IQ – Ever
Ever brought former lead-singer Peter Nicholls back into the fold and signalled a return to more progressive material. The Genesis influences are still very strong, although now they might come from a bit later in that band’s recording history. In fact, this album gives a superficial idea of what Trick-era Genesis might have sounded like with Gabriel, given the vocal similarities with Nicholls.
The tracks that work best are those where the band can stretch out instrumentally. Unlike most neo-prog bands, IQ has the chops to hold my attention through such interludes, and if not for being weighed down by Paul Cook’s limited drumming abilities could probably achieve much more. “Fading Senses” follows the vocal section with a brooding, atmospheric jam that is definitely a departure from the Genesis sound. “Further Away” evokes the “Wuthering Heights” novel lyrically, and is the band’s best held-together epic in terms of tightness of composition and flow. “Leap of Faith” contains an absolutely killer instrumental that is reminiscent of both “The Cinema Show” and the Wind & Wuthering instrumentals, and calls to mind the latter album again with its segue into the “Afterglow”-ish “Came Down”. Martin Orford comes up with a number of top-flight solos, not necessarily from a chops perspective but from an “emotional impact” standpoint, something admittedly hard to quantify.
The album is not without weakness, as “Out of Nowhere” is rather banal and AOR-ish, while “The Darkest Hour” drags somewhat. Nonetheless, Ever shows IQ refuting the myth that neo-progressive bands can’t play, and makes all the third-rate Marillion clones look that much worse by comparison.