Rush
Hemispheres


5.0
classic

Review

by e210013 USER (137 Reviews)
January 21st, 2020 | 36 replies


Release Date: 1978 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Definitely a classic Rush’s album. This is Rush at their best and most prog.

“Hemispheres” is the sixth studio album of Rush and was released in 1978. The line up on the album is Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Pearl.


1978 marked the beginning of a very dark period for progressive rock music. The punk scene had arrived, bent on destroying everything and everyone that crossed its path. In addition, the press started to turn against progressive rock bands almost unanimously. For instance, a band like Yes, who had been hailed just a few years earlier, was now dubbed rock dinosaurs. All these changes in the musical environment, didn’t fail to have a deep impact on prog rock leading bands, causing many to disappear. So, new bands found it extremely difficult to secure recording deals, indeed.

But amidst this general malaise, one band’s star was rapidly rising. Of Canada had appeared a storm called Rush. Playing a kind of music that can be described as a combination of British art-rock and heavy metal they had conquered the live scene by gigging endlessly across America and Canada. Rush’s first three albums were no big commercial successes. The real breakthrough came in 1976, with the release of “2112”, an album that established Rush’s style for years to come. “A Farewell To Kings”, released in 1977, was a natural continuation after its predecessor. The album was more consistent than “2112”. However, “Hemispheres” marks the peak of what I consider to be Rush’s golden age.

“Hemispheres” continues the band’s explorations of their musical style and marks the peak of what I consider Rush’s golden era, the years between 1976 and 1981. “Hemispheres” is the second studio album of them that belongs to their second musical phase. It comprises also their fifth studio album “A Farewell To Kings” released in 1977, their seventh studio album “Permanent Waves” released in 1980 and their eighth studio album “Moving Pictures” released in 1981.

The album contains examples of Rush’s adherence to progressive rock standards including the use of epic, multi movement song structures, complex rhythms and time signatures and flexible guitar solos. The group had begun to use mini Moogs, and Pearl was also using a lot of bells and other stuff which added new colour to the band’s sound. In my humble opinion, this album has Rush’s most fully realised progressive rock sound. This is easily Rush’s finest music work. Four songs, each of them rock in their own special little way, and where each individual member is at their instrumental peak. “Hemispheres” is one of those albums that embody everything great about its constituent genre.

The entire first side of “Hemispheres” is taken up by “Cygnus X-1 Book II”, subtitled “Hemispheres”. It’s the second part of the “Cygnus”, the first part of which can be found on “A Farewell To Kings”, and is simply called “Cygnus X-1”. It combines the structure and themes of a Grecian tragedy with elements of science fiction. “Hemispheres” continues the journey of the hero from the last album, describing his ships journey to, and subsequent destruction by a black hole in the Cygnus constellation. It’s a wonderful epic track. It has multiple time signature changes, beautiful guitar solos and Geddy Lee gives one of his greatest vocal performances in his entire career. “Circumstances” is less complex than the previous track, but it’s an excellent straightforward rock track with some of Lifeson’s unusual rhythm guitar plating and some superb bass playing by Lee giving to it something extra and really good. “The Trees” in contrary to the heavy opening of “Circumstances”, starts off very gently with acoustic guitar and Lee singing over a nice bass line. The music starts building up in volume and the final result is a great Rush’s track. “La Villa Strangiato” is an instrumental track, the first by Rush, and is probably their most complex composition. Like “Hemispheres”, “La Villa Strangiato” achieves a brilliant balance of complexity and accessibility. The melodies are highly emotive while the endless array of changes in tempo, timbre and rhythm are totally dizzying. The final four minutes are especially staggering for my taste, really.


