The guys have not sounded this enthusiastic in years! There is a focus and freshness in this album that has been missing for sometime, the lyrics are also back to their high standards. Sonically, it's not at all dated unlike the preceeding 'Test For Echo' (their worst IMHO). The playing is tight as ever. Although there is hardly anything in the way of guitar solos, it is appropriate given the nature of the songs, there is so much going on texturally and rhythmically that it never drags. The vocals have generally gone back up in pitch - particularly on the propulsive opener (complete with evil-sounding riff) 'one little victory'. The drums and bass are good as ever. Overall, this is a song-oriented album rather than a show-off exercise (even though they cannot help but reveal how good they are, it's just obvious when you hear it) Highlights would be 'Earthshine' (Think Permanent Waves feel but with immensely heavy riff), 'Freeze' (awesome juggling of time signatures but somehow has a groove - a classic), and 'How It Is' (relatively hopeful and simple - similar to Closer to the Heart), the enthusiastic 'Ceiling Unlimited' (made for playing live), elsewhere, the playing on tracks like 'Secret Touch' is jaw-dropping, as is inventiveness - check out 'The Stars Look Down'. I would stop short of saying it is a classic like albums 2112 through to Moving Pictures, but it's almost there along with 'Power Windows'.
It took me ages to get into Vapor Trails ... goodness knows why 'cos I love it now. Maybe I was getting into the usual habit of thinking the albums are a little samey ..... but in reality it isn't. Its a very hi-tempo album, with lots of power and energy. The stand out tracks for me are One Little Victory which literally explodes you into the album, Ghost Rider which has a slightly haunting bassline sound and the quite cheery upbeat How It Is. The rest of the album is packed with technically excellent tracks. Its the first Rush album that proved to be what I refer to as a grower ..... it took its time but it has made a favourable impression on me and I love the album cover .... why on earth didn't they use that fantastic design to produce deep red tour t-shirts and give us something a little different for once rather than the bog standard black offerings.
Rush continue to power a path after over 30 yrs in the business ..... this is a great album, I play it a lot more now than I did when it was first released. What was I thinking back then?
Update 3 Feb 2011: Alex Lifeson was interviewed on Planet Rock today and revealed that none of the band were particularly happy with overall sound of this album and have decided to take it back to the mixing desk to edit and re-mix it .... sounds interesting
Let's get this straight, this is without question a mighty fine album from one of the greatest rock acts of the last 30 years.
This latest album has got some mixed reviews. The negative ones appear to be from those fans who can't let go of the band's 70s output. Face up to it, that was the Rush of 30 years ago and the band have moved on several times since through a succession of equally impressive musical episodes, a feat pretty much unequalled by any of their contemporaries.
As with many a Rush album, you will not fully appreciate what these songs have to offer from the first few listens. This is a most impressive collection of tunes and there is much to process and digest. The production is dense with much instrumental layering and, as ever, Mr Lifeson has achieved some sweet guitar tones throughout both the lighter and heavier songs. Lee & Peart never disappoint, so expect the usual exemplary standards of playing.
Despite the above, you do need at least 6 or so listens for things to really click into place. When they do, I'm sure you'll agree that this is one of Rush's best offerings for many a year.
Highlights for me are the opening track which sets things in motion neatly, Ghost Rider, Stars Look Down, How It Is, Earthshine and the Title track.
I am constantly amazed that this band can produce such fresh-sounding and original music after so many albums and years together. If you are a fan of the band and have been put off by other reviewers, buy without question, but be prepared to persist with repeated listenings. Anyone who appreciates intelligent rock or quality musicianship cannot fail to be impressed by this. Let's hope the band continue well beyond their recent 30th anniversary.
After the disappointingly lacklustre "Test for Echo" I thought I would wait until I'd heard "Vapour Trails" before buying. I needn't have worried as it's a masterpiece to stand alongside their best work.
