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Rush - Clockwork Angels CD (album) cover

CLOCKWORK ANGELS

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

3.96 | 957 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars The most progressive Rush album for 30 years!

My expectations for a new Rush album in 2012 were far from high as the band's studio output during the last three decades has - with a few exceptions - not appealed much to me. I have still maintained an honest respect for the band and reviewed all of their studio albums, but I have always felt that once they fell off the plateau constituted by the classic period of 1976 to 1981 (from 2112 to Moving Pictures) they have never been able to get back up. Unlike many fans I think that Rush lost most of their progressive and creative edge after Moving Pictures. They still continued to make decent music, and the occasional good album, but never surpassing good in my opinion. And even though the 80's albums were drenched in synths and the 90's albums mostly lacked them, the song writing remained stagnant. Much of what they released felt like it was recorded on autopilot.

Now, before you get your hopes up too much I should point out from the beginning that Clockwork Angels is by no means a true return to the sound, style, and approach of the 70's and early 80's. That train has left a long time ago. This album should thus not be compared directly with such classic records as 2112, A Farewell To Kings, Hemispheres, or Moving Pictures, but - and here comes the surprise - it does compare favorably to virtually anything else in the vast Rush discography. It stands head and shoulders above the other two 2000's albums and it puts several of the band's albums from the 90's and 80's to real shame. They have finally gotten over their decades long creative slump.

So what is it about this album that makes it stand out for me? It is more consistent (no weak tracks), more varied (a nice balance between fast and slow, acoustic and electric), more eclectic (some nice Middle-Easters sounds in The Anarchist, for example); it hangs together well (thanks to its conceptual nature); the bands feels more energetic, as if they have re- found a passion that was lost many years ago. Admittedly, if judged only in terms of the quality of the individual songs, Clockwork Angels is rivaled by a few other post-Moving Pictures Rush albums, but it is the conceptual nature of Clockwork Angels that pushes it beyond those albums. The existential lyrics are some of Peart's best ever. Most of the tracks from Clockwork Angels are perhaps not that impressive when taken in isolation, but this time the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in a way that we haven't heard from Rush in a long, long time.

When I heard this album for the first couple of times, I immediately recognized that it was better than many recent albums by the band, but I did not then expect that it would grow on me the way it did. I first suspected that I would end up giving it three stars, which would still have been a high rating for a newer Rush album coming from me, but over further listens I realized that this deserves four stars, which is the highest rating I have given to a Rush albums since Moving Pictures.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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