Prognaut
5 stars Masterpiece. I mean, truly a masterpiece. These days, I don't get easily amazed by all means but "Dark Matter" certainly left me eyes wide open. This album's got to be the best piece of work by the English band that among others, gave birth to Neo Prog. "Dark Matter" is a strong, mighty album. To me, it has become a turning point on nowadays prog scene, reaching the unthinkable in such little time. Meaning, even though twenty-one years had to go by from their first studio release in order for IQ to heavenly display their most powerful creation, "Dark Matter" rapidly took one step after another in the progressive preferences of fans and media to conquer the pinnacle of their promising career that started back in the early eighties, the most convulsed decade for Progressive Rock to outstand in my opinion.

I came across "Dark Matter" out of chance. As I've underlined a couple of times over several reviews, some albums are quite difficult to get around here. But happily, IQ is setting off at the display cd-racks among the most respectable prog rock bands at the principal record stores here in Mexico. Well, I ended up going for it after constant recommendations from my prog fellows. They were quite short on their appreciation about this jewel, "Dark Matter" breaks off every possible musical boundaries.

Now, let's get down to it. The album takes off with "Sacred Sound". Deeply, this obscure sound of keyboards create such a mystical ambiance for the perfect start to "Dark Matter". Clattering cymbals meddle in between to let us scream in silence out of the power of a thunder struck drum. The song flows down a captivating, constant beat. The slight approach of a backing guitar joins carefully to make the choirs sparkle bright, and just by the beginning of the climax, that guitar crunches away with the supporting sound of some church-like music coming out of Martin ORFORD's Korg CX-3 Organ. An almost twelve minutes long breaking scene was just the perfect touch to carry this album away.

Kicking right after, "Red Dust Shadow" settles on comfortably through the strings of this paused acoustic guitar taken away by Michael HOLMES. The hypnotic voice of Peter NICHOLLS lead us all the way throughout revealing, deep lyrics that speak of reminiscent memories and some bitter-like childhood experiences. If not feeling disturbed enough at this point, "You Never Will" would do the trick for you. Ticking, tapping, unease noises coming out this anxious clock waiting to burst out, open up a clear view to what's about to be displayed in this third chapter. The tuned up sound of John JOWITT's Rickenbacker 4003, shuts that clock up just to clear the way for thundering drums to appear. Then again by the middle of the song, more of the same musical dose to make your head spin, but this time, along the keys of Mr. ORFORD's Kurzweil K-2500.

"Born Brilliant" is not only the prologue to a marvelous epic, it is indeed an outstanding song that clearly shows the power and the passion put together to accomplish this album. There are a couple of things that caught my attention immediately. This is a song where the bass guitar outstands from the rest of the instruments. I used to consider that listening to a wailing guitar all along during a track, was more than spiritual reward to my ears. But this time, I enjoyed that bass guitar more than the rest of the instrumentation. And secondly, the harsh lyrics. Remarkable song writing I must say. Very acid, relentless and simply amazing. I like that sarcastic yet edgy touch on a song, and well, the title to this track pretty much gives away that essence to me.

Thus, the epilog suite that under my appreciation, turned this record into the "Best Prog Rock Album" of 2004. I think of the previous four steps to be taken on this album to get to this point, as a red carpet to reveal such a brilliant creation. "Harvest Of Souls" has become a must among my favorite top epics, it's got the wit, the passion, the strength, the entireness, the wonderful music, the provocative lyrics and all in all, the detailed musical progressiveness. When all that happens within the depths of a single song like this one, you truly believe that almost 25 minutes of total running time are not only more than not even enough, but even the beginning to enjoy such a lyrical dream. I consider the context described in "Harvest Of Souls" as the voice of millions, besides the itchy lyrics and the impressive arrangements; as the tormented ambiguity represented on a map of the world. Like I said at the very beginning of this review, this very piece of work transcends far beyond every possible musical frontier and gets straight into our mind, soul and heart. Somehow, this is a novel of our nowadays global landscape, described in six episodes ("First Of The Last", "The Wrong Host", "Nocturne", "Frame And Form", "Mortal Procession" & "Ghosts Of Days") that speak out loud and irreparably soulful. Just let yourselves drift away into this song, and you'll surely come up with you own perspective. This is IQ to the world.

Review by Chicapah
1 stars This was my first foray into the category known as neo-progressive. I wanted to explore a bit and, encouraged by some favorable reviews, I decided to give IQ a try. Let me say up front that I imagine the members of this group do the very best they can and most likely work very hard at their craft. However, I have listened to this CD five or six times now and I've given it every fair chance to grow on me but I always come away thinking that these guys are just never going to be anything more than the "B" team. The junior varsity. The runners-up. In other words, no matter how hard he tries, the singer will never be as good as Gabriel, the drummer will never be as proficient as Bruford, the keyboard man will never be the equal of Emerson. Well, you get the picture. And there's nothing wrong with that. We all can't be virtuosos. And perhaps that wouldn't matter if they weren't such obvious and inferior copycats of the great progressive rock groups of the 1970s.

The album starts out promisingly enough with swelling synthesized strings leading into an organ-based pattern in 7/8 time. I'm thinking that this is the kind of stuff I like. I'm anticipating great things. Then Peter Nichols starts singing "Sacred Sound." He has a nasally voice. He sounds sorta like David Bowie during his "Space Oddity" phase but not nearly that gifted. Meanwhile, the band seems to be playing the song (and most of the album) completely devoid of any feel. There's no depth to the sound and it's extremely sterile. They then transition into a sequence that is weakly imitative of late 70s Genesis before introducing a sappy melodramatic melody that sounds like something Styx would have done on one of their early albums. Lyrically we get lines like "Night falling gathers at my heels, lines the contours of the cold parade." which take us nowhere. They segue into a direct aping of Rick Wakeman's cathedral organ bit from "Close to the Edge" before returning to the fast-paced Genesis-like riff and ending the whole thing abruptly. "Red Dust Shadow" starts off with a nice acoustic guitar and a decent melody but once again words such as "No, no, why did my Daddy go away? None will say, when I wake up I'll know" make me cringe. Then the electric guitar and organ come in sounding somewhat like CSN on "Wooden Ships." But kudos to John Jowitt for his fretless bass work towards the end of this song. It's pretty good stuff. Next up is "You Never Will" that starts with the sound of a watch ticking much like you'd expect to hear on a Pink Floyd classic. Unfortunately, this may be the worst song on the CD. It's just amateur writing and composing all the way through, never challenging the listener. And you'd think that someone would have told Paul Cook (the drummer) that the odd spasms he's incorporating aren't working in the context of this song. Moving on to "Born Brilliant" we actually find some interesting lyrics for a change with some clever sarcastic overtones but the attempt to musically mimic the riff from the "Apocalypse in 9/8" section of Genesis' "Suppers Ready" is unforgivably embarrassing. Lastly we have the band's longest cut, "Harvest of Souls." It starts with a 12-string acoustic with Nichols singing about lost love over a melody that isn't half bad called "First of the Last." Then we move on to the second part entitled "The Wrong Host" which lyrically has nothing whatsoever to do with the first part and only serves as a platform for the group to bash America. (Which part of America? North? South? Central? Both continents combined?) It's certainly their right to do so but musicians who live in the glass house formerly known as the British EMPIRE really shouldn't throw stones. And, furthermore, the "With God On Our Side" theme was explored by Bob Dylan over four decades ago and much more intelligently. As if the pompous vocal wasn't enough we get a military march from the snare drum so we morons will get the point. Then they tear into a thinly disguised rip-off of Yes' "Heart of the Sunrise!" (Have you no shame?) What follows is a "war" sequence that is so corny it sounds like something from a bad psychedelic garage combo. Once we get over that hurdle we are actually treated to (musically speaking) the best part of the album though the words are still juvenile in nature and the subject matter is scattered all over the place. It's hard to believe but they actually go into yet another "Apocalypse in 9/8" mime complete with a poor imitation of Tony Banks' signature organ solo from Martin Orford on the keyboards. The ending is a reprise of the "America" theme I spoke of earlier and the song fades out after more than 24 long minutes.

It was not my intention to attack this album or its creators but there is a large chasm separating being influenced positively by other groups and unabashed imitation and near-plagiarism. My thinking was, since this is their eighth studio album, they would be much better than this. And I don't really mind inferior work as long as it is creative. But maybe this is the best they can possibly do. So be it. I don't plan to delve into their earlier work to find out. Maybe what they need is an outside producer to come in and give them a fresh view from outside of their inclusive box. Michael Holmes, the guitarist, is credited as the man at the helm and perhaps he's too far inside the circle to be objective. Whatever. At least the art direction and packaging is superb. But it's the only thing original about "Dark Matter" that I was able to find.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
5 stars This was my first IQ CD and I must say I was completely overtaken by it. Unlike some reviewers here I think they are quite original. Of course they have some obvious influences, but who does not? Since I started reading about rock music is the same thing. Today´s copycat will be tomorrow´s classic. No one escaped criticism and some were utterly unfair (remember Marillion in the 80´s?). So, in the end, what does really matter? It matters only if you like the music and can identify with the sound.

Well, I do. IQ may sound strange sometimes, they don´t really play like no one in particular and they could make it easier for themselves if they followed some trend. But that are those particularities that will make them some next generation legends, I guess. Peter NIcholls voice may not be everybody´s cup of tea. I certainly can name dozens of better singers. Still I think he fits so well in the band, it is no wonder their sound did not work at all with Paul Menel (a better singer, by the way, but not as passionate).

Dark Matter is a wonderful CD. A great achievement for a band who´s been on the road for so many years. Harvest Of Souls is just fantastic, the perfect epic in all its glorious 24 minutes! I don't have words to describe this tune. All I can say is that is the kind of track you would always expect from a true symphonic prog band: great melodies, tight musicanship, shifting moods during its many sections, inspired solos, insightful lyrics and a grand finale that sends shivers down your spine! This track alone is worth the price of the CDm but there is more. They still have a lot to say and I won´t go to every track to discuss about them (some reviewers laready did a great job). Just listen without prejudice and make your statement about it. I have heard hundreds of prog albums and I can tell it is nothing less than excellent. A classic? Hell, yeah!

