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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

IQ - Resistance - 2019


    

... IQ's masterpiece ... a consistent and beautiful gem ...

Giant Electric Pea has just released the new IQ double album “Resistance”. More than 105 minutes of new music. Composer/Guitarist Michael Holmes tells that the initial idea for “Resistance” was to have a single CD with an accompanying ‘extras’ disc, but the closer it got to the release the more we felt that everything just gelled as a proper double album. That’s also meant we were able to give each track just the right amount of breathing space, whether that’s a tree and a half minute thing or a more substantial twenty two minute ‘workout’. As long time fan of the band I am very happy with the double CD format of “Resistance” because we now can enjoy three long (above the 15 minutes) tracks. “Resistance is their twelfth studio album. It took the band two years to record this gem. Their previous album “The Road Of Bones” was a very strong album, but “Resistance” is in my humble opinion even better.

Paul Cook - drums and percussion; Neil Durant - keyboards; Tim Esau - bass guitar and bass pedals; Michael Holmes - guitars; Peter Nicholls - lead vocal and backing vocals

This year I did see two live performances of the band in the festival season. It is a great live band but your experience can be good or excellent on the basis of the vocal performance of Peter Nicholls. Don’t get me wrong, he is still my favorite Prog singer but if there are problems with the monitors like at the gig at the Night Of The Prog festival this year, he will have a difficult gig because of the sometimes complex and overwhelming sound the band has. The other gig I witnessed was at the ArtRock festival in Reichenbach. This was an amazing front row experience for me ... the perfect IQ gig with an outstanding performance of Peter Nicholls. At both gigs the band already played some new material from “Resistance” that was at that time still in development. If you were at one of those gigs and heard the flashes of the new material you will be flabbergasted when you hear the end result of the definitive album versions. And Peter Nicholls is surpassing himself ... what an amazing vocal performance on “Resistance”.

The album opens with a typical uptempo IQ song. “A Missile” is a powerful song with broad keyboard orchestrations and a rhythm section that is on fire. A great and powerful opener. The next song “Rise” has a slow, dark and mysterious synth opening. After the first slow vocal part the tension of the music builds up for a while, but after the second slow vocal part the band goes full throttle and you can enjoy nice melodies and great keyboard orchestrations. This song full of dynamics ends with a slow vocal and piano part that seamlessly brings us to the song “Stay Down”. Peter Nicholls his vocals are delicate and passionate sung. The Holmes and Nicholls composers duo deliver beautiful melodies. Only after five minutes the tension is building up and the music become more uptempo. In the end there is also some great guitar solo work but you have to listen with full attention because the broad keyboard layers of the excellent keyboardist Neil Durant are lying often in front of the mix. “Alampandria” is with almost four minutes the shortest track of the album. I love the Eastern atmosphere of the keyboard opening. In this song the guitar parts of Holmes are outstanding ... at some point I had to think of Steve Hackett. After this powerful second part the band comes back with the most beautiful melodies in the beautiful sung “Shallow Bay”. The song develops into one of my personal favorite tracks of this remarkable album. Slowly the tension of the music is building up and we can enjoy soaring guitar solo’s. Wow this is pure bliss. The next slow song “If Anything” has also strong vocal opening which is followed by a delicate played acoustic guitar and a lovely fretless bass part. This ballad is a kind of rest point and transition before CD one closes with the first long song of epic proportions. Strange enough the ballad ends with some experimental electronics and a great church organ part. Well this is also typical IQ, especially if you hear the organ sound of the intro of that long song “For Another Lifetime” (15:22). That intro is funny and creepy at the same time. This is followed by great guitar parts and broad keyboard orchestrations. The atmosphere is slowly turning into a more imminent one. The song is developing into a next highlight with great guitar work and beautiful vocal melodies before the band goes full throttle once more. I also have to mention keyboardist Neil Durant who is doing a great job on Disc one and has a contribution as a composer on some of the songs on Disc two.

The second disc opens with the epic “The Great Spirit Way” (21:45) which was composed by the trio Holmes-Nicholls-Durant. This epic has an intriguing and brooding opening. And I have to say that also drummer Paul Cook is surpassing himself on this album. But maybe this counts for the whole band on this album because the predecessor “The Road Of Bones” was an excellent album but this Resistance album is even better. Yes this is a masterpiece a five star album. The keyboards of Neil Durant are all over the place. After twelve minutes of Symphonic Rock the atmosphere is changing, first by the acoustic guitar and piano and then by the mysterious synth parts we also found in the opening. After some fine vocal parts the tension of the music is building up again to a grand finale with some freaky stuff. “The Great Spirit Way” is a true Symphonic epic. After that grand finale the acoustic guitar of Michael Holmes is leading the way to the second song of disc two “Fire and Security”. It has a nice ballad like opening with again lovely vocal melodies. But soon the rhythm section and the synths are kicking in. You can find some great melodic guitar work in this song. Before we get another epic we can enjoy nice acoustic guitar parts in “Perfect Space”. It has a slow opening with brooding synths and acoustic guitar before the electric guitar and the synths are taking over. Also in this song you can find the most beautiful melodies. The band is still growing at compositional level. You will find great organ parts of Neil and nice soaring guitar work of Michael in the last part of this fine song. Disc two ends with the epic “Fallout” (19:55). It has a beautiful atmospheric opening with nice vocal parts. The song has a beautiful structure and is slowly building up in terms of intensity. Composer Holmes finally gives space to his beautiful and impressive guitar work. The beautiful piano parts of Neil are also worth mentioning. “Fallout” is a fantastic song with a great diversity.

With “Resistance” IQ is bringing Symphonic Rock to the next level. Previous albums were already very strong but not as consistent as this beautiful gem. “Resistance” is a masterpiece and highly recommended to the lovers of Symphonic Rock. I deliberately use this term instead of Progressive Rock. Frequent readers of progVisions will understand this statement. The band is still growing at compositional level and delivers with “Resistance” a very strong album that will appear in many top lists of Prog fans all over the world.

Douwe Fledderus - October 2019
rating - Giant Electric Pea

 

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