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jueves, 18 de agosto de 2016

IQ - Dark Matter (2004)


La primera parte de la trilogía Dark Matter - Frequency - The Road Of Bones de los británicos IQ, banda histórica del neo progresivo que con estos tres discos no sólo se renuevan ellos mismos sino que revitalizaron todo el género, en los que para mí son los mejores trabajos de su larga carrera. Un LP con un tremendo trabajo melódico y compositivo. Discazo (mejor dicho ¡Discazos los tres!) Y los tres van a parar a la Biblioteca Sonora...

Artista: IQ
Álbum: Dark Matter
Año: 2004
Género: Neo progresivo sinfónico
Duración: 52:16
Nacionalidad: Inglaterra


Lista de Temas:
1. Sacred Sound (11:40)
2. Red Dust Shadow (5:53)
3. You Never Will (4:54)
4. Born Brilliant (5:20)
5. Harvest of Souls (24:29)

Alineación:
- Paul Cook / drums & percussion
- Mike Holmes / guitars & keyboards
- John Jowitt / bass guitar & bass pedals
- Peter Nicholls / lead vocals
- Martin Orford / keyboards & backing vocals




Hay discos que uno le tiene, subjetivamente, un gran aprecio porque despiertan cosas especiales en uno, quizás a veces relacionado con el momento en que lo escuché por primera vez, o por las cosas que despertó en uno, por los momentos que ha vivido junto a esa música... miles de razones, y una más personal que la otra. Ninguna razón objetiva, ni técnica, todo dentro del universo de las emociones. No hablo del disco en sí, sino de lo que cierta música (u otro estímulo sensorial) puede quedar grabada en nosotros con el mejor de los registros (también puede pasar en el sentido contrario) y al evocarla, nos trae a colaciòn esas sensaciones y registros agradables, y esa es, para uno, la mejor música.
Algo asì me pasa con este disco. Para mí es especial. Igual, tengo la ventaja de que, en realidad, técnicamente sé que el disco es buenísimo, un desarrollo melódico interesantísimo, ya que la melodía misma de todo el disco es conceptual, moviéndose siempre en base a la misma idea mientras lo que cambia entre secciòn y sección es principalmente el ritmo. Teclados con un sonido alucinante, Hammonds volando cabezas (el rendimiento del teclista Martin Orford en lo que sería su último disco de estudio con la banda es incomparable), un disco conceptual y épico que varía entre armonias dulces y genealmente sumamente oscuras, una base del carajo que se luce, sobretodo Paul Cook en batería que tiene lo que pocos bateristas tienen por más técnicos que sean, que es mucha musicalidad para acompañar la melodía, ya que no solamente se ocupa y preocupa del ritmo. Temas fáciles de escuchar y al mismo tiempo complejos rítmica y estructuralmente (algo bastante difícil de lograr, siendo pocos los ejemplos de grupos que han logrado esto: Porcupine Tree, Camel, Pain of Salvation, Pink Floyd), con un registro de estilos que llega hasta el (casi) heavy prog en los momentos más potentes, con un guitarrista que hace delicias con sus cuerdas... todo lo que dije son motivos para considerar e éste como un gran álbum. Pero hay algo que es excepcional en él y es el alto nivel de clima tenebroso y siniestro al que llega, en un álbum decididamente genesiano, hipnótico, teatral, casi una película sonora que por momentos pone los pelos de punta (el trabajo del teclado tiene mucho que ver en esto), en este álbum IQ es capaz de crear una lúgubre atmósfera siniestra para luego explotar en un segmento alucinante y pesado de sinfonismo progresivo. Personalmente no me agrada demasiado el Neo-progresivo (un pastiche entre el rock sinfónico setentero con sonidos más soft rockeros para radio que no son ni lo uno ni lo otro), pero esto es diferente, incluso yo lo catalogaría directamente como un disco de rock sinfónico puro.
Pareciera que este disco remite inevitablemente a los clásicos del mundo progresivo. En muchos momentos el disco recuerda a Yes, solos que remiten a Pink Floyd, pero principalmente pareciera un moderno homenaje al "Foxtrot" y al "Supper's Ready" de Genesis. Y si es así, confirma lo que digo: esto es puro rock sinfónico moderno. En este disco, IQ ya había tomado una identidad moderna y propia, al grado de que difícilmente podremos encontrar un grupo neo-progresivo que maneje este mismo estilo de cadencias, oscurantismo y ejecuciones tremendas, temas de más de 20 minutos (como el tremendo último tema de este disco, tema que lopueden ver y oír al ser ejecutado en vivo, en el último video de esta entrada).
"Dark Matter" fue el octavo disco en estudio de la banda inglesa, con una madurez producto de sus más de veinte años de carrera (en el momentoen que sacaron el disco) ha hecho del grupo una entidad muy sólida.



Pero yo sé que me puedo equivocar y eso que a mí me parece tan fabuloso, a otro le puede parecer una porquería, y por eso vamos a ver que nos dicen algunos otros comentaristas sobre este disco. Veamos:


IQ es un grupo que nunca me había entusiasmado: para mí el neo prog pasaba por Pendragon y Marillion, que siempre me han parecido bandas bastante aburridas, y fuera de eso no encontré nada más o menos de mi gusto hasta Arena, ya a fines de los '90. Siempre he pensado que IQ eran lo más salvable del neo, pero tampoco era para echar cohetes, vamos. Pero el Dark Matter, su último álbum de estudio hasta la fecha, fue para mí una revelación, sin duda creo que es el mejor de su carrera (sí, he escuchado The Wake, incrédulos)
En cierto modo no es mucho más que un homenaje al Foxtrot, pero aunque sólo se tratara de eso ¡qué homenaje! Ojalá los demás discos de IQ tuvieran la calidad de este homenaje. Aquí practican un sinfonismo muy clásico (el virtuosismo no llega a hacerse protagonista por completo), continúan fieles a su estilo de siempre y la producción es soberbia. Las letras, eso sí, muy desiguales.
1. Sacred sound: Los acordes iniciales de sintetizador son al más puro estilo schumanniano y los de órgano que recuerdan a ¡exacto!Watcher of the skies, con mayor presencia aún del Hammond, aunque reconozcamos que la voz de Nicholls da otros matices que la de Gabriel (para gustos...). El crescendo ostinatto al teclado pasa a la eléctrica a los 2:51 y de ahí se pasa al clímax vocal-sinfónico, interrumpido en 4:06 por un sonido flautero muy Genesis. El esquema se repite, pero en 5:49 entra el Hammond con una curiosa improvisación, que desemboca en la tranquilidad orquestal, transición a la segunda parte, muy melódica, a partir de 07:00. Otro interludio de teclado conduce a la última parte en 09:10, cuando sobreviene el momento más inspirado instrumentalmente de esta larga canción, con órgano, batería, guitarras y mellotrón realmente "enchufados".
2. Red Dust Shadow: El agradable rasgueo acústico inicial ya nos anuncia el carácter más intimista de esta balada, cantada con bastante sensibilidad por Peter. Los dos primeros minutos son muy apacibles, en 2:11 la cosa parece animarse en una variación del motivo principal, pero no es hasta 3:39 que se produce la progresión a base de melotrón. Progresivamente hablando, quizás es el tema más flojo del disco, sin ser malo en absoluto, pero creo que le falta algo de "garra" incluso para ser una balada, no sé si me entendéis.
3. You never will: La canción más "exitosa" del disco (si puede hablarse de éxito comercial de IQ). Lo cierto es que engancha desde el principio: un reloj de cuerda es la base rítmica; a él se suma una acústica, y... cataplum, ya estamos de aquí al final. El trabajo del melotrón y batería es impecable, la sección vocal está maravillosamente interpretada por Nicholls (nadie la cantaría mejor, reconozcámoslo). En 1:50 se repite el tema sin variación, hasta 2:41, en que aparece un teclado muy ambient sobre el sempiterno tictac, y tras un inesperado redoble de Cook, surge en 3:08 con una fuerza extraordinaria el sintetizador para introducir de nuevo el motivo principal acompañado con los pedales de bajo de Jowitt. Luego, vuelve el estribillo vocal, a continuación Holmes también encuentra su momento para sorprendernos con un buen riff, y finalmente la melodía es cantada con más fuerza por Nicholls para cerrar la canción.
4. Born Briliant: Un ambiente misterioso --debido al mellotrón y a la electrónica-- impregna esta pieza, cuyo arranque no ocurre hasta 1:46. El timbre de voz de Peter puede sonar algo extraño al principio, pero la parte cantada es lo menos importante de esta canción. Los efectos de sonido están muy logrados. Es difícil explicar las sensaciones que se experimenta al escucharlos: pizca de Camel, pizca de Floyd, pizca de Tangerine Dream y también cosecha propia, claro.
5. Harvest of souls: Sin duda, éste es el tour de force del álbum, un tema de 24 minutos que a todos nos hace recordar el Supper's ready ya desde el inicio: esa introducción guitarrera con un sonido limpísimo que sirve de apoyo a una melodía magnífica cantada por una voz muy dulce y cálida, de alguna forma similar a la sección Lover's leap. Encontramos un segundo motivo de tono aún más triste en 2:31. En 4:16 se produce un cambio de tornas hacia una parte menos lírica y más alegre, con el Hammond como bajo cifrado. Más adelante (5:38), el redoble de tambor y el órgano son el nexo hacia la siguiente sección. Desde 6:20 nos encontramos una cascada de guitarra, batería y teclados que nos puede abrumar si vamos desprevenidos. En 7:17 el solista comienza a cantar con más rabia. Desde 8:40, la eléctrica se adueña de la situación y lleva la canción al terreno de la balada, con una pegadiza melodía vocal bellamente contrapunteada con el piano. La guitarra se gusta y alarga la sección hasta 11:00, donde de improviso el compás se acelera de forma extraña e irregular (a una especie de 5/8), muy marcado por el Hammond, tocado de forma apoteósica. En 12:20 la cosa se normaliza en un convencional 4/4, con base rítmica de piano, y a estas alturas el melodismo de esta suite empieza a parecer inagotable: Peter canta ahora como los ángeles, y las escaleras del piano (14:31) resultan tremendamente sugerentes. En 15:23 se produce otro corte abrupto de sintetizador primero, y de guitarra después. Un minuto más tarde regresa Peter con un timbre muy nasal, de gran parecido al Gabriel del Supper's. En 17:50 llega, atención, ¡una especie de Apocalipse in 6/4! Guarda cierto parecido con la sección más recordada del Supper's, porque el carácter de ambas es similar aunque las signaturas en realidad sean diferentes(allí era una 9/8), y aquí Peter adopta un registro de falsete poco habitual en él. Ojo a la sección instrumental de órgano y mellotrón que comienza en 18:40, es impresionante (que nadie se lo pierda, por dios). Después (19:45) Nicholls recupera el tema con el que empezaba hace ya rato esta canción, con una tonalidad menor y más oscura. En 21:11 se da paso a la solemne coda, muy épica y enfática. Con ella se despide este autentico temazo.
Larga vida y prosperidad al DARK MATTER
carzante

Bueno, más o menos lo que dije yo pero con otras palabras y descripción más exacta de cada tema y hasta anota cada cambio de compás! Estamos muy de acuerdo con el señor carzante... veamos otro comentario a ver que onda:


