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SNAKES & ARROWS

Rush

Heavy Prog


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Rush Snakes & Arrows album cover
3.58 | 731 ratings | 95 reviews | 16% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Far Cry (5:21)
2. Armor And Sword (6:36)
3. Workin' Them Angels (4:47)
4. The Larger Bowl (4:07)
5. Spindrift (5:24)
6. The Main Monkey Business (instrumental)(6:01)
7. The Way The Wind Blows (6:28)
8. Hope (instrumental 2:02)
9. Faithless (5:31)
10. Bravest Face (5:12)
11. Good News First (4:51)
12. Malignant Narcissism (instrumental)(2:17)
13. We Hold On (4:13)

Total Time: 62:50

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Geddy Lee / bass guitar, bass pedals, mellotron, vocals
- Alex Lifeson / six & twelve string electric and acousitc guitars, mandola, mandolin, bouzouki
- Neil Peart / drums, cymbals, electronic percussion, tambourine

Releases information

CD Atlantic Records (2007)

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RUSH Snakes & Arrows ratings distribution


3.58
(731 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
16%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
43%
Good, but non-essential (30%)
30%
Collectors/fans only (9%)
9%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

RUSH Snakes & Arrows reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 3.8 Stars ... is this Rush's best album? what a surprise!

Rush has returned to the 70s in terms of quality, if not style of composition. With such enthusiasm from the trio, it's of little doubt that they would deliver: strong songwriting, Geddy's best vocals yet, excellent production, some of their most intelligent lyrics, and some of the best musicianship heard from them since the 70s. This album has a bit of every album they've done, including acoustic guitars, dynamic instrumentals, pop, even a chord in the opener "Far Cry" which sounds exactly like a chord in the Hemispheres album. A new element is how it feels as if it was all composed acoustically and then went electric in the recording of the album. Even if the album isn't what you would commonly refer to as "prog rock", this album takes a while to digest.

Talking about Far Cry , is a fantastic opener and instantly likable. It is a catchy rock song featuring hooks, odd time signatures, high musicianship, and "wall-of-sound" production in the heavy, odd-rhythmic sections. Armor and Sword is the longest song here, with very nice arrangements alternating acoustic and electric guitar and the very effective chorus that others talked about. Workin' Them Angels is a more ordinary rock song with good vocals but not much of a hook. The Larger Bowl is also a bit unmemorable. Well-played but there's nothing special in this mid-tempo track except a vocal harmony.

The next song, Spindrift returns with the excellent music. It sounds different than what I'm used to hearting from Rush: a very menacing and highly produced song that sounds like an electric guitar symphony at parts. Don't let the silly title of The Main Monkey Business fool you, this is in my opinion the best instrumental they ever done. It's absolutely phenomenal, flooded with virtuosic musicianship, magnificent dynamics, excellent riffs, good coherence, and a powerful solo at the middle that is for me the best moment in the album.

The Way the Wind Blows starts with a bluesy tone that I don't particularly enjoy that much but then it turns into a very good rocker with some of the best performances of Geddy Lee (vocally). One of the most memorable tunes in this album. Hope is another highlight, an acoustic guitar solo very similar in style to acoustic Led Zeppelin songs. Faithless is yet another great song, proving that the middle of the album is the strongest. The verses contain good melodic rock, but the choruses' wonderful melodies and the great guitar solo stand out a bit. Bravest Face is another strong and carefully arranged/produced song like "Armor and Swords" with a very nice acoustic riff and vocal melodies.

Good News First is not as memorable as the middle chunk of the album, but it still carries all the elements that makes this album so strong. Malignant Narcissism is the weakest of instrumentals because it just feels like a YYZ wanna-be jam that is overall not that interesting, even if the musicianship is great. We Hold On is a solid closer with a memorable chorus and main riff. very energetic and appropiate.

1. Far Cry (A-) 2.Armor And Sword (B) 3. Workin' Them Angels (C)

4. The Larger Bowl (C-) 5. Spindrift (B+) 6. The Main Monkey Business (instrumental) (A)

7. The Way The Wind Blows (B+) 8. Hope (instrumental) (A-) 9. Faithless (B+)

10. Bravest Face (B) 11. Good News First (C+) 12. Malignant Narcissism (instrumental) (C+)

13. We Hold On (C+)

I recommend it to Rush lovers and give it many listens. Since I'm in vacation, I've heard this several times already in a couple of days. It's not really prog? who cares, it's very good rock music from the Canadian Rock titans.

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#120703) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, May 03, 2007

Review by Gooner
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I've been a Rush fan since the 4th grade. Just to give you a backround of what kind of Rush fan I am, I will let you know which school of Rush I come from by listing my 3 favourite albums. In this order, my 3 favourite Rush albums are "Signals", "Hemispheres" and "Presto". This might help the reader in deciding the sort of "opinion" I may have with the new "Snakes & Arrows" Rush LP.

When I first heard "Far Cry", I thought(and still do) think it's Rush's best single since "Show Don't Tell", and it has a fine Geddy Lee vocal delivery remiscent of "Middletown Dreams"(from "Power Windows) at the conclusion. Just to note, "Far Cry" opens the album. The 2nd track "Armour & Sword", reminds me of a mix of _Presto_ with a "Cygnus X-1"-like riff from "Farewell To Kings". This should be included in their live set and upcoming tour. It's excellent. The next 3 songs don't seem to really go anywhere.

Next...

Now we have "The Main Monkey Business"...an INSTRUMENTAL! Zivo, Weinrib and Peart really let it all hang out on this one. It's no "YZZ", but it could be better than "Leave That Thing Alone"(from "Roll The Bones"). Next track "The Way The Wind Blows" is a competent tune...but nothing special. It might grow on me Next track "Hope" does nothing for me.

"Faithless" is lyrically brilliant...and this is once again _prog.rock_ at its finest. Nice time signatures, excellent musicianship. "Bravest Face"...another gem on the album. Another _prog.rock_ gem. Sounds similar to the more progressive tracks on _Counterparts_. Alex Lifeson delivers some fine _prog.rock blues_ like only the Zivo can deliver. Hey! Hey!

"Good News First" sounds like it may be an outake from the "Presto" album, which is a good thing. A wonderful mixture of Peart drumming, Lifeson acoustic and electric...great vocals from Geddy Lee.

"Malignant Narcissism" is another INSTRUMENTAL! Folks...this is fine! This is Geddy, Alex and Neil's finest moment on "Snakes and Arrows". In this instrumental, I hear everything from "Thrak"-era King Crimson, Voivod, Tool, Porcupine Tree, Sonny Sharrock and Primus. It's short...but mighty fine.

"We Hold On" concludes the album. If you were to mix out Geddy Lee's vocals, this might sound like something Deep Purple is currently doing with Steve Morse on guitar. A great way to end the album.

I give this album 3 stars, and I'd say it's the most solid effort since "Presto" and "Counterparts". Having said that, for those who enjoy the direction Porcupine Tree has taken in the last few years, I'd have to give it 4 stars. It's on par, if not better than what Porcupine Tree are up to these days. Recommended for old and new Rush fans alike.

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Send comments to Gooner (BETA) | Report this review (#120730) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, May 04, 2007

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I'm sitting here cracking my knuckles and doing some finger exercises to get all limber to review the new album by Rush. I've had this for quite a while, spun it numerous times and had time to really digest it. Speaking to some who have had personal contact with Alex and Geddy and hearing how proud they were of this album (Alex is quoted to have said that 'we have just made the album of our careers'), the days and months leading up to it's release were some of the most anticipated that I've had for a new Rush album since Signals. And although I don't view Snakes And Arrows as being on par with albums like 2112, Hemispheres, and Moving Pictures, Rush returns in 2007 triumphantly.

First and foremost, the production surpasses that of it's predecessor, Vapor Trails, by leaps and bounds. Very crisp and razor sharp, Snakes And Arrows is sonically one of the better albums I've heard...and probably the best disc regarding sound since Marillion's Marbles. The only thing that I can live without, which has been a staple in Rush's music for quite some time, is the layering of Geddy's vocals to the extent that it sounds like a choir of Geddies. I would prefer to see that toned back a bit.

As for the songs, these are some of Rush's best in a long time. I see these as less introspective as Vapor Trails, and more of a social and global commentary, in regards to the lyrics. Structurally, Lifeson is back and he's back with a vengence! I miss his solos on Vapor Trails, and he pulls off some true magic on this disc (The solo on "The Larger Bowl" is exquisite.) Absolutely beautiful work on "Armor and Sword", especially. He is one of those rare guitarists that adds such subtle nuances to a song, but without these little ambient sounds would be a detrament to the song. Additionally, it's nice to hear a lot of acoustic guitar throughout.

As for the other two, Peart seems to have backed off of some of the flashy fills and intricate patterns--I would like to see him let loose more often. Maybe it's the sign of a true master concentrating on telling a story with his playing rather than showing how fast he can move about the kit. Geddy still astounds on the bass; however, his vocals are very smooth and as powerful as ever. I can actually hear flashes of the higher octaves from his younger days on songs like "Spindrift" (the beginning sounds like something from 2112) and "Bravest Face".

I would like to conclude by stating that I've seen a lot of positive feedback for Snakes and Arrows. Unfortunately, I've seen a lot of negative remarks. I'm not sure what you guys want or are expecting, but this is an always altering band not content to remaining still. What we have in this new disc are 3 of the most amazing musicians coming together and creating sounds that challenge and stimulate. In my opinion, I think this is the best Rush album since Power Windows. I'd give it 4.25/5 stars.

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Send comments to E-Dub (BETA) | Report this review (#120834) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, May 05, 2007

Review by Tony R
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Five years after the sonic calamity that was Vapor Trails, Rush return with an ambitious, eclectic album of 13 songs and a new producer;wunderkind Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver).

The theme of the album revolves around Peart's musings about the nature of "faith" - a subject he visited in his book "Landscape.." which amongst other things discussed America's drift towards evangelical Christian fundamentalism in the face of rising Muslim fundamentalism in the Middle East. Peart is deadly serious and obviously sees organised religion as an insidious force creating division across the globe, hence:

"what should have been our armor, becomes a sharp and angry sword" (Armor And Sword)

and

"now it's come to this/wide-eyed armies of the faithful/from the Middle East to the Middle West/pray, and pass the ammunition." (The Way The Wind Blows)

And the music, is it Prog? I dont know and I dont care. Many of the songs follow a very standard intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus pattern, though there are 3 instrumentals on here, but certainly musically and lyrically this is a complex, arty and I might add fresh album from a band now in its 4th decade together.The three instrumentals are very accomplished but each different in their own way. "Hope" sees Alex Lifeson performing alone on a beautiful celtic-tinged acoustic piece a la "Broons Bane". "Malignant Narcissism (named for a line from the "Team America" comedy film) is a hell-for- leather 2 minute roller-coaster ride based on a dancing fretless bass riff from Geddy Lee and Peart playing a four-piece kit. "The Main Monkey Business" is the album's tour- de-force a kitchen sink of a piece with echoes of "La Vila Strangiato" with some mellotron thrown in for good measure. The album is worth the price just for the three instrumentals but you get songs for your money too!

The album kicks off at break-neck speed with "Far Cry", the track with the almost legendary "Hemispheres" chord. This track reminds me of a modern rockier version of "Spirit Of Radio" and it is instantly noticeable that Alex Lifeson has decided to stamp his authority all over the album. Acoustic guitar can be heard on nearly every track. solos are back and we even get some magical blues playing as the album barely pauses for breath right through to the albums wonderful closer "We Hold On". Highlights are "Armor And Sword", the prog-tinged "Spindrift" and the bluesy "The Way The Wind Blows" though there's barely a track that dips below "very good". Fans of Peart's book "Travelling Music" will be delighted that "Workin' Them Angels" has made it onto an album and is done fitting justice.

