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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This record is going to be controversial
To begin with, let me say that the sound of Snakes & Arrows is fantastic. The mastering process seems to have been improved 100% since Vapor Trails in 2002. Generally the sound is thick and crisp. In terms of recording quality I think that it is the best sounding Rush album that there has ever been. Stylistically it is a hard rock album, probably the "hardest" record...
Published on May 2, 2007 by Drums of Manchu

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52 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forward Movement Needed
There are many positives about this recording. As always, the playing is great. Rush is a band of creative, skilled musicians; something we need more of these days. I also appreciate the variety of textures in each song. With only three band members, it can be easy to have the same sound all the time. This is clearly not the case with this recording. Geddy's singing,...
Published on January 2, 2008 by RHR3


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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This record is going to be controversial, May 2, 2007
By 
Drums of Manchu (Ohio, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Snakes & Arrows (Audio CD)
To begin with, let me say that the sound of Snakes & Arrows is fantastic. The mastering process seems to have been improved 100% since Vapor Trails in 2002. Generally the sound is thick and crisp. In terms of recording quality I think that it is the best sounding Rush album that there has ever been. Stylistically it is a hard rock album, probably the "hardest" record that Rush has made in a long time. The sound is very textured, thick and layered with lots of interesting sounds.

Musically they seem to want to avoid creating or playing anything that is too obvious or conventional. After 30+ years of making music I can see how the typical rock song would be boring for these master musicians. There is very little on this record that is "catchy" on the first few listens and sometimes a single song doesn't seem to hold itself together well, like the person who wrote the verse was working in a different room from the person who wrote the chorus. The melodies are unusual and will require some effort from casual listeners to appreciate. Some listeners may simply reject this music as non-melodic nonsense or noise, but as a Rush fan, I hope that this record is like a good piece of modern art, the more you examine it, the more fascinating it becomes. There are some great time signature changes in the song "Workin' Them Angels" and I really enjoy some parts of some of the songs.

Lyrically the record is rather dark and sad with themes of determinism and resignation in the face of all the evils of the world. They went from "I will choose freewill" in 1981 to "we can only grow the way the wind blows - we can only bow to the here and now or be broken down blow by blow." This is not a record that I would want to listen to over and over without having some more positive material to listen to on the side. For me this is not a fault of the album, and I appreciate Neil Peart's willingness to honestly express all aspects of life, the good and the bad. Perhaps this change is a function of maturity and a recognition that eventually innocence is lost the real world must be looked squarely in the eyes. In any case these lyrics are more profound and heartfelt than anything recently on the radio or MTV. Even with this lyrical aspect of the record, Neil Peart still avoids the silly "drowning in pools of black despair" stereotype of modern rock music. I get the feeling that he simply wrote down what he was feeling about certain things in this world and I appreciate that honesty. There might be some really positive messages here, but with the serious, heavy and ponderous sound of the album- it just feels sad.

In summary, this record may not appeal to everyone, but if you are interested in progressive rock music and are willing to expend a little effort in listening to this album it might be worth your time. Personally, I haven't made up my mind yet, but I'm trying to like it.
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142 of 167 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Textured, diverse and exciting., May 1, 2007
By 
Michael Stack (North Chelmsford, MA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Snakes & Arrows (Audio CD)
Coming about five years after their last studio record (2002's "Vapor Trails") and three since their last studio offering ('60s covers EP "Feedback"), Rush's 18th studio effort, "Snakes & Arrows", has been highly anticipated amongst the fan community, if nothing else due to producer Nick Raskulinecz's comments of this record being a return to the band's '70s sounds. I've found over the years there's a desire among fan bases to see band's recreate their old favorites rather than moving on-- witness the recent popularity of recreation of classic albums live, reunion tours, bands returning to their "classic sounds", etc. As someone who's all for progress and has always loved Rush primarily for their willingness to keep looking forward and finding new sounds, I can safely say I was a bit nervous. While their restlessness has produces its share of bunts over the years (1996's "Test For Echo" being the most recent), it's produced a number of great records that could only have existed with the bravery of changing sounds. I mean, we're talking about a band that redefined progressive metal ("2112", "A Farewell to Kings"), found commercial success ("Permanent Waves", "Moving Pictures") and abandoned it time and again to embrace everything from new wave ("Signals"), synth-driven rock ("Grace Under Pressure"), alternative (my personal favorite Rush record, "Counterparts") and a noisy, almost punk sound ("Vapor Trails"). Thankfully, upon listening, Raskulinecz wasn't quite correct.