IQ es un grupo de rock progresivo procedente del Reino Unido, concretamente de la ciudad de Southampton. Quizás no sean tan populares como Marillion, por poner un ejemplo, pero sí que los alcanza en calidad, puesto que la banda puede presumir de tener una discografía de gran nivel. Y claro, con este tipo de grupos siempre surge la misma pregunta que más o menos sería...¿Como un grupo de este nivel no ha conseguido mayor repercusión?. Ahí lo dejo.
Dark Matter es un disco que la banda ha publicado en el año 2004, y que contiene un total de 5 canciones, que en un primer momento puede parecer un número corto de temas, pero esa perspectiva varía si tenemos en cuenta que dos temas son de larga duración.
El disco se inicia con la extensa Sacred Sound de algo más de 11 minutos, duración suficiente para que la banda nos invite a viajar por unos pasajes sorprendentes a través de diversos cambios de ritmo, hipnóticos teclados, guitarras de gran nivel y una base rítmica impecable. La parte final del tema tiene un cierto aire épico, sobrellevado por unos teclados un algo lúgubres, guiándonos hacia una parte de ritmos camaleónicos protagonizados por el gran batería Paul Cook.
Red Dust Shadow se inicia de forma muy pausada, con unas guitarras acústicas suaves, sin alterar el ambiente, al menos hasta que aparecen las guitarras eléctricas. Este tema en concreto me recuerda bastante al sonido de algunas canciones del grupo sueco Opeth, sobre todo a las del disco Damnation. Por lo general es un tema bastante tranquilo.
You Never Will mantiene un sensacional equilibrio entre desarrollos complejos y melodías vocales pegadizas. La voz de Peter Nicholls emana un sentimiento realmente espectacular, además de realizar una gran labor a lo largo de todo el álbum. Los teclados hipnóticos vuelven a hacer su aparición en la parte intermedia de la composición. Born Brilliant es un corte algo más crudo y quizás menos sofisticado aunque igualmente de buen nivel sin llegar a la calidad del resto de canciones.
El último corte es el monumental Harvest of Souls con una duración que sobrepasa los 24 minutos. Hay momento para todo, desde preciosos pasajes sonoros con guitarras acústicas, a otros más crudos donde las guitarras eléctricas son las protagonistas. Las melodías vocales son ciertamente sublimes, las mejores del álbum. Un final apoteósico para poner un broche de oro a este magnífico trabajo.
Dark Matter es un gran disco, de esos que enganchan de verdad a pesar del largo minutaje de alguno de los temas. Rock/metal progresivo de altísimo nivel que lleva el sello de una banda increíblemente infravalorada. Son cosas que pasan en esto de la música, pues a pesar de poseer discos sobresalientes, no han conseguido una repercusión acorde con la calidad que atesora la banda. Será muy complicado que en un futuro puedan superar esta magnífica obra.
Ricardo Fernández

Y es verdad que, como dice Ricardo Fernández, una gran banda como IQ es injustamente infravalorada. Para que vean que ese tipo de cosas no solamente pasan en latinoamérica...
Pero Ricardo Fernández, el señor carzante y yo podemos estar equivocados, veamos que nos dicen muchos otros comentaristas de todas partes del mundo (eso sí, esta parte está en inglés):

Tremendous. First time I listened to this I was moved to play it again straight away and since then it's on heavy rotation. I haven't been as impressed by a new (to me) album since the first time I heard Selling England by the Pound in 73. Highlights are "Born Brilliant" with it's insistent bass line and the multilayered "Harvest of Souls". Since buying this I'm working my way through their catalogue and enjoying every minute. Recommended to fans of Genesis, Yes, Spock's Beard and Marillion. Good good stuff.
Billymac

wow I' m amazed!!! I don't remember any of the neo-prog albums reaching such musical (probably that's why IQ is my favourite neo-prog band) This is one of the few neo-prog albums, by which a band came little close to the legendary bands like Yes, Genesis and others... I have heard some arguments that no one will be remembering this band in few years, this may be true most of the listeners already don't remember about it but who cares?? this album will stay in my playlist forever. Of course the last song Harvest of souls is the greatest not only in this album but in the discography as well... hope that guys will continue working and offer us some more amazing pieces of music
Giorgi U.

At this point in a bands career the quality of new albums nearly always pales in comparison to their earlier work. IQ are very much the exception to this rule. Dark Matter is a brilliant album.
Sacred opens the album, a long piece with some beautiful passages and deft musicianship. Red Dust is sublime. A song that should have got radio airplay with its soft, acoustic verses and crashing chorus. An impassioned vocal performance from Peter and some great bass lines and keyboard flourishes complimenting the usual guitar brilliance of Mr Holmes. You Never will is another shorter track, more keyboard led than guitar, it still rattles along with a solid bass line and a great drum part. Theres also a trademark Holmes guitar solo. Born Brilliant is a wonderfully obtuse piece. A regimented pulsing opening with nicholls lyric of self negativity. It builds to a wonderful melody before the final musical passage and more Holmes magic.
IQ leave the best till last. Harvest of Souls is amongst the finest pieces of Neo-Prog ever written. Long and complex with several movements and some dazzling musicianship. A fine lyric and vocal performance from peter nicholls tops this off.
This is IQs' best album to date (yes better than the wake). It stands as the best Neo-Prog album this century
devox

At last!!!! i can understand this album, my first vacation time since six years have helped i think, but i think that a personal state of mind back in 2004 overshadowed my full appreciation of this great album, on the other hand I was Highly reluctant to hear "The Harvest of Souls" because of the usage of the word "America" to make reference to the country of the United States. I live in South America, wich is named, not because it is at the south of the United States, the name is because is the southern part of America. Now, leaving behind all my regrets, i can enjoy freely this masterpiece of progrock, Harvest of Souls has some moments that reminds me of "The Last Human Gateway" the jewel of the "Tales of the Lush Attic" album, the last song was heavily inspired in on The Gates of Delirium by Yes. I really like the way that Michael Holmes (in his producer category) makes reference to the mantric rythym (Mantric Rythms are a trade mark of I.Q.!!!!!!) of "Born Brilliant" at the penultimate section fo Harvest of Souls, that is really great, great!!. "Sacred Sound" is another solid opener like "The wrong side of weird", "Frecuency" and "The Darkest Hour"....at last i like this album very much!!
Rikki Nadir

Dark Matter is an intresting release that falls nothing short of what connotations people have with the word 'progressive'
Many progressive rock bands get overshadowed by larger and/or more commercial bands in movements made toward a specific subgenre. Case in point is what has become a listener’s obsession with metalcore, and although admittedly in my opinion not all of it is bad but made for the wrong reason. Music should be made from a musician’s desire to create and express without worrying what people will say or think about it; music shouldn’t be about trying to make the top 20 or anything like that, just being an individual. After gaining an experienced musical palette, I doubt that many would still find the same enjoyment in generic radio music. Regardless of all that, IQ have stuck to being themselves even if that has meant not having everyone recognize their name. Although I have only recently become a fan of IQ’s music, I hear some great musical ideas that make me smile.
...Which brings me to IQ’s 2004 release, Dark Matter. Ironically the album isn’t overly dark, but just has a great atmosphere of prog, color, proper instrument playing, and exciting compositions. In music, less-is-more is something that really can have multiple applications, such as the number of tracks on an album. When I bought Rush’s Hemispheres, I knew that although there were only four tracks on the album, they must be good – and I was right! There are five tracks on Dark Matter, two of them being epic-length prog pieces, and all reveal a unique flavor and mindset when listened to a few times. Dark Matter will be decent on a first run-through, but to truly get your money out of it, listen to it until the light bulb comes on (it will if you like progressive music).
IQ overall has a sound that screams influence from other 70’s progressive bands as well as trying to add a new touch to certain things. The compositions display a good amount of theory and ability to move through intricate time signatures. For example “Sacred Sound,” the album’s first epic track, opens with a series of legato chords played by the keyboard’s string section setting. Beginning in F# minor, the same progression gradually ascends through the first four notes of the F# major scale with each scale degree becoming the tonic for that series of chords. It ends in a C suspension just before breaking into the real key of most of the rest song: F. That is seriously some great stuff to listen to, just for the new compositional ideas not to mention the great execution by the band mates.
Keyboards as a whole are a great part of the album and really give the band’s sound a lot of drive and forward motion which, being essential elements of jazz, are essential elements of progressive rock. From the opening of the first track, the listener is bombarded by the many abilities of IQ’s keyboard section. In the third track, “You Never Will,” around 3:10 the keyboard breaks into a synth solo which is one of the keyboard highlights on the album along with the 6/4 solo in “Harvest of Souls.” Martin Orford displays a great choice of tones throughout the album, whether being organ, piano, synth, or other sound effects. Overall, keyboard adds so much to the music that when listening to albums with lighter usage of keys they’re completely put to shame. I sense that possibly some Genesis influence was involved here.
Bass and drums also do a great job of holding their own on this record. Cook has some tasteful fills and a few good set-ups to go with the band’s hits. Auxiliary percussion also is a nice touch and adds some sophistication and some texture to different tracks. Instead of beating his kit to death, the drummer has realized that, once again, less is more and musical is better than technical. John Jowitt shows versatility not in just the different feels and styles that the ensemble goes through, but also different tones which the bass is capable of. Bass is not a trebly, twang-fest anymore but actually an instrument with its own place in the mix. On “Red Dust Shadow” he even pulls out the vocal-esque fretless and digs in. On other songs he also demonstrates classic rock tone for all of you traditionalists out there. Not to mention he experiments with pedal effects – that’s right, pedals are no longer just for guitarists (they never really have been, but…)!
Which brings up guitar; the guitar in IQ is well-used and isn’t overpowering as it is in most ensembles. It is simply enough to deliver added contrast, melody, and the occasional solo, such as the one in “You Never Will.” Vocals for the most part are decent in a prog rock kind of way. Look at The Mars Volta or Mastodon, classically trained vocals are clearly not the emphasis. One comment (mentioned later as well) is that since harmonized vocals add such a nice polish to the band’s music, why not make a little more use of them? With a little extra harmony, they would be less of a back seat feature to the album and maybe would even seem a little less nasal. Maybe I’m just too used to all of the things that Steve Wilson does with vocals, but a little extra pizzazz to spruce up these plain vocal melodies wouldn’t hurt, especially being a progressive band.
Although track-by-track review aren’t so great I have learned, I wanted to take time to dissect the last, epic finale of the record: “Harvest of Souls.” A pretty, major guitar riff opens this track with vocals: a rather effective duo. This combination continues for a while before some light background string effects and brief wind chimes enter. Chorus effects from the keys eventually bring it more into the foreground of the sound. Then at around 4:15 the rest of the band enters and continues in the old-time, laid-back feel of the song stated earlier. After a militant snare drum roll and warped vocal effects, the song starts to get good. A new section of the song beginning around 6:20 reminds me a lot of Yes’ “Heart of the Sunrise.” At least this 7/4 section is admittedly pretty sweet even if it does a great job of citing influences. The keyboard adds a lot to this section, as does the bass with great mid-range growl and pedal effects. Near the nine minute mark, the song takes another turn with piano, sweet vocals, and great harmonized guitars. Emotive feel from the bass and drums, just how progressive rock should be. Shortly after the eleven minute mark, the ensemble dives into a great, organ-driven section which alternates between a bar of 5/8 and a bar of 6/8. Asymmetrical time signatures are one of my favorite parts of progressive music and this is no different. Eventually the band is only playing in 5/4 and the end of this section is heralded by some great diminished chords and tritone guitar work. Space effects give way to some quarter note piano chords and a vocal melody. Auxiliary percussive effects here are a nice added touch, as is the counterpoint dotting of the guitar in the background. Arpeggios on the piano and ambient vocal melodies lead the band into a new feel around 15:30. Then a cut time feel settles in and guitar melodies are a powerful introduction to yet another well-done vocal segment with string sounds from the keys in the background. Slightly before the eighteen minute mark the band changes into a great, original 6/4 feel which eventually becomes the underlying ground for a pretty decent synth solo. In the next section I really dig the octave effect on the vocals and the tone of the organ (I think it might be called farfisa but I’m unsure). Angelic, major chords break out at 21:10 and then harmonized vocals enter after a guitar melodic fragment. Harmonized vocals work so well for this group that I wonder why they chose not to make a little more use of them. A guitar solo over the major chord progression fades out and ends this epic track. Great chart in true progressive style!
I recommend this record to fans of any kind of progressive music at all, as it really is quite good after you take time to soak it in. I’m definitely anxious to get my hands on another IQ release, as I only wonder how their other albums compare with this one. Support a lesser known band though, and at least give one song a download; I recommend certain parts of all of them.
ProgressiveTheory

