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Rush - Permanent Waves CD (album) cover




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4.27 | 2319 ratings

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5 stars It is indeed about time I rated this album. Second only perhaps to Hemispheres, this album is probably the band's most daring album in that it was probably the most dramatic shift of sound the band had attempted, and that's saying a lot. A new album for a new decade of Rush music, and this is the band just after their pinnacle of progressiveness (Hemispheres) and before the pinnacle of their catchy songwriting (Moving Pictures), and the two are intermediated to form this magnificent piece of progressive rock. The atmosphere, riffs, and songwriting overall are probably the most intellectual sounding of any album I have heard yet, and that's definitely saying a lot. As far as the instrumentation is concerned, Lifeson's use of sound effects has never been more effective, and his soloing has never been better. In fact this is the only album that I can say I truly love his soloing. Lee's bass lines have never been more creative, catchy, or popping, and has such a meaty tone to it, it is so satisfying, a bit like Squire's actually. Peart's drumming was probably only really technically better on Hemispheres and his riffs on Moving Pictures, though it is probably better as it was for the band's purposes. He just does such a great job of complimenting the music, especially in this album. What's more, Lee's singing is, IMO, the best and most consistent of any Rush album, very clean and precise. All of the instruments are in a complete balance of activity and fit together to form an album with breathtaking aura, and the use of synthesizers and sound effects is the better than any that they have yet produced. Every song on the album is very unique, though this is also somewhat expected for the band. I don't typically give reviews analyzing every song unless I think the almost truly deserves it, and boy does this album deserve it.

It is also the album that I was raised on from birth, and is probably the reason why I am the die hard Rush fan that I am now. I'm sure it's also the root of my taste for progressive rock, and has probably influenced me as an individual more than any other piece of music I have heard, besides maybe Close to the Edge. There probably isn't a sound in this entire album that I don't have memorized, I have listened to it so many times. Indeed, Permanent Waves is a part of who I am, and any album that can do something like that has to be a masterpiece, period.

1. Spirit of the Radio

This song is one of the only Rush songs that seems to make sense with the band's name. The album starts with Lifeson ripping right into a fast riff and interesting rhythmic interactions between Lee and Peart. This song is a perfect opener for the album, it is so inspiring and so complex, with such smooth changes and such a great playing and sound effects. At one point there is almost a reggae feel in the song, and is one of the band's most unique sounding moments. The band shows in this song that though they may have given their music a bit more appeal, they are still going to show off their musicianship and don't let down on their progressive quality. This and the following song pack a lot of material in a small amount of time.

2. Freewill

This song has some of the best technical playing the band has ever made, the odd time signatures and changes, and the fast and complicated playing would likely make any other band that was popular at the time simply fall flat on its face. The lyrics of this song pertain to mythology, with the Gods and Lotus Land and such, and are among some of Peart's best. It's the only song I've heard so far in my prog listening that his 13/4 as a time signature. Another incredible song on a truly incredible album.

3. Jacob's Ladder

The third track is a bit longer and more spread out and atmospheric than the first two, and relies almost completely on instrumentation, except for a few instances. It is also probably my favorite song on the album, the cloud looming low and ominous and the music reflects this idea so well, and has the best use of atmospheric keyboards of any song I've heard, especially in the middle. Such great vibrato... and it matches so magically with the vocal part... it's like enlightenment. Great riffs, bass lines and drum fills, as usual for this album. The ending is one of the best Rush moments I have and probably will ever experience.

4. Entre Nous

The beginning of this song is a great transitions from the incredible ending of the previous one. I think this is probably Rush's most underrated song, the melodies, 12 string guitar, and structure of the song are so wonderful. I luckily had the privilege to see them perform it live on their last Snakes and Arrows tour, and I felt like the only one out there that knew the lyrics. Synths are almost as good on this song as the previous, and Lifeson's distortion guitar chords are very unique, not mere power chords for sure. 5. Different Strings

This song is definitely the softest on the album, pretty much a pretty, almost sad progressive ballad. I love Lifeson's harmonics and overall guitar work, so delicate, and the piano adds so much to the song. The song leads out with a strange guitar solo. It is probably the least likable song on the album, at least for most people. It's a bit like Circumstances on Hemispheres, it doesn't add much to the album, but neither does it take anything away. I guess if this song does add something, it's a softer moment for an otherwise quite energetic album.

6. Natural Science

This was my favorite track of all time for quite some time (until I found Close to the Edge and Cygnus X-1 Book 2). It is by far the most progressive on the album, though I find it a bit funny when I hear it referred to as an epic - I'd hardly call nine minutes an epic, even if it is supposedly split up into three parts. Though it does start off like a Yes epic would, with the sound of a tidal pool dripping and a twelve string guitar. There's plenty of 7/8 to go around, and has my favorite 7/8 riff actually. Whenever I think of 7/8 by mind flips directly to Lifeson's riff on this song, during a quantum leap forward in time and in space, the universe meant to expand, which is vocalized with reverse reverberation. This song progresses like no other, and is probably Peart's best performance on the album. The best part of this song is the lyrics, probably the most intellectual lyrics Peart ever made. In the introduction with the pool in a short lived galaxy. Each is it's own society, a simple time mirror to reflect upon our own, all the busy little creatures chasing out their destinies. It's the sort of analogy that intellectuals use to put our human race into perspective, and how anyone puts this in the way that the music and descriptions portray this concept in the song is beyond me. I guess Peart is just that much of an intellectual. The exact kind of song nerds like me would like.

I honestly don't see how this album could have been improved, there are no weak tracks, or moments, no awkward riffs, no mediocre melody lines, and no obnoxious screams on Lee's part. With this album everything fell together for the band, and was one of their biggest commercial breakthroughs. I'll be very content if I can ever write anything a third as good as this album. A true 5/5, 100% masterpiece.

Draith | 5/5 |


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