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Rush - Hemispheres CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.37 | 2564 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Though I don't think the opening epic is perfect, I can't help but award this entire album 5 stars. Anything less would be criminal, as 'Hemispheres' represents Rush at the height of their complexity, the apex of their most progressive period. The sound is deep, thick, punchy and clear, and the playing is tremendous. The addition of keyboards in their music is now becoming a large part of its success, with Geddy mastering a variety of lush atmospheres with those wonderful-sounding '70s-era synths.

As I said, sometimes I feel like "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres" is as unnecessarily convoluted as the song title itself. Maybe it doesn't work on the whole as strongly as "2112" (which, c'mon admit it, is PERFECT). But it still takes us into a world like no other song. Each part is a joy to behold. My ears are always drawn to the drums, not only the playing but the recording, which helps underscore the immense talent Neil Peart possessed at this point. Not as dark as the first part, "Cygnus X-1", from 'A Farewell To Kings', this 2nd part of the story is more upbeat and crystalline. It's the next three songs that put this album into the realm of the 'masterpiece'...

"Circumstances": without looking back and without dumbing down, Rush successfuly captures their heavy metal past, coming up with riff that's one of their best, big and bold, carrying with it both attitude and sublimeness. Wonderful tones and chords from Alex Lifeson, not to mention a bassline underneath the verse that must've made it near- impossible for even the great Geddy Lee to tackle in a live environment. Geddy's control of the high shrieked notes in the chorus will be two things to different people: unbearable to those that can't stand his voice, and for those of us who understand, it is GOD. (I recently saw a shirt that read "Who died and made you Geddy Lee". Works for me.)

"The Trees" is a parable filled with clever lyrical symbolism, one of Peart's best bits of prose (even though he now hates it). Musically it is prime Rush, moving from the lilting nylon-string acoustic guitar melody toward a thing of massive construction. Despite it's relatively short 4:42, it carries the weight and drama of any 15+ minute epic.

"La Villa Strangiato": 9-and-a-half minutes of Lee/Lifeson/Peart tearing it up (sans vocals) at the peak of their abilities. Every musical mood you can imagine is here in this wordless story, from the fanciful to the frightful, from the fantastic to the realistic. A wonder of instrumental dexterity and musical storytelling.

As amazing as this album is, the two following it would be their ultimate masterworks. Some disagree, of course, but this string of Rush albums, from '2112' to 'Moving Pictures', is the reason why this band is one of the most respected prog bands on the planet and probably my favorite band of all time.

slipperman | 5/5 |


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