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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 6 May 2014
For starters, IQ need a good slap on the wrist for leaving it five years between studio albums. That being said, the band have occupied themselves by releasing remastered anniversary box sets of their first two albums ('Tales From The Lush Attic' and 'The Wake') with accompanying gigs as well as taking 1997's 'Subterranea' back out on the road with a new bells and whistles show in addition to writing and recording a new album, so it's not as though they've been idle.
Much has been said about the three changes in band line-up, but when you consider that four-fifths of the group on this new album (Peter Nicholls, Mike Holmes, Tim Esau and Paul Cook) made up the original IQ, there's nothing really to be worried about here.
As for the album itself, 'The Road Of Bones' has been well worth the wait. Darker and harder in tone to most of their other albums, with a more sombre, reflective lyrical approach, this album is everything that progressive rock should be about in 2014. Like most IQ albums, it's also a production marvel; guitarist Mike Holmes has delivered yet another terrific sounding record.
Opening track 'From The Outside In' is typical IQ territory. A lively, rocky workout with crunching guitars, swirling keyboards and a thumping rhythm section. We're off to a good start.
The title track was previewed on YouTube some time ago and was a perfect tongue-wetter for this record. A dark, brooding, cinematic tale taken from the point of view of a serial killer in a US Mid-Western town, whose killing spree has gripped the area in fear, it's arguably one of the most absorbing pieces of music that IQ have ever written. It's progressive rock at it's most sophisticated, with a perfect balance of atmosphere and power and a spot on vocal display from Peter Nicholls, whose lyrics are quite chilling on this track.
'Within These Walls' shows the band moving into epic territory with a nineteen minute juggernaut that raises the bar of technical proficiency up a notch with some outstanding playing, particularly from new keyboardist Neil Durant, whose mixture of old mellotron/moog sounds and modern synths are a pleasure to listen to.
'Ocean', which follows, shows that IQ have a good ear for a ballad. Beautifully sung once again by Nicholls and with one of the most complex time signatures I've heard in a while, it's the most accessible track on offer.
Closing track, 'Until The End' is another widescreen piece with a cinematic edge that shows the band loosening up a touch and letting the song go where it needs to go, irrespective of length. The low-key acoustic guitar/piano closing section ends the album perfectly.
If you've any sense, you'll grab a copy of the two-disc version of this album, which like Marillion's 'Happiness Is The Road' from 2008, features a collection of songs that didn't fit the mood and tone of the 'main album'. Like the extra songs on that record, there's nothing dispensable about these tracks and disc two could quite easily stand alone as a good IQ album in it's own right.
'Knucklehead' has a Dream Theater vibe to it, whilst '1312 Overture' is an entertaining instrumental romp. 'Fall And Rise' and 'Ten Million Demons' in particular, are surprisingly accessible and one hopes that the band will dip into this second disc during the live shows to promote the album.
It's always been a mystery to me that IQ have never moved on from 'cult status' and enjoyed major success. Apart from a brace of passable, yet slightly more commercially sounding records in the late 1980s that side-stepped the band's natural evolution, IQ have recorded arguably some of the finest progressive rock albums of the last thirty-plus years and I would urge any prog fan to explore their back catalogue if they haven't already done so. It'd be time and money well spent.
'The Road Of Bones' is another vital, top class entry in the IQ cannon and will certainly be a contender for prog rock album of 2014 by the time the year is out. You'd be mad to miss this one.
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on 9 May 2014
WOW! I thought 'frequency' was good but IQ have produced a stunner with 'The Road of Bones'; as you are probably aware the first disc is a very dark concept based around a serial killer, (imagine Alice Cooper without the humour). The musicianship and production is faultless and the twists and turns constantly keep your attention throughout and the longer tracks certainly don't outstay their welcome. The first CD is one of the best neo-prog albums ever and the second CD is excellent, best tracks; middle three from CD1, 'Knucklehead' and 'Constellations' from CD2. As already mentioned they could of brought out CD2 as another album in a year or two's time, so thank you. With the exception of a couple of hiccups around the late eighties, (along with many other bands), IQ have always delivered and 'TROB is strong competition for the rest of 2014 and pushes Transatlantic well into second place.
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on 5 May 2014
I was also surprised by this.