The band as an ensemble is at top form but as I alluded earlier it is Alex Lifeson who takes the plaudits on this one. Always under-rated (or under-valued?) he turns in a superb performance filling each track with acoustic and electric guitar magic - he even finds time to throw in mandola, mandolin and bouzouki and really brings the best out of all the tracks lifting even the more mundane moments to a higher plateau.

So where does it fit into the Rush pantheon for this fan of over 30 years? I have to say that I was initially underwhelmed, but I should have remembered that quite often the best albums have to be given time to "breathe" and it isnt until after 5 or 6 plays that they start to show their true worth. I've played this over 20 times now and I can confidently declare that this is Rush's best album for over 25 years.

If complexity and virtuosity are the two defining attributes of Prog Rock then this is indeed a Prog Rock album.Regardless of those considerations this is a damn fine rock album. 4 stars as a rock album 3 1/2 for this Prog Rock site.

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Send comments to Tony R (BETA) | Report this review (#120892) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 06, 2007

Review by erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Early 1977 I had my first musical encounter with the amazing sound of this Canadian three piece formation. A friend told met that "he had bought a double live album entitled All The World's A Stage by the excellent Canadian hardrock band Rush with a killer guitarplayer". During the first listening session I was blown away by Rush, especially the 'heavy progressive' sound of 2112, what a dynamic and sensational music. Half a year later I noticed a review about the new Rush LP entitled A Farewell To Kings in the known Dutch music magazine Muziekkrant Oor (written by Kees Baars who later became a personal friend of Geddy Lee). I read about lush synthesizers, twanging acoustic guitars, Moog Taurus bass pedals, exciting distorted guitar soli and awesome interplay, this couldn't go wrong! And indeed, I became a Rush die-hard who visited as an 18 year old proghead the Pinkpop Festival in 1979 during the Hemispheres tour and from then I visited all Rush concerts in Holland, including the mindblowing R30 tour last year (earplugs needed!). But I have to admit that I stopped buying Rush albums since Presto because Rush failed to keep my attention and I was not pleased with their more song oriented and guitar-based melodic rock. But after reading so many positive stories about this new Rush CD, I was so eager to listen to the sound on Snakes & Arrow that I decided to buy a Rush CD for the first time since 1988! Here is my musical analysis.

The first thing I noticed during my first listening session was the connection between the cover art, the climates in the music and the lyrics: the 'snake' and 'arrow' are archetypes for the elements 'fear' and 'agression', the lion's share of the lyrics tell about an ominous and cruel world in which we feel unsafe and unhappy and the dark and melancholical atmospheres in the songs match with the archetypes on the cover art. And I think Rush has evaluted their musical direction after the many negative reactions about the poor previous CD Vapor Trails: in my opinion the three musicians has done their best to make powerful and varied compositions, I cannot trace one weak song on this CD although a few songs are no more or less than tastefully arranged melodic rock songs (featuring a pleasant integration of instruments like the Mellotron, Greek bouzouki and mandolin). But quite a lot tracks sound captivating and dynamic like the opener Far Cry (fluent and propulsive with fiery, distorted guitar, an adventurous rhythm-section and some 'Hemispheres echoes'), Armor And Sword (great tension between the acoustic and electric parts and a biting guitar solo in the compelling climax) and the instrumentals The Main Monkey Business (exciting and alternating with awesome interplay), Hope (warm acoustic guitar as a tribute to Jimmy Page) and the (too) short Malignant Narcissus (sensational and propulsive, it reminds me a bit of YYZ).

After a few listening sessions I have concluded that Rush revenged themselves after the disappointing album Vapor Trails and even the Rush fans who are not pleased with the 'new Rush' (since Counterparts) will enjoy at least half of this CD. But don't expect a Hemispheres Part Two or something like that! From an objective point of view this album deserves four stars, personally I go for 3,5 stars.

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#121245) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Review by Melomaniac
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars As always, a new Rush album is an event. Having been a fan for nearly twenty years, I have followed the band's career in an almost religious manner even though they gave up the prog epics long ago. Why ? Simply because of the 'what's next' factor. Ever since 'Permanent Waves' and 'Moving Pictures', though these albums marked a drastic change in the band's sound, they have always managed to update their sound to suit the current musical scene (at least what they liked about it) while still sounding like themselves. Their latest offering, 'Snakes & Arrows', is no exception.

Enter new producer and long-time fan of the band, Nick Razckulinek (given the guy's name, I hope you'll excuse me if it's not typed correctly!!!). This guy saw Rush for the first time when he was 11 years old, and somehow it shows. This may very well be the best sounding Rush album in a long, very long time, if not ever. He had a fan's point of view of how Rush should sound, and that's what he offered us. And to say that this acts as a relief after the musically exhilarating but atrociously sounding 'Vapor Trails' is an understatement.

Opener 'Far Cry' is probably the most 'Rush sounding' song on S&A. Great syncopated intro that ends with the 'Hemispheres' chord (cool!) and then mutates into a darker, straightforward rock riff with some weird chords thrown in. Nice verse, very catchy chorus, both musically and melodically.

'Armor and Sword' starts with a somewhat simple but efficient drum pattern and a few moments later the rest of the band kicks in. Quite a surprise to hear such a nice sounding acoustic guitar for the verse. Lyrically, the song deals with how the beliefs we inherit as children (armor) can become a weapon (sword). Great lyrics for a great song.

'Working Them Angels' is, lyrically, an idea taken from Neil's novel 'Traveling Music', in which he describes how he thinks he pushes his luck living on the edge (motorcycle touring, etc.). At first I didn't like the song very much, but Alex's beautiful guitars and that lovely infectious chorus redeemed it.

'The Larger Bowl' is, in my opinion, one of the weakest tracks here. Based around Neil's lyrics written in a pantoum (a clever alternance of repeating sentences in a different order to eventually return to the original order), the song reminds me of 'Anagram' and 'Hand Over Fist' from Presto, just a bit better. A forgettable song.

'Spindrift' is a treat. Dark patterns and interesting melodies and rythms. In the vein of 'Far Cry'.

'The Main Monkey Business' comes next, the album's first instrumental. And what an instrumental it is. As much as 'Leave that Thing Alone' was great, this is even better. Influences from Porcupine Tree and Tool can be heard here, yet this still sounds like Rush (a complete cycle, Rush having influenced both these bands). I CANNOT wait to hear and see this live.

'The Way the Wind Blows' has a few surprises. A very nice drum intro leaving place to a bluesy Alex Lifeson ! The verse sounds a bit like 'Driven' from Test for Echo, and then to a nice acoustice chorus. Love that song.

'Hope' is something we haven't been treated to in a while. A solo 12 string acoustic number courtesy of Lifeson, and a beautiful one at that. A bit reminiscent of Jimmy Page.

'Faithless' is an okay song, with a chorus that harkens back to 'Ghost of a Chance' from 'Roll The Bones', which I enjoy alot.

'Bravest Face', to me, is another so-so number that doesn't do very much for me.

'Good News First' is one I really love, with great guitar work and great vocal melodies. And hey, that's a mellotron ? Hope they will play this one live.

The albums last instrumental, 'Malignant Narcissism', despite being short, is a very intricate song. Neil recorde dit on a four-piece kit while Geddy used a fretless 'Jaco Pastorius' Fender Signature bass. Primus-esque, incredibly fun to listen to.

'We hold On' closes the album on a beautiful note.

Snakes and Arrows is an album on which Lifeson shines, from beginning to end. Wonderful acoustic guitars (in fact, no other Rush album has had that many acoustic guitars on it), a very rock approach, and still as textural as ever. Definitely his best album in a while. While S&A doesn't have as much energy as Vapor Trails had, the artistry of it makes it an album that is just as good (though VERY different). A very human, touching, beautiful album with a very few weak moments. Just keep in mind that Rush gave up the epics a long time ago, and expecting any here is a mistake. Rush moves forward, not backwards, and that is why they are still valid in this day and age.

A solid four stars.

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Send comments to Melomaniac (BETA) | Report this review (#121252) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Review by Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Such a lot of pain on the earth.

When Neil Peart was a young adult, his thoughts were already profound, or at least, his intense sessions of reading made great poetry. Neil thought like a contemporary young man: the future, science fiction and the fading environnement. Now heading towards his late 50's,Neil talks about his vision of a changing world and he's still very personnal while talking about his lack of faith in religion and the scary world we live in....'some are blessed and some are cursed, the golden one or scarred from birth...such a lot of pain, such a lot of pain on the earth.'

When Geddy and Alex were young adults, they were heading towards pedal to the metal music. They were ratherly loud and/or aggressive and aiming for 'how complicated can I make this'. Now, well look at that the punch level, it's heading towards 'beautiful' and less towards 'complexity'. Artists are aging, their values are evolving and like to take it more slowly, appreciating life and family (the important stuff). Alex and Geddy are mixing blue and red again, reserving time to rock (far cry and malignant narcissisim), time to be complex (the main monkey buisness) and time to think (fatihless, larger bowl and hope).

Snakes and arrows is not a step backwards to Test For Echo or Presto but a step aside what we know from them. It's an album that demands time to let it grow into you, especially is you're addicted to the Farewell to Moving Pictures period.

There's a time for everything and with this record...it's for changing.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#122149) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 14, 2007

Review by richardh
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Rush have long been one of my favourite bands and rarely produce a bad album.This umpteenth release is, if nothing else, a testament to their great staying power in a career spanning decades and involving most of the important changes in rock music.Punk,disco,grunge and new romantic have come and gone but Rush steadfastly remain putting out solid (if a little unambitious) music for fans that appreciate 'intelligent rock'. Lots of lyrics here about the world in general without pontificating or being too polictial in tone.Mucically though its all a bit rambling to my ears. No real focus or direction and falling dangerously close to 'aimless'. Perhaps Rush have finally run out of ideas. Many of these songs would not be out of place on 'Roll The Bones' and they've even repeated the dreadfull tinny drum sound of that aforementioned album.My overall verdict..not great ,not bad. There are many worse things out there but unless you are a concerted fan of this band I would avoid it.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#122711) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, May 18, 2007

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars "Snakes and Arrows" sees Rush doing everything that made me fall in love with them when I was 17 years old: playing absolutely outstanding rock music with artistic flair, boundless energy, technical flourish, and lyrics which gave voice to a jaded teenager's free-thinking fight against conformity (now a thinking-man's fight against the delusional majority). "Snakes and Arrows" is, hands-down, one of Rush's best albums of all time, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with classics and-- I hope-- setting the standard for things to come.

Not to belabor my obvious adoration for the band, I will sum up to say that this album features some of Neil's best lyrics ever (especially for their direct statements, which need to be said), as well as the group's cumulative song-writing. However, "Snakes and Arrows" is dominated by Geddy, whose vocals and bass playing outperform expectations. There is not a single song which tarnishes the album's stellar play, from start to finish. Dazzling.

