on 1 December 2007
having discovered rush when turning 18. i think it is safe to say i am a fan. as with most rush fans (i think) the albums up to permanant waves were there best work. and i tend to like the longer tracks such as xanadu. but i have to say that this album is a classic album. there are no weak tracks in my opinion. you are straight into the album with the excellant FAR CRY with drumming from mr peart. this is followed by the fantastic Armour and Sword with the great acoustic and driving guitar pieces. then onto Working Them Angels which is another superb track, with a mix of acoustic and driving giutar and the excellant mandelin piece. track 4 is the Larger Bowl which has a more acoustic tone to it,but still has a true mix of of excellant guitar drums and geddy'S brillant voice. then it is on to my personal favorite at the minute which is Spindrift. from the quite intro through to driving drums and the awesome vocals and once again the superb guitar work of alex this is an awesome piece of music, as is the first instrumental that follows The Main Monkey Buiness just awesome from start to finish a close 2nd to Spindrift. The Way The Wind Blows sees alex's guitar playing at its best from the blueses start to the acoustic parts fantastic. and there is just one word to describe Hope the next track it is an acoustic pleasure. track 9 Faithless again has all the elements of a cracking track with guitar drums and vocals at there best, and lyrics that we all relate to in some way. so on to Bravest Face which again is slightly on the quiter side no less powerful with excellant lyrics again. Good News First is again a showcase of fantastic guitar work from alex. the next track is the excellant Malignant Narcissim which is driven along by the excellant geddy on bass. so finally on to We Hold On which again showcases all the talents of the best three piece rock band on the planet, excellant guitar work, superb drums, vocals at there best, and realistic lyrics on the world and the poeple in it. as stated at the start being a rush fan, there are no bad rush ablums, just some not so good, and then there are the greats, and this one of THEM. you will never get sick of listening to this. weather a rush fan or a good music lover, because this is three musicans at there best.
on 23 April 2007
I have always looked forward to new releases from Rush having seen them in 1978 (and bought all their albums since).Although they have evolved considerably since then there are distant echoes of early Rush on this recording . The opener "Far Cry " the single is a great opener with a classic strident riff from Lifeson and wonderful layers of acoustic and electric wah wah running through it. Alex Lifeson really steps out on this album and produces some of the best guitar work of his career which is really saying something as I believe he is one of the most interesting and accomplished guitar players around.
The "Armour and the Sword" harks back to Permanent Waves with swathes of acoustic guitar and a strong metallic riff.
"Workin them Angels " is a highlight with great vocals from Geddy and magnificent drumming from Neil Peart. I think I can even hear a mandolin in the middle section.
"The larger bowl " another classic rush that harks back to "Farewell to kings" and "Permanent waves"
There is lots more acoustic guitar which I feel has been missing from more recent releases and it creates more texture and contrast to the sound.
"Spindrift" a menacing rocker is ok and is followed by the instrumental " The Main Monkey buisness" which I feel is one of the highlights of this album, pounding bass and drums with wailing guitar and acoustic 12 string in the background. This track is what Simple minds would have sounded like if they had become a hard rock band. Neils drums introduce "The way the wind blows" ( probably my favourite at the moment) starting with a Claptonesque circa Crossroads guitar intro morphing into a Page like riff and returning to Clapton for the solo and finishing it with another Page like guitar figure while sounding a bit like " Freewill " in the chorus!
" Hope " is a short(Page like) acoustic guitar instrumental.
"Faithless" another great track with an Eastern Zeppelin feel to it. Great guitar solo again. Although there are all these influences on this album it is still sounds like Rush.
"Bravest Face and "Good news" are more reminicent of some of the more contemporary Rush albums and are great although not so instant.