What I suspect he was aluding to wasn't so much a return to a sound but rather to a way of working-- to complexity and layering, to many of the things that made those '70s Rush records so interesting but without regressing to create a "A Farewell to Kings" Part II. "Snakes & Arrows" finds its textures primarily in guitars and guitar-like instruments, indeed Alex Lifeson is credited in the liner notes as playing "six and twelve-string electric and acoustic guitars, mandola, mandolin, bouzouki", and all of these are pretty clearly evident-- doubled, tripled on a given piece, providing a swirling platform under which Geddy Lee's growling bass and Neil Peart's typically fantastic drumming can reside. There's also some limited keyboards on this record, Lee is credited solely with the melotron, but I'm wondering if there's not some modern key snuck in there. They're used in a decorative capacity largely, similar to how they were used on the band's early '90s records. But it really is the acoustic guitars that stand out, they're all over the place, and not just as introductions but instead informed throughout.

This textured sound is readily apparent from the start-- opener "Far Cry" starts off with a churning introduction before settling into a bouncing riff that wouldn't've been out of place on "Roll the Bones", a great crisp bassline and a catchy chorus. Likewise, similar layered textures can be seen on the largely acoustic "The Larger Bowl", Lifeson's acoustic is countered by Lee's growling bass and a staggeringly confident vocal that almost makes you wonder where it came from, or on completely intriguing "The Way the Wind Blows". Opening with a brief blues-rock passage that could have come off of a Cream record (or "Feedback" for that matter) before settling into a throbbing rhythm with just a superb vocal from Lee, maybe his best. Along the way, there's also standout alternative-tinged "Spindrift", tension-driven "Faithless", downright affecting 12-string acoustic guitar solo "Hope" (which beautifully captures its title) and a brilliant, brief and totally self-indulgent (but in a good way) instrumental in "Malignant Narcissism".

There's a few tracks I don't really care for-- "Armor and Sword", clocking in at over six and a half minutes, drags a bit, "The Main Monkey Business" ends up being a neat but not "wow" instrumental, and a few of the tracks aren't terribly memorable, particularly towards the end of the record ("Bravest Face", "Good News First", but also "Workin' Them Angels" early in the disc, saved but superb lyrics). But by and large, it's an awfully good effort. Not quite on the band's masterpieces, but certainly it's a piece worth listening to. Recommended.
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52 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forward Movement Needed, January 2, 2008
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This review is from: Snakes & Arrows (Audio CD)
There are many positives about this recording. As always, the playing is great. Rush is a band of creative, skilled musicians; something we need more of these days. I also appreciate the variety of textures in each song. With only three band members, it can be easy to have the same sound all the time. This is clearly not the case with this recording. Geddy's singing, while it is not the reason people buy Rush CDs, is pretty good as well.

I was always a fan of "the good old days" of 2112, Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures, but I have always been open to what creative direction the group takes. There are a couple of issues I have with this recording, however, which were even more evident on the previous CD, Vapor Trails. The problem is that the music lacks direction. The songs are just "there" and don't seem to take the listener anywhere. In my analysis, there are two causes of this. First, the chords are not normally progressing chords that facilitate the tension and release that push music forward. Therefore, to establish the key they are in, they seem to return too often to the chord of the key they are in. The main chord in a key is always heard as a point of arrival. Since there are too many arrivals, there are too many places where any phrase could have ended, so the musical phrases seem to go on and on like a run-on sentence.

The other factor that contributes to the lack of direction in the music is the fact that there are virtually no silences in the songs. The volume and intensity level rarely breathe. It's like there is a constant underlying drone of sound in every song. Silences are needed to better set up accents and hits. Think of how well such silences are used in songs like the Overture on 2112, or Freewill (think of the phrase "I will choose freewill"), or "Show, Don't Tell," or "Xanadu," or "Limelight." Think of the changes of intensity in songs like "Cut to the Chase," "Territories," or "Virtuality." These are important ingredients in pushing music forward. A lot of fine musicians forget that silence is sometimes just as important as notes in music. So, as much as I want to like the recording, I can only give it 3 stars.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Closer to newer Rush than old, May 29, 2007
This review is from: Snakes & Arrows (Audio CD)
THE BAND: Geddy Lee (vocals, bass, mellotron), Alex Lifeson (guitars, mandolin), Neil Peart (drums & percussion).