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 5 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#125910) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, June 15, 2007

Review by 1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With Vapor Trails Rush proved that they weren't going soft in the new millennium. However, it would take the crisp production of Snakes & Arrows to show just how good they still are. Sure, by this point Rush have long drifted away from the 10 minute epics. Deal with it. Those days are gone, and they have been since Moving Pictures. Instead, you get an album that crams all of the prowess and songwriting ability into easy to digest songs. Geddy's voice has aged rather well in my opinion and the shrieks that sometimes grated have matured to let Geddy have a nice range but without the tight-pants screams of yesteryear. His bass playing has also evolved into a great groove machine. He displays as much talent as he ever did, but he does it with less notes. Alex shines despite not swamping the songs with solos; he shows off his kill without showing off. He also uses much more acoustic guitars this time, yet he never loses the rock feel. Neil as always blends technicality with groove. Lyrically, this is one of the band's best albums. The only album of theirs I consider better is Vapor Trails, and maybe Permanent Waves.

The album kicks off with "Far Cry," a great look into how the world and society have failed to live up to everyone's expectations. Alex proves he's still the riff-master of prog rock, and Geddy's bassline is great. "Armor and Sword" warns against using beliefs as weapons. "Working Them Angels" reflects Neil's fear of testing his luck with his constant motorcycle riding. "The Larger Bowl" is my least favorite song, with Peart using some weird lyrical idea (Melomaniac says it's pantoum). Still, this song grew on me after hearing it live. Plus, Alex has a great solo on it. "Spindrift" has an almost Metallica-like opening that culminates into some truly dark sounds and vocals. Songs like this one are why Rush are often labelled metal. "The Main Monkey Business" is the first of three instrumentals, and it is by far the best on this disc. It has Porcupine Tree and Tool influences, but you can tell that it is a Rush song. The band plays off each other so well it can make fusion groups green with envy. Everyone gets to display his talent, but no one person dominates the sound. It manages to be technically dazzling yet seem so simple because it never loses it's beat. Rush can do in 6 minutes what so many prog metal bands cannot in 20. Utterly sublime. "The Way the Wind Blows" follows with bleak lyrics that provide a stark contrast to the upbeat material found on their last album. "Hope" is the next instrumental, and it's a lovely solo from Alex and his 12 string acoustic. It's short, but it's a great piece. Live, this came after Neil's drum solo and served to bring the crowd back to Earth. "Faithless" has some more dark lyrics about Neil's disillusionment with organized religion. "Bravest Face" has some of the best lyrics of the album, which is saying something. Musically, however, it's mediocre. "Good News First" deals with the sad state of the media. The final instrumental, "Malignant Narcissism," is a fun piece that has a funky bass part anchored by guitar fills and a groovy performance from Peart. The album ends with "We Hold On," a terrific closer that counterpoints the bleakness of the album with a positive message that would not have sounded out of place on Vapor Trails.

This album puts Rush on top of the 70s prog bands still plugging away. Whereas so many of their contemporaries have either disbanded or have stayed only to release poor material, Rush prove that a trio of middle-aged Canadians can rock harder than any snot-nosed punk who plays MTV-approved crap. The choruses here are reminiscent of the bombastic choruses of classics like Freewill. People often criticize how Lifeson had no input in the modern era of Rush, that he had no solos. While he solos less than he did in the 70s,he's never truly faded into the background, and this album should quiet quite a number of complainers. Lee's multi-layered vocals have never sounded better, and the band as a whole bring restraint to their instruments.

The beautiful thing about Rush's music is how they can change moods, tempos, styles, and every other proggy change on a dime, yet you can never tell until they've already done it. In other words, they move seamlessly within their songs, always changing but never losing the groove and feel. That is why every band in the sub-genre they all but single-handedly inspired (prog metal) can never hope to match their influence. Even the godly Dream Theater cannot match these guys. Snakes & Arrows may not seem so progressive upon the first listen, but that's because it's so genius it's takes a few spins to understand the true complexity behind their simplistic sound. Ultimately, it isn't quite a masterpiece, but I think it will go down as a solid four star Rush classic alongisde Signals, Permanent Waves and A Farewell to Kings.

Grade: B+

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Send comments to 1800iareyay (BETA) | Report this review (#126274) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, June 18, 2007

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Phew! Having listened to this album more than ten times already, it's about time to express my view about it. First off, thanks God, these gentlemen from Rush finally released an album of their own after an appreciation (to legends) album called "Feedback" (2004). It proves that this legendary band is still being productive with their music creation and we all should be proud of this achievement. They still demonstrate their virtuosity in their respective fields and no doubt about it at all.

Let me ask you simple question: how do you actually appreciate music in general and prog rock in specific? Do you appreciate the music or the lyrics or combination of both? If you appreciate more on the music first, how do you actually weigh the lyrics against your overall appreciation which is typically represented by a rating (one to five stars)? If you appreciate more on lyrics, how do you weigh the music against your overall rating? Tough question, isn't it? Well, that's also the case with me - honestly.

Let me tell you how I actually rate a music (note: because I'm more into prog music, I wanna limit this on prog only). First, I try to comprehend the music composition as a whole. I always start from opening track until it finishes its entirely in a particular album. I'm much more inclined to appreciate at album level and not interested to review at song level. The test meter for doing this is "how coherent" the album from track to track. Is there any discontinuity of style and themes as the music moves along? Spock's Beard latest album (2006) is a good example where I say that the album is not quite coherent. There are tracks that discontinue and disrupt the overall theme of the album - in my humblest opinion. Second, I would scrutinize at track by track level to give an individual rating for each track. Track by track rating results add up into overall album rating. I have been very little to give enough attention to lyrics even though in some cases I do like to see from this perspective as well.

Why giving you a long background to review this new album by Rush? Well guys . I got problem here that you might be able to help. I got the CD on a loan basis from a friend of mine, Zulfikar, a die hard fan of the band. Countless have I spun the CD at my player and, in fact, have ripped it into my iPod. I think it's more than 10 spins (on CD) plus some others in my iPod, and this is my experience:

First off, the music is really excellent and the composition is quite tight from one track to another. I'm proud with Rush who still can compose good music. Is the album coherent? I would definitely say: YES! From the opening track until the end the album sounds to carry a coherent message which I can feel it without having to understand the lyrics. Once I answer this, I still have something back in my mind which says "Hmm . it seems like something missing in this album even though each track is good to excellent ones".

Then I move it to the next cycle: scrutinize on track by track basis. I do enjoy doing so and I find there is no bad track at all I think. Some tracks are excellent like "Far Cry" and also all instrumental tracks are excellent. But again, I still find something is missing in this album. Then my colleague Zulfikar gave his thoughts that the lyrics are so powerful - so I did read the sleeve and digested the meanings. Yes, I do agree with him, the lyrics are so powerful. But for me, it does not help improving my appreciation towards this album. I would say that overall this album does not provide a good combination of ups and downs in the composition so that overall it sounds and it feels so flat. It boils down to the feel that this album does not quite stir my emotion.

Overall, this album is good but there is nothing that truly catchy from the music it produces. In Indonesian language, we have a good expression that I cannot translate (sorry!) to English: "gak ada greget nya". It can mean :"there is something missing" (but it's not as powerful sentence as the original Indonesian version). For me personally, this album sounds like a combination of the band's "Signals" and "Power Windows" albums. I leave it up to you to make final call whether or not to purchase the CD. Anyway . Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#126294) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Review by SoundsofSeasons
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars, actually

I would say this is easily the best Rush album since Counter Parts. This album absolutely deserves to be heard from what has come out this year.The music is very accessible to just about anyone, even if the lyrics arent. Neil's percussion is astounding and actually quite fresh, seems he's got some new inpiration, very south african. Geddy's Bass playing has honestly not been this good in a decade. In fact what really makes Snakes and Arrows great is the consistency, just like Counterparts, that hold this together as a whole.

This really is about the sum of its parts, which come together with great production and musicality. Unfortunately the lyrics are not for everyone, especially for me, and the some of the songs themselves aren't that great. It's not the best of 2007, but it's up there.

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Send comments to SoundsofSeasons (BETA) | Report this review (#130008) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 23, 2007

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

The decidedly tireless trio is now back after a three years silence, interrupted only with the cover album Feedback, Rush comes back with their stronger albums over the last two decades (at least, but I'm not that familiar with some of their albums) and it came at a point when the band seemed more content on living on their own heritage and legend (DVD's, live albums, world tours etc..), but this fear is now history! Fear and angst is exactly what this album is about: Peart's lyrics seem to make a constant theme over the whole album (wouldn't call this a concept album, though) and Lifeson is the unsung hero and loads the album with acoustic guitars. With a related artwork depicting a gloomy world full of dangers and destructions, until the prophetic and hope- filled end of We Hold On (where you see the skies of the futures clearing away), it only serves the themes

Starting on the very strong Far Cry (almost bringing us back to Waves) and its failed expectations message is one of the album's highlights. The next Armour And Sword follows suit and delivers a message of fanatism used as weapons, but we are more in the Signals realm, musically speaking. While Angels and its follow-up Larger Bowl are both acoustically-driven, they are uneven and present a shallower depth on the album's overall tenure, the later being an obvious reef in the album's smooth sailing. The album experiences a second wind with the very good but dark Spindrift, which is of the opening Far Cry's stature. But the main bravado piece is the excellent Main Monkey Business instrumental bringing us to MP's YYZ track, but fails to better its model.

Unfortunately after the bluesy and overlong Wind Blows (still catchy, though) and the short acoustic guitar instrumental Hope, S&A seems to drift a little too easily in a less-inspired vein, with three below-par tracks (for S&A, but they would be highlights on many other albums of theirs): Faithless is a tired reflection on religions and the tired music fits it quite well, while Bravest Face is the low point on the album (just saved by its chorus), and Good News First is anything but that, really!! By this time, the listener is K-O from the sheer mass of noise and even if Malignant Narcissism is a fiery instrumental, again in the YYZ vein, it comes simply after the overdose set in! The closing We Hold On is another track that could've sat on Pictures or Signals, but it is too late, this listener has hung up!

I can fully agree with my buddy Tony Riviere that this album is certainly Rush's best in the last 25 years and even up to Moving Pictures, but it is a far cry from that landmark as well! I certainly wouldn't call this essential, unless you feel like owning one album per decade from a classic band. Had this album an epic track on it, it could've even bettered some of their early works. Had this album had three songs less (from 10-12), it might have been less watered down!! But let's not nitpick, there are some really good moments on this album that can occasionally bring you back to the trio's heyday glories, but this is far from often, though! A good album that shows Rush still has some spunk left.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#133173) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Review by lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars

Well after the disappointing "Vapor Trails", especially talking about its bad mixing, being too much loud (above all the distorted guitar by Lifeson), the authors of a couple of masterpieces within a couple of years (1977-1978) - such as "A Farewell to Kings" and "Hemisphere" - return with the present "S.& A.", after 5 years. It's a good album, not particularly inspired if you regard of the composition, except on the intelligent insert of a few strange instruments like a mandolin for instance, the Greek bouzouki and the Mellotrons (giving their album a 70's sound...) or considering also their effort to make the tunes more varied in comparison to their previous album.

Therefore their short citation concerning "YYZ" from Moving Pictures inside "The Main Monkey Business" (this latter not properly equal, especially if you think of another exceptional instrumental number entitled "La Villa Strangiato"- from "Hemisphere" for example) or their attempt to make a surprising dejavous in "A Far Cry", with its typical chord like within the above mentioned "Hemisphere", let me think of an old band which tries to comeback to the origin, even though failing sometimes...nevertheles you can find some interesting breaks-through inside, often reminding me of "Counteparts"; and moreover their technical skill as well as the odd time signatures (like in their instrumental) let me stay and listen carefully to it!! Their attempt to make a renewal is quite intelligent, as They maintain the sound and in a certain sense the old 70's- 80's structures of the old songs as well, (just a little bit at least, as a stereotype...).