Review by Eclipse
2 stars Originality: this should be in every form of art, not only in music. These guys sure lack it, and love to borrow old and new ideas instead of creating their own ones. What's the problem with it if it's well done? - you may ask. I mean, i am an ELOY fan, and consider it one of the best bands ever, even if they took a lot of influence from URIAH HEEP and JETHRO TULL on their early hard-rock era, and then deciding to recycle the mystic FLOYDian flavour on their late 70's albums. The difference is that ELOY does it with charm, they never stole melodies for the sake of stealing and trying to be the "new" FLOYD (or the "new band" they are being influenced from). ELOY made it just to ADD that to their already stablished signature sound. ELOY has a signature sound, and if you don't realise that you're either deaf/dumb/blind - no ofence or pun intended, it is just a way of saying "listen carefully to them before judging their credit on composing music or simply ripping the floyds off". I will discuss more of this "ELOY signature sound" thing on a proper ELOY review. The point here is: i don't see any "own" sound on IQ, they are having their influences? They sure are, but they are overusing it and recycling old ideas in the wrong way, blatantly ripping off GENESIS in a pathetic and unaccetable way. Many people go and say "ANGLAGARD has a lot of KC influence". Yes, they have, but they also their characteristic sound, not like IQ's Dark Matter, a lame attempt of meeting Foxtrot (GENESIS) and Lightbulb Sun (PORCUPINE TREE). It's the same thing with the old "dinosaurs" like KC, GENESIS, YES: they have their influences from classical music, jazz, you name it. But they do and construct a signature sound of their own, while using in a wise way their influences. ANGLAGARD does it this way too, digging dinosaur KC's bones without losing their characteristic sound, the difference is that they are taking their basis on a modern band, not directly on the classic era, like KC did. IQ just rips off, and rips off, and then rips more off.

Starting with the vocals. The vocalist's name is PETER, but he is certainly not PETER GABRIEL although he tries with effort and lack of some shame to be like him. He manages to make a whiny version of GABE, and does not have the charm GENESIS' once leader had. To the songs now: all of them are pleasant to a certain extent, but once when they try to reprise Watcher of the Skies on the opening track just to close the album with an effective Supper's Ready wannabe i feel indecisive if i should hate/respect/enjoying this band, having mixed feelings about them. The tracks in the middle sometimes just go and remind me of PT, and this is very sad because it shows they are copying even modern bands in a shameless way. The reason i have a tortured heard with this band is that they manage to make songs with some neat moments, like the rocking section of the epic track, and pass a fine message. But i feel let down when i have the "i've heard it all before!" sensation, so the motive of my mixed feelings on this album. It is nothing special, nothing impressive and nothing horrible or even average. It is well executed but lacks what i seek more on music: creativity. So, even if it may deserve a bit more than two stars, i give it this rating because it definetely let me down for searching more through this Neo prog land, as i still had some hope that "they like to be GENESIS' copycats" rumours and babblings weren't true, but, unfortunately, they are.

Review by Modrigue
2 stars A deception

I've never been an unconditional of the so-called neo-progressive music, but I often gave tries to releases of this genre and really enjoy some great moments from IQ, in particular their long songs, for their magic and originality. "Dark Matter" has been described as one of their strongest release. I was eager to listen to this album, the cover art was great... but after I feel a bit disappointed... for the record and the band. For sure, it contains some enjoyable passages, but hardly no "IQ's feel", very few "IQ's personality". Here, most of the time, the band tries to sound like PINK FLOYD and early GENESIS (one of my favorite progressive rock bands). There is little from IQ's energetic and powerful epics from the 80's or the typical enchantment of "Ever" for example. "Dark Matter" could as well have been played by another progressive band... Now let's talk about the music itself.

The record opens with "Sacred Sounds" and its pretty mysterious introduction. The organ grows up in intensity, the vocals are not bad, but after the song tends to become a bit repetitive and boring. Fortunately, the second part is more interesting and changing. The smooth ballad "Red Dust Shadow" is maybe the best track of the album, well and slightly constructed with a catchy guitar riff." You Never Will" is an average song, alternating good and weaker moments. Then it goes down... the introduction of "Born Brilliant" ressembles a lot to PINK FLOYD's "Welcome to the Machine", and the rest of the tune is lazy and fail to lift off.

At least comes the epic "Harvest of Souls" which is IQ's longest composition, often regarded and acclaimed as one of the best suites in progressive rock... In fact, I have to say it sounds to me a bit like a poor man's "Supper's Ready". Peter Nicholls really wants to sing like Peter Gabriel but simply cannot... The whole song has many echoes from GENESIS' iconic suite, but never truly manages to catch my attention and had rather bored me. There are some interesting passages, but unfortunately too rare, and the overall is not quite original.

Dark Matter is an uneven and a bit deceiving offering from IQ, as they try to copy some 70's progressive rock pioneers without really bringing something new to the genre and without their own "touch", their own "spirit", their own "magic", in other words their own "music", what I love from the band. I give 2 stars for "Red Dust Shadow" and moments of "Sacred Souls".

Review by el böthy
4 stars IQ´s last album to date, which will change any time this year, may very well be their best. which is nothing but a surprise for their fans, after all how many times can you say that a band that has been around for more than 20 years makes it´s best album in their latter period? Respect IQ for that, I know I respect them. Having said that...this album, although it may be their best, is no masterpiece... well, you can´t have it all, right?

IQ´s music hasn´t changed that much since Ever, as it seems that with that sound they are at their best and more confortable, but it has gotten more sophisticated yet harder, for this ears at least. A proofe of this is the opening track "Sacred sound", a long song in which you get what IQ is all about, polished Neo-prog with lot of keyboard and that distingtive voice of mr. Nicholls (who also has gotten better with age if you ask me). A great track, typicall IQ...maybe too typicall? Maybe, but it´s a great song non the less.

"Red Dust Shadow" is the ballad of the album, although it´s really not a ballad, but a sad, slow song. I can´t say I am a big fan of it, as it has nothing that makes it very fact, I don´t think that the three songs in the middle of the album, the short songs, have anything memorable, at least not as much as the first and the last track. "You Never Will", although a good song, also suffers from being non memorable. "Born brilliant" might be the exception, as you can´t help but notice the lyrics from this song, so I guess that makes it more memorable, and it might be the best of this three, but again, no where as good as the first and last song.

And then, we get to the BIG final epic, IQ´s longest song ever... is it also their best? Well, I haven´t heard all of IQ´s material, but... it could be. YET (and this yet is really important)... this song would never, ever win any contest as "Most original song" or anything like that as... how can I say it...well, here I go; "Harvest of soul" is "Suppers ready" little brother. And I mean, the resemblence is uncanny in some places. It starts almoust the same, with that acoustic riff (not the exact same... but) and thank God Nicholls doesn´t start singing right away like Gabriel, he waits two turns for it...otherwise it could have been too obvious. The way the song builds up is also quite the copy of the original "Suppers ready" with the keys entering with the drums and the song slightly changes to a more happy beat (like in "The guaranteed eternal sanctuary man" part). Then of a moment the coping stops...until...the band starts to play in a very peculiar way, that resemblence "Apocalypse in 9/8" and you know what?...It´s in 9/8 also!!! And what´s the cherry of the cake? Nicholls sings with some vocal effects, that make him sound just like in some parts of "The lamb lies down at Broadway"! By this moment you know this is no coincidence. Both songs laso end quite similar, returning to the first movement and then a fade out... But, you know what? It might be a total rip off from "Suppers ready"...but I tell you, it doesn´t matter, "Harvest of soul" might not be original, but it is extremly good, I mean it´s a brilliant song! you see, my opinion on this matter is quite torn, on one hand the lack of originality is a bittersweet thing to swallow, on the other hand... it´s an incredible song! So, I discided to give it a high rating because of the final product is great, and I guess that´s the most important thing.

Highly recommended to any Neo fan or retro prog fan and to any Genesis fan also, if you shut your eyes for a while, you can hear another Gabriel era epic...

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars Almost twenty years after their great debut album, IQ released another one. A fresh and constructive one. Of course, all the aspects of their music are represented here. No earthquake, don't worry.

Martin is still everwhere and displays great keys throughout the album (but especially during "Sacred Sound" which opens brilliantly). Mike has a bit more exposure (this was already to be noticed on the previous IQ album). Peter is still poignant and tortured and the ryhtmic section supports the band accurately (although that this will be the last studio album for Paul Cook).

Of course, Genesis is not far away either (very much during "Sacred Sound", "Harvest"). In fact, they sit at every corner of this album. But that's not a problem. We've been used to this throughout all these years.

This album is of course dominated by two songs. The opener (as outlined already) and the closing number. A true prog epic that deserves consideration. I was glad to attend an IQ concert in October 2005 (Verviers - Spirit Of 66), during which they played not only "Harvest Of Souls" but we got the pleasure to have "The Last Human Gateway" in full as well. A great concert, indeed.

This song has some close links with "Supper's". Same kind of acoustic intro, same kind of keyboard play when the rhythm becomes stronger. Again, I'm not against this. There will be even a short passage completely reminiscent of "Heart Of The Sunrise". Which is still fine with me.

This song is quite diversified, which helps in keeping the interest of the listener pretty high. I have listened a lot of times to this song when I discovered it and I have never been bored. Every two or three minutes or so, there's a theme changes without lacking in the unity of the song actually; which is not easy to achieve. We'll get a bit of "The Apocalypse" part as well a little further in the track just before a great keys solo. Should I say whose ones it reminds me ?

This is a great and very pleasant song. As was "Grendel", another epic which took its roots in "Supper's Ready". An excellent closing number, like ...

The other songs featured on this album are more the kind of traditional IQ songs : "Red Dust Shadow" is a melancholic one during which Peter can use all his vocal abilities to touch us. At times, the song gets harder while Martin pumps out heavy sounds from his keys. Grand finale, though.

"You Never Will" sounds pretty much like "Sacred Sound". A bit too much actually. It's a good song, but IQ is cloning IQ. During the intro of "Born Brilliant", both Peter are really close. Nicholls, almost miming the voice of "The Winkler" in "Get'em Out By Friday". The music bringing us back again in "Supper's".

