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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

IQ

The Seventh House

Review by Steve Alspach

I don't know what it is about bands like IQ that I find endearing - well, they're not one of those "bobblehead" bands that are springing up on every corner, for one thing - but I get the impression that they do what they do not to make a grand statement, but simply because it probably never occurred to them to do anything else. They have an appreciation for prog, and it shows in "The Seventh House," an excellent CD of straight-ahead prog - a great balance of guitars, keyboards, lengthy excursions, and stellar production. The musicians here are Paul Cook, drums; Michael Holmes, guitars, guitar synth, and keyboards; John Jowitt, bass and backing vocals; Peter Nicholl, vocals and lyrics; and Martin Orford, keyboards and backing vocals.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Wrong Side of Weird
The first movement borrows heavily from the opening of Led Zeppelin's "The Song Remains the Same," especially with Michael Holmes' rhythmic guitar work. IQ then transitions to a slower passage, anchored with Orford's delicate arpeggios, but then the band cranks it back up. This song shows some excellent arranging by the band as the piece goes from section to section rather seamlessly.
Erosion
If the less-than-climactic ending of the previous track is a bit puzzling, it makes sense when hearing the opening of "Erosion." Nicholl's voices and Orford's synthesizer start the song. The rest of the band punches in, and "Erosion" results in some Dream Theater-like evocations.
The Seventh House
The focal point of the album, and the longest track at 14:22, "The Seventh House" goes from neo-baroque to rock, and they even throw in a bit of 13/4 riffing and put the final movement in 7 to keep us rhythmic mutants satisfied. Nicholl's lyrics are a bit cryptic but not too obtuse as to prevent any bit of thought on the listener's part.
Zero Hour
After the relative storm-und-drung of the title track, this piece is considerably more restrained. Some of the keyboard passages from Orford are reminiscent of latter-day Genesis. Michael Holmes' lengthy solo at the end is well restrained.
Shooting Angels
A wistful introduction gives way to a mid-tempo rocker with some of Paul Cook's heaviest drumming. The saxophone, courtesy of Tony Wright, adds a bit of a Floydian touch.
Guiding Light
After a warm intro with Nicholls' vocals over Orford's keyboards, the band then jumps into a 5/4 instrumental section with some tasty melodic leads. The song comes back to its original themes at the end.
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