"Malignant Narcissmn" another great instrumental the third on this album ! driven along by Geddy's bass and Neil's drums preceeds the final track " We hold on " another triumph for Lifeson, he has rarely sounded so exuberant. This is really the most enjoyable album Rush have released for years they have thrown everything that is great about their music over the last 30 years into a melting pot and the result is a richer,warmer, fresher multilayered masterpiece. There is really something for all Rush fans here and if you loved the old stuff you will enjoy it but the fans of contemporary Rush will not be dissappointed either it still sounds as modern as anything out there.
on 5 February 2011
For me, this is the best Rush album since Counterparts, hands down. Within Snakes and Arrows there lies an array of quality songs, this is a very lush sounding album, perhaps their best production treatment since Power Windows. I would like to make it clear however that this is an album that needs multiple listens to really take root within the listener's imagination. I would even go as far as to say that this is has become one of my very favourite Rush albums. It is an absolute pleasure to hear acoustic guitars used to layer and add texture to this rich and colourful record. I do miss the synthesizers however and really wish that they would bring them back, (although there is some excellent use of the mellotron on several tracks) at least to a certain extent, as they can lend an extra level of excitement and power to the Rush sound. I have always felt that with Presto, Roll The Bones and Counterparts, the balance between band and keyboards was almost perfect; The Pass, Bravado and Animate are good examples of this 'blending' of electronic and acoustic instruments.
The songs are all first rate. From the quiet, slow building power of The Larger Bowl, to the intricate musicianships of Armour and Sword, Rush demonstrate that they are still masters of progressive rock. The Main Monkey Business is one of the best pieces of music that Rush has ever produced, a beautiful, exciting and evocative instrumental that is on a new musical plateau, even for Rush. The Way The Wind Blows is another highlight and is, again, one of the finest pieces of music the band has ever created. The lyric, "Like a solitary pine, on a bare, wind blasted shore..." is pure poetry and is one of Neil Peart's very best. Also, from Armour and Sword, "No one gets to their heaven without a fight..." is another terrific lyric. Neil deals with the themes of religious indoctrination and adults pouring their beliefs and fears into a childs mind, in a subtle and quietly intelligent manner. How many rock bands today are brave enough or skilled enough to write about this kind of subject matter without sounding preachy or patronising? Indeed, the underlying shadows of religion and terrorism are a common theme on many of the albums tracks, all dealt with on several levels and I applaud Neil Peart for his quiet, rational and fundamentally sane views on the reality of the world after September the 11th.
If you are a Rush fan you will already have bought this, for those of you still pondering, it really is a great album, with the best production the band have been given in years, powerful and muscular, mysterious and layered; the way Rush should sound. The songs are intricate and well woven with lyrics that are deeply relevant in these troubled times. Armour and Sword and The Larger Bowl are full of subtle complexities and are as good as anything on 'classic' Rush albums. I feel we should also be thankful that these guys are still playing, writing and recording quality music together, after all these years. Perhaps even more importantly, Rush are still creating something with substance, something worthwhile. This is Rush, unique, melodic and exciting.
on 6 November 2007
This album has had plenty of plays on my stereo since it was released. This is partly due to the fact that it has been produced correctly, unlike its good-but-ruined predecessor `Vapor Trails'. More importantly than this, though, Snakes and Arrows gets played a lot because it's a great album. Seriously! This is Rush's best album since `Grace Under Pressure' twenty-odd years ago.
Like many a Rush fan, I have been disappointed by most of their albums since the glory days of the 70s and 80s. It's not that they've been bad: they've written some corking songs and played some amazing gigs. Their `Hold Your Fire' gig at the NEC in 1988 is to this day the best gig that I've ever been to, and every album has a clutch of live showstoppers. The problem has been with the albums. Although there have been some standout tracks, there have also been some real dogs. Common crimes have been too many clashing tunes in one song, robbing the songs of any sense of integrity and theme; Peart's lyrics have sometimes been uncomfortably preachy or snooty or just plain corny; production has been too dense and noisy; finally, there have been some weird gimmicks like cringingly awful rap, misplaced sound effects, and some very dated-sounding keyboards.