It is one of my preferred Genesis album. Sorry, IQ album. Still a bit more personality would have been welcome. Four stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars I think IQ have made 6 excellent studio albums (including this one) up to this point in time. And in my opinion this is the best one yet ! I find this to be pretty amazing considering it's been 21 years from their debut to this one. I just can't find any fault with this record at all. Orford is simply incredible on this release, but it would be unfair to leave out Cook's fantastic drumming or Jowitt's subtle bass lines or Holmes tasteful guitar melodies or of course Nicholl's uplifting vocals. Everyone is at the top of their game on "Dark Matter".

It starts off with "Sacred Sound" a song that I cannot listen to without smiling. The guitar is so warm and inviting and Orford's a genius ! Nicholl's simply moves me emotionally on this track for some reason. About half way through Orford really reminds me of Banks in that great instrumental passage.We get a quiet section before the organ and vocals return. Actually i'm sure that's church organ I hear at one point. The guitar comes back late as well. "Red Dust Shadow" opens with strummed acoustic guitar, gentle vocals and mellotron. 1 1/2 minutes in we get some PORCUPINE TREE sounding synths, actually the whole song including the intro has PORCUPINE TREE written all over it. Mellotron is back 5 minutes in. This song is such a good change of pace for the band. "You Never Will" features some upfront drumming like on the opening song. The lyrics are cool in this one, especially the way the title of it is used at the end of the sentence. A collage of sounds 3 1/2 minutes in is followed by pulsating keys.The guitar arrives and it sounds so amazing as does Nicholls. Sampled mellotron throughout this tune.

"Born Brilliant" opens with lots of atmosphere and is very PINK FLOYD sounding. Processed vocals before 2 minutes when the song kicks in. This one has a good beat and the organ is fantastic. The guitar cries out in the background and the PINK FLOYD vibe is back. Another great tune. "Harvest Of Souls" is a side long suite at almost 25 minutes. It opens with beautiful acoustic guitar and vocals. Mellotron comes in at 3 minutes as a fuller sound comes in a minute after that. Nice.The tempo picks up speed 6 1/2 minutes in and the mellotron is back.There is a beautiful section 10 1/2 minutes in. Pulsating keys ala Banks and mellotron follow. Piano melodies before 15 minutes, and then passionate vocals in another terrific passage before 17 minutes. The song eventually ends with some excellent guitar melodies. Whew !

I don't know how they can possibly top this one, and with word out that Martin Orford has left the band it's going to be difficult.

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars This is a case study of the need to give albums time and many listens before writing a review: a year ago, this would have been a solid four star album. Now, it's a high three at best. Why? Well, most of the songs don't age very well (Harvest of Souls excluded), and they aren't that creativeor engaging to begin with. IQ always seems to rely heavily on their songwriting, as opposed to virtuosic playing or divserse instrumentation, and here it lets them down in places.

Sacred Sound. Definitely cool soundsccapes and arrangements, but overall this lilting tune is a bit boring and becomes repetitive over time (espeically the beginning). The one absolute highlight comes at the 13/8 time part near the end with tight drumming, Hackett-esque guitar, and soaring mellotron. This definitely a good song and album opener, but not spectacular.

Red Dust Shadow, You Never Will, Born Brilliant. These songs can be described as slow-developing (even boring), cliche (especially the chorus), and simplistic, respectively. There's nothing truly aversive, but Born Brilliant is the only one of these that I come back to, with the cool rhythm (to be reprised in Harvest of Souls) and a great spacey guitar solo.

Harvest of Souls. Take the song structure of Supper's Ready (bouncy verse over 12-string guitar, main chorus introduction, an aggressive bit, a playful vocal bit, a multilayer keyboard section in odd time, and a majestic recreation of the original chorus), tone down both the goofy parts (yes, Willow Farm), scale back the power of the final segments, improve the production, and you have Harvest of Souls. It's a good format, and I can't hold it against IQ for using it--in fact, I'm very impressed that they largely pulled it off. I disagree with some: this is not a total knock-off. The melodies, lyrics, and arrangements are IQ originals, and it takes a band that has been around a while, is well-schooled in prog, and wants to pay respects to prog's founding fathers to pull of a song of this magnitude. For that, I think IQ deserve a round of applause instead of bashing. Oh well, that's just me!

One great (though derivative) song, another solid one, and three that are rather forgettable: three stars seems appropriate.

Review by Moatilliatta
4 stars I suppose this album is the band's darkest yet, so it is appropriately named, but considering the band's sound, you know it can't be that dark. After a definitely dark ambient intro an unexpectedly peppy keyboard line fades in and gets the song going in true IQ form. That song, "Sacred Sound" turns out to be one of the band's finest to date. It's got many memorable sections and great musicianship start to finish. Plus, it and the rest of the disc have a more prominent atmosphere than any of their discs to date. I particularly like the 7/8 section toward the end with that one sweet bassline. You'll know what I'm talking about when you listen to it. You should, at least. After the 11+ minutes of that sweetness, we are given a series of three shorter songs, lasting 5-6 minutes each. "Red Dust Shadow" has a pretty nice chord pattern and it gradually builds to a nice climactic ending. "You Never Will" is definitely the low point on the disc. It's pretty formulaic and I don't think the recurring drum fill in the chorus was well chosen by the drummer, or group for that matter. "Born Brilliant" is a return to form featuring a hard-driving rhythm for most of the tune. Then we have the 24-minute epic "Harvest of Souls" to close the disc with. This one is a wild ride! It's got plenty of variety, a lot of ideas new to the band's music are introduced here and I think they are rockin' harder than ever before. The piece even recapitulates themes from the rest of the album with a fresh set of vocals & lyrics - very well planned and executed, especially when they bring back the rockin' rhythm of "Born Brilliant" for the penultimate movement. It's very powerful!

Sonically this is easily the band's best album to date, compositionally it's their second best, behind Subterranea. If the band can capture the glory of their longer pieces in the shorter songs, they will blow their peers away. After being around for so long, it's quite amazing that the band is still improving. It's a rare case where a band of this nature especially is better after 20+ years of making music. I'm looking forward to their next output, but for now, I am happy listening to "Sacred Sound" and "Harvest of Souls."

Review by progrules
3 stars In my review of Ever I mentioned that even though I'm adept in neo somehow IQ has never been and will never be really my band. And actually this album is an example why. Because Ever was an album with a great and a few good tracks and baerly got 4 stars because of that, these tracks are lacking on this album.

Still this is their most significant album to date looking at the number of ratings on our site and it also reaches a high average and in fact I can also understand that in a way. My not being impressed I do recognize as something personal and I'm not claiming to be the expert telling the truth here. Why is it not too great for me ? I already mentioned there are no highlights for me and that's also the most important reason. But I think I will have some more explaining to do because there are a few epics on this album amongs which the very long Harvest of Souls. And in fact with this epic there lies the problem. The three shorter songs are forgettable for me, I rarely like IQ's short songs and here it's no exeption. In a minute I will go into the other (shorter) epic but now first Harvest. The track starts with some slow singing by Peter Nicholl accompanied by a.o. acoustic guitar. After a few minutes the electric guitar and organ like keyboards join the execution. After 6 1/2 minutes an instrumental part but not long only a bit impressive. Rest of the song vocal and instrumental parts take turns but the song never reaches the high level so many other long epics do. Like I said, it's just my personal feeling and opinion about it but I can't get carried away by a song that should have been (a lot) better imo. The smaller epic Sacred Sound is better for me but can't cause a high rating for this album by me.

Not really bad in the end, I don't want to exxagerate here but it just doesn't touch or grasp me at all in any way. Mediocre effort by IQ for my taste.

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Neo" or "Mature" prog?

In this occasion, the answer is both. By far IQ's most sophisticated release, Dark Matter effectively combines the 'pleasant' neo-prog feeling with darker tunes and a heavy dose of irony; Irony is the main feature of the sound of this album, through which they try to get their message through. And they definitely succeed.

Dominant is a 'hammondish' sound, giving a distinct taste to this record overall. Sacred Sound begins with a characteristic 'a la Camel' keyboard melody and progresses to an interesting mid-tempo track. I have the feeling that IQ vocals are included in the 'love or hate' category, consisting of this characteristic English accent, which I personally find controversial but unique. The first track is almost 12 minutes long, involving variations and excellent drum work. Red Dust Shadow very much reminds of Porcupine Tree's latest works, with a spacey refrain and a 'Floydish' guitar passage.

The clock then ticks for You Never Will where the initial bass line gives its place to some 'happy' vocal melodies which assist the track to flow in a highly pleasant atmosphere; the same happens in the more adventurous Born Brilliant where a 3/4 tempo is dominant. One of the most mature and complete pieces of music I lately experienced is Harvest of Souls, which is possibly the best epic this band has produced. This is a perfect way of ending the album, which although lasting more than 24 minutes, does not lack interest at any point. In my opinion, it can be (musically, lyrically and qualitatively) compared with symphonic epics of Genesis or Yes. Breaks, music variations and speed alterations comprise this gem, which is highly recommended for all prog fans.

Two features (among others) really drew my attention to this record: Firstly, the excellent lyrics combined with the ironic way sung, and secondly, the structure of the record that starts with a semi-epic, continues with three relatively short tracks that lead to a final lengthy track which (intentionally) represents the highlight. It would have been unfair to rate this album with less than 4.5 stars, being the most complete work of IQ till now.

Oh, and don't forget: the hand of God defends America. hahaha.

Review by LiquidEternity
4 stars Though IQ may not be trying many new things these days, it still impresses me how strong each successive album can end up being.

In truth, Dark Matter looks back on previous IQ albums pretty heavily. The construction of their songs is still mostly the same. They've got the usual solid opener and the usual extended epic song. For the most part, there is little to this record that, if you've listened to the rest of IQ's music, you haven't heard before. Nevertheless, the band is in fine form, and for a twenty year old musical act, they hold their own against the newer ranks of young and rising bands. The sort of angst and melancholy from their previous albums seems exaggerated here, with some downright whiny lyrics at points and some deeper and more meaningful ones elsewhere. So while here we have an album that doesn't really tread much new ground, it still is able to get a three star rating through the strength of that old ground it seems to be retreading.

