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For my money, this is Rush's greatest album. This was the beginning of their sparkling quintet and they begin it on the best foot possible. This is not their most consistent, complex or catchiest, but it has enough of all of it, plus it's probably their most emotive.
Before I get to some of the musical aspects, I would like to begin with a couple of the complaints I frequently hear. The first is that the softer parts of the epic aren't as good and that it's cheap or not done for the right reasons. I will freely admit that the first two parts are my favorites, but the rest is all very good to me. I see no real difference in quality past that. As to it being cheap or inferior to change tempos, there are a ton of prog-metal bands, Dream Theater for instance, who often do this same thing. In more aggressive forms of music, changing shades does more than in other forms. The band Yes, for example, never got very hard, so changing tempos didn't mean that much for the listener. Rush on the other hand could go from being one of the most intense bands around to pure acoustic and be excellent at both. That's rather impressive.
The other complaint is that their lyrics are only impressive if you're a teenager. I think this misses the boat entirely. No band's lyrics are really impressive. No song lyric can touch a Republic or Das Kapital for influence and meaning. What Rush had was that they often eschewed the standard blues tropes of sex, anger, and fun. They sang about some of the more unusual topics that meant something to Peart, or in the case of Bangkok was funny. I enjoy this aspect quite a bit. In comparison, Aerosmith's lyrics can get rather redundant and Yes' mediocre poetry is not that special or pretty without the music.
Now that my rant is over, the music on display is really excellent. Geddy is very audible and I much enjoy the sound of his bass. In general, I enjoy getting to hear bass at all, but his playing is really adding to the music, especially in terms of feel. On Passage, the drug lyrics work even better, almost stoner-ish, with his loud bass. Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy his banshee wails. I remember the first time I heard The Temples of Syrinx - I was blown away. I understand not enjoying his vocals, but frankly you're going to close off a ton of older music. Alex puts on one of his best rhythmic displays here. His soloing isn't outstanding, but it's still pretty good. This is probably as close to metal as the boys got. I honestly go back and forth myself, but this is more intense than Queensryche or Fates Warning ever got, and Dream Theater still make songs based off the Rush formula. Neil is a drumming god as always. There's not much to say; his fills are superb, his timing is good, and he's aggressive. His lyrics are more to his philosophical bent than they had been. He really leans on his respect for Ayn Rand in several songs. The only real stinker on here is Tears. It's an overly sappy ballad.
This album has massive influence and there's a reason this band still exists and is on Metallum. There is not a prog-metal band from Fates to D. Theater to Opeth that doesn't owe Rush a ton. As far as impact on metal goes, I'd say this probably tops Rainbow Rising and is just shy of Sad Wings. In terms of quality, I'd say it's right there with Sad Wings and a couple of cuts above Rising. Yes, Sad Wings has nothing as bad as Tears, but the better stuff on here is stratospheric. The slower parts of 2112 are just as evocative as Dreamer Deceiver and the faster stuff is very close to Tyrant in terms of aggression. Also, the atmosphere on here is quite excellent. It has this sense of optimism in the face of hopelessness during the epic and the slight uptick in happiness found throughout the shorter songs could be viewed as a fulfillment of said optimism. Sad Wings has this excellent morose, yet poetic feel throughout that can rival but not surpass this.
All of this taken into account, I almost feel that this should have a perfect score. I'm not sure that I could name ten albums in all of music that I enjoy more than this. This is the best album by the only band that rivals Priest for being my favorite. Everything comes together very well on here, the influence is tremendous, and the great songs are GREAT. The only problem is that Tears is such an obvious and weak song. It's not even that it's the weakest in a strong bunch, it's like a small tumor. I would of course still recommend this to any fan of early metal, hard-rock, prog metal, or even just classic prog.
A tale of freedom and liberty versus repression and intellectual stagnancy told musically across twenty minutes. That's the simplest description that I can think of for the monolith of a title track, which after the critical lashing Rush received for its previous (and seriously misunderstood) record Caress of Steel, was indignantly placed as the opener of their upcoming fourth LP. Taking a damn-the-torpedoes approach to their music, this epic not only managed to achieve critical and commercial success, it helped the band shrug off the label pressure which had been trying to steer them to produce more accessible music.
Rush had sprung out as a bluesy hard rock band in the vein of Led Zeppelin, but that sound rapidly began developing into bold progressive rock with the addition of drummer Neil Peart. Unfortunately, critics loved to bash prog rock in the early seventies, and Rush received its fair number of harsh attacks. 2112 cowed many of them with not merely its excellent musicianship, but also its more serious subject matter over the fantasy ramblings that had dominated their previous records. Rush finally managed to connect with regular audiences.
But the record is most significant for the music contained within rather than the story behind it. The famous title track is a real monster- twenty minutes split across multiple sections. But while Rush had done that before with the song Fountain of Lamneth, the song felt more fully rounded and coherent, aided by Neil Peart's lyrical storytelling derived in large part from his Objectivist-flavored philosophy. The story is a surprisingly impactful one; a man in a future society, emotionally controlled and repressed by all-powerful priests, discovers a guitar and the beauty of music, but is spurned by the priests and dreams of a better time before committing suicide. In a time when censorship was hardly out of the question with the Cold War in full swing, stories like these really do resonate.
But it's the music that gives it the real power. The instrumental overture is pleasantly hard-rocking, segueing into Temples of Syrinx with its highly recognizable chorus. The next portion details the discovery of the guitar, as the complexity and melody increases with Geddy Lee singing the narrative of the protagonist's thoughts. Soon, the man presents his discovery to the furious priests. The man's words are backed with soft acoustic guitars and mellow vocals while the priests respond shrilly, distorted riffing behind them. A guitar solo ups the tempo, indicating the man fleeing from the priests back to his home.
