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Rush - Hemispheres CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.36 | 2196 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars I was first introduced to Rush a few years ago by my uncle, who played La Villa Strangiato to me. Ever since that I've been mad about Rush. It simply is the greatest band of all time. After hearing La Villa, I bought Hemispheres (besides being my first Rush album, it was also my first prog album). Since that I've bought about half of Rush's other albums, but Hemispheres still holds an important place in my mind. Well, let's put the history lesson aside and carry on with the real review

The album is arguably one of the best Rush album, and one of the best albums of all time. It was released in 1978 and was the 4th consecutive Rush album to sell gold (and eventually platinum in US). The album is pretty short, lasting only 36 minutes, but still includes such Rush classics as The Trees and La Villa Strangiato. It is considered to be a sequel to Rush's earlier album A Farewell To Kings because AFTK ended with Cygnus X-1: Book I and Hemispheres opening track is Cygnus X-1: Book II. The album is a traditional Rush album containing complex rhytms, time signature changes and awesome guitar solos by Lerxst (For those who don't know what that means; Lerxst is one of Alex Lifesons many nicknames used by his fellow bandmembers). The album in my opinion has also one of the greatest covers ever, with Apollo and Dionysus standing on opposite sides of a human brain depicting the way how human brains work (I will later explain this in more detail). Now to start reviewing the songs:

1. Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres (18:05)

Cygnus X-1 Book II is an excellent prog epic and it has everything you would expect from Rush. This song is often overshadowed by other Rush epics like 2112. The song is much calmer than Cygnus X-1 Book I, and has also abandoned most of the scifi elements and has replased them with fantasy elements such as the Greek mythology. To me this song has one of the best lyrics Peart has ever written. They seem very poetic and delve into Greek mythology in a very interesting way. The song centers around the concept of the Apollos and Dionysus dichotomy, which can be further explained to mean the difference between the thinking of human brains left part and right part, that concept is also where the albums title comes from.

The song starts with 'Prelude', which builds up for about 3 minutes before Geddy joins Pearts and Lifesons playing by singing about the battle between Apollo and Dionysus. The section ends with a short pause before 'Apollo: Bringer of Wisdom' starts. Now Geddy starts singing as Apollo and explain what he can offer to the people of Olympus: "I bring truth and understanding, I bring wit, and wisdom fair -" The people accept Apollos offering, but one day they realize that wisdom and truth aren't enough so they go on a mission to find Dionysus. The quest to find him is depicted by a fiery guitar solo by Lifeson. The 3rd part 'Dionysus: Bringer of Love' starts with the same melody as the previous section, this time Dionysus explaining what he can offer that Apollo can't:: "I bring love to give you solace, In the darkness of the night, In the heart's eternal light, You need only trust your feelings, Only love can steer you right." The people abandon Apollos ways and start following Dionysus and move to the forests. As time passes they realize that this too isn't a good way to live. The music settles down for the next part 'Armageddon: The Battle of Heart and Mind'. There is once again a short solo by Lifeson, after that Geddy starts explaining what happens when people get divided on Apollos and Dionysus's side: "The universe divided, As the heart and mind collided, With the people left unguided, For so many troubled years, In a cloud of doubts and fears, Their world was torn asunder, Into hollow Hemispheres." The section ends with Rocinante the protagonist from the 1st part of the song arrives into Olympus through the Cygnus X-1 black hole as a disembodied spirit. Once again the song settles down, but this time much more. 'Cygnus, Bringer of Balance' begins with Geddy singing as Rocinante when he gets the gods and humans to stop fighting. The gods name Rocinante, Cygnus, god of balance: "They sat a while in silence, Then they turned at last to me, We will call you Cygnus, The God of balance you shall be." About half of this sections music consist only of very simple synth sounds. The other half is more upbeat and includes drums, guitar and bass. The last part 'The Sphere: A Kind Of Dream' begins at about 17 minutes and sets a very peaceful mood with only acoustic guitar backing up the vocals. The part explains how we should learn to live as one: "Let the truth of love be lighted, Let the love of truth shine clear, Sensibility, Armed with sense and liberty, With the heart and mind united, In a single perfect sphere." This could be interpreted in a way that we have to find balance and learn to use both parts of our brains correctly. After those lyrics the song slowly fades away, leaving you with a very calm sensation. All and all one of the best prog epics.

2. Circumstances (3:41)

After the previous song this one is a good way to continue the album, it's much more easier to listen to. It's more of a basic hard rock song with power chords and such. The song tells the story of the time Peart spent living in England. The part where Geddy sings in French is just perfect: "All the same, we take our chances, Laughed at by time, Tricked by Circumstances, Plus ca change, Plus c'est la meme chose, The more that thing change, The more they stay the same." The keyboard part at the middle also fits the song well because when it starts you realize that you're still listening to Rush. I think this song is very underrated and that it belongs in to the top 10 Rush songs of all time.

3. The Trees (4:46)

I've only understood the greatness of this song recently. It begins with a very moody acoustic guitar intro which suddenly changes when the drums join in. The tempo rises and the song truly begins. The song tells about maples arguing with oaks because they think that the oaks are taking up all the sunlight. Peart has stated in an interview that the song actually doesn't have any deeper meaning as fans have always thought, the idea was just picked from a comic which depicted trees fighting like people.

4. La Villa Strangiato (9:35)

The last track is an excellent intrumental and currently I think it's the best song by Rush. The song vas inspired by a dream Lifeson had, and every section of the song matches the events that occured in the dream. Often the live versions of the song alter from the original version, especially the Rush In Rio version. Originally the band tried to record the song all in one take, but after countless tries it proved too difficult and they did it in three parts. Alsothis song was the reason why the band decided to stop making epic length songs. According to Lee, the recording of La Villa took more than time than the entire Fly By Night album. Now to move to the actual song. It starts of with a very Spanish sounding guitar. Soon the synthesizers join in, later accompanied by the drums. At about 2 minutes the song builds up to it's full potential and the riff that every Rush fan should know, kicks in. The bassline is also just perfect, it's pretty quiet but without it the song just wouldn't feel complete. About halfway to the song everything slows down and Lifesons guitar solo starts quietly in the background and as the solo continues the volume slowly rises with it. This may be one of Lifesons best solos with some perfect shredding. If you listen to it carefully enough you can imagine him playing the song and putting his heart and soul into it. Just perfect, always sends chills down my spine. When you watch this live and see the expressions on his face. it feels even more awesome. As the song continues there is a short bass solo and some time signature changes. Then there is another solo by Alex, which to me sounded best in the Rush In Rio dvd. Although I haven't mentioned it, Pearts drumming has been superb all through the song with some truly outstanding fills. When the song is over you're left stunned, how can anyone make a song like this, it's just pure gold. Usually when I listen to Hemispheres I repeat atleast once. The song is the pinnacle of musical skills. Maybe I should stop praising this song, cause theres no point in it because I can never do it justice, just listen to it yourself

5/5 stars!

Tursake | 5/5 |


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