IQ – The Road of Bones (2014)

IQ_RoadBones5 out of 5 Stars!

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for IQ.  Back in the ’80s when I first became aware of all the interesting bands coming out of England during the “New Wave Of Progressive Rock” era, I had placed IQ second in line only to Marillion (Pallas was third, Twelfth Night was fourth, etc., etc., etc.). Most of these ’80’s bands have gone through many changes in style and personnel through the years, or have unfortunately dissolved. Sadly enough, Marillion (after the departure of Fish) quickly turned into a band I no longer recognized, nor do I care to listen to the group much these days, especially the material released since the mid-’90s. Sadly, the excitement I once felt for Marillion is long gone. It disappeared, never to return, when the band turned its back on Progressive Rock in favor of (what I feel is) bland, slow-paced, ambient background music, a form of Alternative Rock I do not embrace.

Thankfully, the same cannot be said when it comes to IQ. I stuck with this band through thick and thin (even enjoyed the Paul Menel years) and my stalwartness paid off in spades when, just as I abandoned the notion that Marillion would ever return to the Progressive Rock fold, IQ amazingly began to flourish beyond my wildest dreams. Indeed, since the Ever album appeared in 1993, more than twenty years ago, I have never once been disappointed by the music these guys have produced. Since Ever, not a single IQ album have I rated lower than 4.5, which is rare. I had my fingers crossed after the 5-Star Dark Matter album, praying it wouldn’t be the band’s high-water mark, especially after I learned of personnel changes within the group. But I need not have feared. Frequency, although not quite the perfect collection of tracks in my eyes, was close, still earning a 4.5-Star rating from me. And then, along came The Road Of Bones, and I found myself gleefully rating it with a full 5 stars!

The eleven tracks on this 2-CD set (many of them lengthy) are crammed with emotion, with ever-changing moods and tempo shifts, terrific musicianship, interesting melodies, and complicated arrangements, just what I have come to expect on every IQ release since Ever. This is Neo-Progressive Rock at its finest, and considering this band has been around for more than thirty years, long after most other groups have called it quits or, like Marillion, Yes, Genesis, and countless others, have become shadows of their former selves, IQ continues producing nearly perfect 4.5- and 5-Star albums loaded with rich ideas, lush production and, darn it, excitement. And with the title track on this album being one of the most atmospheric, most haunting tunes the band has ever recorded, it only proves that IQ’s songwriting chops have not flagged or wavered in the least. Both commendable and awesome!

So with both IQ and Magenta (my favorite female-fronted Prog-Rock band) still riding strong and proudly carrying the torch of classic Neo-Progressive Rock, it’s nothing short of an embarrassment of riches for the Progressive Rock world. May IQ continue on for many, many more releases!

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