As a long, long-time Rush fan, I was, of course, thrilled to acquire yet another album. I had been listening to "Far Cry" (the single) for several weeks, and was pretty excited to hear the rest.
For the most part, the boys from up north have delivered! There are some true gems on this album...particularly lyrically. I wouldn't say this is one of their best albums ever, but it doesn't sit near the bottom either. It is certainly a very solid effort, clearly indicating that these guys are not resting on any laurels. What other major rock group that's been around for 30 years is still producing albums people want to hear?
My favorites: "Far Cry" is the single, and it's easy to see why. It's the most immediately accessible, although I find the first 45 seconds or so to be a weak attempt to copy the bombast of "One Little Victory," the song that kicked off "Vapor Trails" 5 years ago. It's the boys playing loud, to kind of the get the blood pumping...but it's a little flat. Once the song itself kicks into gear, it's very good. "Spindrift" is a very evocative song...Neil Peart at his most poetic. "Faithless" is good, but I am just a smidge tired of Peart beating the dead horse about his lack of faith. I'm fine with the sentiment...but after the incredible "Freewill" 25 years ago...little more can be added. The album finale is "We Hold On" and I found it to be very emotional. It is sad in the way it talks about how we all desire a change, to walk out on our lives for something else...but how we also "hold on" and go on. It was a bittersweet but very appropriate ending.
For me, the REAL treats are the instrumentals. There are 3: "Malignant Narcissism" is somewhat forgettable...but "The Main Monkey Business" is without a doubt their best instrumental since YYZ. It's nothing like YYZ...but it's a sweeping, epic tune that shows their tunecrafting and instrumental prowess very, very well. I've listened to that track more than any other. "Hope" is, for me, the long awaited acoustic guitar solo from Alex Lifeson...the one I've been waiting for ever since the little throwaway track "Broon's Bane" from the EXIT STAGE LEFT live album. It is a little, 2 minute delight!
For me, the only throwaway song is "Armor and Sword" a musically and lyrically ponderous piece. I felt the same way about "Peaceable Kingdom" on VAPOR TRAILS. Just a little too heavy-handed. But easily forgiven, considering all the other gems here.
There are still better albums to use to introduce a novice to RUSH...but frankly, SNAKES & ARROWS wouldn't be half bad. For devoted fans like me...I would give it 4.5 stars. (And I even really like all the album artwork...except for the cover itself. Some great photographs!)
I've listened to Rush on and off since one of my best friends introduced me to the band when I was in high school. My friends were impressed by the vocals of Geddy Lee and the guitar skills of Alex Lifeson. For me, I was amazed by the percussion skills of drummer Neil Peart. Over the years Rush has gained and lost favor in the public eye, but has largely maintained a steady and popular following. They are a group of musicians who have a very distinct style, yet aren't afraid of exploring new territory … more
Pros: Far Cry, Workin' Them Angels Cons: Few guitar solos, Geddy Lee's voice has HAD IT The Bottom Line: Can someone else write this, please? Listen up, everyone, I have good news and bad news: The good news is Rush released a new album recently, which in all likelihood will be followed by a new tour! The better news is that the album, Snakes and Arrows, is quite good. Also, I have finally thought up a title for the last decade … more
A return to their former glory days,Snakes and Arrowsshows this seminal prog rock band reclaiming some of the sonic territory that they'd lost over the past few years. It's not certain what contributed to this artistic rebirth, but Rush has crafted a historical and emotional odyssey that shows many both where they've been and where they're going--from the baroque soundscapes of "The Main Monkey Business," reminiscent of their earliest work to the seductive almost folkloric urgency of "The Way the Wind Blows," which is as dangerous, anxious, and prophetic as anything that Arcade Fire or Mars Volta is doing currently. Main Lyricist Neil Peart has spent the last decade getting over the death of his wife and daughter, and those tragic events have given his songwriting more depth and gravity as he explores the strengths and limitations of faith in both metaphoric and literal detail. While never didactic or ponderous, this disc is really an instruction manual for how one conducts themselves with grace and hope through unendurable pain and the vagaries of life. Gone is much of the shrillness of their earlier incarnations--Geddy Lee's trademark high pitch shrieks have mellowed considerably and Alex Lifesong's guitar playing has an assurance and freedom that can only come with age.--Jaan Uhelszki