On this album, Rush seem to have been enlivened by their venture into cover versions on `Feedback' and stripped back to their core guitar-bass-drums sound which bears more resemblance to `Fly By Night' than to most of their recent albums. There is a theme to the album, Peart's rejection of religion and all the hypocrisy and conflict that goes with it, like a musical version of Richard Dawkins. There is no sense of superiority or disdain for people who choose to follow other paths, however, but a well-deserved sense of inner peace and direction after all the tragedy he's faced in recent years. Lifeson and Lee have matched Peart's lyrics with some of their most satisfying music. While they have retained the verse-chorus-bridge format they've had since they switched from concept pieces to the 8-song album format, on Snakes and Arrows the songs are both internally consistent and consistent with other songs on the album, whilst also being good stand-alone songs that can be listened to in isolation. They have achieved the best synthesis yet of their old-style prog / concept format and newer style of radio-friendly rock songs (not that they get played nearly enough on British radio, grumble, moan, chunter).
The usual songs are punctuated by some really, really, REALLY good instrumentals. I absolutely love Malignant Narcissism, but for the title! At least with La Villa Strangiato their admission of self-indulgence was a subtitle. With a title like Malignant Narcissism, they're advertising the fact! Do they realise that people take the mickey out of them for this sort of thing? Anyway, the song is too short to be truly self-indulgent - and much too good. It's OK to indulge yourself if you're indulging the listener as well.
Best thing about this album though is the centre-stage taken by Alex Lifeson. You've got to feel sorry for Alex, book-ended as he is by the best rhythm section in the universe. How do you shine through their brilliance? Well, on this album he shows us how. Imagine the rhythmic and chromatic complexity of Johnny Marr combined with the soaring solo palette of David Gilmour and you're on the right lines. Just about every song has a guitar solo, and they are all brilliant. Also, as a rhythm player he's so solid you could build a house on him.
This album is so good that it has even made me listen again to some of their 90s and 00s albums with renewed interest. Actually, maybe they're better than I thought they were...
on 30 September 2007
Rush have had a bit of an odd run of form recently - 'Test For Echo' was, frankly, a major let down, and 'Vapour Trails' suffered from being overproduced to the point of being almost unlistenable in places, despite having some absolutely cracking tunes on it.
"Snakes and Arrows" is really what Vapour Trails could have been without the excessive production. Yes, it's balls-out heavy in places but at least the final mix is fairly clean and doesn't have the clipping issues that afflicted parts of "Vapour Trails". Lyrically and musically this is what you'd expect - and we have three men in their 50s comprehensively kicking the backsides of musicians half their age.
Best tracks? "Far Cry" and "The Way The Wind Blows" - both have what seem to be a couple of nods to earlier songs: the big, wide F# chord in the former could have come straight off 'Hemispheres' and the drum intro to the latter reminds me of 'Manhattan Project' off 'Power Windows'. "Far Cry" also has one of the most hummable bass riffs in existence (and, unlike some of Geddy Lee's bass runs, isn't too difficult to play either!)
Letdowns? The instrumentals. Normally I love Rush instrumentals, with 'La Villa' being a perennial favourite, but three of them is just too many. "The Main Monkey Business" is actually very good, but the other two, "Hope" and "Malignant Narcissm" could easily have been dropped - I'd happily sacrifice four and a bit minutes of playing time to lose a couple of bits of noodling.
So, not their best album by any means - "Moving Pictures" holds that accolade, but it it's a heck of sight better than "Test For Echo" and gives a large hint as to what "Vapour Trails" might have been like if the distortion had been turned down a notch or twelve.
on 26 May 2007
For reasons I won't bore you with, I had to wait until a couple of days ago before I got the chance to give this album the chance it deserves. In the mean time, I had read the reviews below with growing alarm wondering what to expect. When I did get to hear it (driving from Marlborough, under the lip of Salisbury Plain to Longleat on a warm sunny evening), I was not disappointed - this is one of their finest.
Cut me in half and you'll find Rush engrained like a piece of Blackpool Rock. That said, I hadn't been too impressed with their last 3 albums and actually thought that their Feedback EP was far better. As a true fan, I convinced myself that I would eventually grow to like these meagre offerings but never did. I found myself returning to their early stuff hoping that one day they would produce an album that would make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up like the first time I heard Rush (Moving Pictures) in 1983. I had to wait a long time but with Snakes and Arrows they have, at long last, done it.
