IQ - Resistance
British neo-progressive band IQ were formed in Southampton in 1981. They have never achieved the level of success in the 1980s that Marillion have (for example), but they have maintained a strong worldwide cult following for nearly forty years and this is their tenth album.
Resistance is a double album, seven songs on the first disc and four songs on the second disc with a running time of around one hundred and eight minutes. The album was recorded in Southampton from September 2017 to July 2019 and was released in September 2019.
There was a launch show in London, and I had the pleasure to attend and review. The band have not had many line-up changes, and this is the second album recorded with the same musicians who played on their last studio album.
It had been over five years since their last studio album and the question is, has it been worth the wait? Let’s find out.
Disc One opens with “A Missile”. It is hard and heavy with a thrash metal vibe and is probably the heaviest song on the album. One of the songs played at the launch show but later in the setlist. It is not one of the best songs on the album but is an excellent album opener.
“Rise” is just under seven minutes long. Along with the heavy guitar riffs, there are some lead synth parts that sound like a Minimoog or a Prophet. It has a lot of influence from Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here (but a lot heavier) and is one of the best songs on the album.
“Stay Down” is just under eight minutes long. It starts off with piano and an acoustic guitar arpeggio with added clock effects coming slightly later before it becomes a hard rocker about half-way through. It was another of the songs played at the launch show (where it had its first play) and is probably my favourite song on the album. There is even a short but (born) brilliant drum solo.
“Alampandria” starts off with a synth pad but about half-way through gets very heavy though there is only three lines of lyrics. It is probably the most violent sounding song on the album but fits perfectly with the rest of the album. The band opened the London launch show with it which I thought was a very bold move.
“Shallow Bay” was another song played for the first time at the launch show. It has a mellow vibe to it with some outstanding synths and bass pedal sounds. It also has a wonderful David Gilmour influenced guitar solo towards the end of the song.
“If Anything,” is a beautiful ballad with a drum machine drumbeat, synth pad sounds and some delicate picked classical guitar. It sounds a lot like a song from a Phil Collins solo album.
“For Another Lifetime” is just over fifteen minutes long opens with some eerie organ sounds and breathy synth pads. It was the fourth and final song played in London.
Now on to disc two and “The Great Spirit Way”. This is the longest song on the album at just under twenty-two minutes. It may be long, but it is never boring and does not outstay its welcome.
“Fire And Security” starts off with some acoustic guitar treated with effects. It is a mid-tempo five-and-a-half-minute song with some wonderful synth pads and organ sounds and a lovely soaring guitar solo.
“Perfect Space” runs at eight and a half minutes. There is nice Spanish guitar riff in the intro, but the main electric guitar riff is very moving. There is also a superb early Yes and Genesis style organ playing and a short but incredible synth solo. Another of my favourite songs on the album.
“Fallout” is just under twenty minutes and the second longest song on the album. The first four minutes of the song feature no drums and guitars and has a very atmospheric vibe but when the drums come in, the sound totally changes and becomes another epic monster with two excellent guitar solos. A fantastic way to finish the album.
Most songs may be around the six to eight-minute mark but the three songs over fifteen minutes long are both strong and epic and as mentioned above do not outstay their welcome. Special mention must go to both guitarist Mike Holmes and keyboardist Neil Durant, but all five musicians have written and played some of their best work in the lyrics and melodies and in the music.
As the co-founder and only consistent member, Mike Holmes has always taken an assertive role in the band. He plays some of the heaviest IQ guitar in his career. I have a feeling his Fender Stratocaster has been modified as he plays some delicate passages and wonderful soaring guitar solos both before and after playing some brutal progressive metal riffs. He also did some stunning work co-writing and producing the album.
Neil Durant plays some wonderful piano and organ sounds, but it is his use of colour in the songs that I really appreciate as he knows exactly which synth pad works where and when. The compatibility, harmony and support between the guitar and keyboards is very important in a prog band and this may only be his second studio album (he co-wrote three songs on Resistance including the longest song), but he is a perfect fit for the band.
It is not a concept album, but from listening and reading the lyrics and the heaviness of the music, I can sense a theme of resistance (hence the name) and rebellion but also feeling helpless and isolated. I can see that the band are very angry about the way the world is going but we are too powerless to do anything about it.
I am not sure if the band listen to all of these bands but I can hear influences on this album both musically and in terms of production from Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Dream Theater, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Marillion, Megadeth, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Rush, The Cure and Yes. There is obviously a big influence from the IQ back catalogue and even some classical and folk influences in there too.
I love the contrast between the dark and light on this album. The delicate and the brutal in harmony. The yin and yang. It may not be my favourite IQ album (that honour belongs to Dark Matter) but I would put it in the top five and worth the five-year wait.