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Rush - 2112 CD (album) cover

2112

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

4.11 | 1991 ratings

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Modrigue
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The very first progressive metal album?

4.5 stars

After the experiments and commercial failures of "Fly By Night" and "Caress Of Steel" - where the band still searched itself - and the disastrous tour that follows, RUSH was at the edge of bankruptcy. The record label Mercury urged the musicians to abandon the progressive approach and compose solely radio-friendly songs. So what was the decision of our Canadians? The exact opposite!

By combining their punchy heavy / hard rock with the complexity of their rhythmical structures and their instrumental virtuosity, the Canadians simply possibly created the first prog metal album, and also delivered one of the most iconic record of the progressive world, all that in 1976. Although not as sophisticated as YES' or GENESIS', the music is however more direct and catchy, as well as a bit ahead of its time in terms of aggressiveness. This disc has inspired future prog metal bands such as DREAM THEATER, and maybe even IRON MAIDEN. It also marks the first appearance of synthesizers, played here by cover designer Hugh Syme, in the band's universe. With "2112", RUSH has at least completely emancipated from its initial British hard rock influences, and delivers their first major opus.

The title track is of course the highlight. A science-fiction musical story, taking place in year... 2112, in a dystopian world where totalitarian priests have banished art and a young man discovers a guitar. Beginning with a spacey electronic introduction, the "Overture" and "Temples Of Syrinx" are the best sections: thundering and ferocious, with epic galloping riffs! I was just completely blown away the first time I listened to it. Grandiose and perfect progressive metal! "Overture" evens contains a short tribute to TCHA¤KOVSKI's heroic "1812 Overture". The rest is also very good. The discovery of the guitar beneath the cascade is reproduced by a gentle hesitating acoustic solo from Alex Lifeson and aquatic sound effects. The opposition between the hero and the priests is rendered by an alternation of soft and hard rock passages. Concerning the ending, it simply rocks! One of RUSH's ultimate compositions, needless to say more.

The second side consists in of short songs, but is nonetheless also quite good. "A Passage To Bangkok" combines a funny little Eastern theme with heavy punchy riffs. Powerful and original! Based on the TV show of the same name, "The Twilight Zone" is a calmer ballad, delicate and touching. Not much to say about "Lessons", except the fact Lifeson wrote lyrics. An enjoyable rock piece, alternating soft and harder passages. With lyrics by Lee, "Tears" is another melancholic ballad, pretty but a bit repetitive and finally average. Don't rely on the sweet beginning of "Something For Nothing", this track is a ferocious and epic proggy metal song that truly rocks! The best song of Side 2.

If you want me to nitpick, the only negative points I can find are a few strange transitions in the title track and "Tears". Otherwise, "2112" is a great album, thundering and innovative, with an overall constant quality. Originally accused of being a LED ZEPPELIN copycat, RUSH have at least found their identity with this signature record. The music is definitely not just hard prog rock like their neighbors KANSAS, but truly pioneering progressive metal. No wonder future bands such as DREAM THEATER refer to the Canadians as a major influence.

The musicians were right not to follow their record label's instructions: "2112" will be the band's first commercial success and will save them from bankruptcy.

This fourth studio offering is the one to start with if you're not familiar with RUSH. Geddy Lee's high-pitched teenage vocals may not please everyone at first listen, however they're finally well adapted to the ambiance. A cult and iconic disc in the progressive world, opening new musical horizons. This elaborated and complex hard/heavy metal was quite unique at the time, I can't think of comparable bands venturing in this territory with such power in the 70's.

One of RUSH's best albums, an essential listen for progressive hard rock and heavy metal fans!

Modrigue | 4/5 |

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