I won't list my opinions of each track - there's enough of that below. I did, however, feel that Messrs Porcaro's review was somewhat unfair in that he compares apples with pears. Enough of my ramblings; if you are a long-term fan you'll love it (listen to it a few times first though), if you are new to Rush buy some of their earlier stuff first.
Oh, by the way, is it me or is there a familiar chord in the opening bars of 'Far Cry'?
'Snakes And Arrows', Rush's 18th full-length studio album which was recorded in the breathtaking surroundings of New York's Catskill Mountains, carries on the heavy rock sound they have adopted since 1993's 'Counterparts', but always feels fresh, contemporary and current and is the sound of a band very much on top of their game. Geddy Lee's vocals sound much better for having matured over the years, Alex Lifeson's guitar work is as good as ever but is a little less opaque on this album than on some previous work and Neil Peart, both as a drummer and lyricist, has a very strong influence over this particular release.
Although some of this album's strongest tracks are excellent instrumentals (The Main Monkey Business, Hope, Malignant Narcissism), the political and social commentary of the lyrics, whether it is talking about war and the uncertainty of the times we live in (Far Cry, The Way The Wind Blows) or religion, or lack thereof (Faithless), is an element of this album that raises 'Snakes And Arrows' above the vast majority of other Rush releases since their mid-late 70s/early 80s peak. You could even say that this album is surprisingly good and much better than anyone other than the most devout Rush fan could have expected.
An impressive album with some truly remarkable moments.
on 30 March 2008
Bought this album a year ago- thought it was great then, and can confirm that goodness knows how many listenings later, it is a cracking album; of similar quality to the Rush of late 70's/ early 80's vintage when I got into them first. Genuinely amazing how this band can still churn out stuff of this calibre after so many years. Highlights must be the real Rush sounding tracks- Armor and Sword, Spindrift, Main Monkey Business, Hope, Malignant Narcissism, but not a bad track to choose from. Of particular note is Alex Lifeson's use of multi-layered acoustic and electric guitars with a tone he hasn't had since Permanent Waves- that vintage Gibson guitar sound is pure bliss to listen to. One gripe- The otherwise excellent "Far Cry" misses out on a guitar solo to propel it into the ranks of Spirit of Radio, Limelight, Subdivisions, as an all time Rush radio friendly classic (though it's success in the US charts would say otherwise).
If the previous negative reviews were about 'Vapour Trails' I could understand and sympathise with them. I never felt that it was a properly completed album somehow. The songs were samey and lacked development. The mix seemed to be in six track like a live concert not a studio album.
'Snakes and Arrows' however is like a sequel to 'Roll The Bones'. (Except for an absence of keyboards.) There is a genuine progression and exhiliration to the songs. Real melodies. (It is a joy to hear so much melody again.)Experimentation. 3 brilliant instrumentals which are not in any way filler. Absolutely stunning 12-string guitar work from Alex Lifeson. The mix is complex again and full of little surprises. And overall there is a sense of purpose and pride and revelation.
Neil Peart's lyrics are as fine and compassionate as they have ever been. Phrases like 'Though we might have precious little, It's still precious' and 'I will quietly resist' are powerful statements taken in the context of a planet that is truly facing possible death as our resources run out and pollution and greed and violence and stupidity overun us at every turn. RUSH have always been a band who stood up for human ideals, integrity and nobility. These songs fit the times and it is the kind of album I have longed for RUSH to make.
on 17 February 2008
When I chanced upon this I had not heard any new Rush since the mid-80s and its surprisingly good, I must say. They have managed to produce an album that is recognisably still them, but which channels influences from more recent rock bands in a way that is intelligent, convincing and energising. That is quite an achievement for a band this long in the tooth; in fact it's probably what all old rockers think they can do, but most fail. The one sour note here is not musical: it's the lyrics. Rush were always mocked for their charmingly adolescent sword and sorcery and sci-fi, but that was par for the course in the 70s. It would seem middle age has moved them to deeper thoughts and the results are often plain embarassing. Vapid observations on LIFE dressed in leaden metaphore - it is occasionally unlistenable. Get back to Rivendell, guys!