IQ's first release on InsideOut Music America contains some the bands best recording since the amazing comeback album Ever. This also marks the second time IQ has been on a major label, the first of course was in the Menel years when they were signed to Polydor Records.
I was at Baja Prog where parts of Dark Matter were debuted. In fact, the lyrics of the epic "Harvest of Souls" was written the night before. Although there are no real change in direction, we still get by far one of the best offerings of the modern symphonic/neo prog genres.
Years ago, I’d say that IQ would be categorized as a neo prog band but they have evolved over the past 11 years to a Symphonic status. There are some nods to genesis here, how can there not be. I think if anything they’re homages rather than cloning that sound..The combination of the amazing instrumentation where the band never steps on each other’s toes and the lyrics make for a solid IQ release. Each of their releases have a special meaning to me, even the ones done by Menel. Remember most prog bands went to the pop direction and stayed. IQ returned to prog after two pop oriented albums. That’s an accomplishment in itself. Genesis never did that, now did they?!
My only complaint, if you can call it that, is the cd is a bit on the short side but with songs like the powerful opener "Sacred Ground" to the dark and foreboding "Red Dust Shadow" that complaint dissolves, But wait there’s more, the afore mentioned epic, Harvest of Souls. Sometimes it’s synonymous with prog to have a 20+ minute epic to be christened a “prog” band. And some of those that add their “epic” never have the flowing structure, both musically and lyrically) of "Harvest of Souls". It’s never forced, and I’m sure the boys would probably gone for a few minutes more. Most reviewers are saying this is no Supper’s Ready but I don’t think that came to mind when they wrote the song.
I am a longtime fan (not a fan boy) of IQ and without a doubt Dark Matter is a great addition to their already wonderful catalog. It’s not ground breaking but solid , wonderful 70's inspired progressive rock release. This IS a must for longtime IQ fans as well as fans of great symphonic based rock. So go to your favorite vendor and get Dark Matter!
Ron Fuchs

IQ - Dark matter from 2004 is no less then an excellent neo prog release and continues the tradition IQ offered since Ever album that means with no downs only highlights. To me IQ is one of the top notch neo prog bands, in my top 3 all times, they had incredible musicianship, tight arrangements and above all even they are not so prolific like other bands from prog zone they release across the years some outstanding works. Practicaly minus the two albums from late '80s the rest are all above great with no weak moments and fantastic passages. Dark matter keeps the flag high in this field with plenty of memorable passgaes, beautiful and strong vocal parts and the instrumental sections are awesome. Like we used to other IQ albums, the opening tracks are usualy killer ones, here is same Sacred Sound is a total winner to my ears, powerfullwell crafted and with excellent musicianship, a truly 12 min of pure neo prog magic. The middle of the album is ok, no bad or uninventive arrangements but doesn't get to the high of opening and lasting track. Harvest of souls ending the album in a great manner, an epic clocking around 25 min where the mellow and smooth sections are very well integrated with those more up tempo where the complex meets elegant passgaes are melted one into other in one unit. What a great and full of potential this album is, crafted and inventive. Among the best IQ albums ever, they remain one of the most important bands in neo prog zone and aswell one of the most consistent , as I said to me they are in top 3 best bands from neo filed.
Bogdan Olariu

IQ continue their incredible streak of top-quality five-star albums with Dark Matter, which would turn out to be something of a swansong for the Ever lineup, which had proved to both be IQ's most long-lasting lineup and the team who saved the band after the decidedly lukewarm albums of the Paul Menel years. The 24 minute epic Harvest of Souls, despite some Genesisisms, might be their best epic-length composition to date, whilst Sacred Sound is perhaps their most spooky and sinister song ever (and there's always been something of a dark edge to IQ's music so that's impressive). Overall, IQ are the band who just keep giving.
Warthur

I would love to give this album five stars, I really would, because the first and last tracks are some of the best examples of modern symphonic prog I've ever heard. Sadly, the rest of the album just doesn't compare.
This is the only IQ album I'm familiar with, so I can't comment on how it compares to others. That said, compared to a lot of other modern symph-prog bands, it is stellar. The melodies are excellent, especially in the aforementioned first and last tracks. In particular, the almost 12 minute "Sacred Sound" seems to go by in no time at all, a testament to the strength of the songwriting.
Sadly, the next three songs are a bit of a let down. They're certainly not bad, but unlike some bands where the short is just as good as the long, they just can't compare. They're certainly enjoyable to listen too, but I generally find myself waiting (or, if I'm impatient, skipping) through them to get to the real centerpiece of the album, "Harvest of Souls."
Quite frankly, whenever I see a song over 20 minutes I get a little excited. Often, however, I'm disappointed. Far too many epics seem to go on simply because they can, not because they actually have anywhere to go. "Harvest of Souls," on the other hand, is simply masterful. It feels like it has direction and purpose, and, as with "Sacred Sound," the melodies are fantastic. The vocals are soaring, the instrumentals are goosebump-inducing, and the finale is, in my opinion, one of the greatest in modern progressive rock. I can hear shades of "Supper's Ready" throughout, but it never feels like a plagiarism.
Overall, a really good example of modern progressive rock, even if it is a bit unbalanced.
Alec V.

I like prog rock bands that know what they have to say and don't beat around the bush. There are the prog rock acts like to take as long as they can to say what's on their mind, filling an album with 80 minutes of music (or doing a double album), inserting as many epics as they can along the way.
IQ does no such thing here. With 50 minutes of music including the longest song of their career, the 24 minute epic "Harvest of Souls", we find IQ performing some excellent Neo-Prog music.
The opener is the 10 minute Sacred Sound, which is great while playing but rarely leaves much of an impact afterwards for me. I actually appreciate the three shorter tracks that follow it a bit more; Red Dust Shadow is somewhat sad, while You Never Will and Born Brilliant have an almost arrogant selfish feel about them. In fact, this album seems to have sense of loss in all of the lyrics.
But no matter how strong the first four tracks are, the highlight of this album is Harvest of Souls. There is no denying the similarities between this song and Genesis' Supper's Ready. But Supper's Ready was an excellent song, and IQ have used those similarities quite well in this case. The song easily switches from parts with high energy to quieter parts. There is humor used in this track, as in Supper's Ready, but it has a bit more bite to it instead of whimsy. Of particular note for this is the section where Peter Nicholl's mocks plastic surgery culture.
On that note, I once again must bring up the point of Peter Nicholl's voice. I am not huge on it, and outside of this music I think I would dislike it. Yet somehow, it works well with the music that IQ writes - or perhaps the band writes music that works well with his voice. Either way, there is a charm to the way the two work together that makes his voice not only bearable, but I can't really imagine any other voice working as well here.
Stephen

Excellent, if unoriginal, prog!
This was my introduction to IQ, and my introduction to the entire neo-prog genre. This album made me raid the entire IQ discography, and this is one of their stronger efforts for sure. All five songs here are excellent, and the opening and closing tracks define the word "masterpiece".
So why am I giving this four stars?
Well, some of the shorter songs in the middle aren't quite worthy of five stars, even if they are great. This is also probably the least original IQ album out there. IQ is always bashed by people for being Genesis "clones", and while I do not agree with that, it would be very hard for me to argue against that when listening to "Dark Matter". The last song almost sounds like they are trying to make an epic completely modeled after Supper's Ready. With that said, everything else is absolutely perfect. Even the closing song, while it isn't original by any stretch of the imagination, is a perfect epic! I'll explain each song in more detail now.
THE MUSIC:
"Sacred Sound"- I remember that this was the first IQ song I had ever heard, and I was absolutely blown away! The melodies were spot on, it had excellent guitars, Mellotron, and organ; it was anything a prog fan could dream of! It has great progressions, and the main chorus with Peter Nicholls singing beautifully and Mike Holmes' great guitar line really makes for an excellent song. A great way to open up an album!
"Red Dust Shadow"- The second song actually reminds me of Spock's Beard a little bit. It has a pretty dark main section with some nice use of the Mellotron, but also has some nice organ and guitar every now and again. It's a decent song I would rate 2.5/5.
"You Never Will"- This is the shortest song on the album, and is very enjoyable. It has some great bass, as well as the classic organ and Mellotron from IQ. This is a more straightforward rock song with some prog leanings, but it is very solid as is.
"Born Brilliant"- Easily the best of the three shorter songs, with a great chorus. I love some of the riffs, and this contains some very good vocals from Peter Nicholls.
"Harvest of Souls"- It's not prog without a 20+ minute epic, right? This is the extended composition on "Dark Matter", and it doesn't disappoint. I know this will be criticized by many for being literally a clone of Supper's Ready, but it doesn't bother me too much. It is unbelievable that both songs have almost exactly the same layout, but this song is still one of my favorite IQ epics anyway. I love the lush Mellotron and the beautiful guitar line. Sure it is by no means original, but it is an excellent and flawless epic.
I'm not one who cares too much about originality and all that, but I know some people will care more than I do. That is why I give this incredible album four, not five, stars. Some of the songs in the middle of the album aren't quite up to par either, but are still solid. However, the closing and opening songs are complete masterpieces that should be heard by every prog fan!
Jeff

I have never been particularly impressed by IQ before, but Dark Matter is, in my opinion, a very strong album and by far the best album by the band. Finally, after more than 20 years in the music business they reached their peak here. While Dark Matter is different in several ways from earlier albums by the band, it is still very much IQ. What makes this album stand out in the band's catalogue is that the compositions are all among IQ's strongest and most memorable ever and that the sound is a bit more powerful than usual. But also, and this is more important, that I sense a new-found passion and enthusiasm in this music that creates a sense of urgency that I have often found lacking in IQ's music in the past. Most of the band's previous works have seemed a bit tired and almost lethargic to my ears and especially the longer songs have often been overlong and a bit one-dimensional. Here they sound reinvigorated and energetic.
Dark Matter features only five tracks and runs for just over fifty minutes. The closing number, Harvest Of Souls, is a nearly 25 minute piece that far outshines the band's previous attempts on this grand scale. It moves through several themes and moods, but stays focused throughout with a great melody and compositional structure. The keyboards are varied and some vintage keyboards are used which creates a more organic sound without making it come across as "retro-Prog". The presence of (what sounds like a) Hammond organ gives substance and even brings a slight heaviness to the sound which is not commonly associated with IQ. This is particularly evident on the opening and closing numbers. Also, (what sounds like a) church organ gives a haunting feel to some tracks. Overall, the sound and feel of this album is about as dark, mysterious and haunting as the great cover art. The production is impeccable and every instrument comes to its full right.
The shorter songs in between are equally strong and memorable and here we get to see the acoustic side of the band. This makes the album varied yet consistent. The vocals are very strong throughout as are the lyrics. Peter Nicholls sings like he means every word - like he is delivering a message he really cares about. Passion is, after all, the sign of great music.
IQ's best, highly recommended!
Fritz-Anton

Whilst looking forward to getting Frequency when it is out on general release (I don't normally pre order), I thought it was about time that I reviewed its predecessor, and a fine work it is too.
IQ are one of the leading lights of what I call the second wave of British Prog, or Neo-Prog as it is categorised on the site. I still regard Marillion as being at the forefront of this wave, but, by Heaven, IQ can't be that far behind.
The album starts with Sacred Sound, a track that comes in at over 11 minutes, and features huge organ playing by Martin Orford, combined with stunning Nicholls vocals and Holmes textured guitars. Grandiose in conception and execution, it is a fine way to start any LP.
Red Dust Shadow commences in a thoughtful manner. Nicholls is on fine form throughout the whole LP, but I especially enjoy the quiet keyboard and acoustic guitar led backdrop to his story regarding an absent father, which is very touching, whilst the track then explodes in a huge symphonic noise of all band members expressing the outrage of the leaving. This is a sad song, but with the best of sad songs, leaves the listener emotionally charged. Some great mellotron work at the end, too.
You Never Will starts off in what I regard as a Floydian vein, with the clock ticking and pulsating bass, before Nicholls and the band explode again in a huge soundscape that tells another downbeat story. Orford's organ playing dominates, and I am really interested in seeing and hearing how the band manage without his huge influence. This track is actually one for our times. Listen to "I keep hoping that you'll do something real" - it is almost a eulogy to the disillusion felt in the UK with the crooks that run our country. Holmes' guitar solo also brings home how talented he is. This track is absolutely not a filler - it is essential as a running part of the LP.
Born Brilliant follows, which, again, has a dark, almost Floydian, sense to it, reminding me of Wish You Were Here in the bass and keyboard background. Jowitt's bass absolutely thunders in his backdrop to the riff and keyboard main lead. Again, not a filler, but a continuation of the dark and brooding theme of the album.
Harvest Of Souls is the epic track on this album. Starting with a quite exquisite vocal to an acoustic guitar backdrop, this leads into one of the finest neo prog tracks ever written and performed. I have never been a supporter of the neo liberal politics of American Republican leaders in recent times, and this track absolutely encapsulates the despair that many like me feel how a great and brave nation can descend into such imperialistic egocentric tendencies. It is a great protest song, but also a great song in its own right for those (many) who have no political leanings at all. Because, some four minutes in, Nicholls blasts out his America "chorus", accompanied by quite the most exceptional keyboard and guitar leads you will ever hear. And Who Would Not Defend America, indeed. Progressive rock and protest fused at its finest.
We Will Shoot You Where You Stand leads into the epic riff and passage very reminiscent of early Crimson. It is very atmospheric, and, again, the band play together very tightly, with especially Holmes shining in his guitar work.
At times thoughtful, at times blistering, at times mixing originality with a huge nod to prog's founding father's, this is an immense track, and one I have had a great deal of pleasure listening to. A great way to end an album, the pace never relents, even in its quieter moments.
For those reading this who are looking forward to Frequency, you are not alone, and revisiting this LP is well worth the time. For those of you who have never heard IQ's work, by God you are missing a huge treat. I am still listening in amazement to Holmes, Orford, Jowitt, and Cook producing such a huge sound to accompany one of the finest vocalists the UK has ever produced. Epic in thought, epic in production, and epic in execution, this is an essential piece of modern progressive rock. 4.5 stars, rounded up to the ultimate five simply because it is worth it.
Steve

