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67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh, vital and captivating
Hard to believe how fresh these guys are able to sound 38 years after their first album.
I had not great expectations about this one. Based on the two previous studio albums, I just awaited another "Rush by numbers" work. I mean: powerful, hard hitting and masterfully executed, but not especially inspired.. I liked Snakes and Arrows a bit more than Vapor Trails, but...
Published on 21 Jun 2012 by Adrian Gonbar

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good headlining tracks
First heard Caravan & BU2B on the Time Machine tour in Manchester MEN and Las Vegas MGM Grand arenas. Good headlining tracks. Not my favourite work by the excellent trio, but a grower.
Published 24 days ago by steve driscoll


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67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh, vital and captivating, 21 Jun 2012
This review is from: Clockwork Angels (Audio CD)
Hard to believe how fresh these guys are able to sound 38 years after their first album.
I had not great expectations about this one. Based on the two previous studio albums, I just awaited another "Rush by numbers" work. I mean: powerful, hard hitting and masterfully executed, but not especially inspired.. I liked Snakes and Arrows a bit more than Vapor Trails, but somehow the spirit of old Rush' golden era (let's say the one that flew over A Farewell to Kings, Hemispheres, Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures) seemed to be forever gone.

A digression here : Vapor Trails, especially, is a quite tiresome album to me. It stays a bit to much in the low frequency sonic spectre: too much bass guitar, to much bass drum, and too much guitar power chords, not properly equilibrated by other sonic and musical ingredients, which makes it a hard task to listen to it, from beginning to end, without taking a break. Snakes and Arrows, while walking the same sonic territory as V.T., was more varied and dynamic, and I found it more enjoyable. Not bad albums to my taste, but not exciting enough.

Clockwork Angels, however, is gifted with a different nature. It is tremendously fresh, vital and captivating, and makes me recall the best years of the band. Yes, Rush look younger than yesterday, playing with enthusiasm a set of convincing songs. Nothing to do with (like someone could fear), a tired old group. There are no fillers in this album. It is a concept album equipped with its proper organic quality. From the beginnig, the listener is propelled by an exciting, dynamic music, feeling the need to know how the story goes.

Theme:
As I said it is a concept album, based on a sci-fi story. There is a "perfectly organized" world where people are instilled to not to think by themselves and to be content with their destiny ( Planet Earth, year whatever, I guess) . The album tells the adventures and reflections of an inconformist young man during his quest for truth.

Sound:
Compared to previous albums, I find that Neil Peart's drums playing is a bit more restrained, and that the drums are not so loud in the mix . Just a matter of nuances; don't worry, Neil Peart is still there and you can hear and enjoy his playing .
Geddy Lee's voice is in good form, and maturity has made him gain expresiveness. The bass sounds hugely powerful but very defined and clear too.
Lifeson `s guitar makes also a quite restrained job (at least not prodigal in solos), but the instrument has a killer full tone, and the playing is very expressive and piercing when strictly necessary.
The whole album sounds clear and well defined even at a low volume (a quality that was not shared by Vapor Trails and Snakes and Arrows).

The songs:

