Review Summary: "[as] The hour ends the day; the author ends his work".
Although Fly by Night
was the best place to start for Rush, Caress of Steel
was an overlooked, underrated runner up. When Caress of Steel was released, they were still the coffee-slurping, headbanging, guitar-ruining bastards that they were, but they gained good elements of progressive rock in their music; Caress of Steel
IS dumb, yes, but with the aforementioned releases it showed them moving slowly towards a better future. So now with a new bald head for a drummer, a couple of joints, and Geddy's voice higher than ever, out came Caress of Steel
. They were ready to push the boundaries and land on higher ground: though Caress of Steel wasn't met very well by critics, critics who more than likely smoked like a fiend, ate too much, and bought $800 dollar suits at Wal-Mart, and probably nowadays support Rick Santorum.
Caress of Steel
was a bit of an awkward move into prog rock for Rush, but a welcome one, considering it was only nipped at in Fly by Night
, specifically in the album closer and a single eight minute song. The record is more or less a concept album, though one that doesn't even remotely follow a storyline until the fourth track. Perhaps what made Caress of Steel considered their worst album was the idea of the storyline: a necromancer
; and to be completely frank, you can't blame those who do. A story that borrowed too many influences from Lord of the Rings - long before the movies were made - and talked too much in ye olde English accents: it's almost like they were going out of their way
to prove they were incorrigible to their messages.
"Yeah, the three of us were pretty much high in the making of Caress of Steel" - Geddy Lee
However, the opposite is true; Caress of Steel is an overlooked pearl here. It opens quickly with the 4-minute Bastille Day
, featuring with Geddy's usually high-pitched voice, fast guitar work, and drums; all topped off with a Led Zeppelin swagger. It takes a while for the album to truly build up, as proven in the lyrics that chant "I've lost a few more hairs, I THINK I'm going BALD!
" Lifeson does his usual high-standard guitar work, and Peart showing his precision behind the kit; but the aforementioned tracks, excluding Bastille Day, feel forced and not truly fleshed out.
Though after these opening fifteen minutes, then come the two tracks that hinted at Rush's later style; The Fountain of Lamneth and The Necromancer
. Both totaling up to almost forty minutes, both are some of the most bombastic pieces Rush has done. Using plenty of nerdy one-liners, folk-style chants, and raw work: all of these tracks do a good job. Like 2112
, each song is divided into four of five sections, all of which work incredibly well. With a smoking and soaring guitar, a low bass, and the group at their dramatic best; the last of the album is surprisingly cordial.
It's hard to say this was their most underrated album, mostly because it's not - Caress of Steel
suffers from many flaws; but it somewhat improved on their previous effort in that it gave them their sound and allowed them to run free, so this successful chemistry would earn them their success. So maybe, if you looked beyond its initial criticism, you'll find a decent third attempt. Also, the band was totally high in making this. Thank god.