At the end their new strategy consists of two goals, in my opinion naturally:

1) Increasing their popularity

2) Let the old fans captured by a few citations of their glorious past in order to bring them into the arenas!!

Then consider their remarkable lyrics or once again the metaphor used by means of the snake and an arrow, symbolizing the fear an the violence (or the tremendous aggression if you prefer), which is well transmitted by their music.

All these features, along with a good tune like "Armor And Sword or the opener mentioned above, make the present album an interesting work, even though not a must-have probably...make your own choice!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#133439) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, August 17, 2007

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Guess who I met ? First of all I thought tonight was as good a time as any to review RUSH's latest album as they are playing in front of their home town fans in Toronto this evening. It's after midnight now so everyone has left the building except for the roadies i'm sure. I saw them in Toronto on the "Vapor Trails" tour and actually was approached by a friend in my store this morning saying he had an extra ticket if I wanted to go tonight. Not enough notice, plus I would have to close up the store. Crap ! Anyway who did I meet ? Last week an older man came into the store and asked if I could fix his central vac, so I said sure and brought it in from his van and asked for his name, he says "Glen Peart". I said "There's a famous drummer with the same last name as yours". He said "That's my son Neil". I just about fell over. I felt like I was beaming, I couldn't believe it. I told him I was a huge fan. He told me that they're from St.Catherines but he has had a trailer up here for years. When he retired he bought a house up here. He also told me he has some gold records on the wall and other momentos that Neil has given him. Anyway I phoned him three days later to tell him his vacuum was ready, I made sure I had my "Moving Pictures" t-shirt on that day. When he came in I pointed proudly with both hands to my shirt and he laughed. He said "I have something for you", and handed me a white plastic bag. I pulled a new black "Snakes & Arrows" t-shirt. Nice. My older daughter put it in perspective for me when I got home by saying "Neil Peart's dad just gave you a RUSH shirt, how cool is that !" Well we talked for almost a half hour about Neil. Glen was so willing to talk too. You could tell he's so proud and loves to tell the stories. And talk about a supportive father. He told me Neil wanted a drum set so bad when he was young and he would be constantly banging on the furniture or whatever he could until finally they got him a set of drums and put them in the garage. Well the neighbors complained and the police came until Glen heard about a guy who wanted to rent out his barn. So that's where Neil's drums went. They also got him a drum teacher at some point. Anyway Glen owned a farm equipment business and he had Neil working in the parts department. Neil decided at 18 years old he wanted to go to England and try to make it in a band. So they loaded up his stuff and drove him to the airport and off he went. They went to visit him sometime later only to find him working in some store. Glen said to Neil "You could be doing this for me you know." So Neil agreed and came back home and worked in his dad's business again. One day this white corvette pulls up to their farm equipment business and out comes these two guys who want to talk to Neil. They did and then left, and for the rest of the afternoon Neil seemed so preoccupied. Glen finally asked his son whats wrong. And Neil told him these two guys (RUSH's management) were looking for a drummer to go out on tour with them. Their former drummer John Rutsey didn't want to go out on tour. I guess Neil felt bad about the thought of leaving his dad's business again, but Glen told him to go for it. And as Mr.Peart said "The rest is history". No kidding ! I met Neil's mom who all that time was sitting in the van. She said "Is he boring you with stories ?" I said "Are you kidding ! I could talk to him all day."

This new record from RUSH really seems like Alex's baby, at least instrumentally as Neil as usual takes care of the lyrics. Alex is more versatile on this record then i've ever heard him before. Acoustic guitar is all over this one too, which is unusual. You know I was really reminded of "Test For Echo" with the shorter, direct songs and even the style at times. Neil's lyrics focus on war, religion and politics, many of these thoughts were derived from his tour of the U.S.A. on his motorcycle. The album cover is a disappointment for me, but not the picture on the back,or the pictures in the liner notes, all of which are probably some of the best i've ever seen (like the "Test For Echo" pictures). I wish the picture on the back was on the front cover, it's so meaningful.

"Far Cry" opens with pounding drums as we are treated to a nice heavy soundscape. Alex lays down some good guitar lines.This is the only song that reminds me of "Vapor Trails". 3 1/2 minutes in the sound is amazing. "Armor And Sword" may be slower than the opener but it's no less powerful. There are some beautiful mellow sections in this one as well. 5 1/2 minutes in the sound is so great and uplifting. "Workin' Them Angels" is a similar mid-paced powerful tune. Check out Alex playing mandolin on the bridge. "The Larger Bowl" features electric guitar on the chorus and acoustic guitar on the verses. "Spindrift" has some atmosphere to open as Geddy then cries out. An incredible sound 2 minutes in. Some great drum passages in this one as well as mellotron.

"The Main Monkey Business" is an instrumental and my favourite track. Background synths and Alex's fierce playing is fantastic ! The vocal melodies remind me of "Limbo" from "Test For Echo". This one smokes ! "The Way The Wind Blows" has Alex playing a blues style guitar that remind me of CREAM. Some scorching guitar 4 minutes in and some tribal-like drumming. Great lyrics. "Hope" is another instrumental. This is all Alex (Lerxst) with his 12 string guitar. "Faithless" opens with some powerful guitar and check out his solo 4 minutes in. Not a fan of some of the lyrics, but they are so well done. Some strings from Ben Mink too. "Bravest Face" has some great lyrics and more acoustic / electric guitar. Mellotron too. "Good News First" has some meaningful lyrics but it's just an ok song to me. "Malignant Narcissism" is a short instrumental where they are having a lot of fun. Great tune. "We Hold On" is a nice way to end the album. Some ripping guitar and encouraging lyrics. If anyone knows about perseverance it's Neil Peart.

Barely 4 stars for me but I hope this will grow to a solid 4 stars. I do find it lags later on, but then it ends well. Love the guitar. I get excited thinking about this album and that's the main thing. Remember though that I really like "Test For Echo" and "Vapor Trails".This one is a touch below those two in my opinion. That may change with time and listens.

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Posted Thursday, September 20, 2007

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars The release of Vapor Trails in 2002 after Rush's hiatus brought about by the tragic death of Drummer Neil Peart's daughter and wife was a welcome return that a lot of fans thought might never happen. Although an adventurous and good album in many respects it was somewhat flawed sonically with a harsh production making it not the easiest of listens. However it was enough to make the release of Snakes and Arrows one of my most eagerly anticipated albums of this decade and I'm pleased to say I wasn't disappointed. This is Rush at their very best since Moving Pictures in 1981!

What makes this album so good apart from the obvious excellent musicianship and incidentally they are really on top of their game here, is that the song writing is so good with strong melodies and inventive playing throughout. Excellent lyrics from Peart, often inspired it would seem, by his current worldview and Geddy Lee is singing extremely well. I tip my hat in particular to guitarist Alex Lifeson for his wonderful playing which is always going off where you least expect it with imaginative chord structures, riffing and a fantastic solo on Armor and Sword. The use of Nick Raskulinecz as co- producer proves an inspired choice as the sound is powerful and clean allowing each member of the band space to shine and a vast improvement over the afore mentioned Vapor Trails.

We get thirteen tracks here, three of them instrumental and all worthy of inclusion. Nothing longer than six and a half minutes but Rush learnt the art of fitting a lot of interest into shorter songs a long time ago. With so many good tracks picking favourites is not the easiest of tasks but deserving special mention are opener Far Cry which has a very catchy hook, my favourite Lifeson guitar playing on Workin' Them Angels, the atmospheric yet powerful Spindrift and The Way the Wind Blows which starts off like Rush are going to play a Blues song before totally changing tack for another great Lifeson riff. Faithless sounds the most like the Vapor Trails material here though stronger musically.

The three instrumentals are all excellent pieces with The Main Monkey Business being the best which is as good as or better than any instrumental since La Villa Strangiato including YYZ. Hope is a nice acoustic guitar interlude midway through the album and Malignant Narcissism packs a strong punch in just over two minutes with some excellent bass work from Lee.

Rush have produced an album better than I dared hope for and deserving of five stars and my album of 2007.

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Posted Saturday, December 01, 2007

Review by Angelo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Still in (monkey) business....

They're old, they're just not yet retired, but does Rush still rock at the average age of 54? I like most of their albums, although I have some trouble getting into Caress of Steel and Vapor Trails, for obvious reasons (obvious to those who know Rush' history that is).

The opening track Far Cry provides us with a great wall of sound - tons of Geddy's amazing bass work and many megawatts of energy from all three band members go into this track. Luckily, the band has mercy on us and slows down a bit on Armor and Sword, which is more in the vain of the 1990s. It could have been found on Counterparts had it been written at the time. To me, it brings recollections of Nobody's Hero and Resist. On Working them Angels an interesting mix of electric guitar and acoustic guitar shows us what Rush is about - an opinion that only gets stronger after seeing the band perform it live at Rotterdam. Too bad it gets followed by the more straight forward rocker The Larger Bowl, which has only a very brief guitar solo to distract from the long windedness of the track. The second single from the album,Spindrift, makes up a bit for that, even if not my favourite track on the album. With The Way the Wind Blows, we are back at the Counterparts level - could it be that Counterparts is the beginning of the Rush era of which this album is also part, despite the fact that there's a live DVD in between the two? A real modern Rush track, from the drums and the bluesy guitar at the intro to the last note. Faithless fits the same model, but has a more melancholic atmosphere to it. There's a hint of the early 80s Rush work in this one, it could fit in with the work on Signals or Grace under Pressure, even though the keyboards are less prominent compared to those two albums. Bravest Face is one of the best tracks on the album, together with Working Them Angels and Armor and Sword. Same type of cooperation between acoustic and electric guitar and solid bass work. Good News First is the orphan track of the album - which means that it is that one track that I enjoy when I hear it, but that I always have to look up and play to remember how good it is. Closing track We Hold On is a typical modern Rush track, and a great outro for the album, that shows the composition and playing skills of all band members, and the power of lyricist Neil Peart - lyrics wise this could have been part of Hold Your Fire.

All of the above is interleaved by three instrumentals. The Main Monkey Business (a real band effort and very strong composition), Hope (Alex flashing fingers on a bouzouki) and Malignant Narcissism (Geddy in a - narcissistic? - lead role, causing a lesser balance than The Main Monkey Business) really show the quality of these three instrumentalists. Rush at their best, even though these tracks will never beat La Villa Strangiato and YYZ.

All in all, this album is a landmark in the career of the band, being the first studio release after their 30th Anniversary tour. Subject to discussion - have they lost it, are they still prog and, darkest of all, will this be their last? Disucssions that are all valid, and in the conclusion of which the album itself has a strong vote. Being a long time Rush fan, this is one of my favourite releases of 2007, but definitely not the strongest Rush release ever. Still, any serious Rush or prog lover should consider this album, which allows only one score on the ProgArchives scales.

Snakes & Arrows may well be one of their best efforts in a while, probably since the early eighties. If I still have this much energy at their age, I'll make a Snakes & Arrows of my own. For now I'll just admire this one.

Brought to you by the letter 'A'.

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Send comments to Angelo (BETA) | Report this review (#153607) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, December 02, 2007

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For an unashamed Rush fan as I am, I get to reviewing this album somewhat late... Even if I bought it immediately upon its release (something I only do with bands or artists I really love), and for days it hardly left my CD player, I was still grappling with a form of writer's block which prevented me from being timely in my reviewing duties towards one of my all-time favourite bands. This means my review will probably offer nothing new to those looking for information about this album... Oh, well, I suppose I'll just have to try my best, and strive for a bit of originality.

