IQ
The Road of Bones


4.0
excellent

Review

by menawati CONTRIBUTOR (92 Reviews)
May 5th, 2014 | 108 replies


Release Date: 05/01/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Neo-prog legends IQ return with a spirited and powerful release which draws heavily upon themes of melancholy and desolation.

The neo-prog revival of the mid '80s spawned a number of acts in the UK who endeavoured to bring the sounds of early Genesis up to date with an injection of earnestness and a shift towards more melodic sensibilities. The standard bearers for this new wave of theatrical and introspective progressive music were, of course, the Fish-led incarnation of Marillion. But among their face-paint sporting cousins it was certainly IQ that made the most impact with their bleak ominous style and unerring sense of drama. In fact IQ probably came closest of all the neo-prog bands in capturing the subtly unsettling qualities of Gabriel era Genesis, exemplified by their 1985 album 'The Wake'.

'The Road of Bones' is the 11th studio release by IQ and its title refers to the M56 Russian Kolyma Highway which was built by political prisoners of the Stalin regime of the USSR between the 1930s and 1950s. The road is regarded as a memorial to the unfortunate souls who died during its construction whose bones were laid beneath or around it due to the permafrost not allowing graves to be dug. With such a deeply troubling theme for an album title one might expect dark and melancholic music and that is generally the case on here. While not reverting completely to their austere and foreboding sound of the early '80s there are more elements of that style evident on here than any of their work since the aforementioned 'The Wake'.

IQ have always been a largely keyboard driven group and strong minor mode symphonic textures dominate much of the material, especially on the longer pieces. The music is also markedly heavier, in places, than anything they have done before with the denser arrangements profiting greatly from the meaty production. This dramatic and more intense approach works well on a number of the tracks, notably the 19 minute plus centrepiece 'Without Walls'. This extended piece doesn't reveal it's true character from the outset and elects to lull the listener into complacency with a soft heartbeat and lilting piano melodies. However, the true character of the piece explodes further in with doomy chugging riffs, grating off-kilter organ fills and the sort of menacing synth and mellotron swells that have become a trademark of their more sinister sounding escapades.

The band released a number of largely forgettable albums during their middle years, at least for anyone who doesn't warm to polished progressive music with overtly commercial tendencies, and this aspect of their music does drag the album down in a few instances. 'Ocean' is a case in point with its inoffensive rolling arpeggios, forgettable vocal lines and formulaic synth melodies. The dreamy 'Fall And Rise' is another of the more mellow and tuneful offerings but in this case the band manage rather better in achieving enough pleasing melodies to prevent the song from descending into anonymity. But IQ are at their best when there is a mysterious and foreboding edge to their music and thankfully these particular qualities dominate the bulk of the material. The chilling atmosphere of 'Ten Million Demons' finds them discarding all pretentions of winsomeness and here they somehow manage to successfully build a soaring and compulsively addictive song on top of an inherently tacky rolling synth motif. In fact the main accomplishment of this album lies in how IQ manage to take many aspects of the styles they have exhibited throughout their long career and meld them seamlessly into a satisfying whole while still maintaining a modern edge.

After listening to this, some IQ fans may still hanker for an approach which even further embodies the dark and ominous cutting edge of their earliest work. 'The Road of Bones' is, of course, far more polished than their early material and weaves a much wider sonic tapestry but there is a sense that the band are inadvertently holding back from fully embracing the darkness on occasion. Nevertheless, this is a superb and largely consistent album which demonstrates that IQ still sit proudly near the top of the contemporary prog pile.



Recent reviews by this author
Peter Hammill A Black BoxMotorpsycho Trust Us
iamthemorning BelightedMonty Python Monty Python Sings
Hominido Estirpe LiticaDisconnect Planned Obsolescence
user ratings (52)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
menawati
Contributing Reviewer
May 5th 2014


16112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

CD1: http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/The+Road+Of+Bones+CD1/9675044
CD2: http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/The+Road+Of+Bones+CD2/9675077

also streaming on Google Play and maybe other streaming sites

Digging: H.P. Lovecraft - H.P. Lovecraft II

Mad.
May 5th 2014


4056 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome review man, so glad you did it. Imma suggest it for a feature, hopefully we can finally get that chick with a dick off the front page.

The t/t of this is brilliant, I really wanna hear the album

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
May 5th 2014


16112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

cheers Mad, its really good all the way through apart from a couple of drossy songs

Mad.
May 5th 2014


4056 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I'm not a fan of 'prog pop' either, was hoping this would steer away from it

Friday13th
May 5th 2014


2648 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice mena. I heard the first half, but I need to finish the rest. I like it but I agree they are best when dark. I'll have to check Wake one of these days.

Digging: Triana - El Patio

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
May 5th 2014


16112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

me too, thankfully it does, there is a bit of the poppy 'nomzamo' type IQ on here but not much, it's more like they've taken the spirit of their first 2 albums and joined it up with their last few which were pretty decent anyway

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
May 5th 2014


16112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yes try the wake and tales from lush attic too both good, wake has some raw dark prog on it really
creepy atmosphere

Mad.
May 5th 2014


4056 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This isn't on Deezer yet :/ might try Subterranea cuz the artwork looks cool

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
May 5th 2014


16112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

its on Gplay so im assuming its on spotify too

TheNotrap
May 5th 2014


8121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Great band. Will check the album asap.

Pretty nice review.

Digging: Pink Floyd - The Endless River

emester
May 5th 2014


4207 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Frequency was a solid 3 for me. Hope this is better

Digging: Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
May 5th 2014


16112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yes it is, frequency was ok but this is darker and deeper

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
May 5th 2014


6269 Comments


Good review, mindpos.

mid-80s neo-prog scene eludes me completely, I'm afraid.

Digging: Fly Golden Eagle - Quartz Bijou

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
May 5th 2014


16112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haha yes it does really not gel with some people, thanks for the feature anyway whoever stuck it up there

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
May 5th 2014


6269 Comments


It's not that I resent 80s neo-prog rock, it's just that I haven't come across any interesting material for some reason (lack of time is probably my only excuse haha).

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
May 5th 2014


16112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you could try 'Script for a jesters Tear' by Marillion, that's pretty much the early classic of the subgenre

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
May 5th 2014


6269 Comments


The irony is that I have bought that album but haven't spun it much. I should change that.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
May 5th 2014


16112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

just listen to Forgotten Sons on there if that dont appeal give up on the genre hehe

Mad.
May 5th 2014


4056 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

CHICK WITH A DICK IS GONE!

TzarChasm
May 5th 2014


159 Comments


The only IQ album I've ever heard before is Dark Matter, which I bought somewhat randomly at a music store several years back. I generally enjoy it (although the vocalist is really nasally and whiny sounding). I had absolutely no idea that they were anything but a one-disc band, much less legendary in the genre. I've never heard anyone else mention them—anywhere, ever.

I'll have to check this out.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy