Review Summary: A long, well-awaited treasure.
The past decade has been a slow and very important one for Rush. After releasing album after album, never failing to keep any loyal viewer entertained, came to a shuttering stop when drummer Neil Peart's first daughter, had mournfully died in a car accident in Ontario. After the bleak funeral, the band simply fell when Neil's wife had also died of cancer. Eventually, the suffering man took a break, and just drove
. Dusted off his motorcycle, and road across America, his bald head flapping in the wind. Eventually, he got back to the band, but it was clear they were still a little broken. Vapor Trails
and Snake and Arrows
were both resounding returns, but there was a fundamental quality that was just... missing. With the release of Clockwork Angels
, Rush bursts back into the scene after six years with a soaring, glorious album. Angels
is easily the best recent release, if not one of the best period, that Rush has pounded out. And it all starts out with a long, driving bassline with the sound of a train.
Rush's sound has been both revisited and improved, but simply just fixed
. If there was a loose flaw or awkward moment in the 2004 and 2007 releases, the Canadian trio took it up and polished it. Clockwork Angels
is a gleaming example of improvement. It's more precise, more theatrical, and ultimately better than anything Rush has done in over a decade.
The album does take every element one would expect from a Rush album; a diverse use of keyboards, glued together in the sophisticated guitar and bass riffs, with some hectic drumming going on in the background. However, Angels
is a fiesty, growling album that pulsing with heaviness. The album opener, Caravan
, and its howling follow-up, [i]BU2B[i], are both fiery rockers that take you by the throat first. Geddy Lee's voice is still at the almost-alien high pitch, but his range really starts to peak here; tracks like Caravan
and Seven Cities of Gold
show Lee at some of his finest vocal performances in a long time. The lyrical content that also follows is as overbearing and meaningful; while Clockwork Angels
is somewhat of a concept album, there are selections that stand apart from the story. Most of the songs raise up topics of individualism and philosophical questions, conveying some interesting imagery; such as questions of blind faith, and fixed destiny.
And despite the fierce, boisterous theme that seems to drive Clockwork Angels
, Rush just sounds free, and more commanding. The title track. Clockwork Angels
, is a prime example of this. As a solid seven-minute track, it is a feat in technical prowess for the three of them. Everyone uses their instruments to the best of their advantage, with varying layers of intensity and energy; with resounding guitar work, chugging bass lines, and brilliant drums rolls and fills. The solo that enters in at the four-and-a-half minute mark soars like an aria, before leading into an oppressive ending. Most of the heaviness that layers Clockwork breaks for a bit with Halo Effect
, an excellent number with double-tracked acoustic passages and a backwash of cellos and keyboards. There isn't a bad song on Rush's new album; everything is fresh and pleasent. There are a few flaws that are easy to overlook; parts of The Wreckers
drag too much or take too many nods to the Who, and BU2B2
, while a good interlude, serves as a pointless track. The production, on the other hand, couln't be any better; while it is sometimes a little rough around the edges, every instrument comes searing through in high, high quality. And it's brilliant.
All in all, Clockwork Angels is an armed master tape, proof that Rush can still ***ing rock. Clockwork Angels is a commanding album, one that proves that even while the Canadians are in their sixties and rotting away, they will still shred. Angels rocks harder than most albums before it, it sounds better, is longer (sixty-six minutes is long for a Rush album), and is also an album that's hard to forget; put simply, you should seriously listen to it if you have a pair.