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IQ - The Seventh House CD (album) cover





4.00 | 604 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars A new millennium brought a strong return from one of neo-prog's finest and most popular acts. This is quite possibly Martin Orford's finest hour as a recording artist, which gives some idea as to his performance.

The Wrong Side Of Weird is a very strong opener. It is powerful and evocative throughout, and Peter Nicholls voice is fantastic & delicate. It is, however, Martin Orford who has his imprint all over the track.

Erosion follows, and this is the shortest track on the LP at 5.44 minutes. This is a very delicately played ballad, with bombastic bursts which bring the track to life. A massive drum sound pounds out of speakers on the closing section, and Orford brings a majestic backdrop to it all. The band, and Orford, rarely sounded better.

The title track is the longest on the album at over 14 minutes. A lush opening, with soulful and melancholic vocals backed by lush acoustic guitar and piano, creates a lovely soundscape. After three minutes, the meat of the track kicks in, and the result is very tight and wholly symphonic. All members deliver excellent musicianship, including a fantastic trademark Holmes solo. Jowitt never sounded better on bass, which is pounding and melodic all through the track ? indeed, there is a very strong rhythm section all round. The track holds the attention to the end, and is clearly strongly influenced by large sections of The Lamb, but remains wholly original in its delivery. In other words, neo prog at its best. There are some amazing vocal harmonies as the track begins its huge denouement, with Orford's keyboards again creating a massive wall of sound. The production is top notch.

Zero Hour brings a new element, with some interesting sound effects. Orford uses synths to again provide a grand backdrop. A lovely ballad, and a good contrast to what preceded the track, whilst the closing section shows off Holmes at his most inventive.

The opening to Shooting Angel, with delicate keys and guitar, is so relaxing, but is rather lulling you into a false sense of security, as the main section features a crashing rhythm, rather reminiscent of Genesis in their Mama period. Pleasant enough, but probably the weakest track on the album and a little bit too disjointed to be wholly effective. There is a nice saxophone, though, and Nicholl's vocals are absolutely lovely.

The whole album, though, leads literally up to the closer, Guiding Light, one of the band's finest moments. If there is anything better sounding than Nicholls and Orford accompanying each other with soulful vocals and piano, I would like to hear what it is. The band as a whole do not enter until after three minutes of this beauty, but, when they do, the track rocks along, and we once again hear IQ at their most coherent best. In the best tradition of symphonic classic rock, the lengthy instrumental passage is played with utter tightness, rocks along, and never once diverts the attention from anything other than the music. It closes as it began, and you are left gasping for breath as to the sheer majesty and beauty of this track.

This album began a sequence of remarkable albums from the band for the new decade, and proves that the best of the 1980's new era bands could survive and prosper.

Four stars and highly recommended.

lazland | 4/5 |


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