The title track (which is worth the price for the album in itself) is like the soundtrack to Cormac McCarthy's 'Blood Meridian'. It is very dark and this is a crossover album between metal and progressive but this is very popular at the moment as Opeth will likely soon demonstrate.

The guitar and the keyboards are to the forefront throughout but the rhythm section does really impress and the almost demented yearning of Peter Nicholls' vocals do dovetail with the dark lyrics beautifully.

I'm not sure about the bonus disc but if they held onto it and released it in a years' time as new material they'd be criticized for exploiting the fans.

I've already got my ticket for the Bury concert but I'd like to see them do more, maybe in the Midlands somewhere, perhaps, The Assembly in Leamington???????

For me, the album of the year up to now.
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on 8 May 2014
OK, progressive rock (in all its forms) has had many people running for the hills, and it's a real shame. For some really epic music has been missed by the hoi polloi, as they're forever drawn to lame pop facsimiles and marketing execs making millions from one hit wonders.

IQ are not prolific by any stretch of the imagination, but every single release has been worth the wait.

This album just about sums up everything that is good and right with progressive rock. I've been listening to it continuously since it arrived. I have a number of favourite bands, but often there is a weak album in their back catalogue to disappoint. IQ did go through a period (two albums) with a more commercial feel, but even they weren't weak. This album is certainly not weak. Some might say is up there with the best.

Disk one has a dark and heavy theme throughout, but never overpowering. The second disk is more ecliptic and offered as a bonus as most tracks wouldn’t sit comfortably to the first disk’s theme but undeniably still has the IQ signature stamped over it. This album has no fillers, instead some tracks have quieter periods to fill you with a sense of anticipation or put you into a false sense of security before the band kick into a bigger, heavier rift.

I could describe each track in detail, and offer favourites, but that would do the set a disfavour. Skip the single disk and instead buy the two disk set, and make your own mind up!

