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Rush dip their fingers into the holy water of prog and come out with a often misunderstood slab of rock. Everything you would come to know of Rush peeps out for the first time and shows its potential. Though this isn't the Rush we would all later know and love this record is definitely worth hearing to see where it all began.
The album kicks off with a great rock/bluesy riff in "Bastille Day" which all in all is a pretty good song. Some good riffs present themselves with Geddy Lee's supportive bass playing along with Neils precise drumming makes this song worth hearing.Throwing in some odd times here and there for prog's sake. This track has some nice cheerful energy and keeps the song moving without tiring itself out. A nice solo ends the song for a good wrapping and makes the song seem somewhat complete.
Following is the more "retro Rush" song, "I Think I'm Going Bald". This is easily the weakest song on the whole album. The whole blues set up and ridiculous lyrics makes it hard for me to take seriously. The riffs are okay i guess, typical blues stuff that you've probably heard before. Towards a middle there is strange solo that seems kinds of out of place. It doesn't necessarily fit the song too well or really sound good at all. All of this combined make a really weak track.
"Lakeside Park" makes up for the previous track by giving a great ballad like structure that is very chill. Lee also shows some cool independent bass lines here that make the whole laid-back feel even better. Peart's drumming is very laid-back as well. Making a tight pocket for a great chorus and verse. Peart also throws out some nice rolls in this track that fit well. Overall great track, best one on the first side in fact.
On to the first of two epics, "The Necromancer". This song totally kicks ass. Opening with, "Into the Darkness", a deepened voice over from Peart, and along with a great slow, clean chord progression, set up a good atmosphere for the rest of the song. Lee's scared voice tell the story of journeying on into darkness, which fit perfectly with the music. The song then makes a dramatic change into a dark murky blues riff that fucking rules. The rest of the song follows the same setup and makes this album totally worth your money.
The second epic, "The Fountain of Lamneth", though a truly great epic can kind of seem like five 4 minutes song played one after another with loosely connected lyrics. All in all this is the best track on the album showing Rush's true potential has prog artists. "In the Valley" has a great opening acoustic intro that fits well and the lyrics also tell a great tale of a man traveling to the mountains to visit the Fountain of Lamneth. There are some really enjoyable parts in this 20 minute epic. Like the slow parts on, "In the Valley" and "No One at the Bridge" which have some amazing clean guitar work, and fantastic vocal lines.A very great solo also makes its way into "No One at the Bridge". Not to forget Peart's great drum solo between the two, "Didacts and Narpets". Though it can be underwhelming it shows Peart's ability to roll quick and accurate 16ths and triplet rolls. "Panacea" and "Bacchus Plateau" feel like 2 completely different songs that have almost nothing to do with the epic other than maybe the lyrics. Not to say these are good parts they just feel thrown in and out of place. Following a reprisal of "In the Valley" the song ending feeling awkward and slightly incomplete as if they didn't know how to properly end the song.
In the end this is an experimental record in Rush's career and they seem to miss the mark in a few parts but it doesn't completely take away from this great record. This is a must have for any fan looking to see Rush's transformation into maturity and them trying new things.
Favorite Tracks: The Necromancer, The Fountain of Lamneth
Least Favorite Tracks: I Think I'm Going Bald