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Rush - Snakes & Arrows CD (album) cover

SNAKES & ARROWS

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

3.60 | 716 ratings

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Equality 7-2521
3 stars From the dramatic opening of "Far Cry" one hastily forgets the wave of mediocrity from Test For Echo to Vapor Trails. Indeed, it tempts one to think that Rush have returned to their early 80s level of composition. If the rest of the album continued with songs like "Far Cry" this would be true, but unfortunately it does not. While Snakes & Arrows shows a great new energy present within the band's playing, much like Signals after Moving Pictures, and easily the best album since at least Counterparts, I cannot with good faith say Rush are back. Is this album great to listen to? Yes, but to say it can truly compete as one of Rush's finest I think would be blowing it out of proportion. The most important thing about this album is that it reverses Rush's ongoing trend of sinking into obscurity. Snakes & Arrows signifies a turning point and gives me great hopes for the next album which may return Rush to their level of composition.

Snakes & Arrows sounds less like Rush than anything they've done before, save Vapor Trails (which sounds that way only due to atrocious production). Snakes & Arrows shows Rush taking on a heavy rock sound, a very sophisticated one at that. Without being ostentatious they deliver some technical (and incredibly solid) playing. The songs are layered and improve from the departure from the nearly sole guitar/bass/drum trio of the past few albums. Most of the songs were written using acoustic guitar, and those origins are apparent in the tracks. Never before has Alex's acoustic work been so prominent. Despite the large acoustic presence, heavy still best describes the album. Alex, Geddy, and Neal all give their best performances in years. Neil's playing has taken quite a turn, being every bit as entertaining and surprising as ever, but more rock rooted and with less flair than before. Alex's solo work is not yet quite up to par, but rhythmically (his real strength) he's about as good as ever.

The three announced instrumental tracks gave the most promise for the new album. "Main Monkey Business" certainly doesn't disappoint, it's on the level of "Far Cry" and one of the best songs Rush has ever recorded. "Malignant Narcissism" offers so much potential and sounds the most like a classic Rush instrumental, but they don't develop their themes sufficiently. The song still entertains, but could have been so much more. "Hope" is a short acoustic number, nothing amazing but nothing objectionable.

Despite some great compositions though (besides those mentioned "Spindrift" "Armor and Sword" and "We Hold On" are also fantastic) the album still manages to wander around with some pretty straightforward, nothing special about them songs that lose me. Songs like "The Larger Bowl" and "Faithless" remind me too much of the dull mediocrity of Test For Echo. If they weren't so determined to use up the entire CD this would be of such higher quality. If released as an LP length album I could say this stands up to excellent albums like "Power Windows", "A Farewell To Kings" or "Caress Of Steel", but as it is it falls short of them. Still, everyone should probably pick this album up, even those who are only mild Rush fans. Songs like "Far Cry", "Spindrift" and "Main Monkey Business" rank among the band's all time best. This album certainly is good despite its flaws, and points towards a bright future.

Equality 7-2521 | 3/5 |

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