In this occasion, the answer is both. By far IQ's most sophisticated release, Dark Matter effectively combines the 'pleasant' neo-prog feeling with darker tunes and a heavy dose of irony; Irony is the main feature of the sound of this album, through which they try to get their message through. And they definitely succeed.
Dominant is a 'hammondish' sound, giving a distinct taste to this record overall. Sacred Sound begins with a characteristic 'a la Camel' keyboard melody and progresses to an interesting mid-tempo track. I have the feeling that IQ vocals are included in the 'love or hate' category, consisting of this characteristic English accent, which I personally find controversial but unique. The first track is almost 12 minutes long, involving variations and excellent drum work. Red Dust Shadow very much reminds of Porcupine Tree's latest works, with a spacey refrain and a 'Floydish' guitar passage.
The clock then ticks for You Never Will where the initial bass line gives its place to some 'happy' vocal melodies which assist the track to flow in a highly pleasant atmosphere; the same happens in the more adventurous Born Brilliant where a 3/4 tempo is dominant. One of the most mature and complete pieces of music I lately experienced is Harvest of Souls, which is possibly the best epic this band has produced. This is a perfect way of ending the album, which although lasting more than 24 minutes, does not lack interest at any point. In my opinion, it can be (musically, lyrically and qualitatively) compared with symphonic epics of Genesis or Yes. Breaks, music variations and speed alterations comprise this gem, which is highly recommended for all prog fans.
Two features (among others) really drew my attention to this record: Firstly, the excellent lyrics combined with the ironic way sung, and secondly, the structure of the record that starts with a semi-epic, continues with three relatively short tracks that lead to a final lengthy track which (intentionally) represents the highlight. It would have been unfair to rate this album with less than 4.5 stars, being the most complete work of IQ till now.
Oh, and don't forget: the hand of God defends America. hahaha.
Athanasios

I suppose this album is the band's darkest yet, so it is appropriately named, but considering the band's sound, you know it can't be that dark. After a definitely dark ambient intro an unexpectedly peppy keyboard line fades in and gets the song going in true IQ form. That song, "Sacred Sound" turns out to be one of the band's finest to date. It's got many memorable sections and great musicianship start to finish. Plus, it and the rest of the disc have a more prominent atmosphere than any of their discs to date. I particularly like the 7/8 section toward the end with that one sweet bassline. You'll know what I'm talking about when you listen to it. You should, at least. After the 11+ minutes of that sweetness, we are given a series of three shorter songs, lasting 5-6 minutes each. "Red Dust Shadow" has a pretty nice chord pattern and it gradually builds to a nice climactic ending. "You Never Will" is definitely the low point on the disc. It's pretty formulaic and I don't think the recurring drum fill in the chorus was well chosen by the drummer, or group for that matter. "Born Brilliant" is a return to form featuring a hard-driving rhythm for most of the tune. Then we have the 24-minute epic "Harvest of Souls" to close the disc with. This one is a wild ride! It's got plenty of variety, a lot of ideas new to the band's music are introduced here and I think they are rockin' harder than ever before. The piece even recapitulates themes from the rest of the album with a fresh set of vocals & lyrics - very well planned and executed, especially when they bring back the rockin' rhythm of "Born Brilliant" for the penultimate movement. It's very powerful!
Sonically this is easily the band's best album to date, compositionally it's their second best, behind Subterranea. If the band can capture the glory of their longer pieces in the shorter songs, they will blow their peers away. After being around for so long, it's quite amazing that the band is still improving. It's a rare case where a band of this nature especially is better after 20+ years of making music. I'm looking forward to their next output, but for now, I am happy listening to "Sacred Sound" and "Harvest of Souls."
Chris

I think IQ have made 6 excellent studio albums (including this one) up to this point in time. And in my opinion this is the best one yet ! I find this to be pretty amazing considering it's been 21 years from their debut to this one. I just can't find any fault with this record at all. Orford is simply incredible on this release, but it would be unfair to leave out Cook's fantastic drumming or Jowitt's subtle bass lines or Holmes tasteful guitar melodies or of course Nicholl's uplifting vocals. Everyone is at the top of their game on "Dark Matter".
It starts off with "Sacred Sound" a song that I cannot listen to without smiling. The guitar is so warm and inviting and Orford's a genius ! Nicholl's simply moves me emotionally on this track for some reason. About half way through Orford really reminds me of Banks in that great instrumental passage.We get a quiet section before the organ and vocals return. Actually i'm sure that's church organ I hear at one point. The guitar comes back late as well. "Red Dust Shadow" opens with strummed acoustic guitar, gentle vocals and mellotron. 1 1/2 minutes in we get some PORCUPINE TREE sounding synths, actually the whole song including the intro has PORCUPINE TREE written all over it. Mellotron is back 5 minutes in. This song is such a good change of pace for the band. "You Never Will" features some upfront drumming like on the opening song. The lyrics are cool in this one, especially the way the title of it is used at the end of the sentence. A collage of sounds 3 1/2 minutes in is followed by pulsating keys.The guitar arrives and it sounds so amazing as does Nicholls. Sampled mellotron throughout this tune.
"Born Brilliant" opens with lots of atmosphere and is very PINK FLOYD sounding. Processed vocals before 2 minutes when the song kicks in. This one has a good beat and the organ is fantastic. The guitar cries out in the background and the PINK FLOYD vibe is back. Another great tune. "Harvest Of Souls" is a side long suite at almost 25 minutes. It opens with beautiful acoustic guitar and vocals. Mellotron comes in at 3 minutes as a fuller sound comes in a minute after that. Nice.The tempo picks up speed 6 1/2 minutes in and the mellotron is back.There is a beautiful section 10 1/2 minutes in. Pulsating keys ala Banks and mellotron follow. Piano melodies before 15 minutes, and then passionate vocals in another terrific passage before 17 minutes. The song eventually ends with some excellent guitar melodies. Whew !
I don't know how they can possibly top this one, and with word out that Martin Orford has left the band it's going to be difficult.
John Davie

Almost twenty years after their great debut album, IQ released another one. A fresh and constructive one. Of course, all the aspects of their music are represented here. No earthquake, don't worry.
Martin is still everwhere and displays great keys throughout the album (but especially during "Sacred Sound" which opens brilliantly). Mike has a bit more exposure (this was already to be noticed on the previous IQ album). Peter is still poignant and tortured and the ryhtmic section supports the band accurately (although that this will be the last studio album for Paul Cook).
Of course, Genesis is not far away either (very much during "Sacred Sound", "Harvest"). In fact, they sit at every corner of this album. But that's not a problem. We've been used to this throughout all these years.
This album is of course dominated by two songs. The opener (as outlined already) and the closing number. A true prog epic that deserves consideration. I was glad to attend an IQ concert in October 2005 (Verviers - Spirit Of 66), during which they played not only "Harvest Of Souls" but we got the pleasure to have "The Last Human Gateway" in full as well. A great concert, indeed.
This song has some close links with "Supper's". Same kind of acoustic intro, same kind of keyboard play when the rhythm becomes stronger. Again, I'm not against this. There will be even a short passage completely reminiscent of "Heart Of The Sunrise". Which is still fine with me.
This song is quite diversified, which helps in keeping the interest of the listener pretty high. I have listened a lot of times to this song when I discovered it and I have never been bored. Every two or three minutes or so, there's a theme changes without lacking in the unity of the song actually; which is not easy to achieve. We'll get a bit of "The Apocalypse" part as well a little further in the track just before a great keys solo. Should I say whose ones it reminds me ?
This is a great and very pleasant song. As was "Grendel", another epic which took its roots in "Supper's Ready". An excellent closing number, like ...
The other songs featured on this album are more the kind of traditional IQ songs : "Red Dust Shadow" is a melancholic one during which Peter can use all his vocal abilities to touch us. At times, the song gets harder while Martin pumps out heavy sounds from his keys. Grand finale, though.
"You Never Will" sounds pretty much like "Sacred Sound". A bit too much actually. It's a good song, but IQ is cloning IQ. During the intro of "Born Brilliant", both Peter are really close. Nicholls, almost miming the voice of "The Winkler" in "Get'em Out By Friday". The music bringing us back again in "Supper's".
It is one of my preferred Genesis album. Sorry, IQ album.
ZowieZiggy

IQ´s last album to date, which will change any time this year, may very well be their best. which is nothing but a surprise for their fans, after all how many times can you say that a band that has been around for more than 20 years makes it´s best album in their latter period? Respect IQ for that, I know I respect them. Having said that...this album, although it may be their best, is no masterpiece... well, you can´t have it all, right?
IQ´s music hasn´t changed that much since Ever, as it seems that with that sound they are at their best and more confortable, but it has gotten more sophisticated yet harder, for this ears at least. A proofe of this is the opening track "Sacred sound", a long song in which you get what IQ is all about, polished Neo-prog with lot of keyboard and that distingtive voice of mr. Nicholls (who also has gotten better with age if you ask me). A great track, typicall IQ...maybe too typicall? Maybe, but it´s a great song non the less.
"Red Dust Shadow" is the ballad of the album, although it´s really not a ballad, but a sad, slow song. I can´t say I am a big fan of it, as it has nothing that makes it very memorable...in fact, I don´t think that the three songs in the middle of the album, the short songs, have anything memorable, at least not as much as the first and the last track. "You Never Will", although a good song, also suffers from being non memorable. "Born brilliant" might be the exception, as you can´t help but notice the lyrics from this song, so I guess that makes it more memorable, and it might be the best of this three, but again, no where as good as the first and last song.
And then, we get to the BIG final epic, IQ´s longest song ever... is it also their best? Well, I haven´t heard all of IQ´s material, but... it could be. YET (and this yet is really important)... this song would never, ever win any contest as "Most original song" or anything like that as... how can I say it...well, here I go; "Harvest of soul" is "Suppers ready" little brother. And I mean, the resemblence is uncanny in some places. It starts almoust the same, with that acoustic riff (not the exact same... but) and thank God Nicholls doesn´t start singing right away like Gabriel, he waits two turns for it...otherwise it could have been too obvious. The way the song builds up is also quite the copy of the original "Suppers ready" with the keys entering with the drums and the song slightly changes to a more happy beat (like in "The guaranteed eternal sanctuary man" part). Then of a moment the coping stops...until...the band starts to play in a very peculiar way, that resemblence "Apocalypse in 9/8" and you know what?...It´s in 9/8 also!!! And what´s the cherry of the cake? Nicholls sings with some vocal effects, that make him sound just like in some parts of "The lamb lies down at Broadway"! By this moment you know this is no coincidence. Both songs laso end quite similar, returning to the first movement and then a fade out... But, you know what? It might be a total rip off from "Suppers ready"...but I tell you, it doesn´t matter, "Harvest of soul" might not be original, but it is extremly good, I mean it´s a brilliant song! So...as you see, my opinion on this matter is quite torn, on one hand the lack of originality is a bittersweet thing to swallow, on the other hand... it´s an incredible song! So, I discided to give it a high rating because of the final product is great, and I guess that´s the most important thing.
Highly recommended to any Neo fan or retro prog fan and to any Genesis fan also, if you shut your eyes for a while, you can hear another Gabriel era epic...
Matias Boettner

