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Rush - Test for Echo CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

2.87 | 887 ratings

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3 stars 'Test for Echo' became an addition to my collection after having viewed the strong performance of 'Driven' on the 'Rush in Rio' DVD. That song, and a handful of others, made it a worthy purchase. As an album however, it lacks a certain something - a certain depth, and that's disappointing; certainly for an album coming from a band of such calibre as Rush, and intended to be a showcase for Peart's formidable drumming ability.

'Test for Echo' - title song of the album, is good. The introduction is nice, particularly the sound of Peart's ride in accompaniment to the melody. I cannot agree with those who cite the song as melancholic; rather the mood is one of honesty and integrity in the face of an imperfect society. The song contains a great moment, following a fine guitar solo, where Peart's clinically executed snare roll and tom-run fill explodes us into the final two minutes of an impressive song.

'Driven' is also no let down. It has a heavier feel in the chorus and main riff, in contrast to an acoustically strummed pre-chorus. The lyrics are fairly straightforward. The time signatures are not. Sounds best however, live.

'Half the World' is fairly uninteresting, other than for a pleasant mandola accompaniment during the second half of the song. 'The Color of Right' is irritating lyrically, in addition to being being musically unremarkable. It doesn't deserve a place on the album, which may be said also of 'Dog Years', and very nearly 'Totem'. This song's saving grace lies in interesting thematic material present in part of the lyrics ("Media messiahs preying on my fears/Pop culture prophets playing in my ears"), and a pleasant guitar solo and it's accompaniment, of the laid back description.

'Time and Motion' goes towards making up for the afore mentioned blips, combing a great synthesiser riff, an interesting guitar solo and a dynamic bass part to create the highlight of this album. The music really illustrates the lyrics, for example when, three minutes into the song, contrasting heavy and mysterious adjacent ideas illustrate the lyrical subject at hand; the turbulent and powerful force of the sea as it answers the celestial call of the moon. Yes, certainly this song is the highlight of 'Test for Echo', the progressive element strong here, brother to the instrumental track 'Limbo' featured later on the album.

'Virtuality' probably sounds fine live and is pleasant enough to listen to, albeit rather boring. 'Resist' is actually quite pleasant. After having enjoyed the acoustic version on 'Rush in Rio', it was interesting to encounter the studio recording.

'Limbo', an instrumental, continues in similar vain to 'Time and Motion' - another highlight of 'Test for Echo'. The drumming is dynamic, but Peart doesn't overplay. Bass and guitar interact well together, weaving in and out of one another to create a complex texture of polyphony. The vocal harmony present in parts of the song helps to create in it a mood, one which helps tie it in with the other better elements of 'Test for Echo'. No doubt, this is one of Rush's finer works.

'Carve Away the Stone' is pleasant enough to listen to, in no way outstanding however, and grows irritating when listen to over frequently. This says something about the album as a whole, which is reasonable, but not what one expects from Rush, other than for a few core songs (namely 'Test for Echo', 'Driven', 'Time and Motion' and 'Limbo'.) These four songs do make the album worth purchasing if you're a fan; it's just a shame more of the album isn't of matching quality. Peart dedicated himself to mastership of the drum kit in the two years prior to the creation of this album. 'Test for Echo' is supposed to be a showcase of his ability. And granted, the drum parts are perfectly arranged; fills occur just at the right moments, and the grooves always lay down a solid backbone for each song. The songs themselves just don't match. Couldn't Peart's showcase have been something a little more remarkable musically? A little more prog would certainly not have gone amiss.

The album deserves a sad three stars, in light of the general mediocrity of what should have been a great album.

Ktrout | 3/5 |


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