1. Caravan - Is Rush in pure and best form. Intricate rhythms, guitar riffs, catchy chorus (" I can't stop thinking big ") A
statement of purposes. It ends with a beautiful reflective passage a la Pink Floyd, where acoustic and electric guitar
with tremolo effect take command.
2. Bu2B - Another classic Rush tour the force rocker propelled by mighty drums. "We were taught that we lived in the best of
all possible worlds".
3. Clockwork angels - Rush trademark intricate, fierce ternary tempo. Wonderful guitar solo.
The pedlar 1 - Short instrumental integrated at the end of Clockwork angels. Old (and all) time Rush.
4. The anarchist - Another powerful rocker, where the rebel anarchist character is introduced. Strings and guitar solo with
a northern africa/arab flavour (a la Page&Plant).
5. Carnies - The rock goes on. The young man's fate changes since his encounter with the anarchist.
6. Halo effect - A nice ballad about following false illusions. Beautifuly sung by Lee. Short enough (3:14) so the
trepidant pace of the album is not left for too long.
7. Seven cities of gold - Another uptempo heavy rocker with catchy chorus. High pitched Lee's vocals recalling older works.
8. The wreckers - It begins with an openly pop a la Byrds intro, rapidly changing into a minor key melody. This could be a
rather "radio friendly"song, despite its serious, sour matter: "All I know is that sometimes the truth is
contrary/everything in life you thought you knew". All along the song there is a constant contrast between the a-la Byrds
and dramatic character passages, so the result is melodically varied and appealing.
9. Headlong Flight - A killer epic, vaguely reminiscent of Iron Maiden. Our hero declares he would not change anything he did
("I learned to fight, to love, to feel")
10. Bu2B2 - Short mature bittersweet reflections by Lee & strings only.
11. Wish them well - This is the most pop oriented song in the album, almost in a Paul McCartney's style (no joke) , except
for another piercing solo by Lifeson. It makes sense considering the positive message: the benefit of not keeping anger
and grudges in our hearts
12. The garden - Masterful slow tempo with another positive, mature declaration of principles: "The measure of a life is a
measure of love and respect / ... / A garden to nurture and protect". Strings intro, acoustic guitars, and, from the
4:30, a beautiful, emotive crescendo that soars high for a perfect album's end.

Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wouldn't say I am a Rush fan but..., 2 Jan 2013
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Clockwork Angels (Audio CD)
Now this is meant as a compliment but I am not a Rush fan. I don't dislike them but have just never felt the need to buy into them in any great way. However, I did like Snakes and Arrows and I now positively adore Clockwork Angels. I'll let others who know more about the band decide where this album stands in the pantheon of Rush releases so it just suffices to say that any one who may have misgivings about Rush and their relevance nowadays should listen, really listen, to this album and wallow in the outrageously good prog/metal on offer. BTW I only listen to music on my computer or ipod nowadays and the album sounds fine to me so I can't comment on the apparent shortfall in sonic quality for those with decent kits.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 19 Jun 2012
This review is from: Clockwork Angels [+digital booklet] (MP3 Download)
As a Rush fan since 1979, I can honestly say they are fully back on track. Passion, precision and speed abound in the music. The production is fine, don't listen to the whiners! Rip to at least 320kbps or just listen to the CD! I think this release is the best since 1981. Modern, layered, dynamic and I can't wait for May 2013 when they hit the UK. A must have release.

The Garden will blow you away.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rush - Clockwork Angels, 11 Jun 2012
By 
Gentlegiantprog "Kingcrimsonprog" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Clockwork Angels (Audio CD)
2012's Clockwork Angels is the new concept album from the legendary Canadian band Rush. It is the band's nineteenth studio album of original material (twentieth if you count the covers album Feedback) and follows up their last two albums in bringing out the more Hard Rock/Metal aspects of their sound. It takes Snakes And Arrows' variety and Vapor Trails' power and combines them into a very strong album indeed, one that isn't ever dull or plodding. It can be bought now as a digital download, now in a special fan pack edition of Classic Rock Magazine that comes with a Keychain, Poster and links to online bonus content or later on its own in either CD or Vinyl format. The story that it tells is also available separately as a novel if you want to take things even further.

If you have already heard `Caravan' and `BU2B,' which were released a full two years earlier than the record was, then you should have some idea of this album's musical direction already. The songs have since been re-recorded to fit in better with the rest of the album though, so even if you've played them to death already, you won't feel cheated that they are part of the album.

Despite concentrating on the band's heavier side, the album is still very dynamic and varied. Sometimes things will be melodic and sweet, sometimes there are synths and keys in there, sometimes you'll hear little touches that remind you of Hemispheres and A Farewell To Kings and then of course sometimes you'll hear more of the direction from Snakes And Arrows' and Vapor Trails' heavier moments. The opening to `Carnies' even has a big fat riff that could almost fit on a Monster Magnet or Down album.

Each song on Clockwork Angels contains a lot of different parts; you could hear a funk-like break down in one track, an acoustic intro in another, some proggy feedback scrapes in another and straight rock beats in yet another, or you could hear all of that and more within one single track.

Highlights include the closing track `The Garden' which opens with acoustic guitars and has a grand orchestral feel in places, as well as the amazing single `Headlong Flight', which mixes variety with focused hard rocking (similar in a way to `Far Cry' off the last album but with more parts packed into it) and the fun track `The Anarchist' that really takes off in a neat passage that revolves around tom-rolling.