"Snakes and Arrows" comes in a classy, stunningly beautiful, package - the photos inside the booklet are nothing short of works of art, and the Eastern-themed cover art sees a skillful use of cool and warm tones. Though such factors may be considered unimportant in comparison to the actual musical content of a record, being a child of the Sixties I grew up in the golden age of gorgeous, legendary album covers (Roger Dean, anyone?). Moreover, I strongly believe in the importance of offering the complete deal - not only great music, but great visuals as well. And, judging by the two times I saw Rush perform live, they have not been slow on the uptake, and become purveyors of 'Art Rock' in the true sense of the word.

Now we come to the burning question - is it prog? Indeed, many PA members maintain that Rush stopped being progressive with "Moving Pictures", or, in some cases, even earlier than that. Knowing my own limitations as regards having any real idea of what 'prog' really is, my answer is, who cares? Does being 100% prog make your music better? Personally, I think there is a lot of progressiveness on Snakes and Arrows, even in the absence of 15-minute tracks or wild time signature changes. Obviously, it's not the kind of progressiveness you can find in the likes of TMV - Rush still favour traditional song structures, with choruses being as usual rather prominent (though only in very few cases you would call them catchy). As a matter of fact, they write SONGS, not epics, suites, or what have you. For some prog fans, this is almost a crime - though certainly not for me. It takes a lot of skill to write a good song, and Rush have that in spades.

And then, they are HEAVY. You would think that, at the age of almost 55, and after 30 years of activity, they would have mellowed out. Well, when I saw them perform live in October, I was amazed at how heavy and powerful they sounded. The songs from "Snakes and Arrows" they played (8 out of 13) really came alive in the live setting, and revealed their various facets to the listener in a way no recording can ever convey.

And now to another, even more burning question - is it the best Rush release ever, on a par with, say, "Hemispheres" or "Moving Pictures"? The answer here is a definite no - as good as Snakes and Arrows is, it is not perfect. In my opinion, its main flaw is being too long (a very common feature of modern albums), and its second half is not as memorable as the first. A song like "Good News First" could have very well been left out, and "We Hold On" does not have the effectiveness required from a good album closer. Furthermore, the slow, somewhat plodding "Faithless" is a sort of throwback to the band's less inspired Eighties output (though I do like its lyrics, which seek to demolish the myth that non-religious people are somewhat lacking in moral sense). If I have to be perfectly honest, I find "Counterparts" a more consistent, cohesive effort - hence the five-star rating.

However, when "Snakes and Arrows" is good, it is VERY good. "Far Cry" continues the band's tradition of opening albums with fireworks (and an unforgettable, fast'n'furious guitar riff to boot), and the three instrumentals are, each in its own way, true gems. "Hope" offers an aural feast for lovers of the acoustic guitar, showing Alex's more reflective, mellow side. "The Main Monkey Business" is modern-day Rush's answer to the likes of "La Villa Strangiato" and "YYZ"; while the intriguingly-titled "Malignant Narcissism" is a brisk bass-fest of the first order. However, the album's strongest tracks are probably "Armor and Sword" and the following "Working Them Angels", two similarly-structured tracks - the former (an indictment of religious fanaticism) darker and unrelenting, the latter more upbeat, featuring a pretty, lilting mandolin interlude.

As I said earlier, if you were expecting "Hemispheres II", chances are you'll be severely disappointed. Though some may find the current version of Rush not progressive enough, it cannot be denied that they have progressed in their career, and they have created a sound that is immediately recognisable, and therefore unique. Far from being tired, washed-out has-beens, the mighty Canadians still have a lot to offer to the musical world. Watch this space.

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Posted Sunday, February 10, 2008

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's a far cry from the band they started as.

(For my centen-review I'll do one that I've been waiting to do for a long time. Listening to it again and again to make sure that I've got the rating just right before I'd tackle it. And here it is:)

Over the years Rush has been a constantly evolving and changing band. Moving with the times like pictures, powering through the rough spots like windows and generally flying through the night on wings of a mixture of rock and prog to create the subgenre they currently inhabit. While controversial in the last coupe of releases, Rush has still managed to keep fans happy by releasing new, original material that reflects on where they've been, and where they're going. Snakes and Arrows is an album in that exact sense. Moving forward by keeping true to their evolving nature and looking back to make a blend of modern music and 70s classic. This album may not be as progressive as some fans would have liked it to have been, but theres no doubt that this progressive rock band is still on the move. This release debuted at #3 on the billboard charts in their native land of Canada and stayed there much longer than expected by anyone. As well, their Tour has had to be extended to a whole second, larger tour to accommodate for the fans that wish to see them. It's also been said that this has been their highest grossing album to date. Truly, Rush was deserving of the ''Most Promising Rock Group'' award that they won back in '75.

Back-story behind, let's move on to the music.

A perfect blend of old and new, Snakes and Arrows delivers headbanging rockers that Rush has always done as well as some fresh new material reminiscent of their classic albums mixed with their more recent outputs. The album opens with the rocker FAR CRY, a song that any hard rocker would love to hear from the band. With a crunching riff and a great chorus, this is the ''Anthem'' of the new millennium. No sooner does that end does the drum beat for ARMOUR AND SWORD kick off, with a great riff by Lifeson following close behind. Brilliant lyrics by Peart and over-the-top delivery by Lee makes this song a Rush classic, even among their entire catalog. WORKING THEM ANGELS is a bit softer, if only in subject matter. This song is more or less the new ''Ghost Rider'', Neil reflecting on his travels and putting them on paper in the form of song. This is somthing he's always been able to do very well anyways, put to Lifeson's and Lee's music it only gets that much better.

THE LARGER BOWL is up next, and what a reflective piece it is. A story about the fortune and misfortune in life that can really get one thinking about what the world is all about. SPINDRIFT is another rocker, this one just as heavy as FAR CRY. Not the most remarkable song, but it does have some great vocal delivery from Lee that proves that he can still hit the high notes.

The first of three instrumentals on the album, THE MAIN MONKEY BUSINESS is something else. Possibly the best instrumental to be performed by the band since YYZ, this is a track that can't be missed by prog fans. This track leads seamlessly into the next song. Another song revolving around global awareness, THE WAY THE WIND BLOWS is a very progressive track that works with the previous instrumental to show a side of Rush that's truly unique to this album. Lifeson strikes back in his old guise of Lerxt to deliver a fantastic acoustic track in HOPE.

FAITHLESS is a song under a bit of fire for seemingly attacking organized religion. Really, this is just a theme that Peart has used in his lyrics since '91s ''Ghost Of A Chance''. There may be something out there, but I think and act for myself. More great performances from each member. BRAVEST FACE is easily one of the standouts on the album, dark, well performed and written, this is a track that demands repeated listens. GOOD NEWS FIRST is one of the weaker tracks on the album, but it's topic once again makes it worth listening to.

Starting to conclude the album is the bass driven instrumental MALIGNANT NARCISSISM. Quick playing and heavy riffs make this one a standout along with the track that it leads into. WE HOLD ON follows the Rush tradition of excellent coda tracks. Heavy, quick, with great performances and writing, WE HOLD ON is a great end to a great album.

Rating?

Maybe not as prog as some of their classic albums, Snakes and Arrows is likely the best album Rush has done since the early 80s. Excellent album that gets no less than 4 stars. Just short of a masterpiece. It's a shame that MONKEY BUSINESS and WIND BLOWS weren't one song, because that might have put it over the top to have a long song after so long a time. However, with excellent performances with only one weak track this is an album that can't be missed.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#161901) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, February 16, 2008

Review by The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Solid, interensting and mature Rush's last studio album...

And a very worthy one speaking of this great band! The truly symphonic and progressive years are gone... And except a pair of tracks, what we have here is a good rock album, with only a few progressive elements. But the quality of this outstanding trio of musicians is still here, of course. It's incredible hearing this group of dinosaurs making this fresh, original and powerful music! You only have to give a listening to Far Cry to notice... A lot of younger bands sound more tired and they lack the good ideas that Rush have!

The album style follows the paths of later releases... It's not really different from Test for Echo, for example. Maybe not so riff oriented and more diversified and complex, with longer songs and more intrincated instrumentation. Maybe the lyrics are also a little more introspective... Some of this lyrics are great: Far Cry, A Larger Bowl, Bravest Face... Good job on lyrics again, Mr. Peart!

Another highlight of the album is the production... Relly impressive sound. Every sound track fits really perfect, specially bass and guitars. This is just one of the best musical productions I've heard in the last years. This marvellous sound of course helps to increase the good level of almost all the songs included in Snakes and Arrows.

Best songs: I think Spindrift is the only weak track in the album... The rest of the songs are pretty good. This is an album you can hear from beginning to the end without any interruption! If we talk about the composition, maybe the chorus of each song is the best fact... Good News First, Faithless, Armor and Sword, Far Cry... Really catchy! They will be in your head a long time...

Conclusion: splendid rock album made by the best trio in the history of music... Powerful, with deep lyrics and outstanding production, Rush released another first class album last year. Maybe it needs a pair of close listenings to starting to appreciate the details and quality of the songs... But once you've done it, you will realise that you're not able to stop hearing it. Great!

My rating: ****

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Posted Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Snakes & Arrows' - Rush (6/10)

After a lengthy hiatus, Rush is finally back in full form, although not nearly to the glory of their former days. What we have here is a very well songwritten album, but an album that flows down the vein of a more modern-rock sound, instead of a more musically and compositionally complex style. However, while this album certainly doesn't have any form of 'immortal' quality about it, it's more or less solid.

'Snakes & Arrows' got a little bit old for me, rather quickly. The songs 'Armor and Sword' and 'The Main Monkey Business' are the only two great songs on here. 'Armor And Sword' is actually great to the point of being fantastic. It's probably the best song Rush has done in over two years. It's something of a mini- epic. The lyric 'no one gets to their heaven without a fight' has a resounding power to it. Despite what I said before about the modern-rock sound, this can easily be considered progressive rock. There are some strange rhythms in it, and it's a very solid composition. Unfortunately, thats the only bit of prog the listener gets on 'Snakes & Arrows.'

Geddy's voice has really matured, and although there isn't as much of a vocal range on him anymore, theres a more universally appealing sound to his voice, falling into a tenor range now, instead of the usual alto.

Unlike most 'new' non-prog albums, this album actually has a decent flow about it. It's not fantastic, and this can't by any stretch of the imagination be compared to 'Moving Pictures' or 'Hemispheres,' but what the hell, I'm happy to have Rush back anyways!

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Posted Sunday, March 08, 2009

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars My first impression of this album was rather indifferent. It stylistically and sonically returns to the previously visited territory of Presto and Roll the Bones and not to Hemispheres as the first few bars of the album might make you expect.

But did you ever hear a Rush album that you fully appreciated at first listen? No, I don't think so and this one is no exception. With every listen you get dragged in deeper in its enchanting realm. With the exception of some nasty choruses and modulations, the songs are simply stunning. Ok there's the all too frequent legion of overdubbed Geddys ooh'ing and ah'ing all through the album, but even so, it all sounds beautifully rich and powerful. We could only wish that this album's producer gets his hands on the Vapor Trails master and reveals the true potential of that album. He's doing a real fine job here.

Originally I would have rated this 4 stars but I was quickly tired of playing this album. Maybe, if I'm in a bigger Rush mood I'll upgrade it again. 3.5 stars

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Posted Thursday, September 03, 2009

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team
4 stars I heard the the single from the new album (at that time), 'Far Cry' just a month before the record come out, and to my surprise was a great track, after a record of covers, Feedback (2004) (which is fine), and several compilations and live albums, breaking its history to record a live album every 4 studio albuns, the band became active again with Snakes & Arrows (2007), back and well. And recorded in just two months in New York in November and December, 2006.