This was my first IQ CD and I must say I was completely overtaken by it. Unlike some reviewers here I think they are quite original. Of course they have some obvious influences, but who does not? Since I started reading about rock music is the same thing. Today´s copycat will be tomorrow´s classic. No one escaped criticism and some were utterly unfair (remember Marillion in the 80´s?). So, in the end, what does really matter? It matters only if you like the music and can identify with the sound.
Well, I do. IQ may sound strange sometimes, they don´t really play like no one in particular and they could make it easier for themselves if they followed some trend. But that are those particularities that will make them some next generation legends, I guess. Peter NIcholls voice may not be everybody´s cup of tea. I certainly can name dozens of better singers. Still I think he fits so well in the band, it is no wonder their sound did not work at all with Paul Menel (a better singer, by the way, but not as passionate).
Dark Matter is a wonderful CD. A great achievement for a band who´s been on the road for so many years. Harvest Of Souls is just fantastic, the perfect epic in all its glorious 24 minutes! I don't have words to describe this tune. All I can say is that is the kind of track you would always expect from a true symphonic prog band: great melodies, tight musicanship, shifting moods during its many sections, inspired solos, insightful lyrics and a grand finale that sends shivers down your spine! This track alone is worth the price of the CDm but there is more. They still have a lot to say and I won´t go to every track to discuss about them (some reviewers laready did a great job). Just listen without prejudice and make your statement about it. I have heard hundreds of prog albums and I can tell it is nothing less than excellent. A classic? Hell, yeah!
Tarcisio Moura

Masterpiece. I mean, truly a masterpiece. These days, I don't get easily amazed by all means but "Dark Matter" certainly left me eyes wide open. This album's got to be the best piece of work by the English band that among others, gave birth to Neo Prog. "Dark Matter" is a strong, mighty album. To me, it has become a turning point on nowadays prog scene, reaching the unthinkable in such little time. Meaning, even though twenty-one years had to go by from their first studio release in order for IQ to heavenly display their most powerful creation, "Dark Matter" rapidly took one step after another in the progressive preferences of fans and media to conquer the pinnacle of their promising career that started back in the early eighties, the most convulsed decade for Progressive Rock to outstand in my opinion.
I came across "Dark Matter" out of chance. As I've underlined a couple of times over several reviews, some albums are quite difficult to get around here. But happily, IQ is setting off at the display cd-racks among the most respectable prog rock bands at the principal record stores here in Mexico. Well, I ended up going for it after constant recommendations from my prog fellows. They were quite short on their appreciation about this jewel, "Dark Matter" breaks off every possible musical boundaries.
Now, let's get down to it. The album takes off with "Sacred Sound". Deeply, this obscure sound of keyboards create such a mystical ambiance for the perfect start to "Dark Matter". Clattering cymbals meddle in between to let us scream in silence out of the power of a thunder struck drum. The song flows down a captivating, constant beat. The slight approach of a backing guitar joins carefully to make the choirs sparkle bright, and just by the beginning of the climax, that guitar crunches away with the supporting sound of some church-like music coming out of Martin ORFORD's Korg CX-3 Organ. An almost twelve minutes long breaking scene was just the perfect touch to carry this album away.
Kicking right after, "Red Dust Shadow" settles on comfortably through the strings of this paused acoustic guitar taken away by Michael HOLMES. The hypnotic voice of Peter NICHOLLS lead us all the way throughout revealing, deep lyrics that speak of reminiscent memories and some bitter-like childhood experiences. If not feeling disturbed enough at this point, "You Never Will" would do the trick for you. Ticking, tapping, unease noises coming out this anxious clock waiting to burst out, open up a clear view to what's about to be displayed in this third chapter. The tuned up sound of John JOWITT's Rickenbacker 4003, shuts that clock up just to clear the way for thundering drums to appear. Then again by the middle of the song, more of the same musical dose to make your head spin, but this time, along the keys of Mr. ORFORD's Kurzweil K-2500.
"Born Brilliant" is not only the prologue to a marvelous epic, it is indeed an outstanding song that clearly shows the power and the passion put together to accomplish this album. There are a couple of things that caught my attention immediately. This is a song where the bass guitar outstands from the rest of the instruments. I used to consider that listening to a wailing guitar all along during a track, was more than spiritual reward to my ears. But this time, I enjoyed that bass guitar more than the rest of the instrumentation. And secondly, the harsh lyrics. Remarkable song writing I must say. Very acid, relentless and simply amazing. I like that sarcastic yet edgy touch on a song, and well, the title to this track pretty much gives away that essence to me.
Thus, the epilog suite that under my appreciation, turned this record into the "Best Prog Rock Album" of 2004. I think of the previous four steps to be taken on this album to get to this point, as a red carpet to reveal such a brilliant creation. "Harvest Of Souls" has become a must among my favorite top epics, it's got the wit, the passion, the strength, the entireness, the wonderful music, the provocative lyrics and all in all, the detailed musical progressiveness. When all that happens within the depths of a single song like this one, you truly believe that almost 25 minutes of total running time are not only more than not even enough, but even the beginning to enjoy such a lyrical dream. I consider the context described in "Harvest Of Souls" as the voice of millions, besides the itchy lyrics and the impressive arrangements; as the tormented ambiguity represented on a map of the world. Like I said at the very beginning of this review, this very piece of work transcends far beyond every possible musical frontier and gets straight into our mind, soul and heart. Somehow, this is a novel of our nowadays global landscape, described in six episodes ("First Of The Last", "The Wrong Host", "Nocturne", "Frame And Form", "Mortal Procession" & "Ghosts Of Days") that speak out loud and irreparably soulful. Just let yourselves drift away into this song, and you'll surely come up with you own perspective. This is IQ to the world.
Albert Knot

An absolute masterpiece. This is IQ at their best, even surpassing their 1997 opus magnum Subterranea. If that album was at some points overly long, if that conceptual art piece had a couple too many songs (actually, most of the second disc), Dark Matter, with only 5 tracks, has not one track, or better said, has not one MINUTE too many! The absolute equilibrium achieved by the english greats between long and short tracks, mellow and complicated moments, electric and acoustic sounds, atmospheric and vibrant moods, is a testament to this band's deserved place among prog-rock's all-time masters. As a matter of fact, personally, of the original "neo-prog" groups that were born from Genesis's womb in the 80's, is not Marillion but IQ that really captures my heart and mind, and were it not for Arena, it would be my favorite of all Neo-prog. And mainly because of this rock-painting the british have crafted.
Besides the fact that IQ is formed by extremely talented instrumentalists, this quintet is what it is because of their marvelous singer: Peter Nicholls has a distinct, unique voice, capable of reaching high notes but also capable of incredibly delicate melody-singing, a powerful voice that manages to stand out of the rich music that provides him a canvas background few artists have at their disposal. If we were to draw comparisons, maybe the closest one would be to Jon Anderson, the legendary frontman of Yes. But that's trying to find vocals that resemble Nicholls' at any cost, for, the truth is, he's in a dimension of his own.
Sacred Sound (10/10), a fantastic semi-epic that starts in a dark mood, grows incesantly and when the vocal part appears turns into a totally IQ-ish sounding track, a showcase for Nicholls capabilities with a great chorus that returns twice before the instrumental section, an amazing keyboard-guitar tour de force, and re-appears near the finale, in all his glory. A dark song that develops into a illuminated, self-assuring anthem. Fantastic.
Red Dust Shadow (8/10), the lesser track in the album...and it's still great! A very melodic, mellow song, short, where the vocal chords master Nichollos once again has his chance to shine as the portent he is. Beautiful keyboards.
You never will (10/10), now this is what I love about prog and about this particular band: a short, relatively simple song that is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. After the clock ticks, the main riff blasts into the stage with all the power of affirmative keyboard chords and thunderous bass. After the verse, one of the best, if not THE best, in all of IQ's chorus: a catchy-yet- deep, a imposing, definitive musical statement about this art form's utter simplicity and beauty in that simplicity. Outstanding.
Born Brilliant, (8/10) a great track that starts in full Pink Floyd mood, close to that of Welcome to The machine. Ironic lyrics talk off stubborness, dumbness, in other words, this song pays hommage to US President's Bush's brilliant mind...
Harvest of Souls (10/10), an amazing epic dealing, again, with America and his utter brilliance in going to a war... It starts slow, pensive, sad, then erupts, then becomes a kind of burlesque-anthem pro-america (off course, is the opposite), then it goes back to the tense momenst of the beginning, and finally explodes in angry affirmation of principles and ideas. All of this performed with the highest level of musicianship and sung by one of the genres's best voices. Incredible.
Recommended for: EVERYBODY. GET ONE. If you have to stop eating for a day in order to hear this music, well, water is man's real life-giver, water, and MUSIC LIKE THIS.
Teodoro Gomez de la Torre R.

IQ's album Dark Matter is my introduction to this Neo-Prog band. Having heard that they are contemporaries of Marillion but (at least originally) they weren't quite in the same league, I decided to find out for myself what this five-some are like. In short, I am impressed by this work and thoroughly enjoy it.
After Listening to this album the thing that strikes me most is that this appears to be a band that are trying to make music that could be passed of in the charts and produce 10+ minute epics that could be placed in the Pantheon of prog greatness alongside such luminaries like Marillion and Yes. And to an extent they succeed. The middle three tracks Red Dust Shadow, You'll Never Know and Born Brilliant are quite obviously attempts to create the prog pop single, even if they were never going to be treated as such by anyone. But don't let that stop you from listening to these tracks as they are well thought out and constructed with rather thoughtful lyrics. Each of these songs contains something unique that other songs on this album don't share.
Now for the epics. The opus, Harvest Of Souls is actually one of the better 20 minute + songs that I've heard. It starts with a nice and long acoustic start, going to a nice, mellow tune with lyrics that are, most likely, taking the mick out of America and the way that the international community believes that America views the world. For those that don't like these kind of lyrics, ignore them and enjoy the music instead. This moves on to a much harder edged sound before the album closes in another of their nice melodies. However this song does bare a striking resembalence to the Genesis classic Suppers Ready, right down to the structer and length of the song. I think that this song takes the mik out of more than just America, with its similarities to Genesis being so overt that I wouldnt be supprised if it was deliberatly done as a twisted joke, whilst still trying to maintain their musical integraty. The album opener Sacred Sound is a good semi-epic with a strong uplifting feel to it, but it doesn't strike me as a classic, just a good song and that really sums up the album, its good but not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination.
Get it if your a fan of Neo Prog, or just a general prog fan. If your not a Neo prog fan then you'll probably hate it with the possible exception of Harvest Of Souls.
Andrew Carter

When progressive really started to take over my music listening, people told me to try Pallas, Pendragon, and IQ. I've invested heavily in all three and have been pleasantly surprised. None as much as IQ's Dark Matter. It was the first IQ I bought and is still my favorite (barely edging out Subterranea).
All of the tracks on this disc are amazing; however, "Harvest Of Souls" just really shines. It's 20+ minutes of different colors and moods that simply sucks you in. A truly amazing effort by an outrageously talented band! I look forward to the follow up!
Eric

Right from the start, the latest album by my favorite Neo band roxs! In fact, the first two tracks remind me of past glories, circa the "Ever" album; gloomy, gothic and just plain IQish! No one does it like them! Track three, 'You Never Will' is a short track, but I really enjoy their short ones and for some reason, I gravitate to the drumming. It's so interesting how Cook uses such a light touch here and there, especially during the chorus. I love it! After 'Born Brillant' comes the track most people comment about, the mammoth 'Harvest of Souls', there 'Close To The Edge' if you will. Does it stand up? Not exactly. Oh, it has it's moments. After the relative calm of the beginning, pseudo machine gun ala guitar roar in and begin the ascent into the middle section which I enjoy the most. It runs its course about 20 minutes in and goes a bit flat to the end. Yet, for all its faults, the lyrics never let up and neither does Paul's voice. Man, has it held up during all these years, (saw them at NEARfest last year...awesome!). So, if you have enjoyed the last few albums, then you'll no doubt enjoy this one. For first time listeners, it's not a bad choice, although I'd start out with "Ever". So take a dip into some 'Dark Matter'!
Ray Rappisi jr

