Rating:
8.8
Rush - Snakes & Arrows
1 May 2007


01. Far Cry
02. Armor And Sword
03. Workin' Them Angels
04. The Larger Bowl
05. Spindrift
06. The Main Monkey Business
07. The Way The Wind Blows
08. Hope
09. Faithless
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'.

Performance: 10
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Production: 8


Band profile: Rush
Album: Snakes & Arrows


 


written by Demonic Tutor | 23.09.2007



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Harmonic - 23.09.2007 at 20:22  
I spent years trying to get used to the Rush sound - then Snakes & Arrows came along, and it was magic right from the start. There's something different - and very appealing - about this album. It could be the heaviness, but I think there's also a newfound confidence in the sound. Earlier Rush sounds edgy - even frantic at times - but a feeling of calm mastery pervades Snakes & Arrows. Gone is the manic intensity of songs like Fly by Night. The old Rush fans may not share my sentiment, but I like this new album a lot.

Good review, DT!
addiction - 23.09.2007 at 21:31  
this is one of this year's best albums for sure. i agree with harmonic that there is a newfound confidence in the sound and this album is very enjoybale to listen to! even people that do not know rush might find that it is magical indeed!
and i can't believe i am saying this....but....this is one of the bet reviews i have read for years!!! well done demonic tutor!!! everything you wrote was more or less spot on!!! keep it up!!! both you and rush!
Dane Train - 23.09.2007 at 21:36  
Amazing review. You nailed it. This is a solid album from one of the best bands out there. I think this is one of the best Rush albums in the last 15 years.
Prowler84 - 24.09.2007 at 02:51  
They are the Gods! I like all Rush albums including Snakes & Arrows
subprime jim - 24.09.2007 at 18:27  
I have been a die hard Rush fan for over 25 years, i've seen them live around 30 times, they are the most professional group of musicians I've ever seen/heard. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best albums they have put out in 5 - 10 years. It amazes me how they can not just put out album after album of quality, and they keep getting better.
LOVE this album !!
sev7en77 - 02.10.2007 at 11:36  
i put rush off for so long.....
this album is great
b0000mst1ck - 12.12.2007 at 09:48  
just got this album at fye last night. i've only had one chance to hear it but i've liked it so far.

the only other cd i have of theirs is the spirit of radio, but i like the modernistic feel of this new one. 8.5/10 so far.
Lord_Regnier - 18.04.2009 at 16:57  
Written by Guest on 23.09.2007 at 20:22

The old Rush fans may not share my sentiment, but I like this new album a lot.


As an old Rush fan, I indeed don't share your sentiment. I love Rush, but I'm one of those who think this band is much less good after "Presto". Rush's music was much more complex, technical and energetic during the 70s and 80s than it is since the 90s.


Their more recent stuff (and I mean everything since "Roll The Bones" or, at least, "Counterparts") is quite boring and pales in comparison with their older material:

1. Since "Counterparts", they use a sound (production) that is way too heavy for their kind of music and often ruins the melodic aspect, which has always been very important in Rush's music.

2. The music, the song structures, are often way too simple since the 90s, considering the extreme complexity this band used us to in the past.

3. Neil's drumming, while still good, is nowhere near as complex and impressive as it was on albums like "Grace Under Pressure", "Power Windows" or "Hold Your Fire". And he has lost much in terms of speed.

4. Lyrics plain suck most of the time. During the 70s and 80s, Rush were renowned for their unusual songwriting themes, for their originality and imagination. I don't find this in their more recent stuff, or at least rarely. Some of their lyrics are silly and uninteresting now.

5. Geddy's singing is bad since "Vapor Trails". It was a bit less good than before on "Roll The Bones" and "Counterparts" but, imo, it's just horrible and boring since "Test For Echo". And his bass playing is quite basic and simple compared to what he did in his young days.

I was an absolute Rush lover during the 80s. I will always have lots of respect for this band but, when I think Rush, I think only until "Presto" (incl). I still listen to this band when I'm really in the mood for something soft and melodic, but only the old albums. Anything recent is way too sub-par compared to what I've been used to by this band when I was still a schoolboy.
Harmonic - 19.04.2009 at 04:03  
Written by Lord_Regnier on 18.04.2009 at 16:57

Written by Guest on 23.09.2007 at 20:22

The old Rush fans may not share my sentiment, but I like this new album a lot.


