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Rush - Hold Your Fire CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.26 | 916 ratings

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3 stars It's surprising how much Rush can hold on through the decades, especially with this album. This WAS one of the few Rush albums that grew on me fast. Hold Your Fire pretty much concludes their synth-induced coma, but I must say that the band makes some strides musically with this album compared to the previous ones. Several of these accomplishments I will speak about in the coming songs. First thing I found interesting was the programmed synth (courtesy of an Apple Macintosh), which it frequently used throughout the album. This pretty much solved the band's live synth problem, but there were a few songs where the synth could be played.

Force Ten, like the band said themselves, is unlike the rest of the album... so why put it first? Well first thing to note is the new technique that Geddy developed. Sure, he used bass chords before, but never in an alternating fashion with his thumb. Some of the drumming is generic, but fast paced, while Alex is playing around with some delay and chords here and there. He has a solo... somewhere in here.

Time Stand Still is an interesting one... problem was that its replay value can fade over time if you listen to it too much. The song itself sounds way too pop rock in general, especially with a female vocalist on top. I will commend it for the usage of electronic sounds and Peart's drumming. Basically, him and Geddy hold the song up.

Open Secrets is full of synth and contains a lot of electronic drumming from Peart. I seems to draw some similarities from Middletown Dreams for me. Not much to say about this song except it's the longest on this album, and preferably the most boring... sorry, but it just doesn't click with album.

Second Nature... is possibly the slowest and ethereal Rush song since Losing It (I sure love that song). A really good aspect of this is the piano chords along with all the empty space the band leaves, allowing the listener to absorb the flow. There is again some drum lines that Peart uses here that will be used again later on the album, a lot of percussion and toms, with the snare only carrying the beat. The lyrics here are commendable, and seem to get revisited on later albums. Geddy's singing on this song is just great and really brings out the severity of the lyrics. The music here is comparable to stadium rock, but the closure is good from this soothing song.

Prime Mover is truly a moving song, and although it has a bunch of synth with a few mainstream rock sounds, it has prog lyrics written all over it. Introduced with some vocal samples, the clean guitar sound from Alex is a great touch to the song, and Peart runs some great lines to go with it. The interlude section of "set the clouds in motion" is what really drives the song, and then the synth/drum succeeding it stitches the sections together. I don't like the fade out though, even though Geddy has lines like "Anything can happen"... I really want it to end, but maybe since it's called "Prime Mover" it's infinite. This one really stands out compared to the rest.

The second half seems to have some better offerings than the first, preferably Lock And Key. The orchestral synth is a good touch, supporting the grandeur and gravity of crime and people's crazy ideas. The song is more of a cry for help about those who do wrong and are locked up for it. Peart is probably the best here, along with Alex RIPPING a solo out; very different compared to the first half of the album.

Mission is very soulful, comparable to Second Nature earlier on the album. It is primarily synth driven, but Peart whips out some good drumming with marimba, fills and a quick middle section. Geddy has his best singing on the album here, brings out the emotion of the lyrics penned for this anthem. What separates this song from the rest is the playful middle section that is a kind of detour. The agonizing solo from Alex at the end is powerful yet simple, as he puts some deep emotion into it.

Turn The Page is a real rocker on the album, and Geddy brings back his bass technique. There is a kind of flavor to this song, makes me want to get up off my feet and move around. "Nothing can survive in a vacuum" is just the opening line, and many other lines that move along have a real connection with life. The song itself predates Superconductor, and is one of the few times in the 80s that Rush produces a song that jolts the senses. Peart just keeps wailing away as Alex rips out ANOTHER good solo; while Geddy's bass keeps churning along. This song is well placed, kind of rewarding the listener for holding on so long.

Tai Shan is a real gem on here, and is SERIOUSLY underrated. It has the ethereal qualities unlike any other song they've made, and sound true to the lyrics and the theme surrounding it. The Oriental flavor is a nice touch, a sort of continuation of Territories. I can't tell if Peart is sampling some drums here and there because there's some more electronic drum stuff; and Geddy's bass can sound synth-like sometimes. Alex's guitar adds to the flavor of the tune along with his powerful chords to blast over the calmness of the song. A good treat to proggers looking for a quiet, but strong song to listen to. It is surely one of the best songs on the album.

High Water seems to follow another progressive theme on human's connection with water, but this ain't Here Comes the Flood. There is a soothingness to the synth in the song in parts, but the song has a decent groove. It fits with a good portion of the album, but there is no solo and it's hard to compare it with other Rush songs here and other albums. The song also ends rather abruptly, like it finishes one rhythm "the water takes me home" and ends on a synth note. It kind of seems dry for the kind of ending you'd expect.

Overall, this is a Rush album, and one of the late 80s. To get a good impression of the album, one should realize the time period in which it came from. Sure there was synth, but I believe that was synth sporadically. The album isn't flooded with snyth like Power Windows or Grace Under Pressure, and has a much more modest approach to the usage of it. I should also note it was one of the last albums where they played most of the songs from a new album live. This album is not a masterpiece, but every Rush fan should have it. And its once of their few albums that one can relax to.

(EDIT 10/2019: Whoa, all these praises I sang for this album. It really should be 3/3.5 stars, although my opinion hasn't changed)

FromAbove | 3/5 |


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