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Rush - Clockwork Angels CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.95 | 1012 ratings

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Tony R
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars I've been a strong critic of post-Signals Rush for a long time and a subscriber to the Brit Rush Fan mantra: "Old Rush good, new Rush bad". On hearing 2008's "Snakes & Arrows" I was originally quite impressed but after the initial honeymoon period I rarely play it, if ever. It lacks those "moments" that can elevate an album and demand you to play it over and over again. In 2010 Rush took the step of releasing two new tracks; Caravan and BU2B (Brought Up To Believe) and I was disappointed. These were rush-released to give the band something to tour on, as they prefer to have new material to play (though they also played "Moving Pictures" in its entirety hence "Time Machine Tour") and many fans were unimpressed but intrigued that these tracks were the first two of a complete concept album, as, surprisingly, Rush has never recorded a full concept album. The theme would be based on Steampunk, a sort of futuristic Jules Verne meets HG Wells world of Victorian aesthetic and there would be strings on some of the tracks. Hmmm. Headlong Flight is subsequently released as a single as a teaser for the album and again I am unimpressed. So 5 stars, where did they come from?

Clockwork Angels is a concept album and as such should be viewed as a whole and listened to in its entirety in one sitting. Probably inspired, or emboldened at least, by the relative success of Porcupine Tree's "The Incident" (Peart made reference to that album prior to recording) this is a definitive Rush album wherein the sum is greater than the parts. It is not perfect; Lee's vocals at times are grating, and there is still too much reliance on the "verse, chorus, verse, chorus, chorus, chorus" rut the band seem to be trapped in, but as a modern Heavy Prog album it is a triumph.

Each track is connected by a short atmospheric intro but other than that there are no real re-occurring musical themes (except, of course, BU2B2). Lyrically we get Peart's usual musing on individualism, blind faith, integrity, order and chaos and Dawkinsism and it is often difficult to decipher the story that will evolve into a novel via Peart's collaboration with scifi writer Kevin J Anderson. Musically we are treated to enormous riffs, kenetic bass-playing and some of Peart's best drum work in decades. Standout tracks are Clockwork Angels, Carnies, The Wreckers andThe Garden, the latter being quite unlike any previous Rush track with its lush strings, plaintive guitar and soothing, beautiful melody and is an instant Rush classic. Tracks that I initially couldn't take to, the aforementioned Caravan, BU2B (terrible title) and Headlong Flight work well within the overall album - Headlong Flight in particular is a rip-roaring monster of a track propelling the album forward with huge guitar sounds, frenetic drums and echoes of "Bastille Day" and "Bytor". There are a couple of tracks, though not terrible, are not quite up to the standard of the rest; Seven Cities Of Gold which features an atrocious vocal and Wish Them Well a mundane track that was apparently re-written several times this proving that a watched pot never boils. However when it is bad Clockwork Angels is merely average but when it is good it is brilliant so please do not argue with my 5 star rating.

This could be the best Rush album since "Moving Pictures", it is certainly on a par with "Signals" and was rewarded by reaching #2 in the Official US Album Chart, quite a feat by the un-hippest rock band on the planet.There are strings on quite a few tracks and the band intends to take a small string section on their huge worldwide "Clockwork Angels" Tour in 2012 and 2013, I suggest you rush out and acquire tickets now!

Tony R | 5/5 |


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