Clean guitars and mournful vocals describe the protagonist's sorrow, but when he goes to sleep, a vast, astonishing dream of a long-lost age of freedom and artistic expression greets him. This ancient civilization, for reasons unknown, left well before the events of the story. The man is now even more depressed, having seen in his mind the beauty that the world no longer had left, and chooses to commit suicide, finding no more point in continuing in the present's stark, colorless misery. The energetic grand finale portion closes with the phrases "Attention all planets of the Solar Federation... We have assumed control." This is obviously ambiguous, though Peart has since clarified that it is supposed to mean that the old civilization returned and ended the former rule of the priests and restored what had been lost.
Five songs, not to be ignored, are also present on the album and show different flavors of what the band can do. Passage to Bangkok is a fairly straightforward rock song, not exactly unpredictable, but fun to listen to. Twilight Zone is more restrained and moody, while Lessons is a more upbeat and happy track dominated by acoustic guitars, with a great guitar solo on top of it. Tears is a mellow ballad of sorts, though I would say it's probably the weakest point on the record. There's not much noteworthy to it, unfortunately, but Something for Nothing closes the album on a good note with a very recognizable Peart lyric "You don't get something for nothing, you can't have freedom for free", exhorting people to take the initiative on their lives as the hippie culture of the sixties dissolved.
While the other songs are quite good in their own right, it's Rush's legendary epic that had propelled this album into the annals of rock history. The songwriting and musicianship had dramatically improved from previous records and helped the band's enormous ambitions become attainable. It's no wonder that the album has repeatedly received praise across the decades since release and continued to gain recognition and popularity in the modern day, not merely because of its era-transcending theme but also simply because it's just damn good music.
Rush is truly a misfit band among misfit bands. They're not the popular kids, or the cool hipster kids- they're the geeks in the corner, except they've somehow sold zillions of albums worldwide. Critics don't understand their music, and, oddly enough, neither do their fans, as evidenced by this all-time fan-favorite, the prog-metal classic 2112. Except that it's not prog rock or heavy metal- just classic rock with pretentious aspirations. While it's definitely a leap forward from the ponderous Caress of Steel that almost sent them back to the Great White North for good, 2112 is far from anything that could be labelled "a masterpiece."
Side One is a big science fiction epic, and also the focus of every fanboy's awe. Let's briefly summarize the narrative, which reads like a high school kid's submission to Issac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine: in the year 2112, the world has been taken over by a fun-hating, soulless galactic state that has everyone living very dull lives. Some dude finds an old electric guitar collecting dust in a closet, thereby discovering the universal power of rock n' roll. He shows it to a bunch of space priests who tell him it's just an old relic- throw it away and get back to work. He then ends up old and in bed, dreaming about a better world full of music while some underground rebel army stages a coup and presumably restores happiness to the galactic federation. Frank Zappa would basically do the same story three years later with his rock opera, Joe's Garage, except his version spanned 3 records and was done as a joke (the story, not the music, which is pretty brilliant stuff for rock n' roll.)
But the 2112 narrative wouldn't be so bad if the music was amazing. After all, other prog-rock bands weren't exactly literary geniuses either, but they at least knew how to compose interesting music. And that's where Rush shows its hand (see what I did there?) While the members of Yes and King Crimson, to name a couple of Prog-Giants, actually understood music theory, harmonic progressions, counterpoint, and polyrhythms, the Rush guys were, quite literally, a couple of kids who learned guitar in their garage. I'm not knocking them, for they are, if nothing else, one of the hardest-working bands in the history of rock music; they just simply lacked the compositional chops these other bands had. Rush had started out as little more than a Zepplin cover band, and those limitations are still quite evident here, in album #4.
If you're a Rush fan convinced this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, listen again. It opens with drums doubling the guitars in pseudo-dramatic accents... and then launching into a supposedly-epic intro. Hear that bass line? It's basically the guitar line, one that's not doing very much. Hear the drums? They're just adding a basic beat for the other guys to play to. It's like a middle-school kid's idea of "grand". Then there's more dramatic cymbal crashes with a few guitar riffs strung together... as is the case 2:47 into the song, where we basically just switched from one rock riff to another. But stitching a bunch of guitar licks into a continual line doesn't make it complex, deep, or even that interesting- it's pretty much the same as playing all those basic riffs as separate generic rock tracks, as the band had been doing previously. All you've done is eliminate the silent breaks between them. Yes, the album is lot more fun and inspired than Caress of Steel, that's for sure, and that's what makes this album listenable as opposed to boring. It's just not amazing in any way.
The good bits are scattered about- Temples of Syrinx has some fun moments, for example- but these guys are still stuck on the idea that going from loud to quiet to loud again equals great art. Their slow stuff isn't pretty, or interesting, it's just slow. Side 2 consists of six typical Rush tunes, finishing with the strongest of the bunch: Something for Nothing, which shows how much their musical chops have improved. That these guys know how to play is clear, it's just the songwriting that's a far cry from the genuinely interesting material they would produce a few years later.
And that's really what this, like so many Rush albums, is: another chapter in the progression of a band that started from humble beginnings and worked its ass off until it became legitimate. For that, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart deserve your respect, for the proof is in their playing. They really did hunker down and do their homework, album after album, hungry to reach a standard they heard in other bands they admired. But in 1976, Rush still had a ways to go.
Over its first three albums Rush had covered a lot of musical ground. They had explored hard rock, prog rock, folk and heavy metal. They had played around with everything from radio-friendly rockers (i.e. “Fly by Night”) to sidelong epics (i.e. “The Fountain of Lamenth”). Rush’s third album, Caress of Steel documents a band who is starting to congeal this plethora of sounds and styles into one cohesive aesthetic. However, Rush was not quite there yet; while often genius, Caress of Steel still suffers its share of growing pains.
Unfortunately for Rush, Mercury Records, who signed the group based on the success of the Zeppelinesque hit “Working Man,” had no interest in Rush’s artistic development. The label wanted hits and sales, not “pretentious” conceptual songs. As one might expect from a dark, experimental album that contains two songs over twelve minutes in length, Caress of Steel didn’t produce many hits or sales. The correlating tour (sarcastically titled the “Down the Tubes Tour”) was also a bust. Rush were in hot water with the label and needed a successful record to keep their career afloat.
