Review Summary: Rush definitely did not rush out this album.2 of 3 thought this review was well written
Actual Progressive ROCK is uncommon to stumble upon in the current century where progressive metal and the experimental, sludge, and doom sub-genres spawned from its influence have taken the crown over the sound associated with long compositions.
So with heavy and visceral bands such as Opeth dominating the modern definition of progressive music, one may be asking themselves as to whether or not Rush at this point feels primitive, weaker, and fails in effectiveness in comparison, letting their age get the best of their relevancy. The answer to these concerns is a relieving no, as Rush adjusts themselves to the ideas of those they influenced, incorporating Muse-like neo-prog, and in the process letting jazzy pacing, crisp atmosphere, and bubbling electronic sonics wash over their record to cause a bit of a rebirth.
Rush makes the wise decision of not letting themselves be taken by the new age, they simply welcome new sounds of the new age to come into their record and for them to take notes and make refinements, keeping their appeal as veterans, while creating appeal by introducing a record that's full of as many surprises as their is classic familiarity. Handling it in such a way that they successfully avoid alienating old or possible new fans in their approach.
It's refreshing to see some classic progressive getting back in the ring, and the great part about this is that they aren't just retreading through rehashed water and simply churning out another record that's unimportant and unexciting in what's expected of it. This is especially impressive when taking into account Rush's age, these guys are in their 60's, and they are still so technically precise in their playing ability, and still imaginative and bursting with big scale ambition.
The ambition shows in the concept Clockwork Angels centers itself around. There aren't many concept albums by bands that have been going as long and strong as Rush have at this point in their career, that are this intricately and creatively detailed, and paint such a vivid depiction of that detailed visual it's trying to convey. The album is immersive, and the experience gained from the liveliness of the colors and expansive scope this album retains throughout the depicted story is in a nutshell, a rush.
The performance of these songs is phenomenal. Neil Peart's precision in his drumming is still incredible and astonishing, (especially now when his age is taken into consideration) and the performance quality of this album shows that Rush are still looking to challenge themselves and always ready to keep pushing their skills forward and not keep plucking away and what they've mastered until the end of their career.
In summary, Clockwork Angels shows a band that is still in love with what they do after a long career of doing it, and not eroding in the quality of how they go about doing it. Rush has formed a solid album that will do more than satisfy die-hards, and without loosing their true essence, will intrigue and attract newcomers for an experience accessible to them through subtle modern appeal.
It may not push their sound to standards of new and ground breaking directions, but the apparent feeling of always looking forward to and welcoming input from the future is always great to hear.