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IQ - Frequency CD (album) cover





4.10 | 843 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Well, we've been waiting for this for a long time. Was it worth the wait? My opinion is yes. IQ are definitely one of the most important bands to emerge from the second wave of prog bands in the 1980's, alongside Marillion, Pallas, and Twelfth Night, and deserve our attention when a new album is released. But would they deliver with the loss of one of their guiding lights, Martin Orford? The answer is a definite yes.

Frequency, the title track, is a slab of pure unadulterated neo prog music, with an epic feel that has your toes tapping throughout.. Holmes delivers superb guitar bursts, and Westworth, the successor to Orford, makes you wonder if he really is a new boy with the textures he creates.

As the opener progresses to Life Support, the piano backdrop to Nicholl's incredible vocals is amazing, and a reaffirmation of just what a great band they are. Peter Nicholls shines throughout this album and I do believe that he is becoming more and more accomplished as a vocalist as the years roll on. The mid section features some fantastic interplay between Jowitt and Edwards in the rhythm section accompanying a great guitar solo by Holmes, before Westworth again attempts to make the keyboard slot his own. A dark and meandering piece that grows on you each time you listen to it.

Stronger Than Fiction, clocking in at over 10 minutes, starts off with a commercial feel, and could be accused of being a stereotypical IQ piece, but I think that as the track develops this is belied. Nicholl's most definitely keeps the track together, and I am enjoying the upbeat feel of the track. I especially like Westworth's keyboard textures as the track moves to its mid section, in glorious harmony with quite the most beautiful vocal. The rockier sequence that follows has a dark and melancholic feel to it, before reasserting a more upbeat tone with a strong guitar and rhythm backdrop. Holme's almost sings on his guitar at the close of the piece, with some lovely piano and bass accompanying.

One Fatal Mistake follows without a break, and is a natural follow up to its predecessor. Nicholl's voice is quite incredible, with piano, acoustic guitar vying for attention. I have to say that Nicholl's has become one of the most important and beautiful vocalists in the world of prog - his performance on this, and, indeed, the whole of the album, is really something else.

What follows is nothing short of genius. Ryker Skies could well be one of the finest pieces of music ever created by this band. A rich backdrop of keyboards and acoustic guitar accompany the vocals, before the dark electric guitar, pulsating bass and drums kick in. What follows cannot be stereotyped as neo prog or any other type of prog. This is simply a fine slab of rock music which must have taken all of the five years taken to create this album. Dark, brooding, solid, with a counter to all those who believe that the future will automatically be bright and chirpy, the mood created is ultimately distopian. This is exemplified about seven minutes in by a grand Westworth keyboard solo, which reminds me a bit of Banks in his darker moments, culminating in him accompanying Nicholls to the conclusion of the track.

The Province of the King is the longest track on the album, and commences with a gorgeous acoustic guitar and keyboard backdrop to Nicholl's fine vocals. This track is the natural follow up to much of Dark Matter. I love the mellotron sequence that precedes the heavy pulsating rockier phase, before calming down again to the rich acoustic background. This track has many moods, and is all the better for it. Probably the finest mellotron moods for many a year, interspersed with some fine guitar solos and vocals. When "The phone rings and there's no one there", the track progresses to a symphonic masterpiece, with keyboards at the forefront of a huge cacophony of sound. Although still dark, it is strangely uplifting. Westworth is a fine successor to a great player - we miss Orford, but you know the band will definitely continue, given the exceptional musicianship demonstrated here. Has Holmes ever produced such a fine solo as the one kicking in about 11 minutes into this track? I doubt it very much, and Westworth really shines in the piano when Nicholl's brings the piece to its denouement. A great way to bring a great track to its conclusion.

Closer brings the album to its conclusion. Once again starting with some lovely sound textures, I close my eyes in appreciation when Nicholl's starts singing. This is not just any neo prog - it's IQ neo prog! Band plays its heart out in support of some exceptional and beautiful vocals. The band shines throughout. A grandoise track to close a great piece of work.

Was the album worth the wait? Definitely. Have they lost something with Orford? Yes, is the reply. Is it iretriveable? NO. Is this band still at the forefront of the second wave of prog rock? Absolutely.

Closer Every Day sums it up - we feel close to a band that is still capable of producing great music. As an IQ fan, I find this album essential. As a reviewer on this site, I rate it as excellent. So, 4.5 stars to an album that really is extremely good.

lazland | 4/5 |


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