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Rush - Counterparts CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.76 | 861 ratings

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3 stars The biggest improvement to this album over the last couple is that the band no longer sounds uncomfortable with the notion that they're a freaking power trio. Supposedly (maybe this is me getting fooled by another myth, I dunno), Alex and Geddy had an argument over the direction the band was taking, with Alex wanting the band to go back in a harder direction, and Neil ended up siding with Alex. This resulted in drastic changes in the band's sound; for the first since the 70's, the band put out an album that RAWKS (not "rocks," but "RAWKS"). Geddy clearly uses a different-sounding bass from the last few albums, and the bass sound returns to the low-pitched and superactive *rumble* of the band's earlier years. Similarly, Alex got to heavy up his sound and take a more prominent role than on any album since ... man, maybe since Hemispheres. He even incorporates a grunge sound from time to time (well, it was 1993); I can understand why some fans might cringe at this (Rush's guitar sound was a bit hair-metallish at times in the 80's, and grunge was pretty much created to destroy hair metal), but I definitely have no problem with grunge when there are good chops backing it.

As usual, there are a couple of great songs, and as usual they're placed near the beginning. "Animate" showcases everything good about the album's sound and couples it with strong guitar and bass lines and some really good hooks. Even the softer parts of the song are quite decent. As for "Stick it Out," well. I know many fans despise it, but I enjoy it a bunch. It's a good hard rock song! I guess I'm just a sucker for the heavy guitar sound, but that shouldn't be surprising at this point. I'd listen to this ten times in a row before I'd want to listen to "Mission" again ...

Unfortunately, as usual, the rest of the album is somewhat of a letdown. As much as I love the new sound the band adopts, it can't prevent me from thinking that there are some really stupid songs on here. Peart has some ridiculous lowpoints on this album, and there's even a bad set of lyrics from Pye Dubois in "Between the Sun and Moon" (I like the song itself, though). "Double Agent" features spoken interludes from Geddy that I think are supposed to be spooky or intimidating or whatever, but they pretty much cement the song as one of Rush's worst ideas. And, well, there's a good number of songs that are okayish, but which don't have melodies that are much better than the typical work from the past couple of albums.

I can think of least two other songs on here, though, that I think are notable. "Nobody's Hero" may have the most ridiculous first verse in the history of man, and I can only appreciate it on a purely ironic level, but once I get past the lyrics I find the song quite nice. What can I say, I think the melody is well-constructed, and even the chorus, overblown and cheezy as it might be, sounds moving to me in its own way. I'm also quite fond of the instrumental "Leave That Thing Alone" (boy, it's nice of Rush to start consistently putting instrumentals on its album), which is kind of a sequel to "Where's That Thing?", but featuring stronger and heavier basslines, and a more intense vibe.

The rest is the rest, and you know what? It's enough to make this into a somewhat decent album, even if I wouldn't recommend getting it on the grounds that all of the best songs are available on Different Stages.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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