Fortunately, everything clicked just in the nick of time. 2112 is the album where all the various pieces that make up Rush’s sound come together into a cohesive whole. The first thing that stands out about 2112 is just how huge it sounds; it’s on par with other mammoth prog albums like Yes’s Close to the Edge, King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King and Pink Floyd’s Wish you Were Here. What distinguishes 2112 is that it creates such a giant sound with not much more than guitar, bass, drums and vocals. While there is some doubling of guitar (mostly during solos or when acoustic guitar is added) and a few keyboard passages, the vast majority of 2112 is the product of just three instruments.
But what titanic instrumental performances they are! The tone of the bass and guitar is dense and heavy, and the riffs roar throughout. Peart plays with a combination of power, precision and technicality that makes the drums into both the pace-setter and at times, a lead instrument. The music is composed in such a way to allow Peart’s brilliant fills stand out (i.e. the varied fills that come at the end of each line of the verse of “The Temples of Syrinx”). Most prog rock bands have two “lead” instruments: guitar plus one less conventional instrument, ranging from keys to flutes to violins. On 2112, Peart’s fills are so distinguished and forthright that they essentially fill the role of the “second lead instrument.” As for the vocals, Lee does an excellent job of shifting between soft, warm singing in a relatively lower register to unfathomably high wails. Lee uses these two disparate styles to create thrilling dynamics throughout 2112 (i.e. on “Presentation”, where the protagonist makes gentle requests to the priests who harshly turn him down). All of these sounds are accentuated by Terry Brown’s phenomenal production job. There’s lots of echo and reverb, which helps each instrument fill as much sonic space as possible and also brings life to the spacey lyrical themes.
All of these musical elements are quite a marvel to experience, but what makes 2112 a masterpiece is the way the sounds weave in and out of one another, creating compositions that morph like living organisms. Nowhere is this more evident than on the epic, seven-part, sidelong title track. The opening suite begins with the trio playing choppy, stop-start riffs in absolute harmony before traveling in unison through a glorious, galloping hard rock passage. When the music slows down again, there’s a brilliant moment of inversion: the guitar is the only instrument holding a steady rhythm, while Lee and Peart take turns dropping blubbery bass lines and thunderous fills. The entire twenty-minute epic is full of these sorts of staggering shifts and transitions that are only possible when truly great musicianship and great band chemistry occur simultaneously.
In brief, “2112” tells the story of a futuristic society run by a priestly intelligentsia that brainwash the masses into believing they are happy. One day a boy finds a guitar and begins expressing himself through music. The boy wants to share his music with others, which infuriates and terrifies the priests. (There’s a lot more to the story than this, but considering this is Rush’s most talked about song, those who are curious will have little problem finding out the details of the story). “2112” is a story of the struggle to maintain authenticity and creativity in the face of the homogeneity of group-thought. Appropriately, the song is filled to the brim with inspired, impassioned riffs and vocal hooks. The song is so hard rocking and catchy that most listeners probably won’t even pick up on the more technical happenings until the fourth or fifth listen, at least. While each part of the song is worthy of discussion, one part that is especially interesting is part III, “The Discovery,” which describes the boy finding guitar and learning to play it. Lifeson communicates this process by gradually progressing from bare, unharmonious open chords to increasingly complex and beautiful chord progressions. Lifeson’s heartfelt and excited performance brilliantly captures the thrill of discovery.
While “2112” rightfully gets a ton of attention, Side B is praiseworthy in its own right. Rush was never a pure prog rock band and always had a more direct hard rock aspect to its sound (at least, through Moving Pictures). In the same way that Rush perfected their prog rock element on Side A, Side B is the perfection of the group’s more direct hard rock dimension. On Side B, Rush finally move out of the shadow of Led Zeppelin and create cuts of fiery, upbeat hard rock that truly have a distinct sound that could only belong to Rush. These songs either tell vivid stories or describe intense emotional experiences; in each case, Rush finds excellent melodies and hooks to convey those stories and feelings. “Passage to Bangkok” captures the energy and exoticism of traveling in far off lands while “Twilight Zone” creates a spooky and trippy ambiance. Even the ballad (which Rush almost always strikes out on), “Tears” is quite impressive, with Lee delivering a beautiful vocal performance, while guest mellotronist Hugh Syme provides excellent atmospheric backing melodies.
2112 was a commercial success and consequently, gave the group the artistic freedom to do as they pleased on future releases. It’s not difficult to see why 2112 has become such beloved album: it is a rare instance of a mainstream album that actualizes the ideology it expresses. Individualism, taking responsibility for one’s own actions and pursuing one’s dreams are the themes of 2112: Rush did exactly that by making 2112 the album they wanted it to be, rather than the one the label was begging for. Many lesser bands have not been brave enough to maintain their artistic integrity in that situation. While that might have resulted in a few more hits in the 70s, Rush managed to lay the groundwork for multiple genres of music with 2112. Neither progressive metal nor alternative rock would be what they are today without 2112. In the end, 2112 is a rare story of artistic integrity winning out over commercial greed, and honestly, who cannot find hope and inspiration in that?
Originally written for deinoslogos.wordpress.com
Well, as I eagerly await seeing Rush live again (by the time this review is accepted I most likely will have already seen them), I feel it is time I formally review this record. IT is undoubtedly the most important piece of music to me, as I was completely ignorant of what music could do until hearing this. When I was a freshman in high school, I was driven to buy this album with my birthday money by some unknown force. Before then, I had zero, and I mean NO interest in music at all. Everything I heard on radio and what not did nothing but annoy me. but something about the spacey sci-fi cover intrigued me. So, there I was with the CD in my stereo....
And it, frankly changed my life. The crazy Overture I can play in my head from memory at anytime at will. It is just THAT memorable. Then the softly but perfectly uttered 'and the meek shall inherit the Earth'. Simply chilling. That segment is actually what I chose to play on my graduation slideshow for my class when my picture came by. There were no other songs I even considered. Anyway, The epic title track continues with the viral Temples of Syrinx, another segment that will never leave the memory of any mortal man, with its shrieked cries of control and power over the Solar Federation.
