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PostSubject: Rush   Thu May 10, 2007 8:31 pm

Snakes and Arrows release date: 1 May 2007 // label: Atlantic

Confession first: I am a fan of Rush and have been since their first album. But this doesn’t disqualify me from reviewing their latest oeuvre as only one who knows their past can place the new album in its proper place in the pantheon.
This is Rush’s first album of new material in 5 years and it seems that spreading the time between albums is working for the Canadian trio; these are the freshest songs from Rush in a while. They also have a new producer and the difference is immense. Nick Raskulinecz (nicknamed 'Booujze’ for his habit of speaking drum parts!) has worked with some major names in rock – Foo Fighters, System of a Down, Velvet Revolver and Queens of the Stone Age among them – and seems to have given the band a new sense of experimentation and possibly 'fun’ than was evident on 'Vapour Trails’, their last new album and his influence has taken what could have been a very good album to one that I will be returning to time after time – something I haven’t done with much of their output from the 'aughties’.
So, what have we got?
From the huge opening riffs with acoustic guitar behind drums and leading into a massive riff and soaring vocals, all the elements that typify Rush are here. 'Far Cry’ is a massive call from the heart and delivers the listener straight to the heart of Rush. The drum sound in particular is dangerously full and deep and on PC speakers is powerful but on a decent hi-fi will damage buildings foundations unless great care is taken. The dynamics in the sound – the difference between the loudest segments and the softest - are huge; great peaks and troughs of sound like only Rush can deliver. Neil Peart’s drums lead the songs as always but the rest of the musical signatures of Rush - fast, brittle and metallic guitars, wide stereo-scapes intricate, fluid basslines – are sounding fresher than ever.
Geddy Lee’s vocals appear to have been 'de-strangulated’ on this album, more of his voice and less of the screech that can be apparent and this allows Alex Lifeson to play more musically than for a while. Lifeson’s acoustic guitar, Bouzouki and Mandolin also get a decent opportunity as the pace of the album is varied and more song filled than recent (!) material might suggest.
The variety of the album is the other real joy: from the majesty of 'Far Cry’ to the spirituality of 'The Larger Bowl’ to 'Spindrift’s grumble or the martial Blues of 'The Way The Wind Blows’ to 'Hope’ with its intricate acoustic guitar (recorded in one take?) and on to 'Malignant Narcism’ – as nasty as it sounds.
This is an album for all Rush lovers to enjoy, time and again, and for those who have never heard the mighty power of Canada, oohh, you’ve got a treat in store!


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