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Rush - 2112 CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.11 | 2233 ratings

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5 stars Rush music has evolved in distinct phases, each phase consisting of a four-album cycle, marked by a live album to separate the phases (until 'Rush In Rio' messed with that pattern). I think their best two albums are the ones that cap the first two eras: 1981's 'Moving Pictures' and this one. '2112' is the climax of their years as a metal/hard rock band, before venturing into even more ambitious and refined territory, though it's hardly without its own sophistication.

In terms of composition, lyrics, storytelling, performance and production, the side-long title-track is a masterpiece. "2112" achieves a flow that their other side-long epics (1975's "The Fountain Of Lamneth" and 1978's "Cygnus X-1, Book Two: Hemispheres") lack. Each of the seven parts conveys its own independent strength but flows into the next with ease. The story is communicated easily, with clarity and without complication. Too many times a conceptual piece (song or album) gets tangled in convoluted nonsense. Not here. The musical side achieves the emotion inherent in the lyrics, flowing, climaxing, acting subtly, doing whatever is needed for the good of the piece. I can't move on without mentioning the forceful "The Temples Of Syrinx", being built from one of the greatest metal riffs of all time while Geddy Lee conveys the authority of the priests with sheer intensity. And if there's a more tense and hopeful (and, in the end, tragic) climax to any song anywhere than these final minutes, represented by "Soliloquy" and "Grand Finale", I have yet to hear it. As Rush epics go, "2112" is the ultimate.

Judging the album's second half against the "2112" epic is unfair. Taking it as a more down-to-earth counterpart, you get 5 solid and totally different songs. "A Passage To Bangkok" hangs on a heavy, swaying, arrogant riff, infused appropriately with the fifths commonly heard in Eastern music. It's an inviting, haze-fogged tale of global travels in search of the finest crop (we're not talking soybeans here). "The Twilight Zone" is as close to psychedelia as Rush ever got, a cosmic and sublime journey into the unknown. Geddy's forlorn vocals along with excellent production techniques make this a must for headphones afficionados. "Lessons" has been likened to songs from their first couple albums, but it's way too polished and dynamic to be compared. The carefree verses are blown apart by the crashing chords of the chorus, topped by some seriously convincing vocals. "Tears": a highly effective ballad, conveying everything it intends: sadness, loss, bittersweet memories, loneliness (curiously, the only song to feature keyboards, and those are played by graphic artist Hugh Syme). Closer "Something For Nothing" takes more influence from writer Ayn Rand (a Neil Peart favorite at the time), and some of Geddy's most impossibly high vocal shrieks. Like "Anthem" and "Bastille Day" before it, it's Rush at their metallic best.

Another remarkable trait of '2112' is the production. This time Terry Brown helped the band get it right. Plenty of depth and clarity, all kinds of power without any loss of subtlety. It matches the quality of the writing and performance. Everything in synch. You get the (probably very real) feeling that these three young men are having the times of their lives exploring the musical chemistry they've locked into. And here it is, an album worth $1,000 in pure listening pleasure for a fraction of its true worth...which certainly makes up for the money I shelled out for 'Hold Your Fire' years later...

slipperman | 5/5 |


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