You will not regret buying it.
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on 8 May 2014
IQ only release material when they've really got something to deliver - and boy does this deliver!
If you don't like Neo Prog then this probably won't be for you. If you do, then this ticks all the right boxes.
'Without Walls' sends a shiver down my spine.
This album has lots of atmosphere and despite the darker heavy subject matter, is strangely uplifting in its mood & musical content. Mike Holmes guitar is restrained on much of this album, with layered keyboards to the fore. Pete Nicholls vocals you either love or hate, but lyrically he's part of what makes IQ such a great band both live and on CD.
I'll add to the other 5* ratings!
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on 5 May 2014
Not really going into this in depth as IQ in my eyes can do no wrong.
One of the most understated bands that deserve so much more credit than they get.
All of them top musicians and Peter Nicholls is up there with Jon Anderson anyday just a superb vocalist.
Whatever you do as someone else has said buy the two disc version as it is worth it just for the track "Constellations"
This to me is not just some add on tracks but an excellent double album.
A superb album by a superb band and yes I wish they were playing more live dates.
I wish the band all the success they deserve and thank them for releasing some excellent music.......again!
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on 18 June 2014
This is strongest and most original work that IQ have done in their long History. The lyrics and the delivery by Peter Nicholls are the best he has ever conceived and really contribute to the appeal and integrity of each song. He has never sounded so good. The "Old" new lineup gels well and continues the the line of steady improvement begun with Subterranea and amazingly continued through Dark Matter and Frequency to Road of Bones.On this trajectory the next album will be truly a masterwork.
At the risk of upsetting the sort of fanzine reviewers that too often dominate all these reviews I will attempt to give a balanced assessment, with criticism.
Firstly for those who thought that so called progressive music hit its peak long ago and since then only pale imitators remain, I can assure you that this stands on its own merits as a great piece of music, not an imitation, but standing proud alongside Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd you name it.
Secondly it hangs together as a good concept album, as well as the best like Quadrophenia. Just to be clear I don't think this is about the notorious siberian highway called the road of Bones. I think it is about a serial killer.
Thirdly, there is undoubtedly some filler in the 50 odd minutes. The problem with dramatic concept pieces is there is a tendency to introduce some movie score moments in support of the concept. Usually these don't hold up and ultimately are a boring distraction. This is the case here. The second half of track 1, the middle of track 3 and the start of track 5 are all guilty of over long deviations into excursions in support of the concept but fall short on the music front and just drag down the overall quality. As is often the case finding the concise way to express the musical idea and not needlessly repeating it is what marks the great from the good. (Marillion take note!).
I have committed sacrilege and used an MP3 editor and the condensed result is nearly 40 minutes of pure pleasure and a genuine masterpiece. For me anyone who can produce and sustain over 30 minutes of perfection has done an extraordinary thing. Many of the great albums contain some filler.
The musicianship is strong throughout the album and the production is great. On track 2 the perfect combination of composition, playing and production is achieved. The bass and drums forming one instrument, with the keys and guitar adding the atmosphere over which the vocals dance and evoke the compelling scene. "The morning finds my nights work". Great lyrics great composition, that really send your mind travelling with the music imagining the awful scene.
So I strongly recommend this great work to anyone who enjoys the progressive music of the seventies and anyone who enjoys the current practitioners like RPWL, Spocks Beard, Flower Kings, Big Big Train, Neil Morse, Marillion etc.
As for the second Bonus disc. For the IQ fan and the completist it is essential to buy this special edition to get what amounts to a whole second album of music. A fantastic bonus of original work and not tedious discarded early versions. But it does not hold up against the quality of the Road of Bones. This is solid mediocre stuff, which is why the band wisely and kindly included it as a bonus disc.
I give this 4 stars, and would have given it 4.9 if I could. Because as Nigel Tufnell says" when your at 10 where can you go, nowhere". I am holding onto my 5 for the next album. I can't wait. A perfect masterpiece? "Almost …. but not quite".
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on 12 May 2014
What a staggeringy good album this is, 90 odd minutes of top prog and soul searching lyrics. Rich, diverse, deep, melodic, heavy and light, and wonderful throughout. Excellent musicianship and vocals across the whole album too. Road of Bones is my favourite so far, but the album closer is top too. IQ are such a great British band, why they are not celebrated more is beyond me, they blow away every trendy band. If you are new to them, then this is good place to start and then head for Ever, Seventh House and The Wake, and then the rest. Thanks to IQ for another excellent album.
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on 30 May 2014
Let's face facts, it was bound to be a tough act to follow the moonbeam sheen of the supreme sound of Frequency. But TROB, in one giant leap, has managed to achieve the seemingly impossible and has actually eclipsed it.

To enjoy this album to the max, it helps if you possess a high IQ. This is not for the knucklehead few who can't even detect the difference between the differing music styles of The Charlatans and The Frauds.

Right from the opening seconds of From the Outside In, with its dramatic dialogue sample from the 1931 film adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, you are aware that this is going to be something you can truly sink your teeth into. The depressing drone of Bela Lugosi's Dead this is not - this is a thrilling piece of music that will leave your blood trilling with excitement.

The subject matter in the lyrics of the title track might be blacker than a midnight walk on the North York moors, but melodically this is no filler and will weave a spectral aura of light to brighten up the darkest of serial-killer hearts.

The sole instrumental, 1312 Overture, leaves your soul ringing with pure joy.

And, no Taurus-s**t, the power-ballad on disc two is one of the most auspiciously delicious moments within a 33-year career...

Although the influences from acts of the heyday of prog can clearly be heard, alongside the cheeky chuckle-inducing inclusion of a bit of a Chicory Tip hit, this recording is no throwback to the 1970's and is so much cooler than a glam-rock mullet cut.

The success of the album so far will surely procure far more hardcore fans...

Band of the moment, your time has most definitely NOT gone...
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on 13 May 2014
This is a finely crafted album and a worthy recipient of 5 stars. Personally I wish they did not release the filler (bonus second disc) as in my opinion this somehow dilutes the quality of the overall product. I know a lot of people like the second disc but I just feel the songs are simply "good" rather than the "exceptional" found on the title disc.
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