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IQ: The Road of Bones

The Road of Bones is the 11th studio album from UK prog rock legends IQ, a band who have worked hard at keeping the 'second wave of prog' from the early '80s alive now for over 30 years. Here we have the classic rhythm section of Tim Esau (bass) and Paul Cook (drums) back together again for the first time in years, along with recent addition, Sphere3 keyboardist Neil Durant, and old standby's Peter Nicholls (vocals) & Mike Holmes (guitar). The Road of Bones is a luxurious sounding album but by no means a 'happy' listen, as the band paints a dark, ominous picture of a deadly serial killer telling his tale in the first person...yep, a concept album folks. This is pretty bleak stuff, but IQ are up to the challenge of delivering this chilling tale in a way that makes it quite enjoyable for the listener. A lot of the credit needs to go to Durant, who permeates the album with plenty of '70s references but also a more modern touch, his waves of haunting Mellotron blending nicely with stabbing Moog, gorgeous piano, or commanding Hammond organ.

From their inception, IQ have always been tagged with that 'second coming of Gabriel era Genesis' comparison, and all these years later you can still hear that a bit, mostly thanks to Nicholls' vocal style and the occasional Hackett-isms from master guitarist Holmes. But, the harrowing epic "Without Walls" is a perfect example of Foxtrot era Genesis but with a modern twist, as the band delivers powerful soundscapes with expert instrumentation and effective vocal passages. "From the Outside In" combines heavy Holmes riffing with chilling keyboards as Nicholls delivers his pained vocal, while the title track offers up more ambient textures that perfectly complement the dark storytelling. A more classic prog feel can be heard on the lush "Ocean", with Durant really laying down some classic keyboard sounds, and the chilling finale "Until the End" combines dark passages with moments of brilliant upbeat bombastic progressive rock as only IQ can deliver. At 12-minutes, it's another mini epic that works on all levels.

If you pick up the 2CD version of The Road of Bones, what you get on the second disc is a batch of songs recorded during the same sessions, but ones that didn't fit into the concept created for the main album. Yes, the tone and feel of these songs is a bit different than the main album, but all are still excellent IQ fare. Spacey keys and brooding atmosphere permeate "Ten Million Demons", while the daring instrumental "1312 Overture" is sure to please any longtime fan, with haunting Mellotron drenching the entire sizzling track. "Knucklehead" mixes ambient textures with crushing riffs (indeed a heavy song, even for IQ), while "Constellations" again sees the appearance of lush Mellotron to go along with sumptuous organ and Holmes' tasty lead guitar lines. This one is classic IQ, right in line with some of their great material from the early '80s.

Here in 2014, we've seen a lot of strong prog albums released so far, and The Road of Bones is easily one of the best. This 2CD set is like two albums in one; you have the dark concept piece, and a second disc of unrelated songs but just as equally remarkable. This band just shows no signs of slowing down, so if you loved their more recent efforts like Frequency, Dark Matter, The Seventh House, and Subterranea, I can easily say you will fall completely head over heels for this one as well.


Track Listing
CD 1
1. From the Outside In (7:24)
2. The Road of Bones (8:32)
3. Without Walls (19:15)
4. Ocean (5:55)
5. Until the End (12:00)
Total Time 53:07


CD 2 (Bonus disc)
1. Knucklehead (8:10)
2. 1312 Overture (4:17)
3. Constellations (12:24)
4. Fall and Rise (7:10)
5. Ten Million Demons (6:10)
6. Hardcore (10:52)
Total Time 49:06

Added: September 13th 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 5084
Language: english

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