At this point, little me was already blown away. He wasn't on this planet anymore. He was daydreaming. He saw the towering cities of other worlds, as a new realm of existence opened up to him. In less pretentious terms, I discovered my passion: music. But the song continues with a brilliant guitar piece by criminally underrated god, Alex Lifeson. Discovery is composed to sound like a person discovering the guitar, but in such a way that it is still awesome to listen to. The beautiful vocals of Geddy Lee really come through on this segment, though my favourite vocal lines come a bit later in Oracle: The Dream.
Presentation forwards the story with the priests rejecting music, as I had. With the very high shrieks of the priests contrasting the soft spoken protagonist, this section is vital. But Oracle has to be my favourite part of the song. The build up of the guitars and vocals is just amazing. Soliloquy is the depressing part of the song, which comes with very sorrowful riffs and atmosphere which all culminates to the very heavy for its time Grand Finale.
It goes without saying that the entire song is stuffed with virtuoso drumming courtesy of God of Gods Neil Peart, with equally intelligent and rapturing guitars and bass. But the story itself makes it one of the best rock songs ever. It still holds up to this day as one of the best, and no prog epic has ever met it in the slightest. This song is truly amazing, and I could have gone on forever, but that wouldn't be convenient as time reading this review could be spent listening to this album.
It's side 2 that doesn't hold up as well now that I am older and a little more mature. If I wrote this then, this site would've been hacked, and this album would be the only album on it. But now I can look at it with much less bias (maybe still a little). Don't get me wrong, none of these songs are bad, hell none of these songs are bad at all, but I still can't give it the perfect score.
A Passage to Bangkok is a classic, and is one of my favourites on side 2, with its bluesy sounding licks and its very atypical of Rush lyrics. Twilight Zone is second weakest track in my mind, but its chilling atmosphere keeps it memorable, especially the part about the giant boy making you his new toy. That always makes me smile.
Lessons stands as one of my favourite all time Rush songs. It's acoustic chords never cease to make me feel... happy. Very happy. The lyrics always make me think of the many happy memories I have, and that makes this song very special to me. Tears is the weak link here. It is a bit too soft for this album I feel. And even Geddy Lee sounds a bit bored in his vocal delivery on this one. Something for Nothing ends the album on a higher note, and its hard rock riffing is pretty memorable but not perfect.
In the end, (ha, Rush song!) this song is a near perfect masterpiece that everyone should own, but side 2 cannot live up to the epic. And no set of songs could. But I still can't give it a perfect score. So, though I owe this album a lot, and it is insanely good, Tears, the Twilight Zone and Something for Nothing don't stay with me. Still, a 98 out of 100 or a 5 out of 5.
A Passage to Bangkok
Something for Nothing
I want to make clear this: Rush is one of my favourite bands. But far from being an essential album in musical terms (in historical and commercial terms it is), this is one of their worst efforts. Blame this on being the first attempt they did, because they evolved and reached their peak in A Farewell to Kings, Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures, their holy trinity, but this one is far from those three, even if here we can find a couple of the embryonary ideas for the future sound of the band.
2112 is the main piece here, a conceptual line story about science fiction, space travelling and a couple of mysteries. Honestly, the track starts promising with the famous "Overture", which has a bunch of powerful riffs and a nice mix of atmospheric keyboarding. A nice way to open any album. Then, we reach "The Temple of the Syrinx" and, by god, we actually stay on our sits listening to this. The rythmical pattern drawn by Neil Peart with his powerful and filling drumming, alongside a speedy and progressive tune leads us to the conclusion that Rush was not a joke. They were actually a force to be taken in count both in rock and metal world. Unfortunately, from this point on, "2112" enters into a hollow.
"Discovery", "Presentation" and "Oracle: the Dream" are weaklings. They don't have the emotion nor the strength enough to keep your attention. Oh yes, we can find here a couple of touching singing, some masterful solos from the guitar, and, as usual, Neil doing his thing and doing it well. But they lack, as I stated above, the power, the emotion, the "Rush Spirit" if I can define it using a quote. Yeah, you can try to sound progressive and atmospheric, but do it without damaging the beat, the feeling. This is what happens in those movements. They loose the line, the string, they fall deep in a pretentious world rather than a joyful and creative new vision of things. Only until "Soliloquy", which contains one of the most endearing singing by Geddy Lee and a couple of the most inventive lines ever written by our favourite power trio: "My spirits are low in the depths of despair... My lifeblood spills over..." we encounter the Rush we know and like. The "Grand Finale" has a frantic drumming section which rules your mind, with the the guitar helping it, and that is. "2112" is a rollercoaster of greatness and mellowness, an in-between, unfortunately.
After this, well, something great must have been done to save the album, but the band fails to deliver. We found "A Passage to Bangkok", a song with a nice melodic intro, but once again, remains there, as an attempt. It never gets to the point, even if Lifeson does his best for trying to awake it. "Twilight Zone" it's like an hybrid between early Pink Floyd and late Led Zeppelin. And, yes, as an hybrid, works, but not as a song written by Rush, a band that gained his reputation for being original and progressive, not by trying to copy what others have done before. Almost the same happens with "Lessons", with that nice accoustic guitar sound leading the paice, actually sounds like an excerpt of "2112" (the song). It's radio friendly, enjoyable, with a rocking chorus and somehow touching lyrics, but nothing to amaze, nothing to remember. You can consider it a child-of-it's-time, a 70's song and no more. "Something for Nothing" is the only song that excells. Heavy, speed-paced, with roaring singing by Geddy Lee and a couple of riffs from hell, joint with a masterful drumming, is a return to the Rush Spirit, to that thing we like and enjoy. Unfortunately, it's not enough to save the album.
But what's awful here is that crappy piece known as "Tears" which should have had enough power to ban Rush from the metal archives. Deep Purple also had a dreadful piece in his underrated "Fireball" named Anyone's Daughter, but this is completely balanced with the rest of the album. Here this doesn't happens, unfortunately. It's a totally unnecesary ballad with little to save. Maybe Geddy was trying to show how versatile his voice might be, but my friend, this was not the way. I have nothing against ballads, but this one has no ground for break. It's mediocre, usual and without touch. Even worst, when I heard it for the first time, I thought "this is a song by Air Supply", but no, I was wrong. It was from Rush and that's a disgrace for their glorious career. I won't talk anymore about that.
