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Snakes and Arrows

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Snakes and Arrows

Rush is Back with New CD and Tour

Canadian rock trio Rush, what can you say? Almost 40 years in existence, formed in 1968, although they didn’t release their first album until 1974. Since then, they have more than 20 gold albums and over a dozen platinum albums to their credit. That’s some track record. How do they do it, and what makes them so unique?

Is it Geddy Lee’s piercing vocals, pitched so many octaves higher than any other male vocalist (perhaps only with the exception of, say, Jon Anderson of Yes and another Canadian power trio Triumph)?

Neil Peart is the true drummer’s drummer who has won award after award for his amazing skills, specifically his signature timing. He puts fills where you’d least expect them, cymbal crashes likewise, and, to boot, writes ALL their lyrics, but sings none!

These guys certainly seem to have the longevity thing nailed. Perhaps that’s because they record an album, release it, tour, and then disappear. In recent years have taken anywhere from three to six years between albums. Their last full release – not including the covers EP Feedback in 2004 – was Vapor Trials in 2002.

Pure Rush

Although hinting that they are somewhat reclusive, both Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee have released solo albums: Lifeson in 1996 with Victor and Geddy Lee with My Favorite Headache in 2000.

The band has not been without tragedy, with Neil Peart losing his daughter in a car accident in 1997, and his wife to cancer the following year. That would be enough to get most folks to quit, I’m sure, but not Neil Peart!

So power to these guys as they release Snakes and Arrows, which debuted on the Billboard Top 200 at #3! Fans have obviously been greatly awaiting this release!

The album opens with the first single, "Far Cry" which has really got its hooks in me and is pure Rush, no question!

We then have "Armor and Sword," which has hints of Def Leppard’s Hysteria in places, but the structure and phrasing is typical Rush, seriously progressive rock stuff. There’s also an acoustic section that brings back memories of their track "Trees" from the Hemispheres album. This track is also excellent Rush fare!

"Working Them Angels" has a kind of dark feel as it builds, but then has folk / prog element with Alex Lifeson playing some mandolin. The song has a great feel. It has grown on me over this past week of listening.

Strange but Good

"The Larger Bowl" -- strange title but great stuff. The intro kind of sounds like a 60s song and it actually grows into a very straightforward easy going melodic rock track, beautiful stuff.

Next up, "Spindrift" starts with an eerie edge and remains fairly dark as it continues and maybe a little repetitive after a while.

"The Main Monkey Business" intro sounds a little like the intro to the old Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy TV shows, but then becomes something more intriguing, with many elements. A very powerful instrumental track, the first of three on the album.

"The Way The Wind Blows" kind of reminds me of Cream in places, but hardly surprising as I know Rush have quoted the 60s trio as influences and even covered them on the Feedback EP. The track is much more in-depth though than you might think from that statement, but the solo reeks of Cream-era Clapton.

"Hope" is the second instrumental track. It is an acoustic piece with just Alex Lifeson.

"Faithless" is a track with interesting timing changes throughout, but that’s Rush for you. It reminds me of Signals-era Rush and the lyrics make you wonder if Neil Peart is trying to make a point here about his beliefs? Another track that’s a grower after a few listens.

Good Return for Rush

"Bravest Face" is next: laid back Rush building in the choruses and towards the end, although in general it starts to feel a little repetitive.

"Good News First" kind of reminds me a little of "The Main Monkey Business" in areas, but then gets very detailed with lots going on, behind a great melodic vocal. Good song.

"Malignant Narcissism" is the third and final instrumental, a haunting piece, with Geddy Lee and Neil Peart playing bass and drums parts off each other.

The closer is "We Hold On," which will leave a smile on the faces of long time Rush fans as it ends with true Rush elements as a grand finale.

I’m not the biggest Rush fan, but I do have about 10 of their albums in my collection so, yes, I like the band. This album was good to hear, but for me the stronger tracks were in the opening half of the album. They tended to lose a little for me towards the end.

This album is a good return for Rush and for their fans.

- Alun Williams

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