Intense, intelligent, incredible, insightful, intuitive, these are all words I think of when I think of the letter I in the context of the band IQ. If you listened to this album, you would agree with me. Although it isn't the greatest IQ album (I reserve that for their debut), this one is nothing but stunning, with intense atmosphere, intelligent and insightful lyrics, and incredible and intuitive musicianship. Whether you're a fan of The Wake or a fan of The Seventh House, there is something to enjoy on this album, from the anxious opening of Sacred Sound with the Supper's Ready type ending of Harvest of Souls.
Sacred Sound opens the album. A strong 7/4 main theme combined with some top- notch lyrical and vocal material create a sense of ambiguity as the band connects and cohesively tramples through the song. Red Dust Shadow is a more somber song, with remorseful lyrics in "Oh no, no, where did my daddy go?" and some strong guitar from Mike Holmes. You Never Will is the next track, which again takes a slower pace at first, and then picks up during the chorus. Born Brilliant finds Peter Nicholls in the middle of self-analysis with such phrases as "I'm cold and unapproachable/Deceptive and a fraud", and more strong riffs continue, most notably a 6/4 riff that has a reprisal in the next track, the epic to end all epics as it seems to be.
Harvest of Souls has strong Genesis overtones in that it is structured similarly in the very beginning and end. 12 string guitar and keyboard dominate the first 4 minutes of the song, and then as the second section The Wrong Host begins, the main musical theme of the song begins. This song is often debated because of its anti-American sentiments "The hand of God defends America/And who would not defend America?" but despite this, the track has some stunning work from all members of the group, especially Mike Holmes, who shines throughout with lead and rhythm work.
Overall, IQ hit the mark again with this sensational statement of an album. Hopefully they will grace America one day with a tour, but until then, we can only wait. This album is one of their very best, although it doesn't have that masterpiece feel to it. My only real gripe is that sometimes the riffs feel out of place or they sound a little off-beat, but maybe that's just me. You can't get much better than this, I give this a very high recommendation for those who are just getting into IQ.
Robert Peña

I first found out about IQ from the site dprp.net and what a find they have turned out to be. Dark Matter contains such variety, I think that even prog fans who don't normally like neo prog will be interested in this release. The quality of the playing is excellent and Peter Nicholls has a unique and brilliant voice. Every track on this album is quality. The album finishes with the 24 minute epic Harvest of Souls. This is a prog classic. The ending of Harvest of Souls is just a perfect end to a great song and a great album. I'll certainly be buying more IQ CDs.
Bob Greece

"Dark Matter" has become something of a controversial album on the forum section of this site, due to the lyrics of the feature track "Harvest of souls", which are perceived to be critical of the USA. While I do not intend to become embroiled in that debate, it is interesting to consider that had the album been made by an Italian prog band, most English speaking people would have been none the wiser, and assessed the album purely on the quality of the music.
It is impossible to ignore the lyrical content completely, but I intend here to focus primarily on the musical aspects. To do so is in fact a highly rewarding move, as there is much to enjoy, to the extent that I consider this to be IQ's best album to date (of those I have heard!).
A criticism often directed at neo-prog bands is that they lack originality, or do not "filter" their influences sufficiently. There are certainly more than passing references to the music of Gabriel/Hackett era Genesis throughout "Dark Matter", but the question really should be "does this matter"? With Genesis having long since abandoned the idea of making a pure prog album, we should perhaps be grateful for the fact that bands such as IQ are carrying the torch.
"Dark matter" has a mere 5 tracks in total, with three shorter 5-6 minute tracks being book-ended by a pair of neo-prog classics.
The album opens with "Sacred ground", a 12 minute epic which borrows significantly from Genesis "Watcher of the skies". The solo mellotron intro and Hackett like guitar work sound wonderfully familiar, with only the lighter more pop like vocals of Peter Nicholls betraying the fact that this is a much more recent release. The track is highly melodic, with plenty of instrumental passages.
Of the short tracks, both "Red dust shadow" with its "Seven stones" like mellotron ending, and "Born Brilliant" with its simplified "Apocalypse in 9/8" rhythm, offer further nods to early Genesis.
The final track, "Harvest of souls" is a magnificent 24 minute epic in the strongest traditions of all that is good about prog. The choral mellotron sound used here, and the initial structure of the track reminded me of Pendragon, and specifically "The shadow" from Masquerade overture". Later, a staccato instrumental pays tribute to the early music of Yes, and when the band sing the word "America" it further puts in mind Yes' cover of the Simon and Garfunkel song of that name. It's good to hear too some old fashioned stereo (speaker to speaker) effects with the mellotron sound later. The track moves seamlessly from section to section before reaching the climactic ending featuring more Hackett like guitar.
Coming to this album, my expectations were limited. I have enjoyed the music of IQ presented on previous albums, but considered them to be lower league. "Dark matter" however represents a true masterpiece of the genre.
Easy Livin

The atmosphere I like the most. A very dark and even kinda gothic. The opening track is greatly cold; "Red Dust Shadow" has one of my favouritest breaks here ("tears I've cried... "); the third one is a bit short and KCrimsonic but with nice neo-prog refrain; "BORN BRILLIANT" - !!! - one of my favourities EVER with biting lyrics and the most driving beat I heard from them (very unusual). "Harvest of Souls",a "Supper's Ready" of 21th century, now is my FAVOURITEST epic from 2000s so far! When the closing part (from 15:36) begins, you may understand why Neo-Prog is still alive and living well. You MUST experience this. Run to the shops!!!
Igor Sidorenko

The old, ugly neo vs. whatever prog argument always raises its head when IQ album is up for review. This album appears to gave gained the most acclaim of all the group's albums because it sounds the most traditionally "prog" (meaning sorta sounds like Genesis or Yes). That may be so. The band's previous work was very "neo", meaning, I guess, more concise, very melodic songs that sound like an intellectual AOR. Those albums were enjoyable, but not amongst my favourites, although I really like "The Seventh House". Neo or not, "Dark Matter" finds IQ stepping up their game, big time, and maybe it is because of the more tradional 70s-ish sounds. The first 4, shorter tracks, are more typical IQ- intensely melodic pop tunes, with great keyboard textures from Orford. He really makes an impact on this album with a selection of vintage patches, of which I am happy to say mellotron is the most prominent. The lyrics are equally intense. Some don't like the vicious "Born Brilliant", but I think Nicholls' sharp analysis of a narcissistic personality is, well, brilliant. The album's crowning glory, however, is "Harvest of Souls", 25 minutes of searing criticism of the new post 9/11 world order. It works so well for me because the lyrics are still poetic, but current as well, showing that "prog" is not a dinosaur genre at all- contemorary commentary can be expressed beautifully through the medium of this music. And there are so many wonderful melodies packed into the piece that I can't even bother counting. The musicianship is awesome, and I could enjoy listening to the bass and drum interaction alone. Every moment counts, right down to Mike Holmes' awesome closing solo, a perfect emotional resolution worthy of Gilmour or Latimer. This was unquestionably album of the year for me, simply because every song is a pleasure, genre be damned.
Allister Thompson

I've never been a fan of the neo-prog sound. While Marillion made some great music, there at least 50 classic progressive rock bands whose sound I prefer to the tones of Marillion and I certainly have had very little time for the "lesser lights" of neo-prog like Pendragon, Pallas, Galahad and Violet District. Until now, that is.
I must say that while I'd heard a smattering of IQ music over the years, Dark Matter was the first album I sat through properly (for the record I've owned and sold Pendragon and Galahad albums). I really enjoyed this album which I thought to be a clever blend of synth-driven pop and creative rock music. In fact, as time has gone on, I've come to rank this work as a contender alongside Marillion's Script For A Jester's Tear and Misplaced Childhood as the best neo-prog album ever.
The opener Sacred Sound took me a while to get into, and in fact for a long time was my least favourite of the 5 pieces here, but I now really enjoy the bass-work, the church organ interludes and Martin Orford's synth leads towards the end. Red Dust Shadow starts off life as a murky acoustic guitar piece before Peter Nicholls kicks in with a lovely vocal melody that will appeal to most fans of melodic rock. A swell of strings and psychedelic keyboard fills lead to a build-up and an epic-sounding riff which only confirms that IQ were listening to a lot of Pink Floyd at the time they made this (I also kept thinking of Suede's Dog Man Star album incidentally).
You Never Will is a different beast althogether. After a ticking-clock intro, the main song kicks in. Powered by a rumbling bass, it boasts an intriguing verse and an absolutely glorious (and somehow rather massive) chorus. After this fun goes on for a couple of rounds, a stunning but all too-brief synth solo bursts in. It turns out to be a teaser for a lovely outro that sees more solo-ing before the chorus returns to wrap proceedings up. It is a fantastic song that finally confirmed my affection for this band. The snide Born Brilliant is a vocally dominated cut, that bursts (after a couple of minutes) into one of those stop-start rhythms that modern prog bands are oh-so-fond-of. It's far from "conventional" symphonic prog, but I really like this song.
Harvest Of Souls is the 25 minute epic that defines the album. It opens with layered guitars and a pop melody, but around the 4 minute mark band joins in with the "America" sub-section and things really take off. At the 6 minute mark a drum roll heralds a juicy, dark and very fast interlude of virtuositic playing. Yes fans will definitely hear echoes of Heart Of The Sunrise at one point. I love the synth melody that comes in at 9 minute before the songs returns to its intro melody. Then at the 11 minute mark there is a nice organ led section with some horror movie effects that are added to by massed vocals, at the 16 minute mark Nicholls comes in with another biting vocal section. At the 18 minute mark another off-beat moment comes in that's a dead ringer for a segment of Genesis' Supper's Ready. When I first got into this album, I used to think that the outro was dragged on a little too long and actually felt a sense of relief when it all finally ended, but I'm now totally into the great melodies and epic feel of Harvest of Souls.
Surely one of the greatest prog albums of the decade, I find that I enjoy Dark Matter a little more every time I return to it, which is surprisingly often...
Martin Vengadesan

Since this is my maiden voyage with IQ - MARILLION, The FLOWER KINGS and Peter GABRIEL came to mind more than once while listing to their spectacular new album "Dark Matter". Peter Nicholls has a very entrancing vocal style, much like the lead singers of the bands I just mentioned. If you look at the track listing, there are only five, yet if you look at the time of each individual track the time begins to pile up very quickly.
The way "Sacred Sound" opens up the album, it makes you feel that a Lon Chaney movie is about to begin, not to worry though, everything changes and develops quite rapidly inside an IQ song. "Harvest Of Souls," their curtain closing magnum opus chimes in at 24:29 and it is sheer brilliance, prog-rock at its very best, it gave me chills up and down my spine several times. Soaring sweet vocals punctuated by powerful guitar riffs and sweeping magnificent keyboard strokes are what their songs consist of. In its entirety, this album is the stuff dreams are made of, you can take that to the bank. Any prog-rock enthusiast will devour this ear candy with splendor; I have absolute confidence in that. I would go as far as saying that it rivals MARILLION's new masterpiece "Marbles", and that my friends is a huge compliment as that album will stand as one of the best of 2004, and I have no doubt that this one will as well, it is that strong. "Born Brilliant" is a song that cuts like a razor's edge with thoughts and attitudes that come from the depths of a deranged mind.
The first verse goes like this - "I'm cold and unapproachable, deceptive and a fraud, don't need to keep attention, I hate to be ignored, the soul of no discretion, belligerent, won't think outside the box, I'm critical and careless, my open mind is shut and firmly locked." and "The baggage that I carry would sink a thousand ships." Oh my, sounds like the kind of person you would want to avoid at all cost!
The cover is unquestionably eye grabbing isn't it? It reminds me of the scene in the Wizard of OZ when Dorothy and her cohorts bring the broom of the wicked witch of the west to the fiery wizard. The title of the album obviously points to the dark matter or matters should I say that lie in the depth of our brains, the stuff nobody wants to admit or ever talk about. Nothing is taboo in the world of music and it is the best vehicle for our subconscious minds to play out all of those less tasteful scenarios and fantasies. Some songs always say everything we really want to say in our heart of hearts. I may have not been born brilliant (thank God) but I know great music when I hear it, this is a superb rendering of progressive rock wizardry. To think that this is only the beginning for me, how exciting is that? Now I must seek out their entire back catalog and see what else that is in the dark matter of IQ to explore.
Keith Hannaleck