As an old Rush fan, I indeed don't share your sentiment. I love Rush, but I'm one of those who think this band is much less good after "Presto". Rush's music was much more complex, technical and energetic during the 70s and 80s than it is since the 90s.

...


Don't get me wrong, I'm sure old Rush is awesome to the right ears. But back then, the fact that Peart was the best drummer in the world was lost on me. I couldn't get through a single Rush song on account of Geddy's screechy falsetto. Honestly, when I first heard Rush on the radio I thought he was a she. Nowadays, it sounds like Geddy finally grew a pair of balls. His vocals are within the range of normal human hearing - and I can appreciate Rush at long last!
Lord_Regnier - 19.04.2009 at 04:44  
Written by Guest on 19.04.2009 at 04:03

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure old Rush is awesome to the right ears. But back then, the fact that Peart was the best drummer in the world was lost on me. I couldn't get through a single Rush song on account of Geddy's screechy falsetto. Honestly, when I first heard Rush on the radio I thought he was a she. Nowadays, it sounds like Geddy finally grew a pair of balls. His vocals are within the range of normal human hearing - and I can appreciate Rush at long last!


I see where you come from. I really do. Lots of people have trouble with Lee's vocals on old Rush albums (until "Moving Pictures" incl, I would say), especially their 70s stuff, when he was younger, as his voice was extremely high-pitched. Personally, I never had trouble with his piercing shrieks but I know lots of people who were never able to stand them. And the same happened to me back in the day: first time I heard Rush on radio, I was sure it was a girl who sang. It happened many times in my life that I had to show people the pictures in the booklets, otherwise they thought it was a joke when I told them it was a man who sang.

I understand what you mean by "he grew a pair of balls". Problem I have with the 90s stuff onwards is I sense no energy, no passion in his voice. His vocals don't have the 'explosive' power they had in the old days. I find it boring. Also, he often sounds nasal, imo. And the tone is too even.

You know, there are surely some people in the middle, but it seems most people are fans of old Rush (until "Presto" or maybe "Roll The Bones") or of their more recent stuff, but not fans of both periods.
I will always like old Rush but I'll never like much anything after "Presto".
Winterthrone - 17.07.2010 at 00:14  
Written by Lord_Regnier on 19.04.2009 at 04:44

Written by Guest on 19.04.2009 at 04:03

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure old Rush is awesome to the right ears. But back then, the fact that Peart was the best drummer in the world was lost on me. I couldn't get through a single Rush song on account of Geddy's screechy falsetto. Honestly, when I first heard Rush on the radio I thought he was a she. Nowadays, it sounds like Geddy finally grew a pair of balls. His vocals are within the range of normal human hearing - and I can appreciate Rush at long last!


I see where you come from. I really do. Lots of people have trouble with Lee's vocals on old Rush albums (until "Moving Pictures" incl, I would say), especially their 70s stuff, when he was younger, as his voice was extremely high-pitched. Personally, I never had trouble with his piercing shrieks but I know lots of people who were never able to stand them. And the same happened to me back in the day: first time I heard Rush on radio, I was sure it was a girl who sang. It happened many times in my life that I had to show people the pictures in the booklets, otherwise they thought it was a joke when I told them it was a man who sang.

I understand what you mean by "he grew a pair of balls". Problem I have with the 90s stuff onwards is I sense no energy, no passion in his voice. His vocals don't have the 'explosive' power they had in the old days. I find it boring. Also, he often sounds nasal, imo. And the tone is too even.

You know, there are surely some people in the middle, but it seems most people are fans of old Rush (until "Presto" or maybe "Roll The Bones") or of their more recent stuff, but not fans of both periods.
I will always like old Rush but I'll never like much anything after "Presto".

Sorry to ruin your fun, but I am a fan of both periods...
Dogsbreakfast - 24.03.2012 at 19:56  
I see lots of positive comments on Neil Peart's drumming and I've always thought of this as the group's weak link. Yes, it's very complex and performed (technically) at a very high level but he tends to fill Rush songs with as much drumming as he can possibly jam in there like he's Buddy Rich or some fucking thing. Meg White is not one-tenth the drummer that Peart is but at least she knows when to lay into the drum-set and when to let it breathe. I read Peart's book "Ghost Rider" and found it to be just like his drumming: Over-written and over-stated. Yup, and the book's covers are too far apart too!

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