THE DISC: (2007) 13 tracks clocking in at approximately 62 minutes. Included with the disc is a 22-page booklet containing song titles/credits, song lyrics, odd pictures that fit with the song titles, and thank you's. Recorded at Allaire Studios (Shokan, NY). All songs written by Lee and Lifeson, with lyrics by Peart (except the instrumental "Hope" by Lifeson). Studio album #18. Label - Anthem / Atlantic Records.

COMMENTS: The bass guitar and drums stand out on "Snakes & Arrows". Lost in the shuffle, unfortunately, is Alex's guitar. Lifeson is such a talented guitarist... I miss hearing his blazing solos (thus making me think that his best work in 2007 is on Porcupine Tree's "Fear Of A Blank Planet"). Lee's synthesizers are still gone - for the most part, I think that's a good thing (synthesizers are fine as long as they're not stealing the show). Does anyone else feel the same way as I - that Geddy Lee needs to turn down his bass guitar? In my opinion, "Snakes & Arrows" still sounds like newer Rush than old. Those hoping for another "Hemispheres", "Permanent Waves" or "Moving Pictures" might be disappointed. The month of May ('07) found the disc at #1 on the Top Rock Album charts, and #3 on Billboard... the first hit being released "Far Cry" getting a fair amount of play. At this early point of its release, it's a guess as to what might be hit #2, because nothing jumps out right away. There are 3 instrumentals - the longest and most intricate being "The Main Monkey Business"; the shorter acoustic "Hope" from Lifeson; and the 2 minute "Malignant Narcissism" showing off Lee's bass. The heavier rock song highlights included "Far Cry", "Spindrift", "Workin' The Angels" and the slow trudging "Armor And Sword". One of the few power ballads (if you will), "The Larger Bowl" is good, but probably my least favorite track on the disc. Peart's lyrics are smart yet somewhat depressing, and dare I say less clever. This is a safe album - no bold statement being made - there's no "Spirit Of The Radio", "Red Barchetta", "Fly By Night", "New World Man" or even "One Little Victory" that will jump off the disc at you. Ultimately, could this be considered classic Rush? Probably not... simply no comparison to anything the band released between the classics "2112" and "Signals" (1976-1982). Seems to me Rush is showing their age and becoming less rock and progressive, and more contemporary. Lee's vocals seem labored and he just isn't hitting those exciting high notes anymore (or simply isn't given the chance). The album artwork is cool, but I actually think the back cover art is much more deserving to be on the front. I feel Lee/Lifeson/Peart have given us so many legendary songs over the past 30+ years, that this "Snakes & Arrows" will skate by on that fact alone. A good Rush album here, just not a classic (4 stars).
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't trust the naysayers, August 20, 2007
By 
This review is from: Snakes & Arrows (Audio CD)
When the 3-chord flash bands of today are still filling arenas in 30 years, THEN we'll talk.

Geddy and the boys can still run circles around most of the musicians 40 years their junior.

Long Live Rush. Another great album.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I like this monkey business!, May 16, 2007
This review is from: Snakes & Arrows (Audio CD)
Snakes & Arrows is a far superior album to Vapor Trails. I like Vapor Trails, but it has too dense a sound and as many have said, the individual instruments are lost and indistinct. S&A is dense, but at the same time the individual instruments are heard again. I LIKE this album! The best track is the Main Monkey Business- an instrumental that to me sounds like Rush of the 80's. I also like Far Cry, Armor and Sword, The Larger Bowl (a different song for Rush, but very well executed!), Hope, Malignant Narcissism, and the closer- We Hold On- is a great way to finish the album! I have tickets to see them in concert in July and can't wait to hear the aboe mentioned songs live. I'm not impressed with Bravest Face, the one track that I don't really like. Not that it's a bad song- it just doesn't do much for me. Oer all a very worthy album from Rush. Now if they would just redo Vapor Trails- if only for Earthshine and Ghostrider!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars beware the Timers......., May 7, 2007
By 
Rod Torkelson (Augusta, GA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Snakes & Arrows (Audio CD)
of the few sub-groups of Rush fans, the ones who annoy me are the "Timers". For the last 25 years, they've been obsessed with the time lengths of every song.....and for the last 25 years, they've been disappointed & appalled that they didn't get that 75-minute epic they were hoping for, so of course they complain after every new release that Rush is washed up.

