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For me, this is the best Rush album since Counterparts, hands down. Within Snakes and Arrows there lies an array of quality songs. This is a very lush-sounding album with perhaps their best production treatment since Power Windows. I would like to make it clear, however, that this is an album that needs multiple listens to really take root within the listener's imagination. I would even go as far as to say that this is has become one of my very favourite Rush albums.
It is an absolute pleasure to hear acoustic guitars used to layer and add texture to this rich and colourful record. I do miss the synthesizers however, and really wish that they would bring them back (although there is some excellent use of the mellotron on several tracks) at least to a certain extent, as they can lend an extra level of excitement and power to the Rush sound. I have always felt that with Presto, Roll The Bones, and Counterparts, the balance between band and keyboards was almost perfect. The Pass, Bravado, and Animate are good examples of this 'blending' of electronic and acoustic instruments.
The songs are all first rate. From the quiet, slow-building power of The Larger Bowl to the intricate musicianship of Armour and Sword, Rush demonstrate that they are still masters of progressive rock. The Main Monkey Business is one of the best pieces of music that Rush has ever produced, a beautiful, exciting, and evocative instrumental that is on a new musical plateau, even for Rush. The Way The Wind Blows is another highlight and is, again, one of the finest pieces of music the band has ever created. The lyric, "Like a solitary pine, on a bare, wind blasted shore..." is pure poetry and is one of Neil Peart's very best. Also, from Armour and Sword, "No one gets to their heaven without a fight..." is another terrific lyric. Neil deals with the themes of religious indoctrination and adults pouring their beliefs and fears into a child's mind in a subtle and quietly intelligent manner. How many rock bands today are brave enough or skilled enough to write about this kind of subject matter without sounding preachy or patronizing? Indeed, the underlying shadows of religion and terrorism are a common theme on many of the albums tracks, all dealt with on several levels, and I applaud Neil Peart for his quiet, rational, and fundamentally sane views on the reality of the world after September the 11th.
If you are a Rush fan, you will already have bought this, and for those of you still pondering, it really is a great album with the best production the band have been given in years; powerful and muscular, mysterious and layered, the way Rush should sound. The songs are intricate and well-woven with lyrics that are deeply relevant in these troubled times. Armour and Sword and The Larger Bowl are full of subtle complexities and are as good as anything on 'classic' Rush albums. I feel we should also be thankful that these guys are still playing, writing, and recording quality music together after all these years. Perhaps even more importantly, Rush are still creating something with substance, something worthwhile. This is Rush unique, melodic, and exciting.
Do not expect another 'Moving Pictures' but do expect a form of Rush which maintains it's old style while continuing to add new elements. Rush's newest release is far from what you would consider a 'classic' but may be considered a 'favorite.' The amount of instrumentals may leave you flustered, but the amount of good material is very high. Rush continues it's consistency while other group's fail to deliver after their prime. This aspect makes Rush better than most bands who lack in releasing good albums one after another.
After the first listen of this album I said to myself that it was a good album and I was not dissapointed but I realized it followed the trend of many less popular Rush albums, that being one or two hit songs and a lot of similar sounding alright songs. But upon my second listen I realized this was not the case. 'Snakes and Arrows' is an achievement which is better than many of their other albums. This may be hard to believe but I would rather listen to this album than '2112' or 'Fly By Night.'
This disc contains some of my favorite Rush songs. It really is, for a band that's far past it's prime, an amazing release. It sounds less grungy than "Vapor Trails" yet less progressive than "Farwell To Kings" or "Hold Your Fire". Yes, there are many instrumentals, but they are all pretty good, and don't overstay their visit.
My favorite song is "The Way The Wind Blows". It starts with Soft thumping drums, before bluesy, shredding guitar comes in. The riff is very heavy and pushing while the vocals recall songs like "Tom Sawyer" and "The Spirit Of Radio." The songs pushes into six and a half minutes and is really in my top 5 Rush songs.
Another really good songs is 'Far Cry' that also has a very heavy riff, but is a little more jamming and fast paced. The chorus is very catchy and the song is also a very strong track. 'Armor And Sword' is another longer song that is very enjoyable. It begins very laid back with the line, "The snakes and arrows a child is heir to, are enough to leave a thousand cuts." When the line is done the song gets massive an epic.
Rush is at the top of their game. When I saw them in concert for this album Neil Peart delivered and amazing, over ten minute long may I add, drum solo. They can still jam with older songs like 'YYZ' and Geddy Lee can still sing "The Spirit Of Radio' like he did in 1980. Unlike other groups Rush is still as good as they were when they were young and I await future releases from this band.
Rush probably has the most loyal fandom of aging rockers this side of Pink Floyd. Problem with such a loyal fan-base when it comes to an old band is, every time there's a new album coming out, you are going to have all sorts of enthusiastic hype claiming it to be the return of the band to its mighty superior roots and this low bitrate 30 second teaser sample reminding them of the glory days of the band. Same thing happened with Rush's latest album Snakes & Arrows.
