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Rush - Roll The Bones CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.09 | 798 ratings

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2 stars I've had a lot of problems with Rush albums, before and after this one, but not even on Hold Your Fire could I accuse the band of not making a distinct impression. I really get the sense in listening to this one that they only cared about having some decent chart success (and this did hit the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic), even if it meant largely meant not having a good idea of who they really were in the process of making the album. This is an album that's way too concerned with sounding contemporary and with not being immediately dislikable, and not concerned enough with leaving a dent in the world past its initial burst of commercial success. The lyrics may be darker on the whole than most Rush albums, but that's the only aspect in which this album hasn't had almost all of its rough edges (which could have lended some interest to the whole thing) sanded off. There are some decent songs, but by and large this is easily the most generic album Rush ever made (with the possible exception of the debut, but that at least had tons of youthful energy, not to mention the hilarious vocals).

As usual, the album starts off moderately strongly, making it seem like things might work out well after all. The opening "Dreamline" sounds more to me like a Police or U2 song than a Rush song, but while the lyrics are kinda dippy and the vocal melody is only so-so (not to mention that the synthesizers are somewhat obnoxiously loud), Lifeson's guitar line largely saves the song. The following track, "Bravado," is easily the best, most inspired and most beautiful song on the album, featuring a really gorgeous guitar pattern, a nice vocal melody that plays well against it, and a great timid vibe that lends a sense of subtlety to the piece. Plus, it has a nice build throughout, turning into an anthemic classic by the end. So far, so good.

Then we hit the title track. This would actually be a fairly decent generic arena rock song, with some good energy and an ok chorus, were it not for the worst idea ever to come from the band: Geddy. Lee. Raps. His voice is artificially deepened, but it ends up sounding stupider than it would otherwise, and the lyrics in this section are so embarrassingly bad that the song fails the "could I play this in front of my friends?" test worse than most songs in my whole collection. I mean, I guess this was the time of Vanilla Ice and all that, so maybe there was just something in the world's drinking water, I don't know.

Among the seven remaining tracks, I only particularly like the instrumental "Where's My Thing?," which isn't as inspired as previous instrumentals but which still features the most distinctive basswork and riffage on the album (and effective use of the cheezy, chimey synths). Of the rest, the closing "You Bet Your Life" at least has some energy, though it sounds more than a bit like a "We Didn't Start the Fire" ripoff, and the rest just feels like it could have been written by most anybody. Some of it is offensively bad ("The Big Wheel" is the worst of the lot), some of it is just mediocre ("Face Up," "Neurotica"), and some of it makes no impression on me whatsoever. At least there are no awkward synths to make the experience unbearable, but if the best compliment I can give a song is "it doesn't make me want to stab my eardrum with a Q-tip," something's not right.

Oddly enough, some people really like this album, but I can't see at all why. Why should I care about a Rush album without interesting instrumental work and without really strong songs? Few parts of it are horrible, but there are so many better things one could listen to.

tarkus1980 | 2/5 |


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