So, if you have, in a song that has more than twenty minutes only 6 or 7 excellent ones and the rest are rolling around being good and mediocre ones, and then your album is almost completely made by fillers, well, I shall rate this with a 73%, because it is a good thing, overall, pretentious, overrated and freaky yes, but good enough. Now, after listening to that song "Tears", well, I must degrade around 10 points to my final note. Yes, it hurts, but hurted me the most standing to that piece. So, sorry, Rush, I like you, I really do, but... Whatever...
By the time Rush came to record 2112, Caress of Steel had been a commercial and critical flop and the band fully expected it to be their last album. Kicking off with a side-long prog metal epic despite their advice of their label, the band suddenly and unexpectedly turned out to be quite good at this prog thing after all. The title track from this one blows away the false starts of Fly By Night and Caress of Steel with stellar performances from all concerned, tighter compositional structures in which there's always something interesting happening, and a plot which is unashamed of its nerdiness and which is still exciting to hear after a dozen listens. (Oh, come on, tell me you don't get a shiver down your spine when you hear the distorted voice declaring the Elder Race's conquest of the solar system at the end of the song.) So what if the plot might be a thinly-veiled Objectivist allegory (or, more likely, a swipe at the music press for not accepting Rush's musical vision) when it's so good to listen to?
The second side of the album provides a tight set of shorter songs which proves that the band had also got the knack of producing these as well. As goofy as the thinly-veiled weed worship of A Passage to Bangkok is, it's still one of the catchiest songs they've ever done, with its thunderous guitar solo by Lifeson being a particular highlight of the album, Lessons is enjoyably upbeat and manages a nice blend of acoustic and electric guitar lines, and Something for Nothing is a great barnstormer to close the album.
The album isn't quite perfect - The Twilight Zone lacks the boundless energy the rest of the songs have, and doesn't quite hit the spooky atmosphere it aims for (though it comes close), and Tears is a lacklustre, melancholic ballad which even the generously applied heaps of Mellotron can't save from being bland middle-of-the-road slop. But even with these roadbumps on the second side, the album is still an enduring classic and the first sign that Rush might be able to stick it out for the long term. Finally mastering the progressive metal style they'd been tinkering with for two albums, the band took their place at the spearhead of the nascent subgenre, and with 2112 they more than earned it.
Widely regarded as one of the most important progressive rock records ever released, “2112” is also considered as an unparalleled album in the large discography of Rush. The album is divided in two sides: the first one, which contains the epic title track, clocking in at (more or less) 20 minutes, and the second one, which contains five shorter tracks. While I must admit that the title track is indeed a classic, a great great song, I also have to say that, unfortunately, the second half of the record really harms the whole listening experience. All the songs featured on the second side are, so, pretty average and even weak.
Anyways, you can find here great performances of the three musicians (this is Rush, remember that!). Geddy Lee delivers a very varied performance, vocals-wise, sometimes shrieking and screaming like a madman and sometimes singing very melodically and softly. His bass playing is also top notch, as everyone says. There is also an use of keyboards, I think that's he who plays them. They are used mostly on the title track, especially on the beginning of it.
Alex Lifeson, the gifted guitar player, is another essential element of the trio, also delivering a varied performance, as he also uses the acoustic guitar very often, especially on the title track (on some movements like “Discover” and “Soliloquy”) and on the more laid-back songs of the second half of the album.
The most important element of the band is Neil Peart, though: what a kick-ass drummer indeed! He is pretty dynamic throughout the record and, most of all, his playing is extremely technical. You can never tell what he's going to do next, he's extremely unpredictable, complex beat after complex beat, fast fill after fast fill, he really delivers a very good performance. He was also responsible for the writing of the lyrics; they are pretty good, especially on the title track. The concept of this tune is also great, even reminding me a bit of Orwell's book, “1984”, with its themes of domination of the government over the people. Basically, the story speaks about a guy who lives in a world ruled by the Priests of the temples of Syrinx. Later he discovers an acoustic guitar and begins to express his feelings with it. Unfortunately he presents the instrument to the Priests; they immediately destroy it. The guy, then, dreams of a better world and begins to feel that the Priests are unjust and... I think I have spoiled the story enough.
Musically, this epic piece is also pretty varied and absolutely great. “Overture” is its first movement, being a nice instrumental, preparing the listener to what's next. It's no “YYZ”, but far from a filler. After Geddy Lee sings the legendary verse:
“And the meek shall inherit the earth”
The second movement begins, being called “The Temples of Syrinx”. Lyrically, it speaks about the Priests that rule those temples. “The Temples” is a very dynamic rocker, featuring one of the most aggressive vocal performances of Geddy Lee. It is a relatively fast movement and the catchiest section of the title track, since the chorus is incredibly addictive. “Discovery” is a slower movement, with Lifeson using his acoustic guitar and Lee singing very gently. “Presentation” is heavier, though, especially during the “dialogue part”, where the main character of the concept talks with the Priests about his discovery. “Oracle: the Dream” and “Soliloquy” are, again, calmer. The last movement, “Grand Finale”, is another instrumental, pretty similar to “Overture”, featuring some nice guitar solos. The song ends with a mysterious outro.
Unfortunately, the second half of the record is a lot worser than the first, some songs are just average and some really weak. “A Passage to Bangkok” is probably the best track of the second side, being a straight-forward hard rock tune. “Tears” is a poor attempt at a emotional ballad and “Twilight Zone” is very annoying, with that stupid interlude (“you have reached the twilight zone”...). “Something for Nothing is another rocker, with a catchy chorus, and “Lessons” another calm (and weak) song. It seems that Rush used all their energies on the composition of the title track and forgout about the other tunes. Unfortunately, because of that, the whole listening experience is harmed.