As a general rule, I always find that the best Rush songs are the ones where a lot of time has passed without you knowing it, for example a five-minute track that feels like it is only two-and-a-half minutes long; and the worst ones were the ones where a lot of time passes without enough ideas used to justify the song lasting as long as it actually does, for example a six-minute track that could have worked a lot better as a three minute song.

The best thing about the whole Clockwork Angels album for me personally, is that every song justifies its own length. When this plus is added to the superb musical direction (I prefer the band's heavier side personally), the superb production and the as-always superb musical and vocal talent on display, it makes for an absolutely captivating record that hits hard on first listen and has a lot more to offer on subsequent spins as well.

Then on top of that, you have the interesting steam-punk story to get to grips with across each early listen, which just adds yet further intrigue and replay value. It would be tempting to say that this is almost guaranteed to be loved by any Rush fan, but then you have to consider that their audience is so wide and diverse and their catalogue is so varied that pleasing any one type of fan may cost another type of fan to loose interest.

If you are an early-prog or synth-pop fan first, and a Rush fan second however, if you hated Vapor Trails and the heavier parts of Snakes And Arrows and are generally the type of person who hates all Metal, then Clockwork Angels may not be for you. I can see how it may be leaning a little heavily on one aspect of their sound and that maybe that's the one part of Rush's style that you don't personally enjoy. Maybe even the conceptual nature of the record or the variety within each track isn't enough to save it for you, if you simply don't like Rush when they get all loud and distorted. If this describes you, then my advice would be that maybe you ought to give this one a miss.

Otherwise however, this is a pretty essential album and no matter the size of your Rush collection, this should probably be a part of it.

In summary; Clockwork Angels is a strong and fresh album, it is energetic, entertaining and focused, it is heavy rather often and has enough ideas per song to justify each song's length. It just sounds vital and has enough depth to reward repeat listens. Overall, its a pretty top-notch release and it's definitely something you should consider getting if you like Rush, especially if you like their heavier side.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastically written piece of music, 11 Jun 2012
This review is from: Clockwork Angels (Audio CD)
Unlike a lot of people, I'm quite a young Rush fan (I'm only 18) but in the past 2 years or so, I've fallen in love with Rush because of the sublime way they've told such stories through their music. My favourite albums before this would probably be the era from Fly by Night to Moving Pictures, as well as Presto; however, I was pleasantly surprised by this album as I wasn't expecting it to leave such an impression so quickly. I remember listening to Caravan and BU2B when they came out as singles and thinking, "Hmm... Not bad." Although, as a complete album, I think that the album as a whole is much better than its constituent songs as it tells a brilliant story laced with steampunk and alchemy. Truly a brilliant album and probably one of my favourite Rush albums already.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RUSH: a step back in Clockwork time., 11 Jun 2012
By 
John Crooks (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Clockwork Angels (Audio CD)
I have to agree this is one of the best albums the band have done, and there is a lot of hidden gems on this CD Fan Pack version. As I had it pre-ordered before the cut of point deadline, I got my name listed on the extra poster. Anyway, there is elements from the past albums hidden within the tracks on this disk. There is nothing new I can say that has already been posted, but one thing! I wonder if anyone else noticed about the album cover art work. We have twelve zodiac icon signs for the hours of a clock, but look at the time 9:12. Well some of you will go so what, or what does it mean? Answer was puzzling me for ages since I first saw the album pre-release pictures, then it just hit me while looking at it after my Fan Pack arrived, 9:12 in the 24 hour clock system equals 21:12 as 2112 the first Rush album I ever bought.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars greatest album or emperors new clothes?, 12 Jun 2012
By 
Mr Blackwell (scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Clockwork Angels (Audio CD)
All things to all men... or the Emperors new clothes?,that is the question posed by Rush's new studio album(their 20th),in truth every release see's a clamour for the old band,the glory days of yore, problem is,for different people thats different era's,so the band will never satisfy everyone.

