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Rush - Clockwork Angels CD (album) cover

CLOCKWORK ANGELS

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

3.95 | 767 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Rush: Clockwork Angels [2012]

Rating: 6/10

Clockwork Angels is the nineteenth studio album from progressive hard-rock band Rush. Although I have never viewed Rush with quite the same level of esteem that many other rock fans seem to, I have always admired the band's ability to combine cerebral technicality with bombastic and melodic sensibilities. However, even the most hardcore fan of this Canadian trio is likely to concede that their post-80s output pales in comparison to their older, "classic" material. Personally, I consider 1981's Moving Pictures to be the last great Rush album (although some fans have a soft spot for the synth-rock of Signals and Grace Under Pressure). For the past twenty-or-so years, however, Rush's creative light seems to have grown dim. They kept putting out safe albums that offered nothing fresh, instead opting to appease fans with formulaic material.

Thus, I was not particularly excited when I heard about Clockwork Angels, Rush's first studio album in six years. However, upon hearing the album's two leading singles, "Caravan" and "Headlong Flight", my enthusiasm skyrocketed. "Caravan" is a new Rush classic, with catchy riffs, fun vocals, and exciting heavy musicianship. "Headlong Flight" features a memorable bass-line, and Geddy's vocals sound better here than they have in years. These are both great songs, and after hearing them, I was convinced of Rush's true return to glory.

Unfortunately, the album was as disappointing as expected. "Caravan" and "Headlong Flight" are, alas, the only two exciting songs to be found here. Clockwork Angels is yet another safe Rush album: melodic, semi-technical hard-rock with epic songwriting and precise musicianship. Geddy sings interminably familiar vocal lines and Alex plays passable yet unexciting riffs. Neil's drumming is inexcusably bland; his performance here is entirely unmemorable.

I've used the term "unexciting" multiple times here, but it really is the best description of Clockwork Angels. This is not a bad album at all; in fact, it's actually rather good. But it's very hard to get enthusiastic about the music here. We've heard all of this before. This is Rush by the numbers, which isn't necessarily a bad thing; but I expect so much more from musicians of this caliber. The songwriting, musicianship, vocals, and lyrics are all good, but "good" is the most enthusiastic term I can think of. If you're expecting Clockwork Angels to be typical Rush, then you will probably enjoy it. But if you're expecting this album to sound new, fresh, or consistently engaging, then prepare yourself for disappointment.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |

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