Release Date: Jun 12, 2012
Record label: Roadrunner Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
It's got a dystopian sci-fi plot and lyrics like "All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary. " But the first Rush album in five years isn't just one of the band's Rushiest; it's also very good – frenetic and heavy, low on prog thought puzzles, high on power-trio interplay that could put guys half their age in the burn ward. Nickelback-like meathead modern-rock production actually adds power to these ancient masters' gnomic turgidity: Even the seven-minute tripartite title track burns rubber, and Neil Peart's dragon-tailed paradiddles and Alex Lifeson's helix solos make the koanic hokum of Peart's lyrics feel like a sermon from the peak of Mount Nerd.
It may come as a surprise to casual observers that this is Rush's first concept album in over 30 years, given they might reasonably assume the Canadian prog overlords only release concept albums. And for fans of 2112, their conceptual opus from 1976, Clockwork Angel's narrative about "an individual trying to follow his dreams in a dystopian future" will seem rather familiar – but this isn't a mere reboot. Yes, there is the complex musicality of prog at its most refined (Caravan, Headlong Flight) nestling beside emotive AOR anthems (The Wreckers), but – remarkably for what is the band's 19th studio album – Clockwork Angels never sounds dated.
RushClockwork Angels[RoadRunner Records; 2012]By Daniel Griffiths; June 24, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGAm I the only person to find it odd that after 18 albums and 38 years of being one of the biggest and best progressive acts in the world, Rush have only just got round to creating their first ever, fully fledged concept album? It seems like something they were born for (and it born for them), and yet here we have Clockwork Angels, the 19th studio album from a band still trying something different. There’s always been some kind of thematic link between songs on Rush albums, so it’s not as if we’ve ever had 10 completely disconnected songs like on an AC/DC album. From the theme of power on Power Windows to the discussions of personal faith on Snakes & Arrows, there’s some kind of message that’s being put forward, and a certain mood that arises because of that.
RUSH play the Air Canada Centre October 14 and 16. See listing. Rating: NNNN If I could travel back in time, I'd tell teenage me that one day I'd miss the embarrassingly geeky things I hate about myself. Clockwork Angels sounds like Rush realized this, too, and decided to make the album their 17-year-old selves would have loved.
Clockwork Angels has been a long time coming. Rush foreshadowed it in 2010 by releasing "BU2B," and "Caravan" to radio. The next single, "Headlong Flight," didn't appear until 2012. Co-produced with Nick Raskulinecz (who also worked on 2007's Snakes & Arrows), Clockwork Angels is a return to the concept album by the band that perfected it on 2112 in 1976.
Canada’s honored knights of all that is progressive, rocking, and conceptual have finally released their long-awaited 20th studio album, Clockwork Angels. With it, Rush sets a great example of how a band with a colossal body of hallowed and revered work can age with grace and simultaneously remain relevant to the musical landscape of today. And while the holy trinity now grows a bit long of tooth, Clockwork Angels displays an unexpectedly edgier sound than we have yet heard from the band.
I think it’d be uncontroversial to suggest that we’ll never see the likes of 2112, Moving Pictures, or Hemispheres ever again. As talented as Rush may be, it’s hard to climb back up the pinnacles that have come to form the landscape from which modern progressive rock’s biggest outfits have sprung. Dream Theater’s popularity would be severely diminished if the proficiency of Neil Peart’s drumming hadn’t been the progenitor of Mike Portnoy’s.
Rush have always been that band that their millions of fans remain maniacally loyal to while non–believers (Rush is a form of religion) seem oblivious – disdainful even, to a phenomenon that they just do not understand. Consistent with being highly intelligent men who simply refuse to do anything other than on their own terms, Rush have explored all kinds of sounds and styles in their career now spanning almost four decades but regardless of whether they dabbled in great synthesizers washes, reggae beats, new wave or math rock to name just a few detours, they’ve always somehow managed to sound like only they can. Few would argue that recent appreciation of their significance – beyond that of their existing fans at least – was certainly aided by the refreshingly open and self–effacing documentary Beyond The Lighted Stage and with that there’s a suggestion that the penny is finally dropping with the wider music audience, many of whom are perhaps grudgingly acknowledging that Rush are indeed the geniuses that the devotees have always known them to be.
"I can't stop thinking big," proclaims the unnamed narrator at the outset of Rush's 20th studio album, a sweeping tale of self-discovery set amidst a backdrop of steam-punk and alchemy on the scale of the trio's fantastical early creations: 2112 and Caress of Steel. This is a different age though, with Rush having defied the odds by becoming, indisputably, one of the world's biggest bands. Clockwork Angels therefore sounds as mighty as its concept, with the well-balanced interaction amongst Lee, Lifeson and Peart a clear result of the extensive touring they undertook concurrent with the recording process.
Canadian warlocks return with 20th studio release and third LP since the trio's new millennial reboot. Synthesizers are set to beverage warmer – nearly nil – but where a back-to-basics drums/bass/guitar bash continues since peak return Vapor Trails, pinpoint production to extract hooks from hard rock homogeneity continues to elude them. If Neil Peart's family tragedies didn't rechristen him, his growing dependence on miracles (see Snakes & Arrows' "Workin' Them Angels") calls for intervention ("Halo Effect").