Personally the expectations weren't high considering the last album Vapour Trails was quite a debacle. Things change though. I mean, the band isn't back to its roots or anything. Neither is Alex Lifeson showering us with his blazing solos nor the band is writing sci-fi epics like the old. Snakes & Arrows sees some drastic and important evolution elsewhere.
Sticking to writing guitar driven songs thankfully, most of these are given a very see-saw epic structure because of being written on an acoustic guitar with contrasting heavy guitars and the band has clearly put them all together in the jam room instead of the isolation approach. Acoustic guitars are often strummed throughout songs even while electric and distorted guitars are present and Lifeson uses banjos and mandolins to effectively dress things up a little every now and then. Don't fret though, there's absolutely no shortage of loud distorted rhythm guitars because the band completely rocks out here. It's just that the wild extremes are rather well worked out and the band just writes one great cohesive song after another with great arrangements, filled with layers and layers of guitars and some brilliantly infectious choruses. And a sea change from Vapour Trails, the production is crisp and you can hear all the guitar layers, the subtle mellotrons and even the one time orchestral bit, all damn clear.
Some of the songs are immediately catchy and these are the ones that make this album click right away. Album opener Far Cry, Working Them Angels, The Way The Wind Blows, Faithless, Bravest Face, We Hold On are all some of the strongest songs the band has written in years and these will hit you right away, and also have enough in them to last multiple listens. This means that the listener, after the first few listens are going to favour the second half over the first. Especially considering the second half has three great instrumentals. The Main Monkey Business, which is bound to give these post-metal types a major complex and has Neil Peart's most goosebump inducing drum lines , the bluesy 12-string acoustic solo instrumental called Hope and the crazy Malignant Narcissism (a reference to a term used to refer the North Korean dictator character from the Southpark creators' movie Team America: World Police) which would fit damn fine on John Paul Jones' first-class Thunderthief album. They should write more instrumentals in the future. All three really strong compositions in the second half implies, I really couldn't wait till I'm past the first few songs.
But hold on - the rest of the first half grows a hell lot over time. Armour & Sword, The Larger Bowl (note Peart trying out some fancy Pantoum on this one) and Spindrift are as great as the rest of the early winners and those kickass instrumentals.
There are moments of vintage Rush, there are moments when the band is sounding completely like never before and there are moments especially in the middle of the album when the band takes a bluesier stance. Great playing from all the three as expected, killer writing with enviable hooks and that perfect unquestionable production. Geddy's voice has aged well with the high pitched squeals pertinently missing, Peart's lyrics mostly revolve around real life experiences and as for the solos, there are at least a couple of them that are prominent lead parts but go elsewhere if you're looking for Lifeson Leads ®. These veterans are the top of the game and this is easily their best since Presto. I love this evolved modern Rush. Buy this already.
A rejuvenated band & a practically flawless album.
Snakes & Arrows is Rush's most exceptional output in years. Period. Stylistically, they've modernized their sound while keeping the musical elements that have made them a force to be reckoned with over the past thirty years. The result is a very energetic and dynamic record that is arguably their most accomplished release since Presto!
The first thing you'll notice upon listening, aside from the expected flawless musicanship, is the excellent, sharp production. Really the best the band has had in years. Such crystal clarity that showcases each instrument perfectly. Needless to say, with such fantastic songwriting it would have been a shame to release these tunes with a less-than-stellar sound.
Musically speaking though, Rush haven't lost a step and if anything they continue to mature, refine and evolve their sound. That's saying a lot too considering most musicians their age rely on past glories and newer watered down material. Not Rush though. Rockers Far Cry, The Main Monkey Business & Workin' Them Angels demonstrate the band has not tamed or toned down their sound and if anything they continue to harden it. Meanwhile, sonds like The Way the Wind Blows display a breathtaking gradual build from soft and slow to powerful and epic. This release has dynamic written all over it.
Aside from sounding like a million bucks production wise and musically speaking, Snakes & Arrows also has tremendous, tremendous flow. One solid song after another. Short acoustic instrumentals compliment longer "heavier" tunes while harder instrumentals lead way to more melodic cuts. The disc, while clocking in at over an hour manages to keep the listener's attention by presenting a fresh sound with excellent construction and flow.
Moreover, I really don't need to tout the musical ability of all three members of this band anymore than has been over the past three decades. Let's just say Geddy Lee is a bass god, Neil Peart a drum god, and Alex Lifeson is absolutely one the most underrated rock guitarist of recent times. Put all that together and you have another musically proficient album.
Admittedly, though, Snakes and Arrows is a grower. At first I enjoyed it but it certainly took multiple listens to fully appreciate this fine work of art Rush has crafted. Naturally, certain songs stick out more than others. Far Cry, the Larger Bowl and Bravest Face were three songs I just couldn't get enough of in the beginning but as time went on I realized each song is tremendous and individual.
Having been a Rush fan for years and owning 95% of their output I can easily say this album is a breath of fresh air in a dull, lifeless hard rock era where so called "important" bands would rather emulate every other band generic ensemble rather than release something meaningful and heartful.
Rush, safe to say, have not succumbed to this and continue to release pertinent, intelligent music.
One of the best of 2007.