Most of the songs here are composed very well. Sacred Sound is a longer one one the album, featuring some wonderful organ sounds and a terribly catchy vocal melody. Red Dust Shadow is a sad and melancholic song about a young boy losing his father, and it is the slowest and least exciting song here. You Never Will is a mildly whiny song with some really odd but some really fascinating drum work. Born Brilliant is probably the whiniest song here, and it is very reminiscent of something off Ever. The long epic track that probably instantly drew every prog nerd's eye, Harvest of Souls, talks of immigrants in America and how unfortunately hard that is. It starts out very much in the vein of the famed Genesis track Supper's Ready, but ends up going its own way. There is a lot of nice piano sprinkled throughout Dark Matter, and it is strongest here on the final track.

If you like IQ, chances are you'll like this one too. It's nothing terribly out of the ordinary, but it is very much so an interesting listen. Not a bad place to start for IQ, either. Recommended for all fans of neo-prog, of course. If you are looking for really complicated or forward-thinking compositions, however, you might want to look elsewhere.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A darker way to Foxtrot

Neo-Prog is likely the most interesting subgenre of progressive music for a number of reasons. By this I don't mean that the music itself is the most 'interesting', that title belongs to the artists in the Zeuhl catagory for being just plain weird, but absolutely listenable. By saying 'interesting' here we're talking about a number of different things here, including the debate about whether the bands who play Neo music should even be considered progressive because of their retro way of writing music. That discussion can be saved for another time, but regardless of if you think that these bands are trying to devolve music or not you can't deny that they play a very close style to the prog greats of old. And that's just a problem for some listeners. Some people really don't want to hear something similar to what came out back in ye olden days - and we really have to give a hand to the neo-bands who still release music in this fashion and get met with harsh criticisms.

IQ's latest album to date (with rumor of one coming in '09) has been met with a great deal of praise in the last 4 years of its existence. One thing that seems to be a growing trend in the Neo-movement is the fact that the bands all seem to be getting darker. Maybe it's the bands giving a big middle finger to the people who give them the shrug for sounding too much like their forefathers, but with releases like Dark Matter and Pendragon's Believe and Pure it would seem that the bands are starting to get a little bit more evil. Aside from the neo fans seemingly warming up to this darker approach, this album is structured just like many of the classic prog albums of old. A mini-epic opens the album fashionably and it goes through a mix of songs until it reaches the climax, which in this case is a (would-be) side long epic which deals with war as its main theme and topic matter. All of this equates to quite a good album.

Not to mention that the whole ordeal sounds rather impressive. The sound is completely clean and clear, and along with the flashy solos played fashionably on organs, guitars and keyboards, Peter Nicholls is a very pleasant singer which comes off as rather surprising because his voice is actually kind of whiny, which is usually pretty nerve grating, but combined with the music he fits in very well. The songs are still quite dominated by the organ sounds as evident right off the bat with Sacred Sound, the 11-minute ambitious mini-epic which opens up the fray. While there are times when the bass will come in to take the lead charge and the guitar will play an emotional solo its still the organ and its Gothic-church tones which make up the majority of the sound and make the large contribution to setting the tone right. This was a very good song to open up with since it is very much the epitome of what the album is ''all about'', while still leaving room for growth within the remaining tracks.

The shorter songs in the middle have personality, but are mainly used to build up to the megalodon in wait at the end of the disc. What's nice is that the songs are all rather creepy, especially with the ambient build in some songs like Red Dust Shadow coupled with the disturbing keyboards and sad guitar parts. Nicholls is right on his game again with the voicing, his lower and more emotional vocals in this track fitting in once more to the tone of the song. The other two songs, You Never Will and Born Brilliant are a little it faster paced and a little bit more angry than what has come before it, especially in lyrical content, ''you, like I were born to be a million times admired/unlike mine, your family line were all born brilliant liars''. There's some juicy gossip story behind those lyrics, that's for sure. You Never Will is led in by a nice bass riff before the organs explode from within and take over the song. A surprisingly upbeat song for how dark it is, but there's some very good melodies and tonal shifts within the song that make for a pleasing listen.

And then we get to the album's centerpiece, the 25-minute long Harvest Of Souls, the song which the album was built around as evident from the cover art and the arrangement of the tracks. The song is rather controversial being that many people feel that is a direct attack on America and their war on terror (''The hand of God protects America!''), and I'm not going to get into that because other reviewers have already done so in more detail than I possibly could have. Regardless, this is a very well composed song with everything in place. For progressive veterans the song may seem a touch unnecessary since the band have seemingly taken Supper's Ready and draped their own music over-top. There may not be a quirky section involving Winston Churchill dressed in drag, but the rest is hard in place from the thoughtful opening to the cataclysmic 9/8 section to the reprisal section in the end. Granted, the solos are nice and so are the instrumental sections, but one can never help but feel like they've been here, done that. Being that the song takes up a good half of the album as well it can lead to a touch of disappointment for people who expect something unique and mind blowing.

In the end this album will very much appeal to the Neo-fans of the world who have already made it one of their crusaders of the subgenre with the ratings it has deservingly received. Skeptics of the subgenre will be no more impressed than they will with any other neo-disc and should likely avoid this one. Still, it's an impressive album with song very good parts which is great for anyone who is willing to stand and fight for the retro style. 3.5 stars out of 5 for an album which makes for a very good listen, even if there's not a lot here that can be called wildly original.

Review by lazland
5 stars Whilst looking forward to getting Frequency when it is out on general release (I don't normally pre order), I thought it was about time that I reviewed its predecessor, and a fine work it is too.

IQ are one of the leading lights of what I call the second wave of British Prog, or Neo-Prog as it is categorised on the site. I still regard Marillion as being at the forefront of this wave, but, by Heaven, IQ can't be that far behind.

The album starts with Sacred Sound, a track that comes in at over 11 minutes, and features huge organ playing by Martin Orford, combined with stunning Nicholls vocals and Holmes textured guitars. Grandiose in conception and execution, it is a fine way to start any LP.

Red Dust Shadow commences in a thoughtful manner. Nicholls is on fine form throughout the whole LP, but I especially enjoy the quiet keyboard and acoustic guitar led backdrop to his story regarding an absent father, which is very touching, whilst the track then explodes in a huge symphonic noise of all band members expressing the outrage of the leaving. This is a sad song, but with the best of sad songs, leaves the listener emotionally charged. Some great mellotron work at the end, too.

You Never Will starts off in what I regard as a Floydian vein, with the clock ticking and pulsating bass, before Nicholls and the band explode again in a huge soundscape that tells another downbeat story. Orford's organ playing dominates, and I am really interested in seeing and hearing how the band manage without his huge influence. This track is actually one for our times. Listen to "I keep hoping that you'll do something real" - it is almost a eulogy to the disillusion felt in the UK with the crooks that run our country. Holmes' guitar solo also brings home how talented he is. This track is absolutely not a filler - it is essential as a running part of the LP.

Born Brilliant follows, which, again, has a dark, almost Floydian, sense to it, reminding me of Wish You Were Here in the bass and keyboard background. Jowitt's bass absolutely thunders in his backdrop to the riff and keyboard main lead. Again, not a filler, but a continuation of the dark and brooding theme of the album.

Harvest Of Souls is the epic track on this album. Starting with a quite exquisite vocal to an acoustic guitar backdrop, this leads into one of the finest neo prog tracks ever written and performed. I have never been a supporter of the neo liberal politics of American Republican leaders in recent times, and this track absolutely encapsulates the despair that many like me feel how a great and brave nation can descend into such imperialistic egocentric tendencies. It is a great protest song, but also a great song in its own right for those (many) who have no political leanings at all. Because, some four minutes in, Nicholls blasts out his America "chorus", accompanied by quite the most exceptional keyboard and guitar leads you will ever hear. And Who Would Not Defend America, indeed. Progressive rock and protest fused at its finest.

We Will Shoot You Where You Stand leads into the epic riff and passage very reminiscent of early Crimson. It is very atmospheric, and, again, the band play together very tightly, with especially Holmes shining in his guitar work.

At times thoughtful, at times blistering, at times mixing originality with a huge nod to prog's founding father's, this is an immense track, and one I have had a great deal of pleasure listening to. A great way to end an album, the pace never relents, even in its quieter moments.

For those reading this who are looking forward to Frequency, you are not alone, and revisiting this LP is well worth the time. For those of you who have never heard IQ's work, by God you are missing a huge treat. I am still listening in amazement to Holmes, Orford, Jowitt, and Cook producing such a huge sound to accompany one of the finest vocalists the UK has ever produced. Epic in thought, epic in production, and epic in execution, this is an essential piece of modern progressive rock. 4.5 stars, rounded up to the ultimate five simply because it is worth it.

Review by Roland113
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In My Not So Humble Opinion:

"Dark Matter" by IQ is another CD showing us where Genesis could have gone had they remained progressive.

"Dark Matter" was the second IQ CD that I picked up and my initial thought was 'well, this is ok, but not as good as "The Seventh House", I wonder why this one has such high ratings'. Or something like that. A year later, my initial though is bearing fruit as both CD's are have the same ratings (4.02 for both "Dark Matter" and "The Seventh House" at the time of this writing).

I'll offer a few general comments before I get into the blow by blow. The rhythm section of John Jowitt and Paul Cook really gelled for this release. I would say this is the best IQ album in terms of the rhythm section. Peter Nichols sounds a bit gruffer on this release, though I don't mean that as a bad thing. I think his tone is great.

"Dark Matter" starts out with Martin Orford's ominous strings building the sense of suspense, before a pipe organ lead comes appears along with a jaunting 7/8 beat. I don't normally like pipe organ leads as they just don't have enough attack for a rhythm passage. For the non-musicians, with a slow attack sound like a pipe organ, there is a time of build up from when the key is pressed until the full volume is reached as opposed to the instant gratification of a fast attack sound such as a trumpet. Mr. Orford most likely cut down the attack on a typical pipe organ with great results as the organ sets the tone for pretty much the whole song. As mentioned before, the rhythm section is 'spot on 'on this one, some of the things that Misters Jowitt and Cook do at the nine minute mark are just plain sick (and by sick, I mean highly intricate and syncopated).

"Red Dust Shadow" is a fairly nondescript ballad, though Peter Nichols sounds very good in this one. The Mellotron lead at the end of the track does very little for me. "You Never Will" is another Genesis sounding tune, heavy with Mellotron. Like "Red Dust Shadow", this song doesn't really stand out as anything overly special, though it's certainly not unlistenable.

