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Rush - Test For Echo CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

2.86 | 776 ratings

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4 stars Sonically, this is a masterful comeback. The songwriting is more or less back to the level I'd like from Rush, but what's most important to me is how this sucker sounds. The production is utterly fantastic, and an absolute treat for fans of Lifeson's guitar. Whereas in the 80's the band would have chosen to fill some of the space in the mix with synths, here they mostly fill it with guitar and more guitar. All of Alex's best tricks are on prominent display here, from mad soloing to powerful riffing to his hypnotic ambient style.

Even better, to me, is that, whereas the heaviness on Counterparts could seem a bit forced at times, with the extensive use of grunge tones, the heaviness doesn't seem awkward or discomforting at any time. Add in that there are several solid riffs here (and I still maintain that good riffs are the primary source of quality heavy music), and you have this listener's delight. Plus, Neil apparently took some drumming refresher lessons since the last album, and in the process revamped his style, providing some badly needed swing to his sound.

Once again, the two best tracks on the album come first, and they are awesome. The lyrics of the opening title track seem a bit on the raving nonsense side, which might turn off some people, but I find the main guitar pattern catchy and economical, and the faster instrumental breaks are simply breathtaking. As for "Driven," I think that even somebody who's not a Rush fan should this song at least a couple of times in their lives. The main rhythm guitar part is like NOTHING we've heard from Rush before, and the riff is just soooo good. And the middle jam, a classic Geddy/Alex duel the likes of which hasn't been heard from the band since "Working Man," whomps me into the ground each time.

As usual for Rush, the rest of the album doesn't live up to the initial onslaught, but whereas with most Rush albums this means a mix between average and poor tracks, here it just means a bunch of tracks that range from average to very good. I'd be hard-pressed to call a single of the remaining tracks bad, and the only major problem is that the songs blend a bit too much for my tastes (except for the closing "Carve Away the Stone," a good song that opens with a lot of power). The instrumental ("Limbo") is a little half-hearted this time around, and tracks like "Time and Motion" or "The Color of Right" will never strike me as particularly good, but I'm fine with the rest. "Half the World" and "Resist" are very catchy pop- rockers with notably good lyrics, "Virtuality" has some great riffage despite the incredibly dumb lyrics (Neil Peart, of all people, should not be writing about the internet), and even the oft-maligned "Totem" and "Dog Years" seem fine to me. Heck, I think "Dog Years" is waaaaaaaaaay underappreciated; if anybody needed to loosen up and write song lyrics that mention "doggy heaven," it was Neil Peart. The melody seems fine to me, too.

I guess what I appreciate most about this album is that Rush finally seemed to find a sound they were totally comfortable with. When I listen to Test for Echo, I never find myself thinking that Rush sounds like a bunch of old men on this album. They don't sound mellowed-out and boring (like on much of Presto and Roll the Bones) and they don't sound like mellowed-out and boring old men awkwardly trying to latch onto what the kids are doing (like on much of Counterparts). This should have been a great formula for Rush to use in dominating the remainder of the 90's, and only good days should have been ahead.

tarkus1980 | 4/5 |


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