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133 of 145 people found the following review helpful
Rush reach back and also move forward
, June 12, 2012
A new Rush release. It's like christmas morning. It has been 5 years since we have been able to sink our teeth into some new material. The band basically teased us two years ago in releasing Caravan and BU2B in time for their epic Time Machine tour. Those two songs were immediate rockers, filled with great riffs, cool lyrics and a taste of what was to come in Rush's first "true" start to finish concept record.
I had no idea what to expect to be honest. What was this story of steam punk and alchemy going to be about?
Headlong Flight is then released and things start to come into focus. A daring journey, piracy, adventures in the air and on the high seas. A life filled with adventure, peril and as we find out with the rest of the album romance and reflection.
Opening my fan pack last week was truly special. A great package that included a fact filled magazine dedicated to the new release, back stories on the making of the record, and a neat look back at every Rush album with commentary from current musicians (like Steve Wilson and Taylor Hawkins), friends, authors and former producers. The introduction in the magazine (or shall I say fanzine) was penned by Taylor Hawkins and it is a very heartwarming way to start it all off.
Then of course the CD itself is packaged in a wonderful, classy album like jacket complete with visual treats (lot's of great pictures) and the narration of this journey of a boy turning into adventurer, into a wise old man.
Sitting and reading the narration before each song took me back to age 14 when I first experienced 2112. Opening that gatefold jacket and reading the story of the priests etc. I had a huge smile on my face as I read through Clockwork Angels before each song.
Neil is letting his imagination run wild again. After going through the tragedy he went through (which you never truly get over) it is so wonderful and refreshing seeing an artist at work again, writing about living, and having grand adventures. I have missed this so much in Rush's music for a long time.
So on to the album.
Caravan - "I can't stop thinking big" - The newly mixed version has some surprises. A more up front keyboard flourish, some phased guitars and bass. I like it. I prefer Neil's drums in the "single mix" however. But again a great Rush song to kick off this journey to Crown City.
BU2B - " The Price of what we're wining is the same as what we've lost" - I love the new intro. It totally changes up the feel of how the song kicks in and gives it some drama. We find out all about the Watchmaker, and how people in this futuristic world of streamliners, flint and steel are programed what to believe and how to live. I love this song, always have since it was released. A straight ahead rocker with a great turn at the bridge.
Clockwork Angels - "Goddesses of Light, of sea and sky and land" - I was blown away on the first listen and it has only become better and better with each listen. Rush has written an epic song again. The song has a beautiful intro of grandiose quality. A wall of Alex with Geddy holding down the bottom end and then....glass hitting water for the verse. Gorgeous. Lot's of changes, twists and turns that all come together after repeated listens. The song is daring. The bridge after the fantastic Alex solo is really something. I visualize walking through Chronos Square hearing loudspeakers blaring propaganda "Everything will turn out for the best" A brilliant passage in the song that give the sense of living in a controlled world. A Blade Runner moment if you will.
The Anarchist - "A missing part of me that grows around me like a cage" - Here we go....another Rush rocker and our introduction to the boy becoming a man and going off on his adventures in this twisted world Neil has written for us to explore. The chorus of this song is fantastic. Alex growls everywhere on this song. We find the protagonist wandering the streets of Chronos Square observing the masses conforming and he refusing to believe that this is the way to live. I love the 80's Grace Under pressure like feel of this song. Alex's solo is straight out of 1984! Also their is a middle eastern flavor on one section of this tune that is undeniable and really dramatic.
Carnies - "The Glint of Iron Wheels" "The Smell of flint and steel" - Our hero joins the circus, falls in love, and is called out as a outsider not conforming to this order. The song is a full on rocker with again Rush taking us in a totally different direction after the first verse. He latches on to this group of carnies to get away and begin his journey but is driven out. I love this song. Lot's of Vaportrail like musings in the verses, but sonically much better.
Halo Effect - "A Goddess with wings on her heals" - Crushed, his heart stomped on by what he tries to envision as his soul mate. A nice breather from the onslaught we have heard up to this point. Halo effect is placed perfectly in the flow of this album. I like it. A very easy song to get into. Accessible and clean. Short and to the point. Wonderful guitar work and a great vocal performance from Geddy.
Seven Cities of Gold - " A Man can lose his past in a country like this" - This is another bombastic riff driven Rush epic. I feel this is one of the highlights of the album. A visual feast of our hero's journey into a snow filled desert. The jamming in this song harkens back to the 70's style of Rush big time. One of the albums most organic songs. A true power trio rocker and Alex again shines on his solo section, half stepping into space as well. The main riff here is destined to become a classic Rush jam.
The Wreckers - All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary" - The Wreckers brings us what may be one of Rush's finest songs ever. That's right. I can't tell you how much I love this song. Not only is the chorus one of the most melodic ones the band has ever written, the verse music is just delicious! Tell me you can't smell the salty air and feel the wind blowing through the sails as this ship our hero boarded at the port of Poseidon plunges into certain death. A unique gem among many diamonds. This is a song for the ages.
Headlong Flight - "Oh I wish I can live it all again!" - I already really liked this tune, but as I expected once I heard it in the context of the complete concept.....I now love this song. A Rush tour de force in every way. Riffage everywhere, a rousing chorus, a amazing bridge and solo section takes the song into the stratosphere! The entire journey we have been through all comes to a head sort of speak. It feels the like a finale but only for the adventure....the growth and wisdom of our hero will be later reveled.
BU2B2 - A little passage, connecting us to the last part of the album. His optimism fading, he keeps moving forward, living and learning to.......
Wish Them Well - "Just keep on going let the demons dwell" - This was a song that took me 4 listens to really get into....but now I appreciate it for the rocker it is. It reminds me of Carve Way The Stone a lot. I love it's premise and that is what got me to "get it" over repeated listens. It is a lesson I also apply to my own life. Any relationship that becomes toxic...I just wish them well and walk away.
The Garden - "The Measure of a life is a measure of love and respect" - The Garden is such a wonderful piece. Rush always manages to put a tune on every album that just shocks you. A song that you would never expect from them. The Garden is that song. Just brilliant, heartfelt, and real. This may be one of Neil's finest compositions. It is a song of hope, love and understanding of what life really is about. Tend to your garden.
I am floored by Clockwork Angels. Really. Much more profound than Snakes and Arrows which IMO is a strong album as well. But this new record we see Rush taking chances again. Throwing out the standard song writing structure and going for it again. Jams are all over this album, visual beauty, thought provoking fantasy.
Rush has me geeked up all over again. Something that has not happened since Grace Under Pressure. Power Windows and Hold Your Fire were amazing albums but dealt with real world issues, and adult topics and so it would stay that course for the next decade or so. Gone were songs about androids and fear. Gone were tunes about racing a car on the weekend, or marching with the mob to hang witches, or seeing the sun rays break through the clouds as the thunder head roared in the distance.
Rush had moved forward. And I moved with them as well. I have enjoyed that ride oh so much the past 25 plus years.
But here we find the band reaching back. Finding that reckless abandon in the song writing, the lyrics, the playing and letting your imagination run wild with them as they take you on a true journey through a world of mystery, piracy, and adventure.
Thank you again for making me feel 14 years old again if only for a fleeting moment in time.