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Rush - Snakes & Arrows CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.58 | 906 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Tony R
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Five years after the sonic calamity that was Vapor Trails, Rush return with an ambitious, eclectic album of 13 songs and a new producer;wunderkind Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver).

The theme of the album revolves around Peart's musings about the nature of "faith" - a subject he visited in his book "Landscape.." which amongst other things discussed America's drift towards evangelical Christian fundamentalism in the face of rising Muslim fundamentalism in the Middle East. Peart is deadly serious and obviously sees organised religion as an insidious force creating division across the globe, hence:

"what should have been our armor, becomes a sharp and angry sword" (Armor And Sword)


"now it's come to this/wide-eyed armies of the faithful/from the Middle East to the Middle West/pray, and pass the ammunition." (The Way The Wind Blows)

And the music, is it Prog? I dont know and I dont care. Many of the songs follow a very standard intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus pattern, though there are 3 instrumentals on here, but certainly musically and lyrically this is a complex, arty and I might add fresh album from a band now in its 4th decade together.The three instrumentals are very accomplished but each different in their own way. "Hope" sees Alex Lifeson performing alone on a beautiful celtic-tinged acoustic piece a la "Broons Bane". "Malignant Narcissism (named for a line from the "Team America" comedy film) is a hell-for- leather 2 minute roller-coaster ride based on a dancing fretless bass riff from Geddy Lee and Peart playing a four-piece kit. "The Main Monkey Business" is the album's tour- de-force a kitchen sink of a piece with echoes of "La Vila Strangiato" with some mellotron thrown in for good measure. The album is worth the price just for the three instrumentals but you get songs for your money too!

The album kicks off at break-neck speed with "Far Cry", the track with the almost legendary "Hemispheres" chord. This track reminds me of a modern rockier version of "Spirit Of Radio" and it is instantly noticeable that Alex Lifeson has decided to stamp his authority all over the album. Acoustic guitar can be heard on nearly every track. solos are back and we even get some magical blues playing as the album barely pauses for breath right through to the albums wonderful closer "We Hold On". Highlights are "Armor And Sword", the prog-tinged "Spindrift" and the bluesy "The Way The Wind Blows" though there's barely a track that dips below "very good". Fans of Peart's book "Travelling Music" will be delighted that "Workin' Them Angels" has made it onto an album and is done fitting justice.

The band as an ensemble is at top form but as I alluded earlier it is Alex Lifeson who takes the plaudits on this one. Always under-rated (or under-valued?) he turns in a superb performance filling each track with acoustic and electric guitar magic - he even finds time to throw in mandola, mandolin and bouzouki and really brings the best out of all the tracks lifting even the more mundane moments to a higher plateau.

So where does it fit into the Rush pantheon for this fan of over 30 years? I have to say that I was initially underwhelmed, but I should have remembered that quite often the best albums have to be given time to "breathe" and it isnt until after 5 or 6 plays that they start to show their true worth. I've played this over 20 times now and I can confidently declare that this is Rush's best album for over 25 years.

If complexity and virtuosity are the two defining attributes of Prog Rock then this is indeed a Prog Rock album.Regardless of those considerations this is a damn fine rock album. 4 stars as a rock album 3 1/2 for this Prog Rock site.

Tony R | 3/5 |


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