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Steadfast as clockwork, harmonious as angels. - 99%

Zodijackyl, October 4th, 2013

Rush's lineup has held fast for nearly 40 years, through tribulations and timeless albums, to make an album that presents a distinctly 'Rush' sound and great quality. They broadly defined their sound across several eras, from explorative 70s prog rock to radio-friendly 80s rock to sour synth-rock, even to darker territories with "Counterparts" - aside from the kindly neglected keyboard era, this album shows Rush seasoned by all of them, yet unphased by time. As the next generation of prog, like Dream Theater - debuting in the same year as Rush's 13th album - has grown stagnant and begun to shamelessly repeat themselves, Rush display their mastery by refining their music rather than rehashing it. There is no stagnation here, only a Rush that have learned from both their mistakes and successes - there's no aging synth rock, but they learned from their timeless half-album 70s prog rock epics.

Rush understand how to blend and balance their three-man show. Geddy Lee's distinct, melodic vocals shine on every song, and his hard-driving bass playing shows through like it did on "Counterparts" as well as balancing Lifeson's guitar work as it did earlier. Lifeson's guitar playing feels natural, seamlessly transitioning through clean and dirty prog rock parts, even some very heavy hard rock riffs. Their style? Well, they sound like Alex Lifeson. It's hard to talk about this album without rhetorically mentioning that it sounds like Rush - icons and masters of the style. They have excellent control of their songs, flowing from melodic vocal-driven parts reminiscent of "Moving Pictures" to elegantly condensed versions of their 70s epics without the notoriously awful Ayn Rand-inspired lyrics that Neal penned as an immature objectivist. Peart's name is a sufficient testament to his drumming at this point, and his lyrics have matured and been refined through collaboration with a sci-fi novelist (Kevin Anderson) to form the album's concept.

It took a long stride for Rush to reach this album, and it stands up to their greatest works. Bands aren't supposed to be this good 44 years into their career, but Rush eclipse even the other legends.