If 'Far Cry' from the previous release,hinted at the 70's then several tracks on this release give an almighty nod to the halycon days(for me) of the 70's,'Headlong Flight' is an immediate favourite,with its perpetual motion,the band's musicianship to the fore,while the 'Garden' contains a superb solo from Alex,and then we have 'Carnies' with a monstrous riff that wouldnt have been out of place circa 75/76. The rest pretty good,more 'Snakes and Arrows' than 'Farewell To Kings'. Truth be told we will all hear different thing,feel different vibes,we'll all have albums we can reference from the past.

This is a very good album by a band comfortable in its old age,happy with its niche in music,the fire that resulted in the like of a '2112 or' indeed a 'Caress of Steel',isnt required,the days of a 'Moving Pictures probably long gone,i am comfortable in accepting that fact,this is a very good album,im sure live, several, tracks will take on a life of their own,'caravan' and BU2B' have already shown that.

The production is key to wether you'll like or love it, a thick bottom end gives a heavier sound,maybe too much for some,Geddy's voice may cause concern,,the helium days are long gone,i'm getting used to it,possibly the biggest issue ,for some,will be the lyrics,some not quite hitting the lyrical heights of the past,its all relative,if you pore over every word looking for meaning,you may feel short changed.All in all this is a sold 4 star release

In terms of the fan pack,the magazine is pretty good,excellent interview with band discussing the tracks,the historical look back over their previous releases will certainly bring back memories,The poster is ok and a natty little key ring,hardly essential.Still its the music that counts,Rush have delivered once again

ps given that 2012 is exactly 100 years pre 2112,is the clue on the sleeve 21:12, a little hint that they might perform the album in its entirety on the coming tour? now that would be something.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal, 31 Mar 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Clockwork Angels (Audio CD)
True masterpiece for anyone into progressive rock. great for easy listening, but even better if you give it time to grow on you. I always liked Rush, but this time they really exceeded my expectations.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rush Machine is relentless, 12 Mar 2013
By 
Lucioperca (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Clockwork Angels (Audio CD)
I have read a lot of Amazon reviews and some other blogs and it would seem that opinions are clearly divided. Some reviewers have referred to a 'wall of sound' approach to modern Rush and I can see their point, it is a bigger and far more 'in yer face' Rush these days but a band cannot stand still and continually plough the same furrow for 40 years. I think this newer, louder, wider sound has a lot to do with Alex taking a greater hand in the bands musical direction. Go take a listen to his solo album Victor and you will hear some of the early beginnings of the sound that Rush are currently producing. Its heavier and far more thumping, with less reliance on keyboards and Neil Peart is taking a less extravagant approach to his drumming. Clockwork Angels was tantalisingly drip fed to the Rush faithful via the excellent Caravan EP, giving a sneak preview of what they had in store during the Time Machine tour, where the tracks Caravan and BU2B were played with great vigour and sounded great. The album itself is superb in that its a concept album of sorts but at the same time its a collection of tracks that very much stand alone in their own right, with the possible exception of Track 10 (see later).

