With such a tremendous response from the Rush community to my last post, I decided I would post a bonus review of their most recent album “Clockwork Angels.”
Released in 2012, “Clockwork Angels” is Rush’s return to the spotlight. Using elements of progressive rock, heavy rock and metal, this album is a change of pace from their prior album “Snakes and Arrows.” It contains the punch to the ears that hasn’t been present in their albums since their transformation in the 80’s and 90’s. Settling down and focusing on this rock-centered piece of art, Rush has put together their best performance since “Signals.”
The deep riffs that Alex Lifeson provides in guitar-heavy songs like “BU2B” and “Carnies” is a reminder to the fans of their heavier works in the 70’s, while taking on influences of modern-day rockers like John Petrucci of Dream Theater and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden, an evolution that Lifeson is constantly journeying. Even the softer songs on the album like “The Garden” and “Halo Effect” show the diversity of sound Rush is able to accomplish just on a single album.
The songs “The Anarchist” and “Seven Cities of Gold” show the talented Geddy Lee at his prime. In prior albums, the bass guitar has been downplayed to make way for more synthesizers and an expanded vocal role. This album completely reverses the trend, giving the bass more face-time, and making it much more apparent. The use of Lee’s bass lines over Lifeson’s guitar and between Peart’s drum work gives an added texture in each song, something that was lacking for several albums in Rush’s repertoire. On top of the bass guitar, Lee provides some of the most complex and controlled vocals than any of their albums. The quality of his voice is apparent in songs like “The Garden,” a song that always gives me goosebumps every time I listen. I can feel his passion in his voice when he sings, and with a much cleaner, lower, and controlled voice, the impact is much greater.
The best thing about this album? As is with every Rush album, I cannot get enough Neil Peart. Being my favorite member of the “Holy Trinity”, Peart steals the show yet again, both on stage and in the writing process. Being both drummer and key songwriter is a task in itself, a dual role that I feel is only shared among few others. The album “Clockwork Angels,” like much of Rush’s prior work, is based around a complex concept or story. Here is a quote taken from an interview with Kevin Anderson, who has cooperated with Neil Peart on the novelization of this album:
“In a young man’s quest to follow his dreams, he is caught between the grandiose forces of order and chaos. He travels across a lavish and colorful world of steampunk and alchemy, with lost cities, pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals, and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life.” (source)
With the same lyrical style as albums like “2112” and “Fly By Night,” Peart takes this album one step further. A complex storyline with characters, themes, and morals, the lyrics can be read as a book in itself. Thinking the lyrics alone are reason to read Rush, the music can only be considered as one awesome bonus. Peart rocks the drumset in songs like “Headlong Flight” and “Caravan,” using one of the most ridiculously diverse and expansive drumsets I’ve ever seen.
I am so happy that “Clockwork Angels” was released when it was. To think that Rush has been doing this for over 40 years, then to release such a high quality album when other bands may have faltered is astounding. I definitely consider this album among their greats, even among the ranks of “2112” and “Permanent Waves.”
Since Rush has redefined their image over their lifetime, I highly recommend this album to those who enjoy any of their musical influences, from heavy rock, to progressive rock, to metal.
Please watch this Youtube video of their song “Caravan”:
Side note: I want to thank Rushisaband and those that have helped spread the love for their support of my blog. I truly appreciate it.