I find néo-prog boring, repetitive and univentive. Illuvatar, Pallas, Pendragon, Violet District, Carptree and lots of stuff by Marillion just turns me off. They all want to be Genesis so bad it's sickening. Get a grip for crying out loud. Boring and just sad.
So imagine my reserves to IQ, one of the main princes of néo-bore. And then, I'm here to say loud and proud that, as an Anglagard/ Gentle Giant/ Echolyn type of guy, I'm enjoying big time this piece of fine work. It's funny, it clicked so well at the first listen. Dark Matter really flattered the pop lover in me and got me curious of their song patterns.
First of all the voice of Peter Nicholls is much alike the one of Suede's Brett Anderson, one of the finest pop singers in UK. I had the album Head Music (5 stars) by Suede and Dark Matter is reminding me almost constantly the lightness and catchyness the record provided. The high pitched light voice, the organ keyboards and the guitar lines....everything seemed to fall into place to have a jolly good time intelligently. Sure, IQ is NOT the most challenging band around but this is why I love Dark Matter so much. When I want cool and super-catchy choruses, this is a very intelligent choice. Combines a certain amout of skills but stays accessible the whole time.
If I had to pick a néo-bore record and only one....this would be my numero uno. My first heart-shaped suggestion of 2005!
Jonathan Payeur

This is the first IQ album that I have listened to. It is really a "Dark Matter" album, with lyrics about loneliness. Loneliness is a theme present in all the songs. Introspection, nostalgia, even depression. I don`t know if this album is really a "concept album", but the mood of the lyrics is "dark", with the singer always singing lines in first person. Musically, I think that there are several very good moments. The members of the band are really very good musicians. There are some influences from old Prog bands like Marillion (with Fish), Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd. Sometimes the music and the arrangements are so good that I wish that the lyrics were about other topics. There are sounds from old keyboards like analogic synthesizers and mellotrons. I don`t know if these sounds were created with modern digital keyboards using sound samples from those old instruments. The best songs in this album are "Sacred Ground" and "Harvest of Souls". The majestic long piece "Harvest of Souls" has some critical comments about the U.S. international politics. I was surprised to hear an English band criticizing the U.S. politics! Intelligent lyrics, in my opinion, and I did my interpretation about the lyrics in this song in particular. Listen to this album, read the lyrics, and take your own conclusions!
Guillermo Vázquez Malagamba

A hidden gem! Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's an album that doesn't seem recognized at all outside the prog community, and what a shame it is. It contains great riffs, vocals, keyboards, lyrics and so on. My first album of IQ and probably not the last, this is an amazing album. The stand outs clearly are the first and the last song - "Sacred Sound" and "Harvest of Souls", the latter an excellent 25 minute long epic. The songs in between are good also, but not great.
Recommended for all listeners, not just fans of neo-prog. Indeed an excellent addition to any music collection!
Fredrik Høgaas

Well,here we are talking about neo progressive music,IQ",yes,great band,dark matter,their last album to the date.we find some elements great here,the voice,the concept,the words of the songs are amazing,something diferent,like: far BEYOND"..obviusly the influences of Genesis and yes are strong.. But let´s forget that a little, because IQ is something beautiful!
when i heard this album to the first time,i was like::wow"",good music on this one , but i was not very happy in the begining .. after listened to this album like seven times it grows up on me..the songs are perfectly realized..i think that this is their best album to the date..sorry for the anothers ones but this is the best one..and i am waiting for the new one,i hope so:)
the voice of PETER is simply amazing! the guitar of mike works perfectly all the stuff is great..
the best song of IQ EVER IS HARVESTER OF SOULS,what a great song,epic,dinamic,beatiful,good chorus,inteligent music,great voices,the words,simply amazing.....keep on the good work guys...
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Jack Jaimes Benítez

"Dark Matter" was my first discovery of IQ shortly after it was released. For whatever reason, I always put off exploring the music of IQ and put them on the backburner and went on to listen other prog bands. After about the 10th listen of this album, it finally clicked. And once it did, I catapulted IQ into the upper tier of neo prog bands. Here is a song by song review:
1) Sacred Sound - A very nice beginning with warm synths as it created a very plush atmosphere, something that has become a trademark of IQ. Once the drums start in, we are in for treat. Peter Nicholls' vocals are very distinct and its an acquired taste to really appreciate his style. But they blend nicely into the music itself, not standing out, but not too far in the background either. At no point does the vocals ever become the real focus on this album, but the music as a whole. The guitar solo spots are very effective, reaching climatic points at the proper times during this song. I love the transition at the 5:40 mark as IQ does this so well, almost better than any other band. Their breaks and tempo changes, like at the 6:45 mark, are a staple of their sound. They transition into soft vocals and make great use of the pipe organ sound. Follow all this up with a beautiful keyboard solo toward the end of the song....and we are done. A fantastic opener and very well done. 8/10
2) Red Dust Shadow - This is a very simple song that starts with acoustic guitar and vocal work. Then the keyboard comes in and creates a very unsettling atmosphere. Later the drums start up and then subsides again. A very mellow number, but not at all bad by any means. Although I feel with is the weakest track of the album. 6/10
3) You Never Will - I dont know why, but this is a song that grabbed my attention. Its a shorter song, but packed full with goodies. After a clock begins ticking, a great baseline starts up. Incredibly nice drum fills add to this song. There is a well timed break at the 2:43 mark which goes into a nice keyboard solo after which if followed with almost haunting vocals and organ. Incredibly effective and one of my favorites. 8/10
4) Born Brilliant - I always seemed to skip this song and go directly to the main course...but after repeated listens, I might have been passing up a very decent song here. There is fantastic opening with a distinct bass line and distant vocals. Once the song gets into full gear, it is quite pleasant. It maintains a great tempo and bass guitar seems to be a focus in this one. 6/10
5) Harvest of Souls - OK, the main event...This song is divided into 6 sections. I won't get into the anti American sediments and lyrics on this one, but it seems to fit the overall theme of this song. It has a beautiful beginning with light guitars and vocals. At the 4 minute mark the drums and bass kick up and begins to build. Then a dark turn at 6:15 followed with a much faster tempo. There seems to be an almost chaotic feel in this section. It is then followed by a lush keyboard solo. At 9:00, it slows down again and we hear some more pleasing vocal work which then turns into another chaotic ambush of keyboards and drums. At the 12:18 mark, this is where the song is catapulted into the upper level of epics. There is a great piano section followed by keyboard and tempo changes, a neo progger's dream come true. Beautiful vocals along with soothing soundscapes and a wonderful melody, this is what progressive music is all about! Music rarely gets any better than this. Again, more beautiful piano work at the 14:30 mark followed by a bombastic organ and bass driven section. There are fantastic transitions and crunching guitar work followed by a wonderful outro the revisits each section. It ends perfectly just a tad shy of 25 minutes. Now THAT is how you make an epic! Continually building until it climaxes at the latter stage and regresses back to where it began.....brilliant song! 10/10
I am glad this was my first IQ experience. I think this album really sums up what they are all about, especially the final song. I then delved into their previous releases, but none of them tugged at me like Dark Matter. Again, at first listen or two, it may not fully grasp your attention, but once it clicks, the rewards are worth the effort. I give it 4.5 stars...but round down to 4 for the sake of this format, just shy of the masterpiece level...an excellent addition to any music collection! - May prog be with you!!!
James Cutsofmeat

This album seems to me that have left enough good ordered with respect to the order of the songs, the disc opens with "Sacred Sound" that is a song that lasts about 12 minutes, this song begins with a bottom keyboard, soon takes step to him to the battery and slowly they begin to unite all the other instruments, is an excellent song and very good to give an idea us of which it will be the rest of the album. soon it follows the song "Red Dust Shadow" that begins with an acoustic guitar of single with the bottom keyboard, is "a somewhat slow" song, but it does not stop being quite good, later come You Never Will" who to my seem to be the best song of the album, that begins we say that with the slowness of second and increases, in this song seems to me that they found an order between all the instruments and the vocals, the disc follows with the song "Born Brilliant" who continuing with which the other songs have a slow beginning but in the case of this song Peter Nicholls is we say the one that begin it, and close the disc with "Harvest of Souls" a song of 24 minutes, that has all the characteristics of a good progressive song, since it begins with slow and very smooth rate, and around the 6 min has a drastic change and it becomes one more a faster song, and more ahead it is repeating the speed changes and rate in the song
Miguel Terenzani

I pre-ordered this CD and got it when it came out. Definately the best Symphonic prog CD released in 2004 by a country mile. TQ (neo progressive??) just a cotton pickin moment, what we have here is a genuine top-class SYMPHONIC PROG band, probably the best outside of Genesis and Yes. This CD is nothing short of MIRACULOUS, and unlike Selling England By The Pound and Close To The Edge, this CD does not have a crap track. In other words it is as essential to any prog colection as those two seminal and widely accepted materpeices, Loads of people will shout DERIVATIVE GENESIS WANNABEES at me , eeer yes, all of the decent prog bands of the eighties, nineties and noughties are very YES/GENESIS derivative, thats why they are good. I mean that I'd rather listen to an IQ CD than any by Pink Floyd for instance..... Anyway to this CD. Sacred Sound from the synth intro to the superb vocal melodies and cleverly crafting of an absolutely wizard breeze of a symphonic progressive rock track, it's awesome. Red Dust Shadow is melancholic and superb synth chords accompanied by acoustic guitar is very reminiscent of wind & wuthering, IQ always include little intros that you can find on classic prog albums (like the clock (Hackett) and the Machine noise (Pink Floyd) I reckon it amuses them. I love Yiu necer will - excellent lyrics and the vocal harmonies just work and do nice things in my ears. Born Brillian has some FANTASTIC mellotron (I love the sound it's ace). The HARVEST OF SOULS, the suppers ready comparisons are obvious, but so what, this is an awsome 23 minute exploration of symphonic prog and if you don't like it then I suggest you get off this site and start listening to boyzone or whatever, ITS ESSENTIAL PROG AND GET IT IN YOUR COLLECTION PRONTO. Obvious FIVE STARS in fact this should get TEN!!!!!
Rob Barnett

First of all, sorry for my bad English. For obvious reasons this is my first written review after many ratings here in PA: I decided to do so because I "must" review this masterpiece. For me, this is not Neo-prog, but only one of the best prog albums I ever heard, at the same level of "Selling.., Close to., Pawn Hearts., In the court..", etc. What can I say more? here is all that a prog lover may wish: beautiful melodies, great voice, long tracks, interesting lyrics, odd times, abrupt changes and really wonderful keyboard sounds (I can't believe that Hammond in this album is a clone!). Musicians are all at their best and all tracks are beautiful, especially the interlude of "Sacred sounds", which is for me one of the most beautiful musical sequences in history (maybe I exaggerate? I don't think so). I loved "Ever" and "Subterranea" also, that musically can be easily placed in the same period that they were made, but I think that "Dark Matter" is a masterpiece without time!
prog61