I like "Brilliant Liars", though in all honesty, it's musically about as intriguing as the previous two tracks. The lyrics, which aren't usually something I care about, are really good for this song. "I'm selfish and insensitive, I'm rotten to the core, pretentious and derivative, you've seen it all before". It makes a bold statement. The song itself has a beat reminiscent of "Apocalypse in 9/8" (Genesis, subdivision of "Supper's Ready") though they dropped three / eighths of it off. Mike Holmes does a nice dirty solo for about the last two minutes that shouldn't be missed.

. . . and now we come to the big epic ending. I'm sorry, but this is one of the less inspired of IQ's epics. I jokingly refer to it as "Harvest of Suppers" due to the extreme similarities to the previously mentioned "Supper's Ready" (SR) by Genesis. "Harvest of Souls" (HOS) starts off with an oddly familiar twelve string guitar arpeggio which goes as far as to start with the same exact note as SR. The soft guitar lasts for the first four minutes before it transitions to a more upbeat organ led part, again, similar to SR. If that's not enough, on SR the drums start at four minutes, twenty three seconds, on HOS, the drums appear at four minutes sixteen seconds. After about a minute, the upbeat part ends to return to another soft interlude followed by a chaotic section. Yes, the previous sentence applies to both songs. You get the point, both songs have a total stop in the middle, in SR it's just before "Willow Farms", in HOS it's just before the "Frame and Form" section, both at about the half way point of the song. The "Mortal Procession" section uses the same 6/8 rhythm as in "Born Brilliant" which again is a call back to "Apocalypse in 9/8". Finally, both pieces have the big ending, long drawn out chords and vocal climax. Basically, "Harvest of Souls" is an updated version of "Supper's Ready". Pardon me, but I prefer the original.

I'd love to rate this CD higher on the merits of "Sacred Sound" and "Born Brilliant" but unfortunately, a twenty four minute cover song coupled with two additional average tracks barely merits a three star rating for "Dark Matter".

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Hardly born brilliant, but they finally became so with this album

I have never been particularly impressed by IQ before, but Dark Matter is, in my opinion, a very strong album and by far the best album by the band. Finally, after more than 20 years in the music business they reached their peak here. While Dark Matter is different in several ways from earlier albums by the band, it is still very much IQ. What makes this album stand out in the band's catalogue is that the compositions are all among IQ's strongest and most memorable ever and that the sound is a bit more powerful than usual. But also, and this is more important, that I sense a new-found passion and enthusiasm in this music that creates a sense of urgency that I have often found lacking in IQ's music in the past. Most of the band's previous works have seemed a bit tired and almost lethargic to my ears and especially the longer songs have often been overlong and a bit one-dimensional. Here they sound reinvigorated and energetic.

Dark Matter features only five tracks and runs for just over fifty minutes. The closing number, Harvest Of Souls, is a nearly 25 minute piece that far outshines the band's previous attempts on this grand scale. It moves through several themes and moods, but stays focused throughout with a great melody and compositional structure. The keyboards are varied and some vintage keyboards are used which creates a more organic sound without making it come across as "retro-Prog". The presence of (what sounds like a) Hammond organ gives substance and even brings a slight heaviness to the sound which is not commonly associated with IQ. This is particularly evident on the opening and closing numbers. Also, (what sounds like a) church organ gives a haunting feel to some tracks. Overall, the sound and feel of this album is about as dark, mysterious and haunting as the great cover art. The production is impeccable and every instrument comes to its full right.

The shorter songs in between are equally strong and memorable and here we get to see the acoustic side of the band. This makes the album varied yet consistent. The vocals are very strong throughout as are the lyrics. Peter Nicholls sings like he means every word - like he is delivering a message he really cares about. Passion is, after all, the sign of great music.

IQ's best, highly recommended!

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Generally I don't like neo-prog at all : I hear just secondary clones of real proggers from 70-th there. Sorry!

But between neo-prog division there are few bands, that are better than hundreds of their faceless competitors. For sure, the first one is early Marillion. The next one could be IQ.

This IQ album is recorded in 2004, not the best time even for neo-prog movement. But the album surprisingly isn't bad.

There are just five long songs, all midtempo, with multi-textured sound,professional arrangements, really nice vocal. In fact, you have some kind of neo-prog standard ( in good sense) there. Plenty of keyboards, full orchestrated sound.

If I was person who was born in eightees, never heard Genesis, never new nothing about prog rock roots,etc, I think I possible will be very happy with this album.

But whenever I am not, and I don't like imitators, it's difficult for me to fall in love with this music. By my head I understand, that it is very competent early-Genesis tribute band. And whenever Peter Gabriel's Genesis doesn't exist, may be it's not bad, that someone just trying to continue their musical ideas ( can't say - "develope", just - "continue"). But I can look on it only like on original ideas translators to new generation.

Nothing is bad with it , but let say true - even high quality translator isn't original artist. And, they are working their translator's job 20+ years!

So, not bad album,especially for year 2004, but in case with IQ I prefer their earlier works. And generally in music - I prefer originals.

Review by J-Man
4 stars Excellent, if unoriginal, prog!

This was my introduction to IQ, and my introduction to the entire neo-prog genre. This album made me raid the entire IQ discography, and this is one of their stronger efforts for sure. All five songs here are excellent, and the opening and closing tracks define the word "masterpiece".

So why am I giving this four stars?

Well, some of the shorter songs in the middle aren't quite worthy of five stars, even if they are great. This is also probably the least original IQ album out there. IQ is always bashed by people for being Genesis "clones", and while I do not agree with that, it would be very hard for me to argue against that when listening to "Dark Matter". The last song almost sounds like they are trying to make an epic completely modeled after Supper's Ready. With that said, everything else is absolutely perfect. Even the closing song, while it isn't original by any stretch of the imagination, is a perfect epic! I'll explain each song in more detail now.


"Sacred Sound"- I remember that this was the first IQ song I had ever heard, and I was absolutely blown away! The melodies were spot on, it had excellent guitars, Mellotron, and organ; it was anything a prog fan could dream of! It has great progressions, and the main chorus with Peter Nicholls singing beautifully and Mike Holmes' great guitar line really makes for an excellent song. A great way to open up an album!

"Red Dust Shadow"- The second song actually reminds me of Spock's Beard a little bit. It has a pretty dark main section with some nice use of the Mellotron, but also has some nice organ and guitar every now and again. It's a decent song I would rate 2.5/5.

"You Never Will"- This is the shortest song on the album, and is very enjoyable. It has some great bass, as well as the classic organ and Mellotron from IQ. This is a more straightforward rock song with some prog leanings, but it is very solid as is.

"Born Brilliant"- Easily the best of the three shorter songs, with a great chorus. I love some of the riffs, and this contains some very good vocals from Peter Nicholls.

"Harvest of Souls"- It's not prog without a 20+ minute epic, right? This is the extended composition on "Dark Matter", and it doesn't disappoint. I know this will be criticized by many for being literally a clone of Supper's Ready, but it doesn't bother me too much. It is unbelievable that both songs have almost exactly the same layout, but this song is still one of my favorite IQ epics anyway. I love the lush Mellotron and the beautiful guitar line. Sure it is by no means original, but it is an excellent and flawless epic.

I'm not one who cares too much about originality and all that, but I know some people will care more than I do. That is why I give this incredible album four, not five, stars. Some of the songs in the middle of the album aren't quite up to par either, but are still solid. However, the closing and opening songs are complete masterpieces that should be heard by every prog fan!

4 stars.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars When I started to listen to Dark Matter it befell me as a nice surprise, I remember my growing frustration with IQ when I listened to some of their albums in the 80's. They didn't remind me at all of Marillion. Formally yes, but I didn't hear any of the passion and superb song writing that characterized Marillion.

On Dark Matter they haven't really shed off their Genesis and Marillion influences but at least they sound link a band that is comfortable with the way it sounds. (I admit, that's a bit of a dubious compliment, I guess every artist feels that way). What I meant is that they don't sound too pushy to obtain a certain sound but look as if they just do what they like. (Even if that is imitating other bands:)

The music has potential enough though. They opted for a rather organic sound mixed with lush keyboards and those typical melodious guitar leads. But my main issue with this album would actually be the vocals. I miss heart and soul in the voice; the melodies are rather predictable and slightly winy, I'd really want some more conviction and personality there. I also find that they are rather loud in the mix, but that's a minor quibble and probably just because I don't like them all that much.

The opening track is Sacred Sound is really enjoyable and is as good as neo-prog gets. For Red Dust Shadow they even picked up a trick or two from Porcupine Tree. 4 stars so far but I sinks in quickly now. You Never Will is a faceless ballad, despite nicking half of the opening riff from Gong. The Ayreon-modelled Born Brilliant is the last bright flicker before the album is soaked up by the black hole called Harvest of Souls.

Until the 25 minute epic Harvest of Souls, the album still had a good option for 3 stars. But there are too many things wrong here: the opening is soaked in poppy sentimentalism, around minute 6 minutes it gets slightly better, but the vocal melodies are still too average. The instrumental part between minute 10 and 12 is pretty good though. But as the track progresses, my clone-alert is gradually pushed to its limits. A section like between minute 18 and 20 is simply too derivative and fails to add anything to the original it is mocked-up from.

The problem is not that originality is a must for me. I can appreciate imitative artists, but then they should at least be as good as the example and preferably develop their own sound, exactly as Marillion or Änglagard did. Besides, IQ also lacks the gift to write truly remarkable melodies. Within the neo-prog field this must be a good album but I'm afraid I can't see any reason to recommend this to anyone but the fans. 2.5 stars.

Review by TheGazzardian
4 stars I like prog rock bands that know what they have to say and don't beat around the bush. There are the prog rock acts like to take as long as they can to say what's on their mind, filling an album with 80 minutes of music (or doing a double album), inserting as many epics as they can along the way.

IQ does no such thing here. With 50 minutes of music including the longest song of their career, the 24 minute epic "Harvest of Souls", we find IQ performing some excellent Neo-Prog music.

The opener is the 10 minute Sacred Sound, which is great while playing but rarely leaves much of an impact afterwards for me. I actually appreciate the three shorter tracks that follow it a bit more; Red Dust Shadow is somewhat sad, while You Never Will and Born Brilliant have an almost arrogant selfish feel about them. In fact, this album seems to have sense of loss in all of the lyrics.

