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Rush - A Farewell to Kings CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.33 | 2434 ratings

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4 stars 4.4 Stars. A welcome to full Prog maturity

There are some bands out there that are talented/lucky enough to have a well developed and unique sound from the very beginning of their career. Rush wasn't one of those bands, it took 3 relatively unsuccessful albums before they produced a solid release (2112). But even then they had not tapped into their full potential. With A Farewell To Kings (AFTK) they are finally reaching the peak of their powers and fully discovered their identity.

AFTK is often credited as one of the first Prog Metal albums and I agree with that statement. Cygnus X-1 has the blueprint that Dream Theater and many other Prog Metal bands would latch on to, which makes this release historically significant for the band and the genre as a whole.

"A Farewell To Kings" begins on a gentle note, with Lifeson tastefully playing the classical guitar for a little while. Then all of a sudden there is a blast of hard rock and things really get going. While the structure of the song follows that of typical Hard Rock, Rush inject a complex, intense and extended instrumental as part of the bridge, so there is something for Prog fans to get their teeth into. A great start!

"Xanadu" is seen by many a Rush fan to be one of their best songs and I fully agree with them. The first half of Xanadu is a instrumental which begins very slowly and then turns into a hard rocking instrumental not unlike the beginning of 2112. Its clear at this point that the band have mastered the art of instrumental intros and now just as good as the other major Prog bands around. The second half of the song is even better, as the tempo is allowed to change naturally in accordance to the story being told (and the story itself is very entertaining to listen to!). Things finish with probably the best instrumental the band have ever done. Definitely a masterpiece!

"Closer To The Heart" was released as single, so as you would expect it is not progressive, but it is very catchy and upbeat! One of their best singles in my opinion.

"Cinderella Man" is the weakest song here. Its mostly a Hard Rock song and is somewhat outclassed by the title track. This is one of the few songs where Neil Peart did not write the lyrics and it instantly shows (in a bad way). There is a story in the lyrics, but it is nowhere near as clear for the listener to understand so the band should have stuck to the status quo.

"Madrigal" is filler, but it is also very pleasant to listen to so I don't mind. Its a very gentle and reflective song and the lyrics perfectly match the melody (Peart is back in control!). There is also a very beautiful instrumental at the end. My only wish is that the song was extended by a minute or two, because there is a lot of untapped potential here.

Finally there is "Cygnus X-1 Book One:The Voyage" (love the title!), which as already mentioned helped form the Prog Metal genre. Why? Because it is full of odd-time signatures, over-the-top Sci-Fi lyrics (some of which is so dated it is actually hilarious to listen to! But that's not the band's fault), fierce rock (which would nowadays be classified as metal) and Geddy shrieking like a mad man at the end of the song. The song finishes with a cliff-hanger (the space ship gets sucked into a black hole), so the drama can continue on their next album.

Overall this is an excellent album and almost deserves the full 5 stars. The title track and the 2 epics are worth 5 stars, but the other 3 songs (especially Cinderella Man) are not quite at that level. I still strongly recommend this album, because the overall standard is high and the 2 epics should be heard by every Prog fan!

LakeGlade12 | 4/5 |


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