I made a point of not downloading from the internet and expect prices to calm down a bit to buy it, and did not regret, Snakes & Arrows have a highest level. He's in the line of Vapor Trails (2002), especially with regard to heavier guitars in some parts, which is very good, since he is also a great record. Geddy is back in thie one playing some parts with the keyboards, even though still shy, which had not happened in Vapor Trails. I hope he comes back in the next to the keyboard, harder.

The album booklet is simply brilliant, Hugh Syme who works with the band since 1975 made a brilliant work on his illustrations.

With regard to the songs we feature up to say enough, listen carefully to the opening track 'Far Cry', which is strong and requires the signature of Rush's quality. 'Workin' Them Angel 'the third is a semi-existentialist ballad with great bass line and superb melody. 'The Larger Bowl' has a unplugged feel, which is a little explored part of Rush, unfortunately. The record also has 3 instrumental tracks, which did not happen for some time, but unlike most bands who have their instrumental songs extremely annoying (and I do not like instrumental music, with rare exceptions) the band has always managed to compose instrumental tracks of a way that we could all sing the melody together. In this one we have 'The Main Monkey Business" with its eastern feel,'Hope', a solo piece by Alex on guitar (superb) and 'Malignant Narcissism' with a great bass line.

'Bravest Fac'e is another highlight. 'Good News Firs't is a brick on your window. And to finish with style 'We Hold On'.

It's always great to see bands like Rush, who age with dignity in the world.

In 70's, 80's, 90's and despite sumed in 00, too, that come another 30 years for this giant.

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Send comments to ProgShine (BETA) | Report this review (#246770) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Snakes & Arrows is the eightenth full-length studio album by Canadian progressive rock act Rush.

Throughout their long history Rush have always been able to renew themselves and itīs obvious to talk about several phases in their discography. Snakes & Arrows is an album that lies in continuation of the warm alternative rock sound that the band initiated on Counterparts (1993). There are several charming elements in this phase of Rush discography but for the first time Iīm also sensing a creative standstill. Snakes & Arrows really isnīt that much different from what Rush have been doing in the last nearly 20 years and while I find Snakes & Arrows to be a good and solid album by Rush, I do hope that they will try and re-invent themselves on the next album. None of the songs on the album fail to generate some kind of enjoyment, but the standout tracks are few and far between. The instrumental The Main Monkey Business is one of those for me.

As always the musicianship and production are top notch.

Snakes & Arrows deserves a 3.5 star rating as I feel that itīs a good album that reaches excellence a couple of times, but unfortunately doesnīt stay on that level all the way through.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#254678) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, December 07, 2009

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Modern-era Rush has yet to disappoint me. Geddy Lee's voice is at its most mature and his bass work is thick and satisfying, Neil Peart's drumming is robust and his lyrics are at their most relevant, and Alex Lifeson employs a more varied palette of guitar tones and sounds. Almost every track from Counterparts onward has been hard rock bliss for me. Rush has long abandoned lengthy song structures, the lyrics are not entrenched in science-fiction or fantasy, and they have achieved commercial success beyond what most progressive rock bands attain. Perhaps these are reasons some people feel justified in spurning Rush's latter-day output- I don't know. To me, those are lousy reasons. Snakes & Arrows consists of intense heavy pop rock music with occasional progressive tendencies, meditative and philosophical lyrics, and an amazingly vigorous sound. The packaging of the CD is one of the most impressive artistic efforts I have ever seen- each piece that accompanies the lyrics in the book is practically a masterpiece (it would be difficult to choose a favorite, but I might go with the poignant painting paired with "The Larger Bowl"). My major complaint with this album is how it loses steam just over halfway through, and the compositions (with the exception of "Malignant Narcissism") are insipid and generic. Instead of prattling on for another twenty minutes about the same themes that had already been far more eloquently expressed, the band would have produced a much superior album by cutting the dross. That said, the weak songs do not detract from the assertively thoughtful music that makes up the bulk of this disc.

"Far Cry" As with the opener from the previous album, "One Little Victory," the first track for this 2008 album kicks off nice and heavy. Rush is impressive for coming up with eighteen albums worth of creative riffs, and this one is no exception, and even though it is relatively simplistic, these three men know how to fill out the sound, creating a barrage of tones that simply rock. Of course with Rush, I'm going to rip the lyrics from their macrocosmic context and bring them into the microcosmic, the personal: For the longest time after I first heard this song, this was my anthem (no pun intended): Circumstances (okay, that one was intentional) had kicked me in the balls for far too long, from losing my job, losing my health insurance, losing any savings, losing our automobile, and nearly losing all sanity, but despite two years of this, I remained confident - foolishly so- and this song only bolsters that reckless sense of optimism. Yet when I consider the losses of the man who penned these lyrics, my own pale in comparison, and I give thanks for everything- and everyone- I still have.

"Armor and Sword" Musically, this is a phenomenal piece of work. I relish the big sound of the drums and the thick interactions among the guitars and bass. The vocal melody is initially uncomfortable and may take getting used to due to its meter. With regard to lyrics, I could quibble with the metaphor (Ephesians 6:10-18), and I might also take issue with the songwriter's assumption that there is "good faith" and "bad faith" (I think the latter is self-contradictory), but I appreciate the depth of this song and I actually ally with its author in the spirit of his grievance (though we may disagree on any number of details).

"Workin' Them Angels" A piece that sounds like it would have fit perfectly on Vapor Trails, this great rock song has a catchy chorus. The title is a reference to overhearing an elderly couple, with the woman criticizing her husband's driving by saying he was "workin' them angels," meaning the man probably wasn't the safest motorist in the world.

"The Larger Bowl" Primarily an acoustic guitar song, the lyrics to this plaintive rocker are something of an extension of "Roll the Bones." The electric guitar solo is tasty, bright, and colorful.

"Spindrift" Hauntingly distant at first, this song reveals the darker side of Rush musically speaking. To my ears, it is a throwback to one of the edgier tracks from Counterparts ("Stick It Out" comes to mind).

"The Main Monkey Business" The first of three instrumentals (a record for a Rush album), this has a pleasant acoustic (twelve-string) introduction and slightly more exotic percussion, and the light electric guitar is a nice touch. It doesn't sound as zany as the title might suggest. Despite being an instrumental, the piece has Lee's distinctive voice hovering in the background. Over a fast-paced but uncluttered rhythm, Lifeson pulls off an "elastic-sounding" solo. But whereas most Rush instrumentals sound like instrumentals, this one begs for lyrics- surely some appropriate words were available?

"The Way the Wind Blows" Opening with a tom and snare duet, the song takes on a bluesy visage that hearkens back to the earliest days of the band, but with a punchy, modern sound. The acoustic bit is lifted directly from the foregoing instrumental. Lee's vocal is very warm and honest despite the whirlwind of overdriven rock music sounding it- a beautiful and contemplative effort.

"Hope" Lifeson offers a warmhearted acoustic piece with Celtic tinges.

"Faithless" I consider this to be the spiritual cousin of "Sweet Miracle," as it were. The lyrics reflect an optimistic and passive atheism. Unfortunately, the sin of this song is the weak music. It is bland and barely fits the melody, which is why I call it "faceless."

"Bravest Face" Speaking of face, there's this one. After a harsh opening, the music and singing is acoustic-based and a lot like what can be heard on their recent EP called Feedback. The lyrics reject a black and white view of the universe, and advises the listeners to be courageous and get prepared for whatever the world throws at them. The guitar solo is a funky little bit, again reminiscent of the aforementioned EP.

"Good News First" If there is one pessimistic song on the album, it is this one. This time, the music is quite similar to what one can hear on their very underrated album Test for Echo. For me, this is an okay track- it suffers from a generic contemporary Rush sound and like "Faithless," isn't memorable at all.

"Malignant Narcissism" Something of a pithy instrumental tacked on at the last minute (Lee was jamming alone on bass, and Nick Raskulinecz liked what he heard, so Peart joined in on a four-piece kit). This work is an opportunity for Lee to strut his stuff since much of the album has him merely bolstering the low end.

"We Hold On" Over thin guitar, Lee sings the words to one more flavorless song. Everything about this is good, and sure it rocks out, but the melody, the lyrics, the guitar solo- the entire composition itself- is just relatively weak and does not do the album any favors by ending it this way.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#268487) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, February 26, 2010

Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Let's get this straight: I'm a late-blooming Rush listener, not a long-term follower or fanatic. All through the 70s and 80s I resisted the trio's charms, put off by Geddy Lee's squeaky vocals. Still, I could "get" their powerful allure when Lee wasn't singing, and I'd sometimes find my foot tapping along to one of their songs on the radio. Now, in middle age, I seem to have mellowed toward many acts I formerly shunned (see AC/DC), and become more accepting of the higher-pitched "screamy" vocals which I associated with metal -- a genre I largely avoided as "beneath" me. These days I don't take my music so seriously. (As someone once sang, it's only rock and roll -- and I like it.) Perhaps it also helps that by now I've heard some truly horrendous vocals in the throat and ear-shredding screams and grating growls of much 21st-century metal. Good ol' Geddy sounds downright dulcet by comparison.

Thus, a year or so ago I picked up a copy of the priced-to-sell RUSH GOLD, a 2-CD compilation of the band's better-known 70s & 80s material. (See my review.) I quite enjoy most of it. Pleased with my purchase, for a few weeks I eyed a suspiciously bargain-priced newer Rush release, 2007's SNAKES & ARROWS, before finally taking the plunge and laying my measly ten bucks on the counter. This time out, however, I wasn't nearly as satisfied with the sounds I found within.

SNAKES & ARROWS is not a bad album -- in fact, I guess I can call it exactly that: not bad. It's just not particularly memorable. There's nothing on here which will dominate the airwaves, or your brainwaves. Opening track "Far Cry" is pretty solid stuff, as is "Workin' Them Angels," while instrumental workouts "The Main Monkey Business" and "Malignant Narcissism" (a short, sort of latter-day "YYZ") seem to reach all the required Rush receptors -- if not make them fully resonate. "Hope" is a nice enough bit of acoustic strumming from Lifeson, even if it's no modern-day Mood for a Day. Still, even at its best, I get a certain underwhelming "Rush by numbers" feeling from this album, as if Mssrs. Lee, Peart and Lifeson were merely going through the motions in the studio, following a formula that they know only too well. For this sometime fan, there's a generic sameness to most of the material, and many songs overstay their welcome. Listening to it now as I write, I can again hear why it failed to grab me by the ears at first (or 2nd, 3rd or 4th) exposure, and why I rarely play it --and never to completion. To paraphrase Peart's lyrics, it's a far cry from what I'd hoped I'd hear.

Casual fans can safely download "Far Cry" along with "The Main Monkey Business," and be done; committed Rush retainers will already have the album, and long since submitted their four-star reviews. I give SNAKES & ARROWS a fair-to-middling 2.5 stars -- generously (and self-preservingly) rounded up to 3 in deference to the slavering legions of true-blue fans, and out of genuine respect for these long-serving elder statesmen of stadium rock. Here's hoping Rush can rekindle more of their former fire and magic on the next one.

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Send comments to Peter (BETA) | Report this review (#283685) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars I've tried to get into this album, but it just escapes me. I can hear that Lee, Lifeson and peart had some fun recording it, and the musicianship is superb, but the songwriting leaves me a little flat. It seems that there was very little thought put into the vocal melodies, so it sounds as if Geddy Lee is singing similar vocal patterns in every song. Taken individually, some of the songs are quite good, but as a whole, I find the album to be tedious.