Anyways, this is a decent Rush record, better get JUST the title track, trust me, it's the only thing about this album worth listening. Better, get the title track, “Tears” and “Something for Nothing”. If the album had this tracklist, it would be a lot better.
Best Moments of the CD:
-the chorus of “The Temples of Syrinx”; when the main character of the title track is learning how to play the guitar; the outro.
And a damn fine album at that. This is the first of many Rush albums to 'click' with me, and it's obvious why. Geddy Lee provides great vocals (unique and distinctive voice as well) while Alex Lifeson provides great supporting vocals. Alex brings in some blistering prog-rock solos, while Geddy Lee backs it up with some of the greatest bass I've heard on a rock album. Then, Neil Peart. This guy can break out complicated, almost impossible, drum tracks that never disrupt the rest of the music, even when soloing. The writing as well is superb, especially on the epic 20-minute title track.
2112 is one of a few ultra-long songs that dot Rushs early work. This one is the longest and arguably the most epic, with a storyline about a man who finds a guitar, only to be rejected by his society and himself commiting suicide. The musicianship and writing on this song is amazing, the beginning provides the live-staple and is followed up by an acoustic, detailing how the main character learns to play guitar.
I would easily buy this album for just the title track, but the rest of the album is extremely solid. Passage To Bangkok, while the weakest, gives a good chorus. The Twilight Zone is a softer song at some points, hard at others, overall it provides a good feeling that coincides with the excellent TV show. Lessons sees Geddy screaming like a teacher trying to get through to a stubborn student.
Next up, Tears, easily the strongest on the latter half of the album, is a moving song that makes you feel genuinely sad. This song just is overcome with emotion, and if you're not careful you could find yourself spilling tears over Tears. The album closes with Something For Nothing, a solid song with a great chorus.
Overall, this is a great prog-rock album, and provides a great contrast between the acoustic and the almost metal-esque riffs. I'd suggest this to anyone who's looking to get into Rush.
Highlights: 2112 Pts. 1, 3 and 6, Tears
Now THIS is bliss music! This is the first Rush album i've ever heard, and as soon as I heard a 30 second clip of 'Passage To Bangkok' I knew I had to own this. And i'm glad I do! This is a prog masterpiece! The first track is a 20+ minute epic about a future world where all art (including music) is being controlled by some space government. A boy, who thought the world was ok, discovers an old acoustic guitar in a cave and is blown away by the beauty of the music it creates. He presents it to the space government folks who decide to destroy it to stay in control. Knowing how much the future world lacked beauty, the boy wished he could sleep, dream and never return. Awesome!
In my original review I moved away onto the other tracks next, but i'm gonna revisit this because i'm starting to enjoy the first track even more. There are just more things you notice about the composition the more times you listen to it. For instance, when you hear the waterfall in the background (when the acoustic guitar is discovered, I presumed this is the 'III Discovery' part) the tinklings on the acoustic must represent the boy discovering the instrument and examining what exactly it can do - I never noticed this before. And then in the 'IV Presentation' part, I also noticed how when the boy is speaking the music is very soft, quiet, almost vulnerable, whereas when the government establishment people are talking the music is loud, powerful and dominating, symbolising their power over the young boy. Brilliant! I can't praise this piece enough, and this is probably the best piece of progressive music i've ever heard, the rest of the music on this album doesn't quite reach this calibur.
Yet the other tracks are certainly not lacking either. Passage To Bangkok is epic as anything, which some really weird (in a proggy good way) melodic riffing and impressive vocal lines. Tears is a beautifully sad ballad (which has been covered by Dream Theater) and Something For Nothing is a brilliant hard rock track to top the album off.
The leadwork on here is phenominal, especially towards the middle of the title track. If you enjoy classic metal, old hard rock and progressive music you need to own this, this is an essential for you.
ATTENTION ALL PLANETS OF THE SOLAR FEDERATION!
ATTENTION ALL PLANETS OF THE SOLAR FEDERATION!
ATTENTION ALL PLANETS OF THE SOLAR FEDERATION!
WE HAVE ASSUMED CONTROL!
WE HAVE ASSUMED CONTROL!
WE HAVE ASSUMED CONTROL!
Here we are, four albums to date in a scant 2 years and Rush crashes upon the music masses with an opus of concussive proportions. The spirit of live rocking collides with progressive music, mixed with dual edged lyrics to burn in the crucible of one angry band, forging an opus in 2112. Within its scorched halls hangs hell bent guitar riffs that equally turn to soft acoustic passages. Lifeson is literally on fire with enough energy to personally scorch his share of the track into the vinyl. Awesome percussion as always, and not just drumming my friends; Peart continues to expand his kit. Not that it matters, as he’s probably the only man alive that could take Lars’ thrice damned trash cans and own Hammersmith. Lee’s vocals move up and down, screaming and singing, with his base work perfectly marrying rhythm and riff into a masterwork weapon that destroys and heals with each stroke.
“We've taken care of everything, the words you hear the songs you sing”
Opening up, the first song goes coast to coast to comprise all of side one (for those of us who still spin an album or two). “2112” is a story that pays creative tribute to the classic novel of Ayn Rand, Anthem. It portrays a totalitarian future of collectivist domination through art and media, individualism crushed by the spoon fed will of the people’s “Representatives” – In this case priests. Fitting actually, as in real life, you can’t see God, so his priests dictate “His will” to you. So the secular equivalent would be the intangible “Will of the people” and the necessity of “Their will” to be dictated by similar minions.
Into this oppressive world comes a man who discovers a guitar buried in ancient ruins. He manages to create music with it and is delighted at what he has discovered. His excitement turns to horror as the priests react dismissive and angry at his discovery. They tell him that it is a “Toy” of the past that caused the downfall of man, to forget it for it doesn’t “Fit the plan”, then promptly destroy the instrument. In other words, the individualism inherent in creating music with such an instrument is bad, for it is not of collective design. The “People” didn’t do it, he did it himself. Only what they create is good. Finally, typically of what a dictator can’t control, they destroy it.
