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IQ: Dark Matter

IQ's first release on InsideOut Music America is perhaps the bands best recording since the steller Ever, which many fans consider one of the best efforts from this seminal prog rock outfit. After gazing upon the gorgeous yet spooky CD cover artwork, the sounds contained within the grooves of Dark Matter are still classic IQ-no surprises here, no change in direction, but pure symphonic progressive rock, dark and moody, with more than a hint to vintage Genesis. While IQ often gets tagged with the dreaded "neo-prog" label, to these ears this band plays music that is a direct homage to the greats of the 70's, as opposed to other pop flavored acts that also get lumped into that category. Rich keyboard textures (synths, Hammond, Mellotron) and melodic guitar passages meet up with the yearning vocals of Peter Nicholls to create five memorable songs, helping to lift Dark Matter into the upper echelon of IQ recordings alongside Ever, The Wake, Tales From the Lush Attic, The Seventh House, and Subterranea.

Songs like the powerful opener "Sacred Ground" , with its searing guitar work from Michael Holmes and massive amounts of vintage keyboard from Martin Orford, or the dark and foreboding "Red Dust Shadow", which contains a fantastic vocal performance from Nicholls, are simply wonderful progressive rock songs. The same can be said for "You Never Will", a moody piece that sees Nicholls spewing these lyrics with dramatic flair; "Now as the shadows fall in Allhallows Eve, We spin our tangled web, learn to deceive, I keep on hoping that you'll do something real, Give in to influence but you never will."

Orford lays down some spooky keyboard textures on "Born Brilliant", a tune that is also highlighted by the tight rhythm section of John Jowitt (bass) & Paul Cook (drums), as well as the angular guitar leads of Holmes. Perhaps the gem of the set though, is the massive, 24-minute epic "Harvest of Souls", a major undertaking for IQ, and a compelling success. Layers of keyboards, gentle acoustic guitars, and Nicholls' pensive vocal passages lead this track into an eventually very formidable symphonic roller coaster ride of mood, textures, and musical virtuosity. Orford's Hammond & Mellotron tones are quite tasty, and hearing his super-charged duel with Holmes brings to mind vintage Deep Purple, Yes, and Genesis. A great song, and while no "Supper's Ready", a major triumph for IQ nontheless.

While certainly nothing new or groundbreaking, Dark Matter is a wonderful 70's styled progressive rock release, and will certainly be on many Best of 2004 lists, this writer's included. Longtime IQ fans will revel in the vintage sounds, the deep & dark lyrics, and the epic nature of this CD. Bravo!

Track Listing
1) Sacred Ground (11:10)
2) Red Dust Shadow (5:53)
3) You Never Will (4:54)
4) Born Brilliant (5:20)
5) Harvest of Souls (24:29)

Added: August 20th 2004
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: The Official IQ Website
Hits: 10767
Language: english

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