That said, there's plenty of tasty bass licks, guitar shredding and wild drumming for the fan of Rush's virtuosity. And there are two fair instrumentals, as well. But like much of Rush's later works, there is nothing that comes close to their late 70s or early 80s grandeur.

But then, how many bands are still coming this close to their earlier greatness?

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#414578) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, March 11, 2011

Review by colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This was my first Rush album; weird, right? Of course I had heard "Tom Sawyer" and other similarly famous tracks on the radio before that, and after I decided that those songs were completely awesome, I decided to purchase Rush's then-brand-new album, Snakes & Arrows.

At first I wasn't sold on the sound. Keep in mind that this was my first Rush album. My first thoughts were "where is the synth? why does this sound so dry and different?". I hadn't yet discovered that Rush changes with the times. After purchasing 2112 and Signals, I started to understand their chameleon tendencies. Only then did I start to understand the magic of this album.

The music here sounds like a dry, desert plane. It sounds like sidewinders in the sand, scorpions in their dug-holes, and the arrows of a lone traveler in this setting protecting himself from said creatures. It's a very atmospheric album as a whole, but also very rock oriented like Rush's music has always been. The three instrumentals "Hope", "The Main Monkey Business", and "Malignant Narcissism" are what I perceive as being the biggest stand out tracks on this album. "Hope" especially stands out and was the first track that I seriously enjoyed upon first listen, often playing it on repeat due it's strong beauty. Alex Lifeson is a fantastic guitarist and definitely has always had his own voice among guitarists. Neil Peart's lyrics are also fantastic as always, not to mention the his always fantastic drumming. Same with Geddy Lee - fantastic as usual.

Not a masterpiece, but far far better than their material from the '90s. This album is remarkably enjoyable through-and-through. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#429376) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 08, 2011

Review by Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A return to form...

After the mixing debacle that was Vapor Trails, Rush returned to the studio with producer Nick Raskulinecz for their eighteenth studio album. Not only is the overall sound much cleaner and infinitely more tolerable than their previous outing, but the individual compositions are a lot stronger. The appearance of not one, but three instrumental tracks is also a welcome addition as Lee's voice slowly declines with age. A lot of the music has an almost ethnic feel to it and brings back memories of early Peter Gabriel solo era.

When reviewing a band as prolific as Rush in the twilight of their career all you can really do is count the songs you like, and take away the ones you don't.

The Good: Far Cry, Spindrift, The Main Monkey Business, The Way the Wind Blows, Malignant Narcissism.

The Bad: Armor & Sword, Good News First, We Hold On.

The Verdict: In terms of quality it's Counterparts' counterpart.

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Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
2 stars I'm faithless

Snakes & Arrows is Rush's latest studio release to date and even though it is certainly an improvement over the sonic disaster that was Vapor Trails, it is not the return to form that fans like me have been waiting for. Snakes & Arrows is a more diverse affair and thus a bit more similar to Test For Echo than it is to Vapor Trails or Counterparts and there are some positive surprises. The first things I noticed when I read the credits and track list was the inclusion of as many as three instrumentals as well as Alex Lifeson's wider array of stringed instruments like twelve string guitars, mandola, mandolin and bouzouki (!). Both things spurred my interest and injected hope (incidentally the title of one of the instrumentals) that Rush finally made something really good again. The instrumentals are indeed welcome and so are the acoustic instruments, but the songwriting is not what it once was.

While the three instrumentals stand out in a positive way, there are also some tracks that stick out in a negative way. One of them is the utterly prosaic and straightforward rocker Workin' Them Angels and another is the rambling, Blues-based The Way The Wind Blows. The latter harks back to the band's very early days (before they evolved into a Prog band). Who would have thought we would ever heard such a bluesy number again from Rush so many years after they abandoned their Blues-Rock roots? This is, however, not my cup of tea, but it does at least add a little most welcome variety to the album. Hope - one of the instrumentals - is a Lifeson solo piece and a wholly acoustic affair. But those expecting a classical guitar piece like those of Steve Howe, Steve Hackett or Rik Emmett (of fellow Canadians Triumph), are in for a surprise. This is more like a droning Raga piece! - interesting, but hardly great. Faithless is a semi-ballad on the lines of Resist from the Test For Echo album, but it simply pales in comparison with that modern Rush classic. The rest is pretty much Rush by-the-numbers; neither good nor bad.

Overall, Snakes & Arrows is a rather average Rush album. It is better than most of their 90's and 00's albums, but a very far cry from the efforts of the band's heyday. Those waiting for Rush to do something on the lines of 2112, A Farwell to Kings or Hemispheres will most probably wait forever. I wouldn't hold my breath!

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#488149) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, July 22, 2011

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars Returning to Snakes and Arrows.

I bought "Snakes and Arrows" on its release after a massive build up and way too much hype and I wanted to hear something heavy and proggish and full of brilliant musicianship. I was very disappointed at the time. On the initial listen I think only about 3 songs jumped out and the rest just washed over me. I played it again and that sinking feeling followed; what a poor excuse for an album. The album came in a blaze of mass hype and disappeared from conversation without fanfare. Most Rush fans at the time wanted to forget it existed and it is easy to understand why. I spoke to some Rush fanatics recently at a prog concert and they all agreed that it was not Rush's finest hour, though some wanted to defend it but could not give a shred of evidence why it deserved to be given more than the average 3 stars. The Rush power trio had gone mellow and were treading on a more radio friendly sound akin to their 80s years. I think we Rushaholics just expected something awesome rather than merely good. Adequate is not enough when it comes to brilliant musicians such as Rush. However, I experienced this new Rush in the same way I would experience, say, an Oasis album or U2; nice to listen to on a cold afternoon but not blowing up my skirt tails. It is a real shame, as Rush are capable of brilliance such as "Moving Pictures", or "Signals".

The weird thing is that I left this album alone for at least 4 years without returning to it. It sat isolated and dejected in my CD tower while "Moving Pictures", "A Farewell to Kings" and "Hemispheres" received a veritable work out. Heck, even "Counterparts" has troubled my CD player more than "Snakes and Arrows". So what is the problem here? I put it down to the forgettable songs and overall lack in quality prog. I could not even point toward any prog on S&A unless you can call some of the instrumentals borderline prog. So it was with a certain degree of trepidation that I returned to this album for the purpose of a review that I have been putting off for about 4 years. I have just listened to some 80s Rush albums as well as "Caress of Steel" so I guess I better review this and get it over with before the arrival of 2012's "Clockwork Angels".

What has to be understood when approaching Rush is that they seem to have gone through three phases in their lengthy career. The best phase was the full blown prog phase that lasted for ten wonderful albums. Here we can expect lengthy complex compositons with a plethora of time sig changes, narrations, blistering lead solos, high register aggressive vocals, inventive power drumming and conceptual themes that range from Necromancers to Princes at battle on some mystical fantasy quest. The science fiction themes of Cygnus X permeate the albums and often wholes sides of vinyl are swallowed up by massive multi movement suites such as '2112'. 1974 to 1984 are the best albums of Rush with 10 awesome albums that I could listen to any day of the week.

The next phase was the dreaded 80s and everything became thin and crystal clean drenched in synthesizers and radio friendly AOR. The melodies overpower the lyrics that are focussed on searching for meaning. Lee's vocals are processed, Lifeson's guitars are jangly and crisp with too much treble, and indeed Peart opts for electronic percussion at times. 'Power Windows", "Presto", and "Roll the Bones" are the worst the band has produced. Yes, they have a few decent songs but are inconsistent to the point of delirium; full of filler material and totally dated.

After this the only way to go was up and Rush go back to the heaviness of their early years without the lengthy song structures and prog textures. Rush have aged and the music has likewise matured into solid rock without the flashy solos and concepts. In 1994 "Counterparts" was one of the best albums and was a true return to form, and it was followed by inferior material again with "Test For Echo" and "Vapor Trails". This is why we all wanted something great from Rush with "Snakes and Arrows".

I blew the dust off the cover, that I never was impressed with (I mean "Vapour Trails" and "Test For Echo" has more appeal than that illustration of a cartoon snake pit; Maybe that may make Indiana Jones cringe but it does nothing for me). The actual booklet boasts some fine artwork that is nice eye candy, but it is not Hipgnosis, is it? Anyway the CD cover creaked and finally I managed to wrench the CD out, it did not have a mark on it having had little disturbance over the years, and I placed it into the unfamiliar territory of an actual CD player.

It began and I was immediately greeted with 'Far Cry'. The guitars are quite heavy to me after hearing "Hold Your Fire" and "Power Windows". I really enjoyed the melody and Lee sounds terrific on vocals. Okay, it is not an instant classic but this is a decent song with some nice aggressive riffing and an atmospheric lead break that amounts to a lot of sustained string bending rather than the fret melting work of Lifeson on such awesome tracks as 'Bytor and The Snow Dog'.

After a solid start the next track is 'Armor and Sword' and again it is a very good riff heavy song that has grown on me. One of the primary reasons I have come to enjoy the album is for the insertion of a lot of these songs on the "Snakes and Arrows Live" DVD where the songs are given a new power, indeed feel invigorated with more passion on the live stage. The drums sound huge and powerful and the melody is driven with great riffs.

'Workin' Them Angels' is one of the tracks that I liked instantly hearing this back in 2007 and I still regard it highly, it sounds awesome live too. The infectious chorus is unforgettable and overall I am a fan of Lifeson's guitar work here. Interestingly the band have stated that the title of the track refers to a conversation that was overheard between two elderly people where the lady critiqued her husband's driving stating "he was workin' them angels", in other words had a charmed life as his driving had a lot to be desired. Well, it makes a catchy song title.

'The Larger Bowl' is not a bad song but it took a while to grow on me and once again I liked the live version better. The acoustics are given a workout here but the main drawcard is the melody of the chorus "some are blessed and some are cursed, such a lot of pain on the earth". I think the lyrics have a lot to say about suffering ad are better than the actual melody but this is sufficient for a listen.

So far the return to S&A for me has been quite a pleasant experience. Let's move on then to 'Spindrift'. I had no idea what this sounded like, had forgotten it completely, so it was nice to hear again. It begins with acoustic with a dark edged guitar lick sounding a bit disconcerting, but no complaints from me as I don't mind that. The lyrics are edgey and concern the loss of a relationship; "who cares what a fool believes, what am I supposed to say, where are the words to answer you, when you talk that way, a little closer to you, where is the wind that will get me." The lead break is restrained but okay to break up the verses. Again I don't mind this track at all and am quite surprised than the album is already better than the last few albums previous, apart from "Counterparts" which I adore.

There are three instrumentals on the album and they are all very well executed. The first is 'The Main Monkey Business' which is dominated by synths but they are not 80s sounding but quite effective here. The bassline is wandering and when the main theme begins I get chills as I remember it from the live performances. I absolutely love this track, and begin to wander why I was so disappointed when I first heard this album. It is strange, but I am by now under the impression that I may have held my expectations too high as this so far is far superior to any of the last few albums, excluding "Counterparts".

'The Way the Wind Blows' is the first mediocre moment for me but it is saved by some nice riffing. The lyrics let it down which are a little too self-conscious for my taste; "we can only blow the way the wind blows, we can only bow to the here and now or be broken down blow by blow". Fairy snuff. The lead break is very good and again lifts the track above what I had heard over previous years on Rush albums. However it is too long for its own good at 6 and a half minutes of repetitive choruses.

