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Rush - Permanent Waves CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.28 | 2123 ratings

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5 stars While Hemispheres is my alltime favourite Rush album, it is this album and the following Moving Pictures that to me marked out Rush as an alltime great band. Why?? Because they showed they could change their sound without losing anything from previous albums that was great about them, indeed adding new dimensions to their art. Sure, older fans were alienated by the change (much like hardcore Ozzy fans must have decried the unspeakably brilliant Heaven and Hell album of Black Sabbath at the time of its release) but that is usually the case in rock n roll anyway (post-Uli Roth Scorpions is another such instance, again Lovedrive and Blackout ranking among the best albums of that band).

However, I was not fortunate enough to watch these bands grow and that, fortunately, makes me more neutral about their albums through the years. This is a Rush still belting out proto-prog metal rivalled by none at that time (or even today). Hell, Natural Science possibly rocks harder than Trees and Jacob's Ladder has riffs that would make Tony Iommi proud. At the same time, they show they are able to write accessible, indeed radio-friendly, songs that still retain all the accomplished musicianship we look forward to from Rush. Sure, Spirit of Radio and Freewill are radio-friendly, but in a good way, like Pink Floyd's Money or Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath. And, IMHO, Different Strings and Entre Nous rank among the finest creations of Rush. Sure, they are not in the least complex compositions but they show the sensitive, mature side of Rush.

Here, I would like to digress a bit with an example based on Metallica. After deeply influencing thrash and making it a more epic and complex beast than its other frontrunners had conceived possible and in turn successfully pulling off mainstream metal/rock, Metallica tripped heavily in covering the seemingly simple Black Sabbath song Sabracadabra. Rush however proved on Permanent Waves that they could write accessible rock that was also intelligent and beautiful at the same time, a dimension they had not displayed till then in their songwriting. In essence, they could straddle the complex epics and the simple, soulful rockers/ballads effortlessly.

Coming to the instrumental attack, this is probably more guitar-oriented than Hemispheres with some uninhibited but inventive shredding from Lifeson as opposed to his tight performance in the previous album. At the same time, Geddy Lee's keyboards too begin to play a bigger role in the mix than before. How is this achieved?? Well, as mentioned earlier, the band expanded and enriched their sound to accomplish that which they could not have in the previous outings.

And that, more than anything else, is the reason to recommend any prog rock album highly. When a band change in a good way and even improve upon their previous work, it means the album is still interesting for a prog rock fan and Permanent Waves certainly passes that test.

Dock points?? What for, this album is perfect in every way. Ok, I will be politically correct and give it 4.75 :P

rogerthat | 5/5 |


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