Rush - Snakes & Arrows review
|Album:||Snakes & Arrows|
|Release date:||May 2007|
01. Far Cry
02. Armor And Sword
03. Workin' Them Angels
04. The Larger Bowl
06. The Main Monkey Business
07. The Way The Wind Blows
10. Bravest Face
11. Good News First
12. Malignant Narcissism
13. We Hold On
The legendary prog-rock Canadian trio known as Rush has been an important discovery in my musical quest ever since my then-girlfriend - now wife - introduced me to them back in 2002. Unknown to some, living legends to others, Rush has had an incredible longevity since 1968. Snakes & Arrows is their 18th studio album, following their resurrection album, 2002's Vapor Trails. In those five years, the band put out some awesome live material both on stage and on DVD [Rush in Rio, R30], as well as exploring their roots with 2004's cover album Feedback. But finally, Rush came back to releasing some new original music.
For the unfortunate reader who is unfamiliar with Rush, it is a trio composed of Neil Peart [drums & lyrics, regarded as one of the best drummers in the world and revered mentor of countless younger drummers], Geddy Lee [bass, vocals, keyboards, musician extraordinaire also regarded as one of the best bass players in the world] and Alex Lifeson [guitars, very underrated self-taught guitar genius with a definite personal guitar sound].
Despite the opening track - 'Far Cry' - being a similarly powerful opener as 'One Little Victory' [from Vapor Trails], this new album sounds overall more mature than any of its predecessors. It is a quieter album in a way, without leaving behind the extreme technique. The production may have something to do with this quiet impression as well, as the band likes to downplay Alex's guitar sound on their albums to add more punch on tour.
Rush fans won't be taken by surprise by the new songs, as they follow the successful recipe that they used on previous albums; focused on beautiful lyrical passages and outstanding melodies, interposed by passionate instrumental moments. The ballads are maybe more numerous on this album, but they reflect the mood of the musicians and none of them seem out of place. The three purely instrumental tracks are Rush-stamped, classic stuff with Geddy going insane on bass guitar or Alex displaying his skills on a 12-string acoustic guitar.
The lyrics, which are another strong point of Rush, are again dark and enlightening at the same time. And once again, the design of the album's booklet is grandiose, with breathtaking pictures. This alone is worth buying the album.
I am able to put an additional spin on this review as I just saw Rush on stage last Saturday in Montreal in front of a sell-out crowd of at least 15,000 and incidentally, I also saw them shortly after they released Vapor Trails in 2002. When those guys play, it's magic. They don't do things halfway, always playing for more than 3 hours, with a set-list full of hits ranging from the 70 to this year. Anyway, 'Far Cry' and 'The Way The Wind Blows' were rightfully two of the crowd's favorites on that night. Overall, the songs from Snakes & Arrows sounded obviously more powerful on stage than on the album, but also more thought-through in their rendition. Regardless, it doesn't take much out of the album version of the songs.
As with all Rush albums, Snakes & Arrows is a unique piece of progressive rock to discover. Maybe lacking another big punch song towards the end of the disc, some would say too many ballads, but overall this record is another treasure chest. It might be more difficult to open for newcomers, but the gold inside shines through enough to make Snakes & Arrows one of 2007's jewels.
Highlights: 'Far Cry', 'Armor and Sword', 'The Way The Wind Blows', 'Good News First' and 'We Hold On'.
Written on 23.09.2007 by
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