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Rush - Hold Your Fire CD (album) cover

HOLD YOUR FIRE

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

3.28 | 860 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars "from the point of ignition to the final drive, the point of the journey is not to arrive, anything can happen..."

Like many, when I first heard this I was bitterly disappointed and it took many years before it finally grew on me. One deciding factor was to be reintroduced to many of these songs on the live DVDs, of which they sound great, especially on "A Show of Hands". On returning to this album after a long hiatus I was more delighted than disappointed. I guess time has moved on and Rush changed back to their style of making heavier stronger material of recent years, so this album is more a diversion into some adventurous territory. The album features a crystal clean sound production and very poppy accessible songs that one might easily hear on radio. The melodies are extremely catchy and eventually jam themselves into your brain. Some of the highlights well outweigh the moments of mediocrity when it all begins to feel like the band are just going over familiar ground.

'Force Ten' begins it well with one of the highlights, a rocking melodic track with that solid 1980s sound. Lee's bass rings out true and there are tons of synths and a fairly pedestrian drum beat. Lifeson's guitars jangle cleanly and constantly maintain melodic phrases. This is one of the best things about the album so a good start.

'Time Stand Still' is another great track, played live on many occasions. There are female vocals which balance Lee's nasal high delivery very well. The chorus is strong and easy to sing along to and overall the production of this is excellent.

'Open Secrets' is soaked in synth and has a full on 80s sound but it is quite a good track although I had forgotten this totally until another listen for this review. It was so unfamiliar in fact that it felt like hearing it for the first time. Perhaps that is the problem with these Rush albums; they are full of forgettable material and this is one of the culprits for sure. I liked it though especially the lead breaks of Lifeson but I longed for a heavier riff to lock onto rather than all that kanoodling on the fret board.

'Second Nature' is perhaps one of the worst filler tracks here. It is a ballad style with crystalline percussion over incessant finger picking. Lee sounds nice but that is about it really; a nice song that won't trouble anybody's top 100 Rush songs list.

'Prime Mover' is another of the songs I rediscovered on a live DVD and it is terrific in the studio too. There are some great bass licks here and I love the lyrics. Lifeson's guitar is heavier and the overall riffs are at the top of his game. The melody builds in the chorus with a terrific lyrical phrase; "anything can happen, from the point of conception to the moment of truth, at the point of surrender, from the point of ignition to the final drive, the point of the journey is not to arrive, anything can happen." A great song from the 80s Rush sound.

'Lock and Key' is another synthesizer composition, and has some crunching guitar strums that are shrilly and really a trademark of Lifeson in this era. There are interesting lyrics "it's just a matter of instinct, I don't want to face the killer instinct, face it in you or me so we keep it under lock and key." The main theme suggesting that anyone is capable of great evil so we must work to keep it subdued lest it rears its ugly head. I like the lead break on this but again it is very short and moderate compared to what Lifeson used to do on previous albums.

'Mission' is another of the tracks I have heard live more than the studio, however it comes across well on this album. The melody is nice, Lee sounds great on high register, and the synths are ambient. The trebly guitars clash in aggressively and the rhythm pounds effectively, though Peart is very restrained on this album, almost like a session musician in places. The band are capable of brilliance as we Rushaholics know but they opt for a very pedestrian treatment of the songs on "Hold Your Fire" and it is maddening at times. Still once again a nice song for the 80s era.

'Turn the Page' has a fast tempo but it is still not as heavy as anything on 70s Rush and it is fruitless to expect it now. Again I had forgotten this song totally after a few years not hearing it and it was not really worth returning to as it really feels very ordinary compared to others on the album. The bass is relentless and there is a lot of synth dominating the sound, and some great lead guitar work, but the melody is rather forgettable. I have forgotten it already after hearing it 10 seconds ago.

'Tai Shan' is a strange one in an Oriental style. The ambience of synthesizer and gentle electric guitar sweeps is the focus. Lee's vocals are restrained and he sounds emotional on lyrics such as "I stood at the top of the mountain and China sang to me, in the peaceful haze of harvest time, song of eternity." As a curio and something different this one is not too bad really. At least the band are attempting something unique here and as such it stands out.

'High Water' ends things on a mediocre note, and it needed something better to counter balance the tirade of mediocrity prior. It is as though the band needed to fill up the album with one more song so tacked this on as an afterthought. A bad move as it is the last thing you hear and it leaves one with a sour taste, yet the album begins quite well and has some great tracks, though this is certainly not one of them.

Overall this is a balanced album for the 80s but is not progressive, rather is just a pleasant harmless album. I don't think we can pretend this is Rush at their best but it is at least not a complete waste either. It is nice, and that is about it with about 3 decent tracks that overshadow the others. The first half is very good and it tends to get worse as it goes, though it is not half as bad as "Presto". 3 stars is certainly as much as it deserves, but that is not to say it does not make a worthwhile listen.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |

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