IQ - The Seventh House

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Giant Electric Pea
Catalog Number: GEP1028
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:51:00

After the release of the double album Subterranea in 1997, IQ released the single disc The Seventh House in 2000. Not only because it was a single disk, but this album was and is a much tighter release. And that despite two epics - one 12-plus minutes and the other 14-plus minutes - several shorter tracks -- shorter in comparison at least -- as they range from nearly 6 minutes to nearly 10 minutes in length. Because of that length, and the variety of textures that are contained within each one, each piece sounds like an epic. These are songs made up of moments, certain phrases whether instrumental or vocal, that make them memorable. For instance, the chorus to "Shooting Angels" will stay with you, and the warm sax (Tony Wright) here and on "Zero Hour" will stand out... I really like this album, mainly for these moments. "Guiding Light" is mostly a very relaxed, somber and thoughtful piece, mainly keyboards and vocals... and quietly lovely... but as is typical of IQ (and many other UK bands of this ilk, and their progenitors...) there are shifting dynamics, so you also get a very energetic and lively, rocking piece with widdly, parpy keyboards, punchy percussion, and sweetly singing guitar leads. (And references back to the epic title track "The Seventh House.")

What characterizes this album, what remains the most prominent, aside from Peter Nicholl's vocals, are the keyboards, played here by both Martin Orford and guitarist Mike Holmes, who hasn't eschewed his guitar for them, but guitar seems a much less prominent element. Holmes biggest moment is the big guitar solo that closes out "Guiding Light" is a smooth, lyrical, emotional solo (cf. Rothery, Gilmore, Groom, etc.). The other prominent elements are the drums and percussion of Paul Cook and the bass of John Jowitt. This is what gives the more powerful moments their punch and impact.

The first of the two epics is multi-movement opener "The Wrong Side Of Weird," with cascades of keyboards and the throb drums and bass, all supporting Nicholls' tenor vocals... Holmes' guitars are heard, too, in subtly shimmery guitar phrases. In the second section of this piece, piano like keys and soft vocals create a nice, floaty, dreamy interlude without going to far out into spacey territory. Flashes of Genesis-isms flit across the mind, only to dissipate just as quickly. The third movement is a darker section, guitars grinding out acidic and raw phrases, while vocals up the dramatic quotient (see Holmes isn't absent at all, just not the focus). By the last movement, they have transitioned back smoothly to the style and feel of the first movement. It's a piece with enough variations to hold interest for its 12-minute plus play time.

The second epic is the title track "The Seventh House." I like the use of acoustic and steel string guitars here for the first part, the former a nice warm sound that underscores the first, contemplative vocal passage. It provides one of those "suspended time" moments? it also builds tension as you suspect this the piece will blossom into something large. And we aren't disappointed, because then it does? thanks to bass, guitar and drums? keys giving everything a soft, hazy edge. Holmes lets loose of two really great solos here (the second comes later on "Guiding Light." Another passage includes a particularly parpy keyboard phrase that, admittedly, to me doesn't sound very inspired (just another widdly keyboard solo), which is a shame because there is a lot of drama in the song... and what I think is a very good, emotive vocal performance from Nicholls. It's a song that does, however, make me think of Genesis' "Driving The Last Spike" (and maybe it's just because of a certain phrasing of the word "again" which concludes a line in a similar manner.

"Erosion" begins with a soft bed of lush, orchestral keyboards that lead to a fragile vocal -- one that slips slowly into darker tones -- the atmospheric effects helping you enter into the musical slipstream that is the core of the arrangement. There is such emotion and feeling in Nicholls performance that you feel it. The dynamics in sound from subtle to epic give this track - which lasts a mere 5-plus minutes - a scale that makes it seem much large. It's one of my favorite tracks on the album.

"Zero Hour" begins rather darkly, but also in a light, airy way like... um... Holidays In Eden period Marillion. It doesn't sound like Marillion, mind, but you are likely to think of them. I do like the piano-like keyboard touch here... and the open accessible arrangement. Hmm ... 80s-90s Genesis come to mind again, too... those pieces that were a bit more proggy than the pop fare that was climbing the charts. But again, it doesn't sound like Genesis, but something Genesis might have done ("Domino" comes to mind, actually). And I simply love Wright's sax solo here... lovely, lovely... just, ahem, right. Like other IQ pieces, this goes from the relatively mellow intro to an explosion of sound, here lead by a solo from Holmes with Jowitt's bass very much in the mix.

The use of sax on "Shooting Angels" is a nice touch, giving a bit of warm to a track that is otherwise chilly with its booming, crisp, marching, techno-like percussion.

Overall, it's a quite good IQ release... and my favorite that they done since Ever. And has whet my appetite for Dark Matter, which I'll soon be giving a spin.

The Wrong Side Of Weird (12:24) / Erosion (5:44) / The Seventh House (14:23) / Zero Hour (6:58) / Shooting Angels (7:24) / Guiding Light (9:58)

Paul Cook - drums, percussion
Michael Holmes - guitars, guitar synthesizer, keyboards
John Jowitt - bass guitar, backing vocals
Peter Nicholls - all vocals
Martin Orford - keyboards, backing vocals


Tony Wright - saxophone

Tales From The Lush Attic (1983)
The Wake (1985)
Nine In A Pond Is Here (1985)
Living Proof (1986)
Nomzamo (1987)
Are You Sitting Comfortably? (1989)
J'ai Pollette D'arnu (1991)
Ever (1994)
Forever Live (1996)
Subterranea (1997)
Seven Stories Into 98 (1998)
The Lost Attic (1998)
Subterranea: The Concert (2000)
The Seventh House (2001)
The Archive Collection - IQ20 (2003)
Dark Matter (2004)
Frequency Tour CD 1 (2008)
Frequency Tour CD 2 (2008)
Frequency (2009)
The Wake: Live At De Boerderij (2010)
The Wake (Deluxe Edition) (2010)
Re:Mixed (2011)
The Archive Collection - IQ30 (2012)
Tales From The Lush Attic 2013 Remix (2013)
The Road Of Bones (2014)
Live On The Road Of Bones (2016)

Subterranea: The Concert Video (VHS) (2000)
Subterranea: The Concert DVD (DVD) (2002)
IQ20 - The Twentieth Anniversary Show (DVD) (2004)
Live From London (DVD) (2005)
Stage (DVD) (2006)
Forever Live (DVD) (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: October 24th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1490
Language: english


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