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Rush - Vapor Trails CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.43 | 798 ratings

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Symphonic Team
1 stars If Counterparts was a car-crash, Vapor Trails is a train-wreck!

For Vapor Trails, Rush seem to have entered the studio with a clear idea of what they wanted to sound like, but seemingly without any melodic ideas whatsoever. Like on 1993's Counterparts album the kind of sound they opted for here was once again an Alternative Rock/Grunge one. In many ways, Vapor Trails can be seen as a follow up (or should that be "counterpart") to Counterparts. Vapor Trails is however even more noisy and monotonic to these ears and the song writing is more lacklustre than ever. It is almost as if they tried to hide the lack of good songs behind a thick and dense wall of sound. Also like on Counterparts, the keyboards were once again completely ditched in favour of the basic power trio format of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Personally, I enjoy Rush a lot more when they are utilizing a wider musical palette as they did on their best and most successful albums in the 70's and 80's. If all you knew from Rush was their self-titled debut album from 1974 and the present album, it would be strictly speaking impossible to even begin to imagine that albums like 2112, Hemispheres, Moving Pictures or ever Presto could be found in between in the very same band's discography. Indeed, the songs on Vapor Trails are as straightforward as those of the debut album, only that the production values of the late 60's (even if released in 1974, Rush's debut sounded like Led Zeppelin in 1969) have been replaced by those of the 90's (even if released in 2002, Vapor Trails sounds very much like a product of the 90's).

There seems to be consensus about that the previous Test For Echo album was something of an anomaly in between Counterparts and Vapor Trails. The latter two albums go naturally together while Test For Echo is rather different. For me Test For Echo was a positive anomaly. Even if it did contain a couple of weaker tracks, it was a much more enjoyable album to these ears than the two that surrounded it. Test For Echo was altogether more harmonic and melodic than is the present album. Where are the melodies on Vapor Trails? Instead, the songs are based on rather simple and loud riffs. There is nothing wrong with riffs though, of course. Indeed, some of my favourite music is based on riffs. But these particular riffs are utterly uninspired. The 13 tracks are all between four and a half and six and a half minutes long and sound very much the same as every other. Behind the contemporary and noisy production, there are 13 songs based on the same tired formula as the band have used for years.

The renewed interest in progressive Rock that emerged in the 90's and 00's (partly due to the internet and sites like this one) seems to have passed Rush by entirely. There were some traces of recognition of their own past on Test For Echo, but on Vapor Trails there is not even the slightest attempt to connect to the band's Prog-phase in the mid 70's to the early 80's. It is almost as if they are trying their very hardest here to disown the label of progressive Rock. It is indeed respectable that an old band are trying to do something new instead of just doing what they did in their youth, but it has to be done with passion and which I find clearly lacking here.

For this reviewer, Vapor Trails is Rush's worst album ever and even lacklustre efforts like Power Windows and Roll Your Bones, and even Vapor Trails' musical brother Counterparts, offer more listening pleasure for me

SouthSideoftheSky | 1/5 |


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