'Hope' follows with strong acoustic soloing from Lifeson. It is not 'Mood For A Day' but it is okay as a diversion from the loud dramatic rock to give our ears a rest.

'Faithless' is an optimistic track about non belief ("I don't have faith in faith, I believe in love and that's faith enough for me") but I have no interest in this. I focus on the music instead and it is okay but nothing special. The melody is nicely handled, especially the chorus, but really this is one of Rush's ordinary efforts, in the vein of most of "Presto".

'Bravest Face' is next with a pouring out of acoustics over a layer of synths. Lyrically it centres on a worldview seen through the eyes of both blacks and whites respectively; a world with "a sunny point of view", and "a darker point of view." It goes on to state "we might have precious little but we're still precious", and potently "in the sweetest child there's a vicious streak, so you might as well put on your bravest face". Lee warns the listeners to be tolerant as the world is not going to get any brighter so we must take courage and remain prepared or the world may overwhelm us. I like this ideology as it makes sense and the poetic lyrics are cleverly expressed. The music is terrific and suits the theme perfectly and for me this is another highlight, though a bit of a sleeper track that rarely gets talked about and is not on the live setlist.

'Good News First' is the anti-optimistic view of the world, after the previous optimism; "you used to feel that way, the saddest words you could ever say, but I know you'll remember that day, and the most beautiful words I could ever say, some would say they never feared a thing, well I do, and I am afraid enough for both of us, time will do its worst so do me a favour and tell me the good news first." It has a raucous guitar intro with just a lot of hard strumming on an A chord. It settles into very gentle verses and a processed vocal effect. I had no idea what this song sounded like and I can see why as it's so forgettable with precious little to latch onto in the way of musicianship or any semblance of a melody. One saving grace is Lifeson's lead break which is inventive and soaring but too short. No wonder it is left off the S&A live setlist.

'Malignant Narcissism' is the last instrumental concentric on Lee's funky slapping bass work and some of Peart's inimitable drumming to accompany. The guitars are just a lot of down sweeps ringing out and some jangalanga strikes until we get to the feedback squeals. I must admit it is great to hear Lee busting out the bass and it sounds wonderful live and he has such a great time with the crowd.

'We Hold On' finishes the album on a positive rocking note. I love the lead squeals in the main riff. It is not memorable but not too bad as you are listening to it thanks to the heaviness of the track and Lee is very good on multilayered vocals.

So I get to the end of the album realising that it wasn't such a bad release after all. Still not up to the standard of the 70s and early 80s but nevertheless superior to the disappointment of "Vapor Trails", "Test For Echo", "Roll The Bones" and the late 80s albums. I cannot wait for the new Rush album June 2012 that is even more hyped than this release, and as long as it is as good as the first few songs on this consistently it will be a delight. S&A was well worth returning to and I have no problem with the new Rush sound here, as at least it is heavy and the lyrics mean something to me. I believe the band are yet to present their best of the post 2000 years on their next release but this is still excellent music.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#764300) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Snakes and arrows is a fairly decent to great recent Rush albums, one of the many released over the years by the band. This one is from 2007 and again I like quite much. I'm a Rush fan for more then 20 years and this one is no less enjoyble from me as other albums from their catalogue. Maybe is sounds to me little more melodic then previous 2-3 albums, but is still a Rush album from all sides. This is not a fantastic record but definetly is not bad for sure either, is a typical Rush album, nothing less nothing more. The lengthy song structures are no more present like in the early days, but the prog textures are present on each piece for sure. The perfect example are the instrumental tracks like the top notch The Main Monkey Business , awesome breaks and tempo changes, quite fun to listen and very well as always produces and played. To me Rush doesn't have bad albums, not a single one is bad, some are more intresting and catchy then others that is the main thing. Good release from the masters, not really excellent but pleasent enough for my ears. 3.5 stars, another fine art work on the album sleeve..

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#993405) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 08, 2013

Review by siLLy puPPy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The 18th album by RUSH has the honor of allowing me to listen to the entire thing without losing my interest by the time I get to the end. That is something that hasn't happened since "Grace Under Pressure." Except for the all cover EP "Feedback" this was the first studio album after a lengthy silence. The refreshed sounds I expected to hear on "Vapor Trails" have finally come through on this one. Most of the songs are stronger. There's more originality and the all three members just seem like they're into it this time 'round.

The album was inspired by various sources: a Buddhist game called "Leela," a game called "Snakes And Ladders" and Hamlet's quote "slings and arrows." Even stranger yet was the decision to write the entire album acoustically and then add the electronic sounds later. The band has stated that the theme of the album is based on Neil Peart's motorcycle ride after the tragedies he endured years before, which makes me wonder why "Vapor Trails" wasn't this album. Guess it takes some time to process such horrific events.

After the first listen I really loved this album, but after repeated listenings some of the songs just sound stale. A very strong comeback but unfortunately this album can't compare to any pre-Power Windows era RUSH. Like all their recent albums this one could have used a healthy editing and a few weaker tracks dropped, but despite it all a very welcome new sound that actually works. A much needed replenishing of some musical mojo here. 3.5 but a weak one so rounded down for this one.

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Send comments to siLLy puPPy (BETA) | Report this review (#1196093) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, June 19, 2014

Latest members reviews

5 stars A return of the band as I would have expected them to be - the best effort since "Grace under Pressure" in my opinion. This isn't the Rush of old but then this is Rush in 2007 - the music is powerful and interesting. The band survived the eighties and the nineties and now they present us with ... (read more)

Report this review (#940463) | Posted by sukmytoe | Sunday, April 07, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In the 70s and 80s, Rush established a new kind of prog which would also be an important influence on prog metal. It was more riffy and a bit light on structure but involved displays of dazzling virtuosity without jams or improvisations of any great length. The function of a jam or improv was b ... (read more)

Report this review (#759241) | Posted by rogerthat | Sunday, May 27, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Vapor Trails could have been tough for people to sallow because of the heaviness but with this one they took out the acoustic instruments and made a progressive album. Other albums you could argue that like this one but I believe this is a progressive album. Far Cry is a great opener that even ... (read more)

Report this review (#463638) | Posted by criticdrummer94 | Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars SNAKES & ARROWS is a return to COUNTERPARTS-era sonics, focusing primarily on heavy songs that have a great deal of punch to them. Consider it like the SIGNALS/GRACE UNDER PRESSURE two punch; like Signals, VAPOR TRAILS had them explore a new sound (or in this case, a new version of an old sound), ... (read more)

Report this review (#409684) | Posted by Gorloche | Tuesday, March 01, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I've been a huge Rush fan since I first saw them on October 13, 1982 at the University of Illinois during the Signals Tour. I quickly acquired all of their early albums from their first album Rush through Signals and later Grace Under Pressure. I saw them again at the Rosemont Horizon o ... (read more)

Report this review (#405857) | Posted by By--Tor | Tuesday, February 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Rush is truly a unique band. You never really know what you are going to get when you press play on a Rush album and this has been the case from the first track on RUSH in 1974 to the opening seconds of this albums energetic and typically enthusiastic opener Far Cry. On this album you can feel ... (read more)

Report this review (#349422) | Posted by topographicbroadways | Friday, December 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Not every later release by the 70s era progressive super heroes has to be a bust. I'll be the first to admit that Snakes & Arrows is not Rush's greatest release, but it show a band which is still expanding its horizons even after 30 plus years. There are times when Snakes & Arrows can be incredib ... (read more)

Report this review (#304337) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Saturday, October 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Sadly this is my last Rush review (for a while, at least until I get the rest of their albums, I only need about 7 of them, wow, and I thought I had a load of them), but what a way to go. This album I believe is the perfect mix between what they were doing in the early 80's and the 90's, which ... (read more)

Report this review (#282502) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A perfect album? Definatly, fresh, new, and inspiring is what I would call this album. The music overall is much better than Vapor Trails and easier to get into because the mix overall is much better and the production is excellent, everything is well heard. We do get a special apperance on ... (read more)

Report this review (#250051) | Posted by Rushlover13 | Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Snakes & Arrows is Rush's 1st album in 2 years and boy did they not lose a single drop of their awesomeness. This album features tight playing, and while less proggy than their previous albums, S&A still sounds like a helluva good Rush album. Far Cry, the opening track, is a hell of a good st ... (read more)

Report this review (#221530) | Posted by The Runaway | Wednesday, June 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A very, very solid album. Probably one of my favourite Rush albums and one of my favourite albums of 2007 (second only to Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet). Musically this album is a combination of the band's hard rock work from the '90s coupled with their late-'70s prog, but with a new ... (read more)

Report this review (#213734) | Posted by Una Laguna | Monday, May 04, 2009 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Much ado about nothing! I listened to this album a couple of times in a row now and I can't detect anything worthwhile here. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big Rush fan for more than twenty years now. Although I hate to say it, it has to be done: almost all the stuff on this album is second or eve ... (read more)

Report this review (#207986) | Posted by strayfromatlantis | Sunday, March 22, 2009 | Review Permanlink

1 stars As a fan, I read all the announcements the musicians did previous to the release of Snakes and Arrows. In one of them, Geddy (or was it Alex?) said that the record had been composed as in a gig, with oneīs ideas being the counterpart of the othersī, as it was supposed to be in the first days, fe ... (read more)

Report this review (#199434) | Posted by Francisco Perez | Saturday, January 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars its good old hard rock, but with a touch of prog! this album seems to be a stereotypical 90's rock album yet a rush album at the same time. this isn't very surprising counting on the fact that rush has done this from every album after signals throughout the 80's and 90's to just keep on making ... (read more)

Report this review (#197389) | Posted by hugh mann | Monday, January 05, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I starting listening to RUSH when Moving Pictures was new. I haven't missed an album or tour since. I have just loved everything they recorded in the past, including the Feedback EP and the first album. This RUSH CD is unlike any other CD in their catalog, in my opinion. I believe that is so, b ... (read more)

Report this review (#190474) | Posted by Single Coil | Tuesday, November 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have been a Rush fan since 1987. I have almost a religious feeling for this band. I admire them and I suffered with them during their dark ages. The rumors about a new album started. I was looking forward to this album. The very encouraging studio reports was fanning the flames in my heart. ... (read more)

Report this review (#187704) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Sunday, November 02, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I picked up the new Snakes and Arrows CD the day it was released. I'm one of those people that, although I love music, and listen to lots of it, all the time, I still usually cannot get a feel for an album without a few listens. I just got through listening to the whole thing straight thru w ... (read more)

Report this review (#183153) | Posted by Analog Kid | Sunday, September 21, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Now I enjoy a lot of Rush's classic stuff. They are definetely a very good band that has made some great stuff in the past. I suppose that's part of what makes this album so dissapointing. I was astonished after hearing this album the first time. It was very basic. There's nothing that's abso ... (read more)

Report this review (#181599) | Posted by topofsm | Tuesday, September 02, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Rush was my first musical love, prog or not. Bought all of their studio output without question. But, after being pretty disappointed in Vapor Trails and Test for Echo, I just knew this one would be below par so put off buying it. Gone forever the days of counting down to release dates for this ... (read more)

Report this review (#178555) | Posted by johnobvious | Thursday, July 31, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've listened to this album enough times that I can safely say it is my favorite Rush album (I bought it a year ago - I think that's long enough). Here, I have found my perfect blend of emotion, musicianship, and storytelling. Older Rush albums, such as 2112, Roll the Bones, etc. provide red-li ... (read more)

Report this review (#168875) | Posted by StarsongAgeless | Monday, April 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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