But no matter how strong the first four tracks are, the highlight of this album is Harvest of Souls. There is no denying the similarities between this song and Genesis' Supper's Ready. But Supper's Ready was an excellent song, and IQ have used those similarities quite well in this case. The song easily switches from parts with high energy to quieter parts. There is humor used in this track, as in Supper's Ready, but it has a bit more bite to it instead of whimsy. Of particular note for this is the section where Peter Nicholl's mocks plastic surgery culture.

On that note, I once again must bring up the point of Peter Nicholl's voice. I am not huge on it, and outside of this music I think I would dislike it. Yet somehow, it works well with the music that IQ writes - or perhaps the band writes music that works well with his voice. Either way, there is a charm to the way the two work together that makes his voice not only bearable, but I can't really imagine any other voice working as well here.

My favorite IQ album so far, and Harvest of Souls is good enough to (just) bump this album up to a 4 star rating.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Dark Matter was the first IQ-release that I've heard following a period where I basically exhausted Marillion's discography in my search of another excellent release from the band.

The album opener titled Sacred Sound hit it off quite well with me and I was completely mesmerized by the whole experience. Little did I know, this was going to be the only moment of greatness that Dark Matter had in store for me. The three shorter tracks had all unique approaches to the IQ-style but these compositions never came close to the excellence of the album opener. Had the album carried on in the same vain all the way to the end then it would easily have become one of my favorite Neo-Prog releases. Unfortunately it all came to a screeching halt with the albums concluding magnum opus.

The 25 minute epic Harvest Of Souls sounds too much like a been there, done that kind of affair. Comparisons to Supper's Ready are inevitable but unlike the '70s classic this one lacked the punch added by the lyrics. I honestly struggle to understand and interpret the lyrics. Is there suppose to be a political massage to it or is it just a glimpse of a dark futuristic society? Anyhow it's far from something that I'm interested in revisiting considering that there are so many considerably more exciting prog epics available out there.

I realize that this album relies heavily on the listeners appreciation for Harvest Of Souls which unfortunately I don't posses. Therefore my concluding thoughts on the album is that it's a solid Neo-Prog release that fans of the genre will probably enjoy a whole lot more than me. As for the rating, I struggle gibing it anything beyond an average good, but non-essential rating.

***** star songs: Sacred Sound (11:40)

**** star songs: Red Dust Shadow (5:53) You Never Will (4:54) Born Brilliant (5:20)

*** star songs: Harvest Of Souls (24:29)

Review by VanVanVan
4 stars I would love to give this album five stars, I really would, because the first and last tracks are some of the best examples of modern symphonic prog I've ever heard. Sadly, the rest of the album just doesn't compare.

This is the only IQ album I'm familiar with, so I can't comment on how it compares to others. That said, compared to a lot of other modern symph-prog bands, it is stellar. The melodies are excellent, especially in the aforementioned first and last tracks. In particular, the almost 12 minute "Sacred Sound" seems to go by in no time at all, a testament to the strength of the songwriting.

Sadly, the next three songs are a bit of a let down. They're certainly not bad, but unlike some bands where the short is just as good as the long, they just can't compare. They're certainly enjoyable to listen too, but I generally find myself waiting (or, if I'm impatient, skipping) through them to get to the real centerpiece of the album, "Harvest of Souls."

Quite frankly, whenever I see a song over 20 minutes I get a little excited. Often, however, I'm disappointed. Far too many epics seem to go on simply because they can, not because they actually have anywhere to go. "Harvest of Souls," on the other hand, is simply masterful. It feels like it has direction and purpose, and, as with "Sacred Sound," the melodies are fantastic. The vocals are soaring, the instrumentals are goosebump-inducing, and the finale is, in my opinion, one of the greatest in modern progressive rock. I can hear shades of "Supper's Ready" throughout, but it never feels like a plagiarism.

Overall, a really good example of modern progressive rock, even if it is a bit unbalanced.


Review by Warthur
5 stars IQ continue their incredible streak of top-quality five-star albums with Dark Matter, which would turn out to be something of a swansong for the Ever lineup, which had proved to both be IQ's most long-lasting lineup and the team who saved the band after the decidedly lukewarm albums of the Paul Menel years. The 24 minute epic Harvest of Souls, despite some Genesisisms, might be their best epic-length composition to date, whilst Sacred Sound is perhaps their most spooky and sinister song ever (and there's always been something of a dark edge to IQ's music so that's impressive). Overall, IQ are the band who just keep giving.
Review by b_olariu
4 stars IQ - Dark matter from 2004 is no less then an excellent neo prog release and continues the tradition IQ offered since Ever album that means with no downs only highlights. To me IQ is one of the top notch neo prog bands, in my top 3 all times, they had incredible musicianship, tight arrangements and above all even they are not so prolific like other bands from prog zone they release across the years some outstanding works. Practicaly minus the two albums from late '80s the rest are all above great with no weak moments and fantastic passages. Dark matter keeps the flag high in this field with plenty of memorable passgaes, beautiful and strong vocal parts and the instrumental sections are awesome. Like we used to other IQ albums, the opening tracks are usualy killer ones, here is same Sacred Sound is a total winner to my ears, powerfullwell crafted and with excellent musicianship, a truly 12 min of pure neo prog magic. The middle of the album is ok, no bad or uninventive arrangements but doesn't get to the high of opening and lasting track. Harvest of souls ending the album in a great manner, an epic clocking around 25 min where the mellow and smooth sections are very well integrated with those more up tempo where the complex meets elegant passgaes are melted one into other in one unit. What a great and full of potential this album is, crafted and inventive. Among the best IQ albums ever, they remain one of the most important bands in neo prog zone and aswell one of the most consistent , as I said to me they are in top 3 best bands from neo filed.. 4 stars easy complex and yet melodic.
Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Another well-acclaimed album that I find unredemptive. This band has chosen to water down all that was Genesis--even further than the Four/Three did in the Wind and Wuthering-and-after era.

1. "Sacred Sound" (11:40) Genesis lite with no dazzle or pizzaz, simply stark and dull with flat melody lines from vocalist Peter Nicholls. (19/25)

2. "Red Dust Shadow" (5:53) Some memorable melodies and nice synth play cannot save this barely-two-dimensional song. (8.25/10)

3. "You Never Will" (4:54) clocks and rolling bass lead into a Gabriel-era feeling song. The drums' sound is horrible! The chorus is only notable for the half-Peter Hammill, half-Ozzie Osborn vocal. (8.25/10)

4. "Born Brilliant" (5:20) recorded home- and industrial sounds with sustained deep synth chord set this one up as a theatric chiller. But then the vocal takes us in a totally different, unexpected direction. What should have been a musical adventure through a house of horrors is turned sophomoric by a misfitted lyric. Weird. Did the band approve of Peter's lyrics here? Or were they just trying to get out of the studio? Kind of like Genesis' The Lamb music and lyrics rift scenario (or, at least it feels that way). (8/10)

5. "Harvest of Souls" (24:29) Nice "Cinema Show/Entangled"-like 12-string guitar based music with synth washes and orchestral hits and later bass pedals all ruined by vocals and lyrics that just don't fit. One of the poorest long-playing prog epics I've ever heard from a supposed-"elite" prog band--almost nothing works together. (35/50) - i. First Of The Last - ii. The Wrong Host - iii. Nocturne - iv. Frame And Form - v. Mortal Procession - vi. Ghosts Of Days

Total Time: 52:16

Three stars; a fair contribution to the lexicon of progressive rock music but nothing you'd miss if you'd never heard it.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars IQ's "Dark Matter" is a 2004 release of Neo Prog infamy. There are only 5 tracks but the last is a 24 minute epic with 6 sections in the best traditional sense of finishing an album with a complex multi movement suite. After hearing IQ masterpieces "Ever", "Frequency" and "The Road of Bones" I knew I would return to IQ's back catalogue eventually. The revolving door of keyboardist personnel would occur following this release as it is Martin Orford's final time with the band. So here we go with perhaps the darkest IQ album.

Sacred Sound opens with melancholy atmospheres, with gentle keyboards and the crystal tones of Peter Nicholl's vocals. It builds with a strong rhythm section and moves into some great instrumental passages. Red Dust Shadow is a very tranquil song with some ethereal keyboards and a heartfelt vocal about the loneliness we feel inside and how to cope in this broken state. Again it builds into a rhythmic tempo and the organic sound has some beautiful atmospheres with an emotional resonance.

This segues into a ticking clock to signal the emergence of the next track, You Never Will. This is driven by a Hammond sound and Nicholl's powerhouse vocals "as the shadows fall on All Hallows Eve", and we "spin the tangled web" on those we deceive, and the hope that "you will come but you never will". The themes of emptiness and despair over unrequited love is recurring on the album. This song has a more accessible feel with an infectious melody and is more akin to a ballad.

Born Brilliant transitions fluidly to a darker atmosphere, with choral keys like an angel chorus, and Nicholls has a phased out vocal about nothing turning out the way he planned, including New Years Resolutions. He sings of cataloguing all his failures, and pure intentions are discarded and he feels abandoned, inarticulate and lost. Mike Holmes shines with a lead guitar break that has some soaring string bends and gives the track a melancholy edge.

Harvest of Souls (24:29) is a massive epic opening with i. First Of The Last, acoustically driven with Nicholls emotional delivery. This segues to ii. The Wrong Host, where the tempo gets stronger, then iii. Nocturne, iv. Frame And Form, v. Mortal Procession and finally vi. Ghosts Of Days. Within this epic there are many time sig changes and mood shifts including, marching drums of Paul Cook, so also plays some blast beats in one section. John Jowitt's bass lines are always present powering the music along. The themes of coping and gaining the will to carry on, forging ahead despite the lonely despair one may feel are prevalent in the lyrics. The protagonist has been betrayed and is hoping to restore the relationship but she is gone. The music reflects this emotional framework, with some very dark keyboard swells and walls crashing down.

Overall this is a solid Neo Prog album with a few moments that are innovative and masterfully executed. The darker lyrics do not resonate with me as much as the material on subsequent releases but this is nevertheless a strong album with some excellent musicianship.

Review by The Crow
4 stars Dark Matter is the eighth album from IQ and it also marks the end of an era, because it's the last album they recorded with keyboardist Martin Orford, sadly retired from music industry these days. After him, IQ would not be the same (they are maybe even better now!)