Look....there are no epics here, so let's get that out of the way. But if you enjoy Rush songs in the vein of "Entre Nous", "Lessons", "Witch Hunt", and "YYZ", then you'll probably be able to dive into Snakes & Arrows without much fuss. It's maintains the heavier direction the band has followed since Counterparts, but it's arguably their most organic back-to-basics album as well. As a result, this occasionally lends itself to experimenting with new wrinkles, suggesting the band is still not afraid of trying different things (see the bluesy Lerxst jam in "The Way The Wind Blows", or the too-quirky acoustic riff in "Bravest Face", or the Dead-like rhythms in sections of "The Main Monkey Business", off the top of my head). It's accessible one minute, lean & mean the next, sometimes in the same song.

Where does this album rank among other Rush albums? Who knows....ask me in 10 years. Right now 'tho, it's getting alot of play in my house with no signs of letdown yet. The Timers will hate it, but most of the other fans should be quite satisfied.....4.5 stars.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just be Rush, June 27, 2007
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This review is from: Snakes & Arrows (Audio CD)
Talk about a new direction for Rush - just be Rush. What an amazing album! It seems that the producer, Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver) is a Rush fan himself, and decided to just let the boys play. Funny concept for Rush: just be Rush. And when Rush is being themselves, one heck of an album emerges, grounded with excellent lyrics, awesome playing, and instrumentals! Lots of instrumentals on this disc. While Vapor Trails was a great album, this album just feels like they could be themselves. Some people may not like it, but quite frankly I think its some of their best work in years. Maybe not a good place to start for a first Rush album purchase, but definitely a great place to come to once you've listened to everything else they've produced. Well done, gentlemen, well done.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope, May 21, 2007
This review is from: Snakes & Arrows (Audio CD)
Yes, I have been a RUSH fan for over 20 years. Some reviews of their work are a bit harsh and picky. If you are a listener then you know that they have changed their style over the years. I think that's the reason they're still around aside from enjoying their craft. I have loved something about every album. My favorite is the underrated and dynamic HOLD YOUR FIRE. This new album, in my opinion, is their best in a decade. After the initial playthrough some tracks stood out more than others but eventually I was singing melodies in my head. I haven't done that in a while. The album is textured and a bit smoother than VAPOR TRAILS. The two minute guitar solo called HOPE is a treasure. THE MAIN MONKEY BUSINESS aside from having a great name is a fun and driving instrumental. FAITHLESS has flavors of GHOST OF A CHANCE and is a beautifully written song. Overall, the best power trio has graced us with another thoughtful collective work. Thanks guys.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very solid effort, May 8, 2007
By 
mario (Palmdale, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Snakes & Arrows (Audio CD)
Its been one week since the official release of "Snakes and Arrows" (in the US). Having been listening to this album on a daily basis ever since, the album has been unraveling itself, allowing itself to sink in on me (though I can assure, the album won't be completely "sunk in" for a while).

After the opening chords of the opener, "Far Cry", the blood starts flowing. Older listeners probably have nostalgia as it feels like it could have been taken right out of the "Hemispheres" album. However, the song (the album), quickly turns into the more modernized Rush that we have come to expect.

Like recent Rush releases, "Snakes and Arrows" is a very textured, layered album that takes time to unravel itself. The album is also quite long, having thirteen tracks altogether. My initial reaction, and I still hold to this view, is that this album could have definitely trimmed some of the fat (in terms of layering) and also cut out some of the weaker songs, which in my opinion are "Bravest Face" and "Good News First".

However, this album has some very strong material in it. Some of the highlights include the opener "Far Cry", the A-grade instrumental piece "The Main Monkey Business", and "The Way the Wind Blows" and "Faithless", both of which are proggy tracks with interesting arrangements. The rest of the album is very solid as well. There really isn't a bad track that's a pain to the ear, but again, the album could have definitely tossed out two of the weaker tracks without compromising its merit.

To conclude, "Snakes and Arrows" is a very strong effort proving that Rush still have some gas left in the tank. It's no "Permanent Waves" or "Hemispheres", but it's a good album nontheless. Definetaly one of the best albums so far this year. "Snakes and Arrows" is an impressive offering, espeically considering that these guys have been releasing albums for well over thirty years.
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