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Rush - Caress Of Steel CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.54 | 1205 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Almost... there....

A strange album for Rush, really. This album represents Rush moving into progressive boundaries, while still clinging onto their hard rock roots. This album is the start of their classic 'Swords and Shields' era of music, capitalized on in later albums, but this album is also quite experimental and often has some missteps. It's easy to see where 'By-Tor and the Snow Dog' would have evolved into this album and this album would eventually turn into '2112', and in that transition it's stuck. Considered a commercial flop by their record label (even if it sold the same as the last two albums) Rush was put on the chopping block, the tour for this album was even called 'The Down The Tubes Tour'. Luckily they still had one album to their contract and that's where it all turned around.

Three shorts and two longs... how do they stack up?

The album starts off with the heavy BASITLE DAY, which could very well have been taken from either of the two prior albums. A rocking riff and political lyrics make this one a good head-banger. Also housed on side one is the excellent LAKESIDE PARK, a whimsical rock song that encapsulates the younger days of the band spent in their hometown of Toronto. Unfortunately there's one more short song to be had, I THINK I'M GOING BALD. Rush is often accused of being too serious with their music, and this song proves why. A quirky song without much substance, I THINK I'M GOING BALD is one that's better skipped (ironically, 33 years later and none of the band are bald at all!). A couple good short songs and one oddball, Rush definitely still liked to rock.

Onto the longer tracks and this is where everything gets... complicated. A mix of great and meh, the two longer tracks show Rush entering the new territory that is the progressive epic. Where their first epic 'By-Tor and the Snow Dog' excelled was it's mixture of heavy metal and progressive elements to create something completely new (and in hindsight, it's own genre), the problem with the two epics here is their speed. How can one describe the speed of these songs? Schizophrenic would be a good word, with the songs jumping back and forth between heavy and humble without mixing both. THE NECROMANCER is a good track when the volume is cranked, as it can be a bit quiet at times. The narrator describing the journey of some men across the labyrinth of the twisted Necromancer who traps them. The valiant By-Tor also reprises his role here in an excellent case of Deux Ex Machina as he comes out of the shadows to slay the necromancer at the end of the song. (Whoo, go By-Tor!). Good playing by the band, unfortunately the song is a bit too slow in parts. THE FOUNTAIN OF LAMNETH suffers from the same things in places. Granted, this song is longer and likely the better of the two with some great heavy moments, but it too is too quiet and indecisive about it's direction. One particularly excellent part of the song is 'Didacts and Narpets' as Neil hammers out the drums and Geddy lets out a shrill 'Listen!!'... just in case you were falling asleep.

In the end, what does this album get...?

Good, but not essential is the definitive way to summarize whether one should buy the album or not. 3 stars it is. Good for Rush fans and fans of early Rush, but not really for the average Prog-goer. A couple of good experimental epics and some good short rock songs make for an interesting album, but Rush has so much better stuff still to come.

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |


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