The Darker Side of Neo-Prog
This has been my first exposure to the music IQ, and it is nothing like I expected. The Genesis similarity is obvious - guitarist Mike Holmes does take a trick or two from the Hackett repertoire and vocalist Peter Nichols borrows more from Peter Gabriel than his first name. However, the primary influence here is something darker, something along the lines of Van Der Graaf Generator or Procul Harum. The church organ dominates the sound scape, and the lyrical matter is all quite dark. This is not to say that the music here is not completely original, because it really is, and they are technically beyond that of their contemporary peers such as Marillion.
The album sandwiches three short songs between two larger ones, notably the tremendous "Harvest of Souls." Though the short songs may be considered filler material, none of them are terrible, just not up the great standard set by the first and last numbers.
"Sacred Sound" is a great mini-epic despite having few parts parts than a verse, chorus, and bridge. The band makes great use of uneven time signatures like 13/8, over which the band members all very carefully and cleverly operate. Despite being a very dark song, it features a memorable and uplifting refrain where Nichols hits some terrific high notes.
"Red Dust Shadow," which might have dragged a bit if it weren't for a really great guitar riff, mellatron, and bass solo, follows the first track well. The production really shines here, as well as the entire album.
"You Never Will" picks up the pace a little, but leaves us wanting more. Besides an excellent keyboard solo and some really obscure drum fills, this song is somewhat uninteresting, and ventures into pretentious territory with its vague lyrics.
"Born Brilliant" is perhaps the only song on this disc likely to instantly grab the listener. Its menacing lyrics and driving beat are captivating. The band sounds like a factory as it trudges through it's rhythm. There is some ambiance that eludes to older Pink Floyd such as "Welcome to the Machine." However, it is only a preface for the following track.
Upon close investigation, "Harvest of Souls" is highly reminiscent of Genesis' "Supper's Ready," but that is not to accuse it of plagiarism. Though the multi-part structure of the two pieces are reflective of each other, the music of "Harvest of Souls" is completely unique and commendable. Each of it's six separate movements could possibly stand alone as songs of their own, but when combined in this larger piece by instrumental movements and recurring lyrical themes, they become something much stronger. Though certain segments could arguably have been omitted, and focus may seem lost at certain points, the last four minutes of reprisal are exactly what they should be, polishing the song of perfectly. In fact, all the music throughout this near 25-minute piece is top-notch, and its great length is fully justified. Though "Harvest of Souls" may not have the historical importance of a piece like "Supper's Ready," it in many ways a equally excellent effort.
This album comes at high recommendation from me. Despite accusations of excessive influence, I feel it represents among the best in Neo-Progressive music; IQ's music is equally as sophisticated as their 70's predecessors. Anyone looking for excellent modern symphonic prog with intelligent lyrics and a dark edge needs not look any further.
Peter Korringa

It's been four years since IQ released a CD and the wait is over now. I have to say They must have been listening too much to ancient Genesis recordings because this is the recording who has more "Genesis sounds" in It. I mean, not in a bad way but It is a relief to hear the smooth lines fronm the Mellotron on "Harvest of Souls" and the sweet lines in the guitar. This is a good CD to have and I am sure all the fans (I am one of 'em) will not be dissapointed. Solid 4 stars and a one to have in your collection.
steelyhead

Dark matter was the first IQ album I heard, and it instantly grabbed me. I wondered WHY I had never heard of them before. Neo-Prog was never my thing, I was more into the Classic Progressive bands of the late 60's and 70's. Noe-Prog is STILL not my thing, EXCEPT for this band, and Dark Matter is where it all started for me. In fact, with this album, every other IQ album fall short. This is THE IQ album. Sure, Subterranea, Seveth House and Frequency are great albums, but they just cannot compete with Dark Matter, which set the IQ standard for me.
NO weak spots here, EVERY track is brilliant, production's great, great lyrics, great vocals, great feel & mood through the entire album. This is maybe the darkest IQ ever got, but that's a GOOD thing. Nicholls voice is very expressive, sometimes sad, sometimes very dark & twisted. Very Genesis Peter Gabriel-era singing on this album, especially on "Harvest of souls", and that's also a good thing since I'm a Genesis Gabriel-era fan.
"Sacred Sound" is a great opener & classic IQ, with lots of parts & odd timesignatures. Love Nicholls vocals here. Excellent middle part were the Church-organ takes over, followed by an excellent keyboard solo.
"Red Dust Shadow" is another great song. I get a Pink Floyd-vibe from this one, especially on the chorus guitar riff, that is very much like "In the flesh"-mode. Great sad lyrics & mood through the whole song, and an outstanding Mellotron 3violin- solo a la Genesis' "Seven stones" Mellotron solo.
"You Never Will" is one of my favorites on the album. Again very dark & melacholic, with great Mellotron through the most of the song. Love the clock ticking. Great effect.
In "Born Brilliant" we find IQ in Pink Floyd-mode again. I get a "Velcome to the machine"-vibe here, and great psychedelic guitar soloing from Holmes. Love Orford's dark 8Chior Mellotron playing in the background.
And then finally "Harvest of Souls", which is the albums epic and centerpiece. Respect guys, respect. I take off my hat for this one. It is their "Suppers Ready" and "Echoes", and a stunning finale to a perfect album. Nicholls sometimes sounds excactly like Peter Gabriel in some places. I remember listening to it the first couple of times, wondering if they actually had Peter Gabriel as a guest vocalist on some of the parts. Every musician shines on this one, especially Nicholls & Orford. Great vocals & excellent Mellotron playing here.
Overall, NO weak spots, and a masterpiece of an album. Not just an essential album in Neo-Prog, but Prog in general.
Moonstone

Born really brilliant!!!
"Dark Matter" is one of the best IQ album along with "Ever". The style is close to Yes and, especially, Genesis. In particular, "Dark Matter" reminds "Foxtrot" in structure and in some moments even in sound.
The suite Harvest Of Soul, one of the best moments of the album, is characterized by considerable instrumental ideas and seems to be a kind of homage to "Supper's Ready", in fact the structure of these two epics is very similar (however, lyrics are very different!). Harvest Of Soul can not compete with the legendary suite of Genesis for sure, but is an inspired and convincing piece, where the band alternates, with efficacy, melodic moments to other more aggressive. You can like it or not Nicholls's voice, but I do not mind at all and, compared to the first album, I think his voice is improved a lot.
The best track of the album is, however, the opening Sacred Sound dominated by the majestic sound of the organ. The song is extraordinary with wonderful instrumental crescendo and a great support from the rhythm section. This piece would be enough to justify buying this album!
The other tracks are less memorable, but only Red Dust Shadow , mostly acoustic, is trivial. You Will Never and Born Brilliant are beautiful songs, complex although short, and worthy comprimarie of the two main pieces.
Melodic and intriguing, bombastic but also intimate, "Dark Matter" is probably the IQ best album and a great example of what neo-prog really is. Avoid it only if you do not like the neo- progressive genre.
Dark Nazgul

It's very encouraging to see that more than 20 years after their first album, IQ are still capable of a progressive masterpieces like "Dark Matter". There are very few bands who have developed so well with time, and IQ show no sign of letting up even today. Of course, a 24 minute epic like "Harvest of Souls" was always going to catch people's attention, and drive the original hype of this album, but I think with time people have come to realise how good the other songs are too.
The album starts with the bright sounds and great dynamics of "Sacred Sound". On any other album, this would be a dominating composition, but as you may be aware there is a greater song coming up. "Sacred Sound" is an updated version of the IQ classic, and contains pretty much everything that makes IQ great in just under 12 minutes. The melodic guitar, Peter Nicholl's thoroughly assured vocals. In particular, all the different uses Martin Orford makes of his keyboard are really impressive, both in a leading and supporting capacity. He is making more use of various organ sounds than on previous albums, and making it work well.
On "Red Dust Shadow" things take a softer more melancholy turn, with mellow vocals over strummed acoustic guitar, and understated keyboard. The whole thing is basically carried by Peter Nicholl's assured vocal performance, and it's good to see a singer confident enough to be able to pull something like this off.
"You Never Will" is a song made very exciting by the combination of John Jowitt's excellent bass playing and Marting Orford's Keyboards. The bassline is even better in "Born Brilliant", the 6/8 riff from this song that it drives is revisited in the next track, and is unstoppably catchy. The sounds of this song build to a climax over the rhythms before fading away. Lyrically both songs paint negative pictures of an unnamed person, from the 3rd and then 1st person perspective (receptively), though the lyrics are kept general enough to be widely applicable, as with a lot of IQ songs.
And so we do come to the next, and final track, the epic "Harvest Of Souls", IQ's longest song to date. Structurally, the song is referencing "Supper's Ready", as others have noted, but it is also easily it's own epic. The sound is completely IQ's, this is not another case of "Grendel" by Marillion (I do like that song though). I think most people are in agreement about how great this song is. I would have to agree also, and say that it is fantastic, and probably going to be one of the leading shouted out requests at IQ gigs for the rest of the band's career. Each section is an absolute winner, with large melodies, and attractive rhythms, all tied expertly to the anti-war lyrical content (eg the guitar made gun-like noises). Each band member makes invaluable contributions, but in particular Mike Holmes shows off just what a capable and versatile guitarist he is. Along with Martin Orford and Peter Nicholls the emotional core of this song is really driven home effectively, moving through soaring melodic sections and complex heavier instrumental sections to reach its finale. You must hear this song.
So, as I said, a triumph. The band is truly unified, and the compositions themselves are fantastic, ambitious, and highly memorable. Dynamically and production-wise, this was IQ's best album at the time ("Frequency" would further push this envelope). In recent times, there have been quite a few years between IQ releases, and I would say that in this case the approach of the band taking their time to craft and perfect an album in this manner really pays off. For anyone interested in IQ, "Dark Matter" is an essential release. Do not miss out on it.
ScorchedFirth

Dark Matter is simply the best IQ album. "Sacred Sound" has some great Hammond by Widget Orford and some soaring guitar by Sherlock Holmes, underpinned by great playing from bassist John Jowls and drummer Peter Cook, topped off by that strange Gabriel/David Essex voice of Sir Douglas Nicholls. "Red Dust Shadow" is beautiful in a depressing way - And i like feeling depressed. A very heartfelt song that brings to mind being on a coach on the way to Blackpool with dark grey skies and rain beating against the coach window. "You Never Will" is a more upbeat Susan Cameron type song with more than a hint of Fatty JV too. "Born Brilliant is.......well brilliant but is somewhat spoiled by a Kimmish style of singing and some unnecessary Joker effects on Nickels voice. Apart from that it has a nice dark bony vibe and is another favourite of mine.
So to the tour de force "Harvest Of Souls" which although leans very close to "Suppers Ready" also manages to have it's own life with Nickels singing about Batmans arch enemy "The Joker being held up by rubber hooks. Mark Haymans credit is preferred in this song too. The song goes through many twists and turns, not unlike an earwig twisting and turning through and across Macy's brain and also has a lovely Bruce and Millett fence feel, as well as touching on the woes of Johnny Orzach at the hands of Matnill Moyes. The Stephen Deanish heartfelt ending is as moving as the end of "Suffers Ready" and i can pay this song no greater tribute than that. A fabulous album of great songs and ten teasing Tunisian tourists. Sadly my favourites of the band are no longer in the ranks - Keysman Widget Orford and bassist John Jowls being replaced by original bassist Tim Seesaw and keys player Neil Durand Webber.
Alard Charlton

I discovered IQ by their brilliant last album "Dark Matter" and what an introduction is was! As many reviews already have been written about this album I will keep it brief.
"Dark Matter" is probably one of IQ's best albums up-to-date, together with "Ever", "Subterranea" and "The Seventh House".
Anyone who liked "Marillion" or "Genesis" in the Peter Gabriel - era, should give IQ a chance, because it certainly is a great band and their fine lyrics, great instrumentation and harmonic compositions really stand out.
"Dark Matter" is one of the finest IQ compositions because of its variety in songs, varying from the pumping up-tempo track "Born Brilliant" to the >20 minute epos "Harvest Of Souls" about the attacks on America on September the 11th 2001. Especially part II from "Harvest Of Souls", called "The Wrong Host" kicking off by "The Sky lights up above America." is simply beautiful!
Martijn Martens

Y podemos seguri citando a gente que escribe alabanzas sobre este disco, muchas, muchas más... pero ¿tiene sentido?.
Este es un trabajo sobresaliente de esta fabulosa banda británica, los invito a conocerla si aún no lo han hecho, aqué hay cada vez más gente interesada por la buena música latinoamericana y se han perdido este tipo de trabajos. Como somos recolectores de gemas musicales de todas partes del mundo (y la música, la cultura y el arte no tienen fronteras) les dejamos para disfruten de este trabajo enorme.
Un disco que hará las delicias de cualquier amante del progresivo setentero, aunque con un sonido moderno. Y también un disco apto para cualquiera que quiera adentrarse al mundo del rock progresivo, con toda su carga de emotividad, dramatismo, musicalidad, virtuosismo, largos desarrollos conceptuales, atmósferas y climas... y demás está decir que les recomiendo enfáticamente este disco, no?








2 comentarios:

  1. graciasss gran aporte, la mística de este disco para mi es insuperable, siento lo mismo cada ves que lo escucho, las mas agradables sensaciones.

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