This album contains only five tracks in the vein of other albums like Ever or The Seventh House (not so epic like Subterranea) with a slightly darker tone in general (not too dark, this is IQ folks!) being the first and the last one two true neo-prog masterpieces. The other three are maybe not so fantastic, but very solid nevertheless making the album very enjoyable from beginning to end.

The musicianship and production are simply amazing, and Peter Nichols sounds just perfect.

Best Tracks: Sacred Sound, Harvest of Souls and Born Brilliant mainly because the great lyrics.

Conclusion: Dark Matter is one of the best IQ albums, containing two outstanding songs and three very good ones. Catchy, satisfying neo-prog at its best! Maybe too conservative despite the darker tone of the lyrics and some musical passages, but this a minor defect in comparison of the otherwise excellent musical quality of this record.

My rating: ****

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars IQ had learned the hard way that straying from your musical proclivities that emanate the air of genuineness could lead to complete disaster. After the fiasco of their 80s failed ventures into crossover pop which frankly found the band skid out of control and falling into the worst possible crap possible, IQ had redeemed themselves by returning to form with 1993's "Ever" which found the band hitting their stride with a string of stellar neo-prog albums that took a cue from 70s Genesis, 80s Marillion amongst others and continued the tradition in a convincing satisfying way. While hitting a peak of sort with the outlandish double album "Subterranea" it seemed there was nowhere left to go but the band sallied forth with the turn of the millennium release "The Seventh House" which didn't find band reinventing the wheel but nevertheless stuck firmly with their established niche within the neo-prog world.

Four years later the band returned with its eighth studio album DARK MATTER which likewise didn't deviate from the established formula of drawn out atmospheric compositions that alternated soft symphonic prog passages with heavier rock flirting with metal rock and a nebulous overarching concept that i suspect matters less to the fans than the interesting musical backing, at least for yours truly. While "The Seventh House" seemed like a step down from "Subterranea" in that it played things a little too safe and didn't exactly dazzle in the wow factor, DARK MATTER changes all that with a more cleverly designed package that develops catchier melodies, stronger compositions and more varied instrumental workouts to support them. In fact, this album draws heavily from the 70s symphonic greats such as Genesis with tracks like "Supper's Ready" a prime suspect for the inspirational mojo magic and the band remained the exact same lineup which allowed a multi-year chemistry to blossom and it shows.

DARK MATTER displays IQ performing at their very best. Peter Nicholls staying strong with his controlled vocal delivery of emotional lyrical tugs in perfect poetic expressiveness, Mike Holmes alternating between powerful power chords and Hackett inspired soaring solos and Martin Orford's cranking out the masterful keyboard deliveries that put IQ in the big boys club of progressive rock as he ekes out tender grooves and church organ fueled bombast that adds and provides the primary currency of IQ's neo-prog sound properties so gracefully. Likewise the dualistic effect of John Jowitt's bass grooves and Paul Cook's precisely delivered percussive tact all conspire to create a beautifully performed melodic progressive rock album that dishes out five tracks including the 24 and a half closer "Harvest Of Souls" that offers seven developments through the monumental suite.

The tone is set with the atmospheric and ethereal intro of "Sacred Sound" that sounds like the soundtrack to a helium balloon ready to break free from Earth's gravitational pull that slowly introduces the groove oriented 7/8 time signature and allows Orford's organ riffing to slowly gestate into a monstrous rumble of keyboard excellence. Nicholls joins in as the bass and drums individually create a corresponding counterpoint that finds the band blending together in perfect harmony. The next three shorter tracks find a slew of changes including tender acoustic guitar passages, Pink Floyd inspired space rock, mellotron, mellotron and more mellotron as well as a more typical IQ style that honestly doesn't distinguish itself drastically from previous efforts such as "The Seventh House."

The true magnificence of DARK MATTER really results from the longer tracks which take up 2/3 of the real estate but the lengthy closer "Harvest Of Souls" is perhaps IQ's most accomplished track of their career with all the ingredients of IQ's recipe book performing together in the best possible ways. The track commences with tender arpeggiated acoustic guitar, ethereal atmospheric embellishments that find Nicholls perfectly enunciating every lyrical passage with his usual expected grace. This is an exciting track as it meanders from one played out melodic development to the next with all the usual mellow and heavy tradeoffs. The true highlight of the album for me is when Nicholls tenderly shouts "We Will Shoot You Where You Stand" and then an aggressive instrumental simulation of gunfire erupts and begins a killer development of the heaviest aspects within the IQ universe erupt into a series of stellar band interplay.

Another winner for IQ despite not being uniformly perfect. The opener and closer are two of the best tracks in the entire neo-prog world bar none not to mention within the prolific career of the band itself but the middle section while performed in the expected stellar fashion is a bit ordinary as far as the creativity is concerned. Still though, DARK MATTER continues the daunting task of keeping the high quality standards consistent and provides yet another successful chapter in the gloomier realms of 21st century neo-prog finding all the band's efforts at their instrumentally performed best. After DARK MATTER, Peter Cook would take a little hiatus until "The Road Of Bones" which found the band shifting gears a bit. If only the middle tracks had a bit more oomf and this would be a bona fide masterpiece but if find only the lengthiest tracks fit that bill. Another excellent album from one of neo-prog's masters.

Review by friso
4 stars The neo-prog of IQ usually splits opinions in two categories. Some think of them as one of the best prog bands of the 21th century, excelling in their subgenre that is based on mid-seventies Genesis and early Marillion. Others keep on blaming the band for its lack of originality; calling them a Genesis rip-off - though that band steered in others directions four decennia ago now. Strangely enough the early IQ albums are than preferred over these later efforts, though 'Tales' sounds and awful lot more like Genesis than these later albums.

With their 2000 effort 'The Seventh House' the band established a solid modern production style that would only be slightly improved upon on every release after it. 'Dark Matter' is an album that's also split in two. The first four songs of the albums clearly show some artistic progression and are all among the catchiest of IQ long career. I love 'The Seventh House' (except for its final song), but four songs on 'Dark Matter' really have hooks that make it stand out even more. Furthermore, IQ knows how to combine musical complexity without creating a fragmented listening experience.

Opener 'Sacred Sound' is surprisingly optimistic for an album carrying this name. The ballad 'Red Dust Shadow' has some great changes of sound pallet and atmospheres. 'You Never Will' has a nice alternative metal bass riff and overal dark vibe. 'Born Brilliant' has this pleasant forward pulsing rhythm and an exciting timed vocal line by Peter Nicholls.

The Twenty-five minute epic 'Harvest of Souls' than shows IQ going back to its 'Supper's Ready'-influences, creating a song that - unlike the others - rather sounds like a summation of parts. All pleasant parts, but missing out on the pleasantness of a well-written song. Needles to say I'm less impressed by this second halve of this otherwise perfect album, though I imagine there are listeners out here for whom this song could be their favorite of the album.

In conclusion I would rate this among the best neo-prog out there, though I clearly prefer the first halve of the album.

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
5 stars I have been sort of going on a more modern Prog journey recently, more specifically in the Neo Prog sub genre. Just recently (I think maybe even last night) I listened to all of the albums from one of my favorite bands ever, Marillion. It was a journey of amazing performances and amazing use of the genre. So I figured the next band I'd listen to in this genre would be IQ. I heard a bit about them through some YouTubers like Notes Review and some articles about Neo Prog as a whole. I was intrigued to try them out for a spin. I started with their 1985 album, The Wake. It was fine, nothing to special, but I just could not really grasp it or just get into it. I never felt a connection with me and it. But I was still intrigued. It was good enough for me to try out one of their more critically acclaimed albums. Therefore, I decided that the next best album I would go with would be their 2004 album, Dark Matter, and oh boy, when the first song played, I immediately knew this was gonna be great.

I listened to this album 2 times by now. The first time I played it off and on due to homework and stuff like that. However the second time I listened to it fully without stopping, and my god is it so rewarding. Paying attention and feeling the music is so good. This album is really good in that aspect in what it does and achieves. For one the production value is top notch. Nothing sounds too cluttered or to big, but never to spacey and small. It's perfectly tightly packed without it feeling claustrophobic in it's sound. Not only that but how the album progresses each so satisfying. It feels like each song is progressing through and through without the need for unnecessary breaks or stops, giving it a lush and beautiful charm. This is best shown in the 24+ minute suite, Harvest of Souls. The track is a gemstone in my book, and how each stage of the suite progresses to one and another, and how each stage feels interlinked but different feels super nice and comfortable to just sit back and engulf in.

Now I know this album is definitely one of my favorite albums, heck maybe my favorite Neo Prog album to date, and I am rating this a five star, however I should at least give some criticism. This is more of a nitpick, but I do feel like this album goes a bit too much towards the direction a lot of 70s Prog bands had, specifically Genesis. While I do very much love that sound, more modern Prog I expect and evolution, having a more modern style than the ones seen from bands like Yes or Camel. This is more of a slight and small criticism on an otherwise brilliant album, and it definitely doesn't have much of a dent with the album itself, however I felt like I needed to give an extra two cents on the album.

So if you cannot tell, I friggin love this album to death. It's beautiful, it's enigmatic, it's satisfying to hear, and it has a really great production value to tie it all together. I wouldn't mind having this in a record collection, not one bit.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nº 659

'Dark Matter' is the eighth studio album of IQ and that was released in 2004. How many bands can manage to maintain a consistent quality over all their albums and all over the years? There are very few bands really. Unfortunately, the list is, undoubtedly very small, indeed. But one of those bands that securely fit the bill is the English progressive band, IQ.

The line up on 'Dark Matter' is the same of their last three studio albums 'Ever', 'Subterranea' and 'The Seventh House'. So, the line up here is Peter Nicholls (lead and backing vocals), Mike Holmes (guitars), Martin Orford (backing vocals and keyboards), John Jowitt (backing vocals and bass) and Paul Cook (drums and percussion).

