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Rush - Hemispheres CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.37 | 2494 ratings

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Tony R
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The previous album AFTK had seen a change from all out metal mayhem on the Prog/Metal crossover album 2112 - in came more classical and acoustic guitars,keyboards and percussion toys, out went all-out riffing and the Led Zep junior sound.

Hemispheres went one step further.For starters a smoother sound was evidenced,not so jarring as say the AFTK title track and the keyboards took a larger percentage of the whole sound.Another development was Lifeson's guitar signature,the arpeggiated chorus sound that was to become his trademark for the next few years. The title track:"Hemispheres; Cygnus X-1 Book II" follows on,albeit a mite clumsily,from "Cygnus X-1" on AFTK. Our hero is transported out the other side of the black hole into a world of warring gods; Dionysus and Apollo.Apollo is the god of all things cerebral, Dionysus prefers the hedonistic philosophy.Naturally the people of this world don't know which way to turn:too much work is boring, too much play leads to nothing getting done.Good old "Cygnus" as our hero becomes,points out that a balance between work and play is the best way to live. The piece has some great moments, especially the Prologue and after the "battle" section but ultimately seems dated and over-ambitious now (hence the 4stars).

Side 2 (On the LP) kicks off with "Circumstances" a nice track which has enough Prog moments to elevate it, just, above album-filler status. Next up are 2 of the shining lights of the Rush firmament: "The Trees" and "La Villa Strangiato". "The Trees" is an allegory based on equality and jealousy but is absolutely sublime in its musicianship. Lifeson's guitar work is brilliant especially the extended musical sequence depicting hatchets,axe and saws. "La Villa Strangiato" is such a fan favourite that it is still played in full live today.I recall Geoff Barton in "Sounds" Music Paper saying that the track reminded him of the "Sabre Dance" and he didnt know if he liked it. Well it does have an air of that perennial classical favourite and more. The jazz-rock interplay between the band members is 1st class and of course the guitar solo is one of the greatest ever laid down, up there with Comfortably Numb in the all-time lists,in my opinion.

Up to about 10 years ago I would have seen this as a 5 star rated album but time has not been kind to the title track and in the super league of prog Epics cant be considered in the same breath as Close To the Edge or the bands' own Xanadu. However every serious Prog fan should own a copy and it still makes me feel nostalgic for the 70's.
Tony R | 4/5 |


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