So where do I start? Well the album opens with two EP tracks which have been out there for over a year, so the albums kicks off with a very familiar sound. Next comes the third and title track Clockwork Angels and if I had to choose any track to be the 'wall of sound' song, this would be it. Its a tight, pacey interweave of drum, guitar and bass that never really settles into a predictable rhythm. The tracks changes and swirls but keeps coming back to a hook that joins it all together. Its a good song but is overshadowed by many others on this album. Next up is track 4 The Anarchist which ramps the album up a notch. Its a fantastic up beat, hi tempo track with rumbling drums and Alex returns to the guitar sound used so well in the Permanent Waves era. Next comes fifth track Carnies which is something of a grower - it doesn't make any real impact but after a few listens the background hook and some sumptuous guitar work make this a superb song that gets in your head. Now we are starting to reach halfway and this is where the real treasures of the album are stored up. Track 6 is Halo Effect which wouldn't be out of place on Presto or Snakes and Arrows and has an easy laid back rhythm interspersed with a rock anthem beat .... its a real sing along track. Track 7 is Seven Cities Of Gold which will undoubtedly become a gig favourite with the chorus line that you just know the crowds will chant back at the band, its just a great track. Followed by track 8 - The Wreckers which verges on being one of the best Rush tracks in many years and has prompted some of my non-believer friends to make comments such as "Wow have you heard the new Rush track on Planet Rock?" . Its unbelievable catchy, so easy to listen to and would be one of the first tracks I chose if I wanted to get someone into Rush. Track 9 is Headlong Flight which was the first official single from the album. It opens with that superb Geddy Lee bass riff, trips into tumultuous drum rhythm from Neil and later has a wonderfully understated guitar solo from Alex, just a great return to form by the band. Track 10 is the token Rush puzzler - BU2B2 is a 1:20 track that is a low key track that links back to Track 2 and very much has that 'filler' feel about it and just nicely links you in to the next song. Would I listen to it as a stand alone track? Probably not but if I listen to this album end to end it just fits in nicely - not much more I can say really other than lets move on to Track 11. Wish Them Well is a thumping anthemic track that will be a gig favourite. Its got a sing-along chorus line, a great high tempo rhythm and allows Alex to unleash some of the guitar sound he used on Signals, its just a really good song. And then in typical Rush style they save the best for last .... just when we might expect an extravaganza of drums, bass and guitar to finish the album on a rock crescendo, they only flip the whole thing on its head and produce the most sumptuous, mellow and wonderfully crafted Rush song that I can ever remember hearing. As I write this I would have to say its a very real challenger to Marathon for the place as my all time favourite Rush track. Think back to when they released Signals and how 'leftfield' the track Losing It seemed at the time ... well this is in the same vein with violins, lush acoustic guitar, overlaid with clever lead guitar work, very understated drum work by Neil. Its just a wonderful, wonderful closer.

So, in summary I found this well worth the wait. I bought my 2013 tour tickets over a year in advance and I cannot wait to hear this track list played live this summer..... Rush continue to produce great music, really well written and I am glad they don't just stick to the populist formulae that would keep the 'old guard' in their fan base happy. I haven't endlessly played a new Rush album this much since Signals came out. It is worth every single one of the 5 stars I have given it and it probably desreves at least one more. Bravo Rush .... and after Clockwork Angles I suspect there is at least one more cracker of an album in this band before they decide that 40 years of touring is enough. This will be one of the best buys you make this year.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Growing on me already, 11 Jun 2012
This review is from: Clockwork Angels [+digital booklet] (MP3 Download)
Every album Rush have produced since the heady days of Moving Pictures has had at least 2 or 3 good tracks on it and while I was really pleased with Vapor Trails I found Snakes and Arrows a bit more of a mixed bag.
Clockwork Angels is the best of the three post hiatus albums by a margin and while it is too early to tell for sure I think there is an argument for this being the best album since Power Windows.

The album starts with the two pre-released tracks Caravan and BU2B which is a pity on first listen as the rest of the album is fresher and it detracted from that initial buzz of listening to an album for the first few times. That said, this is a loose concept album and there is a story going on around the songs so it makes sense to place them where they are.

There are twelve tracks on the album (11 if you discount the reprise of BU2B) and they are all of good quality with a handful of early standouts to grab the attention and pull you in to the album as a whole. The mid-section of The Anarchist, Carnies and Halo Effect is a superb run of potential classics with The Wreckers providing another 'hit'. The total standout is the superb closer The Garden. Genuinely up there with the best songs they have ever produced. It has everything - heart and soul combined with excellent lyrics and great instrumentation.

My only criticism of the album is the production. I bought the 'fan pack' so have the CD but my first listen was on a lower spec PC and the mix sounded very muddy; like there was great gig on inside the stadium but I was on the outside.
Since then I've listened through a few more times on better equipment and the mix is very bassy - which is great if you have the kit to do it justice but something to watch for if your main listening is with in-ear phones on a mobile device.
Even on a half decent system I had to take the bass down a notch to hear the melody properly.

I'd also point any fans in the direction of the CD booklet. This is the first time in ages that I've taken the time to read the sleeve notes etc and it did enhance the pleasure of the music. The short paragraphs that introduce each song help place it in the overall narrative and make the lyrics more accessible. It's a loose concept at best but works reasonably well.

Overall I'd say this is a 4 star album - it's not the best Rush have ever produced but it is damned good and suspect that it will grow better with repeated listening, with better production it would probably have sneaked a 5.
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