'Dark Matter' has five tracks. All songs were written by IQ and all lyrics were written by Peter Nicholls. The first track 'Sacred Sound' opens the album with an IQ's classic sound. This is one of those typical IQ album's openers that immediately makes you like of this release and therefore compare it with other classic IQ's songs like 'Darkest Hour' and 'Wrong Side Of Weird'. Martin Orford is the big star on this song, creating soundscapes, mainly on church organ, and he plays it solo after solo. Most of the keyboard sounds that Orford chose for this album have a real retrospective feel that reminds us the good old 70's progressive days. By the other hand Mike Holmes plays his usual melodic guitar solos, Peter Nicholls' imaginative lyrics are sung with beautiful and often catchy melodies, and as for the rhythm section, Paul Cook's is at his best and is very well complemented by John Jowitt on bass. It's a terrific album's opener which sets the tone for the rest of the album. The second track 'Red Dust Shadow' takes the mood down with a very plaintive acoustic guitar style over a stark keyboard sound. It starts as an emotional ballad with some delightful guitar work, both acoustic and electric, and halfway the full band comes in and turns into a massive progressive rock song with dark guitars and menacing organ. It's a song that sounds to me as a reminiscent of some of the more reflective musical pieces on 'Ever'. This is probably one of the most emotional music pieces in all IQ's musical repertoire. The third track 'You Never Will' is a song that begins with a clicking clock that provides the percussive introduction to the song. But, suddenly, it's soon drowned out by John Jowitt's crisp bass riff that recurs throughout the song. Some energetic drumming by Paul Cook leads into a quieter keyboard musical section, the lull before the storm, as the ticking clock reappears, and its stopping signalling the unleashed of an explosive maelstrom of guitar and keyboards. The fourth track 'Born Brilliant' is one of the most interesting tracks on the album because it shows a certain little venture into their music. It starts with a dark keyboard and bass rhythms that reminds us in a certain way 'Welcome To The Machine' of Pink Floyd. Peter Nicholls recites the lyrics in a monotonous way, with a distorted voice and the bass line, consisting of the characteristic IQ sound, driving the song forward to the climax of roaring guitar and effects. The song ends with a sound clip from the mood landing. This is, in reality, a splendid song with great lyrics that takes IQ in a new and interesting musical direction. The fifth and last track of the album 'Harvest Of Souls' is divided into six parts 'First Of The Last', 'The Wrong Host', 'Nocturne', 'Frame Of Form', 'Mortal Procession' and 'Ghosts Of Days'. No matter what the rest of the album contains, but there's no doubt that the major focus would fall on this last track. With almost twenty five minutes long, it's the longest track IQ has ever recorded and represents, without any doubt, the best and the great epic on the album. Furthermore, what really strikes me more with this song is that the so called British neo-prog bands that emerged in the mid of the 80's, all seemed to be heavily influenced by Genesis, but this is probably that IQ really sounds more like that 70's giant band. It's an epic, separated by several musical sections with a terrific musical composition where there is literally never a dull moment. 'Dark Matter' is progressive rock music at their best, indeed.

Conclusion: With 'Dark Matter' IQ produced another fine and classic album, another masterpiece. Everything on it, is of the highest quality, the writing, playing, production, art work and lay out defy the limited budgets that are available to the band. They have even encased the album in a slipcase that shows off the rather disturbing artwork to a full effect. Who usually read my reviews on Progarchives knows that I wasn't particularly impressed with IQ previous studio effort 'The Seventh House'. But, with 'Dark Matter', fortunately for them and particularly for me, IQ went back to their roots and created a truly masterpiece and one of the best works produced in the beginning of this new century. Recognition is probably the best word to describe this great album, because, all the things on this album sounds mostly like IQ. By going for the typical IQ sound and not worrying about trying to be too much innovative, the group have created a very accessible and instantly likeable progressive album. Concluding, with 'Dark Matter' IQ created one of their best and finest studio albums. With 'Subterranea' and 'Dark Matter', IQ produced two of the best progressive rock albums ever.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars I feel that the band got into the old shape at the end of 90's with Subterranea and Seventh House and I was out of breath at the time this album was released. IQ has always been one of the more accessible neo-prog bands, not greatly original but having enough "meat" to offer to the fans. The ... (read more)

Report this review (#2847055) | Posted by sgtpepper | Friday, October 21, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After their rebirth with Ever, IQ had a string of solid if interchangeable and unremarkable albums. That ends with Dark Matter, their best album since The Wake. The playing isn't very different, but the songs are more distinctive and stronger compositionally, so this one stands out as unique and ... (read more)

Report this review (#2580786) | Posted by The Ace Face | Thursday, July 22, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #19 Can this band do much better than this? From the late news apparently so, the way the recent Road of Bones has received the highest accolades all across the board. But, there is always a but, where else can you hear this monster of an epic by the name of Harvest of So ... (read more)

Report this review (#1494481) | Posted by Quinino | Monday, November 30, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Dark Matter is simply the best IQ album. "Sacred Sound" has some great Hammond by Widget Orford and some soaring guitar by Sherlock Holmes, underpinned by great playing from bassist John Jowls and drummer Peter Cook, topped off by that strange Gabriel/David Essex voice of Sir Douglas Nicholls ... (read more)

Report this review (#1034343) | Posted by Alard Charlton | Friday, September 13, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The discovery of this website, and of all the prog activity I never knew about since my early days with Genesis/Gentle Giant/Yes/ELP, The Canterbury group and Henry Cow, has been a huge even in my life. Hitting 50 soon, and a whole new world of music that brings me back to the way music felt w ... (read more)

Report this review (#964574) | Posted by toddbashee | Friday, May 24, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars (9/10) It's very encouraging to see that more than 20 years after their first album, IQ are still capable of a progressive masterpieces like "Dark Matter". There are very few bands who have developed so well with time, and IQ show no sign of letting up even today. Of course, a 24 minute epic like ... (read more)

Report this review (#857727) | Posted by ScorchedFirth | Tuesday, November 13, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Born really brilliant!!! "Dark Matter" is one of the best IQ album along with "Ever". The style is close to Yes and, especially, Genesis. In particular, "Dark Matter" reminds "Foxtrot" in structure and in some moments even in sound. The suite Harvest Of Soul, one of the best moments of t ... (read more)

Report this review (#646669) | Posted by Dark Nazgul | Monday, March 5, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I really am not the biggest fan of the neo-prog world, but every once in a while comes a work of a band of this sub-genre and impresses me, as is the case with "Contagion" at the Arena and "Pure" from Pendragon. But is not the case of "Dark Matter". I really had hopes for this album, but in t ... (read more)

Report this review (#463119) | Posted by voliveira | Thursday, June 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Masterpiece! Dark matter was the first IQ album I heard, and it instantly grabbed me. I wondered WHY I had never heard of them before. Neo-Prog was never my thing, I was more into the Classic Progressive bands of the late 60's and 70's. Noe-Prog is STILL not my thing, EXCEPT for this band, a ... (read more)

Report this review (#458410) | Posted by Moonstone | Thursday, June 9, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars At last!!!! i can understand this album, my first vacation time since six years have helped i think, but i think that a personal state of mind back in 2004 overshadowed my full appreciation of this great album, on the other hand I was Highly reluctant to hear "The Harvest of Souls" because of ... (read more)

Report this review (#439496) | Posted by Rikki Nadir | Tuesday, April 26, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars At this point in a bands career the quality of new albums nearly always pales in comparison to their earlier work. IQ are very much the exception to this rule. Dark Matter is a brilliant album. Sacred opens the album, a long piece with some beautiful passages and deft musicianship. Red Dust i ... (read more)

Report this review (#348487) | Posted by devox | Thursday, December 9, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It's been four years since IQ released a CD and the wait is over now. I have to say They must have been listening too much to ancient Genesis recordings because this is the recording who has more "Genesis sounds" in It. I mean, not in a bad way but It is a relief to hear the smooth lines fronm ... (read more)

Report this review (#298027) | Posted by steelyhead | Wednesday, September 8, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Darker Side of Neo-Prog This has been my first exposure to the music IQ, and it is nothing like I expected. The Genesis similarity is obvious - guitarist Mike Holmes does take a trick or two from the Hackett repertoire and vocalist Peter Nichols borrows more from Peter Gabriel than his firs ... (read more)

Report this review (#211665) | Posted by The SaidRemark | Saturday, April 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars First of all, sorry for my bad English. For obvious reasons this is my first written review after many ratings here in PA: I decided to do so because I "must" review this masterpiece. For me, this is not Neo-prog, but only one of the best prog albums I ever heard, at the same level of "Selling.., ... (read more)

Report this review (#188882) | Posted by prog61 | Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I pre-ordered this CD and got it when it came out. Definately the best Symphonic prog CD released in 2004 by a country mile. TQ (neo progressive??) just a cotton pickin moment, what we have here is a genuine top-class SYMPHONIC PROG band, probably the best outside of Genesis and Yes. This CD is ... (read more)

Report this review (#185342) | Posted by M27Barney | Saturday, October 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album seems to me that have left enough good ordered with respect to the order of the songs, the disc opens with "Sacred Sound" that is a song that lasts about 12 minutes, this song begins with a bottom keyboard, soon takes step to him to the battery and slowly they begin to unite all the o ... (read more)

Report this review (#182694) | Posted by Terenzani | Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 4.5 Stars - Neo prog at its finest! "Dark Matter" was my first discovery of IQ shortly after it was released. For whatever reason, I always put off exploring the music of IQ and put them on the backburner and went on to listen other prog bands. After about the 10th listen of this album, it ... (read more)

Report this review (#154954) | Posted by cutsofmeat | Monday, December 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album is good, there are some decent vocal melodies, some interesting synth work and some ok guitar work. The bass and the drums don't really stand out at all, and are somewhat hidden in the background of lush synth lines. The guitar is heard but only makes the predictable contributions t ... (read more)

Report this review (#126065) | Posted by weaverinhisweb | Saturday, June 16, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well,here we are talking about neo progressive music,IQ",yes,great band,dark matter,their last album to the date.we find some elements great here,the voice,the concept,the words of the songs are amazing,something diferent,like: far BEYOND"..obviusly the influences of Genesis and yes are strong.. ... (read more)

Report this review (#123398) | Posted by JgX 5 | Friday, May 25, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A hidden gem! Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's an album that doesn't seem recognized at all outside the prog community, and what a shame it is. It contains great riffs, vocals, keyboards, lyrics and so on. My first album of IQ and probably not the last, this is an amazing album. The stand out ... (read more)

Report this review (#120903) | Posted by freddan | Sunday, May 6, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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