From here the man becomes depressed, as he dreams of other worlds. There, the people play the music he has heard and are free to “Live and grow”. Those people are revealed to be ancestors that fled this world when the current regime took control. The story turns dark as the man sees a world of freedom, realizing he can’t go on pretending to live in this world where his reawakened self is being crushed. He escapes the system in the only way he knows, by committing suicide. The story ends with the return of the elder race to finally throw done the federation once and for all.
But that is not the real story of 2112.
“Just think of what my life might be, in a world like I have seen”
The real story is about a band that just finished creating an album of deep progressive rock that received bad press. The critics were vicious in assailing Caress of Steel and overall reaction was poor, so poor the band named the ensuing tour the “Down the Tubes Tour”. This led to pressure from their record label to drop the “pretentious” stories and music, to return to the fun Zeppelin rock style of the self-titled debut.
This should sound familiar to any music fan, for it is the repeating story of all music. Any metal fan will recognize what carnage it can cause. It is the story of hair metal in the 80’s, or the wholesale abandonment of metal in the 90’s. The siren call of success over substance has led many a fine band to their demise. But for all of those times bands have played the game of the labels, selling out to go the route of artistic insignificance, or in the case of the 80’s killing and burying metal six feet deep, this story ends different.
“Attention all planets of the Solar Federation. We have assumed control.”
Rush didn’t play the game. Instead, they got angry, deciding to go down in flames writing their own music instead of compromising, so they came out swinging at the label and critics with 2112. If you think about the story within “2112”, and the story of why the band wrote it, they are the one and the same. In fact, this is primarily why I laid out the whole story above, for you to see the comparison of art imitating life. An artist faces oppression by a power group that wants to force them into line, to play that groups game. But the artist refuses to play the game; they would rather lose on their own terms versus compromising their freedom. “2112” is a great story of a collectivist future, but a better story of the one time a band looked straight at a label and raised their middle finger with a hearty “Fuck You”. But for Rush this wasn’t suicide, but success.
What about the music? How does music stack up? To put it simply, the song “2112” itself combines heavy riffs, great percussion, the intelligent lyrics of a good story, and straight out passion to create one of the greatest pieces of music to dominate a full side of vinyl. The lyrics tell a story, but the music tells and advances the story as well. Twenty minutes roars by and you will have hardly noticed. This is the signature Rush song and a piece of influential progressive goodness. If you listen to Caress of Steel then 2112 you can hear the difference - It’s profound. 2112 has that extra passion behind it that drives the content forward.
After the opus of “2112” the tracks return to earth and become a little more hit and miss. “A Passage to Bangkok” is an interesting conceptual hard rock piece that tells of the band touring the world to hit the prime drug spots. The music is good and thematically well representing the Far East journey described. Fun song actually, but the band probably enjoyed too much smoke on that one for the next song is “The Twilight Zone” with its zany lyrics. Not a bad song, but doesn’t bare the test of repeats well. Cute lyrics are like that sometimes, requiring space between listens so they don’t crossover from cute to silly. “Tears” sufferings from the skip button treatment also at times. It is as a moody slow ballad seemingly out of step with their entire discography. It’s not a bad song, just slightly above average and my score is representative of this track, along with “Twilight Zone” dragging down the album down just a bit. “Lessons” holds its own, being solid and a fine piece of music melding smooth acoustics and axe work, Lifeson channeling the Zepps again in his spotlight solo work.
Finally, the album blazes to an end with another great piece in “Something for Nothing”. After a nice intro, we see the control drop and the passion boil forth again to scorch the landscape, guitars crashing into Lee screaming more than the lyrics of a song, but the mission of the whole album: “What you own is your own kingdom, what you do is your own glory”. The lyrics say it all; with this song being an excellent piece in its own right as well as an exclamation point to a fantastic album.
Part progressive, narrative, rock, science fiction, and metal, but in sum nothing but phenomenal. 2112 is this and more, for this is not so much a review as it is a clarion call to not let this album go unnoticed and its story forgotten. It’s not a matter of whether this should be in your collection, but when.
Though Rush had already put out some good material, it was with 2112 that they singlehandedly became the most influential progressive rock/metal band of all time. Without this album, or more specifically without the epic title track, we would not have the masterful progressive metal epics that we have today. No "A Change of Seasons." No "Divine Wings of Tragedy." Sure, Yes put out some truly epic tracks, but the majority of these were overly artsy and notably pretentious. Jethro Tull had the mighty "Thick as a Brick," which is twice as long as "2112," but it was more folk rock based than metal. Somehow Rush created the perfect epic: impressive concept, flawless execution, and solid production. And unlike Yes, Rush manages to keep it interesting for its entire length. It takes a bit of time to grow on you if you're not used to listening to songs over 5-6 minutes in length (in this case over 20) but is an amazing musical experience once you've grown to appreciate it.
The concept is grand indeed. 2112 is a stirring tale of an individual's struggle against conformity, backed by some of the band's best songwriting. Riff cohesion is beautiful, all the themes are memorable, the vocal lines are catchy as hell, and the band plays phenomenally. The sign of a good epic is that it seems shorter than it is, and the 2112 Suite certainly fits the criteria. Though the other reviewers have celebrated this quite adequately, let me just add that it is indeed as good as it's hyped up to be.
But while the title track is over half the album's length and its primary focus, it's not the only song here. The other five songs generally get disregarded as filler, but I think that's an unfair judgment. Had they been on a less epic Rush release, they'd probably be more liked. Regardless, they're all solid songs. "A Passage to Bangkok," "Lessons," and "Something for Nothing" are all solid rockers, each with its own redeeming qualities. "The Twilight Zone" is a little mellower, but quite cool. In my opinion, the best of the 'other' songs is the ballad, "Tears." Getty Lee's voice is absolutely sublime and incredibly emotive. The chorus chord progression is brilliant and the synth involvement makes it that much more touching. One of the best ballads I've heard on any album.
This really is a masterful album. It's powerful, expressive, and far more than memorable: the 2112 finale will stick with you for a long time. Definitely a record worth owning and listening to repeatedly.
