Review Summary: Rush deliver a stellar follow-up to Caress Of Steel that is only minorly let down by a couple of underwhelming passages in the second half.
On their first 3 records, Rush were somewhat hit and miss in terms of quality. Whilst their debut had been absolutely stellar and has some fantastic guitar work, the follow-up entitled Fly By Night was still good but was a huge let down, and Caress By Steel felt very lacking despite the huge change in style. That would all change from their fourth studio album onward. To put it simply, 2112 is an ambitious masterpiece with very few flaws that is as powerful after fifty listens as it is on its very first listen. Released in 1976, this was the Canadian's highly accomplished six song classic containing the monumental title track that few could ever forget. This is one hell of a ride all the way through.
The entirety of 2112's first side on its original record pressing was made up of the title track, and to put it gently this song is absolutely incredible. All the wasted potential from Caress Of Steel is carried over masterfully here for one of the greatest progressive rock tracks ever written. This track clocks in at twenty minutes long and is made up of seven distinct passages, each one of which moves it along finely. It opens up with some eerie sounding noises that set the tone for the first part of the track really well, before the guitar, bass and drums come in. From here on out, this song is an unstoppable monolith of a track that will blow you away. The guitar work is stellar throughout with the Discovery part in particular standing out. This is the section of the song in which Geddy declares that our protagonist has found a guitar, and the way the guitar work moves through the beginner chord progressions and builds up to get increasingly technical is a testament to how accomplished this track really is.
Whilst mentioning Geddy, who could forget the part in Soliloquy where the protagonist dies and he utters some of the best vocals he has ever done. His manic yelps carry the Temples Of Syrinx section of the song perfectly as well, whilst the guitar work is no slouch either with a great solo about four minutes in. The bass is as audible as it was on Caress Of Steel and is arguably better than ever before, showcasing just how far Geddy came in terms of playing ability, as he yells out "we are the priests of the temples", the incessant rumbling of the bass in the background is nothing short of sex to the ears. The ridiculously good drumming that was present on the last two albums is present and correct on 2112 also, with the cymbals having a really nice sound to them whilst the fantastic rolls are so well performed during almost all the album that it is hard to find fault in the instrumental performances.
This is not an inconsistent album either, but it is one where the second half definitely pales in comparison to the twenty minute titan of a track that kicks it off. The second side of the album is just a little underwhelming to be honest, but is still well written. A Passage To Bangkok has a rather distinctive riff during the chorus that stands out, whilst Something For Nothing is arguably the strongest vocal track here. It is just a shame that a few moments here and there stand out as being slightly less well performed as the rest of the album, otherwise this would be the perfect Rush album. As it is, this is a great release that everyone interested in progressive rock music should check out.