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Subterranea (2CD)

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 15, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

With a career that spans nearly 25 years, IQ remain one of the biggest names in the world of Progressive Rock. Getting their start in Southhampton, England back in 1981, IQ was often compared to two other great Prog bands from the UK: Marillion and Genesis. For years the band struggled to create their own identity and they did so by outlasting the glory days of Fish’s Marillion and Gabriel’s Genesis. Here again is IQ with their classic line-up of Peter Nicholls, Martin Orford, Mike Holmes, John Jowitt and Paul Cook.

A reissue of their 1997 concept album, Subterranea takes the listener through a linear narrative wherein one is made to question the role of man in society (and outside of it), while bringing to light other quandaries surrounding the notions of subjugation and individuality.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 15, 2012)
  • Original Release Date: May 15, 2012
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Inside Out Music
  • ASIN: B0007R8FHG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,575 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Unbelievable that i'm the first to write a review about this brillaint piece of work.

IQ is one of the most underrated bands in the world (Along with Camel)

Symphonic rockband IQ doesn't make many albums, but when they do it's always a good piece of work. And Subterrenea (2 CD concept album) is no exception.

The music is brilliant in it's moods, and Pete Nichols voice is more sensitive and beautiful then ever.

The Ballad Speak My Name is very moving. And the last 20 minute piece The Narrow Margin is a sheer brilliance.

Note that there is NOT ONE weak song on Subterrenea, and that for a double cd..

If you like bands like Genesis, Marillion, Porcupine Tree, then this CD is a MUST!

Give it a listen (or 100) you will LOVE it. ;)
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I don't use "greatness" to describe many bands or albums but IQ, who are still playing music 20+ years from their inception, create a dark and somewhat pessimistic double CD concept album.

The comparisons between IQ and Genesis are to a degree reverential and functional. Lead vocalist, Peter Nicholls sings with great emotion and on this album, sings his heart out. His voice has an occasional 80s style series of inflections that, for me, took a bit of getting used to. It was well worth it, as Nicholls is a showman, wearing makeup and costumes, at least he did in the IQ 20th Anneversery concert. More importantly he fits into character where necessary and has several styles of singing, not unlike Peter Gabriel, although by this point in time, around 2000, any serious attempt to snag PG riffs would be tacky. Instead, it's fairer to say Peter Nichols grew into his vocal style.

The rest of the band, the well traveled John Jowitt and Martin Orford, respectively bass and keyboardist have been part of IQ for most of it's history and have been part of the touring line-up of Jadis along with Jowitt playing a stint in the neo-prog pedigreed The Arena. Both are excellent musicians with Jowitt using the under-utilized string pops on bass. He does so in a way that is not dated like so many other bassists from the late 70s thru early 80s. The drumming of Paul Cook is steady and assured. His sound is tight, with tasteful beats and fills.

Guitarist, Mike Holmes, has made a career of learning every riff Steve Hackett played. To his credit, for the most part, Holmes has taken this style and moved on with it making it something that truly is his, and this man can play some incredible guitar.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As a long time fan of Genesis early years music, it was a total revelation to discover IQ. The Subterranea album is very good, with the best tacks being Subterranea, Capricorn and the Narrow Margin. My favorite is Sleepless Incidental, this is truly a 'classic' prog piece, with lush soundscapes, chord and tempo changes and everything a piece needs to be enjoyable.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The first CD of this set is a killer from beginning to end. The 2nd CD peters out a little but not much. I haven't tried to figure out the story; I'm just enjoying the music. Peter Nicholls' voice takes some getting used to, but if you're an IQ listener already, you're familiar with it. The instrumentalists are all first-rate. A guest saxophone player really spices up a couple of the cuts.
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Format: Audio CD
I'm glad I waited until after five or six complete listens to write this review. If I'd have written it after listening only two or three times I'd have commented that there's not enough common themes to pull this double CD concept album together. How wrong THAT review would have been!

After a few more spins I was rewarded with a suite of songs easily as good as "Dark Matter" or "Frequency", a pair of extremely strong efforts also by IQ. Some great themes interwoven with care and a deft touch that only become apparent after several listenings.

For some reason -- and it could just be me -- I hear more passages on "Subterranea" that strike me as evocative of past prog giants; early Camel on "The Narrow Margin", the final epic cut -- singularly worth the price of admission. This song also contains a shimmering synth sequence right out of the Larry Fast/Peter Gabriel playbook ("On the Air"). I swear the boys in the band listened to Larry's work on that song and said, "Man! We're doin' THAT!" I don't blame them a bit -- it's magnificent. At other times, there's almost a Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon" vibe when the sax solos crop up from time to time. "The Other Side" sounds like a cut from Tangerine Dream's "Force Majeure".

I do agree with another reviewer who commented that Peter Nicholls' vocals are not as standout as on other IQ albums. He's a talented vocalist, but I found his choruses a little grating on a few songs on the first CD. But I can easily overlook those few isolated moments and unequivocally say that "Subterranea" is among the best neo-prog extended concept albums available on the planet! 100 minutes of stellar material with very, very few weak moments.
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Format: MP3 Music
This album combines the atmospheric polish of later IQ albums with the urgency and gloom of "The Wake." For anyone not familiar with this band, this is the best place to start. Peter Nicholls' lyrics and vocals are often biting and vitriolic. The album is dark and slightly sinister due to the nature of the story it tells. However, most fans will buy this album based on IQ's "cred" as neo-prog rockers. This album shows off their talent for writing music that showcases their unique strengths as musicians. Mike Holmes is not the greatest guitarist, but his signature sustained siren-like guitar wails are a trademark of their sound. The album is tight with very little musical wanderings and tangents. Prog rock fans may prefer IQ albums that drift through ethereal spaces and atmospheric landscapes but - while these are often beautiful - they can get long-winded and monotonous. If you are interested in IQ, this is the place to start. You get a sense of their prog-rock sensibilities as well as their darker side that set them apart in the beginning.
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