I think it’s extremely difficult as well as dangerous for a relatively new fan of Rush to make a review on any of their albums, especially if the album just happens to be "2112". So the only reason I’m attempting this, is because I’m hoping it will reach people who have not yet heard of Rush's music or who are in the very beginning of this magnificent musical journey.
What is really great about Rush is that each one of their early works consists of few songs. And I mean as few as five or six pieces of music per album(even four in the case of “Hemispheres”). With so little in an album you really have no excuse but to really spend some quality time listening to their stuff.
In my humble opinion, what you get in “2112” is Rush at a turning point in their artistic career. And it happens to be so, simply because this is the first progressive album of the threesome, entailing however a lot of hard rock elements, that are most evident in their previous recordings (“Fly by Night” & “Caress of Steel”). In other words in this album we have the ideal combination of Rush’s dual musical personality of the 1970s which lies between hard rock and progressive rock. From the next album, “A Farewell to Kings” and on, Rush is a band that enthusiastically further expands and builds on its progressive nature.
The album starts with perhaps Rush’s ultimate epic, “2112”. The song lasts over 20 minutes and as soon as it finishes it is guaranteed that you will want to hear it again. As in all Rush epics, it consists of several smaller songs with one single lyrical theme and with the mood dramatically changing as one part finishes and another begins. The remaining five songs are all between 3 to 4 minutes long. “A Passage to Bangkok” is perhaps the most bad-ass song in the album and has the meanest riff! It’s an upbeat song with a strong heavy rock, almost metal feeling. “The Twilight Zone” is a great composition with amazing tempo shifts and a nice feeling to it (especially the guitar solo in the end). “Lessons” has more of an alternative rock vibe to it, starting of with acoustic guitars. Again an up beat tempo song with a positive attitude. “Tears” is the ballad for Rush in this album. Acoustic guitar parts can be heard here as well. The song’s best part is definitely its chorus where Lee’s voice is full of emotion. “Something for Nothing” is the ideal ending to a perfect album. The song is literally built on the astonishing bass lines of “Master” Lee with a great deal of help coming from Peart, whose drumming on this one is enjoyable as well as impressive.
All members are beyond doubt experts in their instruments. Geddy Lee (one of Cliff Burton’s major influences) provides a solid foundation for the music with his amazing low end frequency upon which Alex Lifeson’s riffs and solos are built naturally. Neil Peart is probably the greatest drummer in progressive rock music. He plays anything from simple rhythms, to extremely fast patterns (especially when it comes to fills). His ability in changing tempos and time shifts really adds to the progressive flavor of the album, while his fills are plainly inspiring (you can easily see where drummers like Mike Portnoy draw influences from). As for Lee’s vocals I think that his high notes are phenomenal and a perfect match for the music. I cannot think of him signing in any other way in these 1970s Rush releases and especially in “2112”.
In conclusion in my opinion, “2112” is the best album of Rush and thus a must have for any fan of progressive rock/metal. It’s the ultimate classic from a band which throughout their career but especially during the 1970s wrote and produced records of the highest quality and value.
It's always strange, make the review for album which is out for a years, and many people know this release.
Ok, we have there the prog rock classic. Rush's 2112, third album with drummer and main lyricist of the band Neil Peart. And first their commercially known and sucessfull album. Because it's still early work, lyrics is based on sci-fi, and the title opus 2112, composed of 7 parts, is something like social - political story bout fictive republic on planet somewhere in space. In fact it's critique of socialistic politics.
The whole album except softer and balladic parts is very energic, dynamic and catchy. The fact that will you love the most is the technical skill of band members. Especially Alex Lifeson and his solos are always fantastic. The riffage through all songs is something fresh and with excellent bass playing by Geddy Lee it's very strong combination. Everything is based on heavy, fast, but technically great drums. Music with lyrics and atmosphere is very dramatic, and in ballads is place for another emotions too.
But the strongest point of this release is songwriting. Rush has finally evolved into complete musicians with good technical and songwriting skills. I can say, there's no moment, that will bore you. It's fascinating listen how the instruments are changing the leads. Always it's guitar, but sometimes will take this role Geddy's bass, and there's also drum solo, and many instrument parts, where you can hear great technique.
I absolutely love the fact, how Geddy's vocals fills the space between drums and guitar, the sound which is not so massive, because we're still talking bout rock, maybe early metal in some parts. Hand in hand with this comes the question of production. I said it before, the whole sound is very dynamic, there's place for every instrument, and especially sound of guitar is very hot and powerful.
Finally, this album is filled of excellent new and fresh ideas, and that's the reason why this became classic among classics. There's no weak moment, no incosistent parts.
Okay, before all of the Rush fans get mad at me for reviewing this album with a percentage less than 90%, let me reiterate (as I have done so many times with other Rush fans) the reasons I feel this album is overrated.
First and foremost, "2112," the epic, starts off this album. With raging keyboards, killer drumming, exceptional bass and guitar, and an immaculate concept, this song brings the album up to a 97%. The masterpiece that is "2112" is looked upon by Rush fans alike, saying "This album is a work of art." Now, had they left it at "2112 is a masterpiece," in reference to the song, I could whole-heartedly agree. This song one of the best epic songs out there, among Symphony X's "The Odyssey," Iced Earth's "Dante's Inferno," and Dream Theater's "A Change of Seasons."
Track 2, "A Passage to Bangkok." This song is mediocre. Nothing special. It is sort of catch, so it doesn't bring the album down much. But, at this point, I'd say the overall rating is now a 95%.
Next up, "The Twilight Zone." I really think this was just a filler in the album. There's nothing exceptional in it, except it is sort of catchy, as well. By this point, the album is down to a 92%.
The next three songs, "Lessons," "Tears," and "Something for Nothing," all get mixed up in my memory. I know that one of the three was actually quite decent, but the others sounded like a rejected Poison ballad. Whichever, the two songs that definitely weren't up to expectation brought this album down to an 85%, and, in turn, the one that was good brought it up to an 87%.
If you look at this album as a whole, it is not that fulfilling. Now, if 2112 had been the only track on the CD, I would have given this a much higher rating. But, with the good there must come bad, which brought this CD's rating down a good 10%.