This is musical triumphalism, a band of supremely talented guys that sound like they are at their peak and not even remotely bored with having played together for 30 years. This must be quite an achievement in itself. I always considered Rush to be the only progressive rock band that actually progressed anywhere and here they are making another great leap ahead of the competition. All tracks are original, imaginative and played with real passion. Oh, and it's their heaviest album ever, The programmed synth lines of the 80s are a distant memory here. This is real pounding hard rock but with enough soul, mood swings and introspective moments to keep the listener on his toes.
It's hard to believe that Neil Peart had a crisis of confidence in his playing while writing the album, he apparently had to have a seperate area to play with no-one watching him! Still, after a personally disastrous few years that resulted in him not playing drums at all it's no surprise if felt insecure about his talent but this album has some of the best rock drumming ever. Positively incendiary on "Out of the cradle". It's a gem boys, one of the best ever Rush tracks.
So why only 4 stars? The production is the worst I have ever heard (in stark contrast to the claims of crystal clarity in the Amazon review above). Apparently Geddy was left to work on it and totally hashed up the levels and they couldn't be returned without introducing some hideous distortion to the sound. On first listen I thought they had gone for a pretentious "warts and all" approach, but apparently not. Being charitable, it's a compressed, dynamic-free wall of mush. If only it sounded as good as "Counterparts" - what a missed opportunity. I still love it though, but how much more if it sounded as good as it ought to?
Apparently there is a remaster awaiting to be released, I think those of us who forked out for the original album should get a free copy. Yeah, that'll happen!
In a nutshell: First rate music, 93rd rate sound quality.
After a 6 year gap Rush release their latest album 'Vapor Trails' on 14th May. Often failing to get the critcal acclaim their music deserves this album breaks new ground for the band. The trio Geddy Lee ( bass and vocals),Alex Lifeson ( Guitars ) and Neil Peart ( drums and percussion) have produced all 13 tracks on the album which comes in a shy under 70 mins. Paul Northfield has helped out with engineering duties. The basic format remains the same - lyrics penned by Peart ( see his books Ghost Rider and Masked Rider elsewhere on the site ) and music written by Lee and Lifeson. The bands longevity ( over 22 albums ) and this format means that this album retains its essential 'Rushness' whilst introducing a more melodic and guitar orientated sound. Essentially the music here is driven by some great muscianship , with some real power guitar riffs ( Peaceable Kingdom , Ceiling Unlimited , One Little Victory) mixed with more laid back numbers ( Sweet Miracle ,The Stars Look Down , How It Is ).Other highlights include the wonderful Earthshine and progressive Freeze. The lyrical content primarily deals with events both tragic and happy in Pearts recent life , whilst the events of September 11th are not forgotten. Rush fans will love it and if it gets the exposure it deserves others will too. Buy it now !!
After a gap of almost six years Rush return with their most powerful, hard-rocking and well-written album since ... well, since the 1970s. It's simply incredibly exciting to hear this fantastic band amazingly at the very peak of their form in 2002. When other "prog" bands of the 70s endlessly rehash their old material, Rush really are a truly "progressive" band--which means they always look forward never backwards and strive to explore new musical territory. On "Vapor Trails" Neil Peart gives us some of the finest lyrics of his career--including songs about personal loss and the agony of finding hope for the future ("Ghost Rider"). Geddy Lee's mature vocals, and the supreme musicianship of all three, do full justice to Peart's words. A wonderful treat for Rush fans, but also a great rock album that deserves as wide exposure as possible.
Like many others i thought that Rush was gone for good but happily they are back with a vengeance. Rush have never been a band to stagnate and Vapor Trails is a new chapter in the band's history, built on all that has gone before. New is the key here - gone is crystal clear production - the mix is much muddier, creating a real sea of sound. The songs are more ambitious with the band going for less predictable structures so that songs stay dynamic and you can hear more of the expert musicianship that has defined Rush through the ages. This is an album you have to listen to - it's probably the least accessible record the band have ever released. The more you listen though, the more you'll be wowed - One Little Victory, Freeze & Vapor Trails show the way forward - Ghost Rider, Peaceable Kingdom and Stars Look Down show the heritage. It rocks, but it is not necessarily what you expect and the band's progress may not be to everyone's taste. All in all that's a good thing though - that Rush should bring us an album that shows development beyond our expectations should actually come as no surprise at all!