IQ - Dark Matter
InsideOut Music
Progressive Hard Rock
5 songs (52:16)
Release year: 2004
InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Keegan

With their debut InsideOut release, the influential 1980s band IQ delivers a melancholic and moody opus of classic progressive rock. Dark Matter makes no attempt at a significant leap forward in the genre, but rather it is a display of the British band’s characteristic sound. Heavy on early Genesis influences, the album features plenty of mellotrons, organs, and deeply atmospheric guitars. Despite the lack of innovation, the album is undoubtedly an enthralling listen. Harmonically, each piece bridges perfectly into the next, making this particular collection of songs sound very complete and cohesive.

From the first seconds of Dark Matter, I am reminded of GenesisWatcher of the Skies, though darker and heavier. Peter Nicholls delivers excellent performances throughout the opening minutes of Sacred Sound, reminiscent of Phil Collins’ vocals on Wind and Wuthering. Trade off soloing from guitarist Michael Holmes and keyboardist Martin Orford takes up the majority of the epic opener, akin to the middle section of YesThe Gates of Delirium.

While the album is centered around it’s more ambitious opening and closing tracks, three excellently written shorter pieces occupy the middle of Dark Matter. The first is Red Dust Shadow. The darkest of the three, the song is all about sinister atmosphere. Mostly an acoustic track, Nicholls’ delivery reminds of Porcupine Tree’s Steve Wilson. The darkness continues in the keyboard-centered You Never Will. More Genesis is heard here in Orford’s Tony Banks styled solo. Drummer Paul Cook gets a chance to shine at the end of the song, displaying technique similar to Bill Bruford or Phil Collins. The most straightforward song on Dark Matter, Born Brilliant is a breath of fresh air, light among so much darkness. Holmes’ solo reminds me of newer Steve Hackett.

Closing the album is the twenty-four minute Harvest of Souls. Much like GenesisSupper’s Ready, Harvest of Souls is a very sectioned piece, bridged by instrumental passages. Beginning with merely acoustic guitars and mellotrons, the song soon builds to symphonic peaks and fast-paced solo sections. Once again, Orford’s keyboard work commands attention throughout much of the song. Harvest of Souls continues to rise and fall from fast instrumentals to soft piano and vocal lines until its heavy guitar driven final section.

An excellent progressive rock album, Dark Matter will appeal to fans of many periods of the genre’s history. While it may not hold the interest of Zero Hour devotees, it is sure to please fans of Genesis, Yes, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, or Spock’s Beard. Hopefully IQ will take more chances next time out.

Killing Songs :
Sacred Sound, Red Dust Shadow, Harvest of Souls
Keegan quoted 82 / 100
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