Conclusion: Unfortunately, “Hemispheres” became the last Rush’s studio album with lengthy pieces of music. In the 2010 documentary film “Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage”, the band members commented that the stress of recording “Hemispheres” was a major factor in their decision to start moving away from musical suites with long format in their song writing. The change in philosophy would manifest itself in the band’s next studio album, the considerably more accessible “Permanent Waves”. Honestly, I deeply regret that decision. “Hemispheres” is an album that combines perfectly well the best elements of Rush in a perfect blend. I’m talking about the power rock that featured a lot on their previous studio albums and the use of synthesizers that would increase more and more in their later studio albums. On “Hemispheres”, the power rock still adventurous and strong and the synthesizers add to the album a little extra, while still used sparingly. All these things make of “Hemispheres” as one of the best studio progressive rock albums ever.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
January 21st 2020


2823 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Initially, it wasn't my intention to publish this review now. I had other plans for today. But, unfortunately, I need to do so, due to the death of Neil Peart. So, I'm going to do the same I did before with some other of my favourite great artists.

I only knew that Neil has passed away on 15th. But, curiously, I had completed the review of "Hemispheres" on 13th. What a coincidence my friends. It always was my intention to write a few reviews of Rush, one of my favourite prog bands and I always wanted begin with "Hemispheres", which is, actualy, my favourite album of them. So, this is the right time to begin.

Neil was one of the best drummers and lyricists in prog and in rock in general. He always was the quiet force of Rush. Rush always was one of the best and one of my favourite prog bands too. A true legend. Besides, I think "Hemispheres" is one of the best albums to homage him. For instance, his work on "La Villa Strangiato" is simply amazing. And how ironic. This album art cover and how he died.

So, here it is my homage to him. I hope it's at the level he deserves.

RIP hard Neil. We'll never forget you. Thanks for everything you gave to us professor.

Titan
January 21st 2020


20209 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good review e2 and yes, your timing couldn't have been any better. I still can't believe he's gone.

wham49
January 21st 2020


5193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Farewell has always been my favorite Rush album but this is an extension of that and equally as creative and awesome.



and yes Titan the cover has a much deeper meaning now

e210013
January 21st 2020


2823 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks, Titan. I'm deeply in shock, even now.



e210013
January 21st 2020


2823 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks wham. The cover seems to be a curse really, seen so many years later. Actually, "Farewell" is my second favourite, really.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2020


25621 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

been listening to this a ton the last few days. Circumstances is such a killer Rush jam

Digging: The Suicide Machines - Revolution Spring

BigHans
January 21st 2020


30901 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hard RIP

DominionMM1
January 21st 2020


18693 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lvs is goat rush

e210013
January 21st 2020


2823 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah Atari. All album is a killer.

e210013
January 21st 2020


2823 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, Big. Hard RIP, indeed.

e210013
January 21st 2020


2823 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks for your comment Dominion.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2020


25621 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'll probably be bumping with more spins. I have Moving Pictures, 2112 and Farewell to Kings on vinyl but this one never got the time of day it deserves from me

e210013
January 21st 2020


2823 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Probably not, Atari. My first three are, by order, "Hemispheres", "A Farewell To Kings" and "Moving Pictures". My fourth, I'm not sure, really.

Divaman
January 21st 2020


4930 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review, and yes, so timely. Rush was certainly a very different kind of progressive rock band from most of those that had been successful in the decade before it, which might have contributed to why their star continue to rise even after bands like Yes were being dumped on. It might have also actually helped Rush that they had never been the critical darlings that many of the other prog rock bands had been. They only started to really be appreciated a little later on.

Jethro42
January 21st 2020


16011 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Best Rush followed by A Farewell To Kings for me, even if I find Hemispheres getting old faster. Both are classic albums especially when they were released.

Good review!

Atari
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2020


25621 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Probably not, Atari"



lol. nah I will almost certainly be bumping this :3

e210013
January 21st 2020


2823 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I completely agree with you Diva. It happened to me too. Only later I became aware of the importance of them in prog and in rock in general.

Thanks my friend.

e210013
January 21st 2020


2823 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fair comment my friend. Two great classic albums and my favourites too.

Thanks Jethro.

e210013
January 21st 2020


2823 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

We'll see it Atari. Lol.

Space Jester
January 22nd 2020


8349 Comments


This is great but I think I like Farewell to Kings a bit more



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