My friend put in this album when it had first come out when I was over his house. I wasn't really paying any attention to it because I was in a very epic game of Uno, this comes back to haunt me. But a few days later I heard "Far Cry" on the radio and the melodic pre-chorus and chorus got me instantly hooked. About a week later I went out and purchased this album.
I popped this CD in and heard the immediate, heavy thumping of the intro to "Far Cry." I remember a different friend saying, " Wow this is Rush? It sounds too heavy to be them." Which is 100% true. This sneaky single and first track on the CD starts in heavy with pounding, melodic bass drums and the bass guitar which delivers the sense that this might be one hell of an album. Wrong! All the effort in this album went towards writing "Far Cry." The song after it, "Armor and Sword," calms down considerably. Its so soft that it's nearly an acoustic session. No catchy riffs, no heavy parts, and what I think to be a maraca in the background. But I still had some hopes at this point.
But my hopes and dreams never became a reality. The rest of the album followed the same boring and light song structure as "Armor and Sword." I don't really see anything else that sticks out as entertaining within this album. My mom who thinks that Nickelback is "too heavy" actually didn't mind this album. The only other song that I ever care to listen to is "Workin' Them Angels." Now if you're into really soft stuff, this album is for you! If you're like me, you'll find this album boring and repeating. Other than "Far Cry" I can't pick out what songs are which, and I've listened through the album quite a few times now in order to write this review.
Kudos though for helping me fall asleep while in the car on the way to Baltimore. The endless drone of the same sound kind of did it for me. I find albums with variety are the key to a successfull album. And unfortunately one heavy song doesn't cut it. I should've listened a bit closer during that game of Uno, I don't think I'll ever play that again.
It must be stressed that Rush are not a metal band. Never have been, never will be. In fact, Rush are not on this site so much because they are metal as because all of progressive metal and most metal with epic or prog leanings (Iron Maiden, for instance) owe a huge debt to Rush. Rush can be fairly heavy at times, but if you want to throw the horns, you'd be better off buying a Dream Theater record. As of the release of Snakes and Arrows, Rush have been playing for almost forty years. Very, very few artists can boast of having performed for 40 years, and most stalwart bands eventually sink into utter mediocrity before fizzling out (Metallica, for instance). Snakes and Arrows marks the 18th studio album from Rush, among countless live albums, EPs, and compilations, and thousands of live shows. And, surprisingly, this latest offering from Rush is pretty damn good.
I have previously listened to Rush's most recognized LPs, 2112 (1976), and Moving Pictures (1981), and was not terribly impressed with either of them, especially Moving Pictures, which has some of the worst synthesizer patches I have ever heard (not to really fault Geddy's synth playing, it's just that the sound sets he used were, to put it gently, poorly chosen). And, after hearing Snakes and Arrows, I daresay it's much better than their works from their supposed heyday. In their 50s, Rush humiliate musicians 30 years their juniors and stand alongside Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, and Porcupine Tree as stars of modern progressive music.
One striking feature of Snakes and Arrows is its organic and open feel. The production of Snakes and Arrows is truly beautiful, achieving a powerful, clear sound without overprocessing it to the point of sterility (see Dimmu Borgir for a particularly egregious example of sound engineering sucking the life out of music). Gone is the muddled, overcompressed sound of their previous album Vapor Trails (2003). Each instrument can be clearly picked out and followed.
A slightly ominous tone pervades the album and shines through even despite Geddy Lee having such a voice that he could sing doom metal and make it sound happy. His 2112-era crotch-grabbing wail has been tempered greatly by aging and, in fact, he hits very few high notes. His singing is slightly tarnished by his fetish for multitracking, which doesn't quite work as well for him as it does for the infamous Norwegian one-man choir Kristoffer Rygg (Ulver, Arcturus). However, his bass playing remains as stellar as ever, and the smooth, refined tone of his bass may surprise metalheads who expect percussive, thumping, pummeling bass playing as heard in most modern metal bands.
Subtlety, not flash, is the flavor of the day. While it has many technical moments (like the amazing instrumental "The Main Monkey Business", which stomps YYZ into the ground), this is not Liquid Tension Experiment or Spiral Architect. Rush succeeds on the strength of their songwriting, not masturbation, as is evident on the rip-roaring "Far Cry", which is incredibly fun to listen to.
The album branches through several musical directions, from near metal (the Dream Theater-ish Far Cry), to grooooooooovy acoustic folk rock (The Larger Bowl, whose title possibly refers to what you might want to smoke while listening to this song), and a nod to Rush's beginnings as Zeppelin-ish hard rock (Spindrift), to prog rock insanity (The Main Monkey Business). Despite the diversity, the songs have an overarching style and a strong feeling of continuity.
Snakes and Arrows is not a return to the '70s sound and silver kimonos, but it is an excellent album all the same, and, in my opinion at least, it stands above their 70s work. The fact that Rush is a 40-year-old band and put something of this caliber out is just unbelievable, but hearing is believing.
Standout tracks: Far Cry, The Main Monkey Business
Wow, just wow! I didnt expect too much from this album, but I was sincerly blown away by how awesome it is. Maybe its just the fact that its their newest album, but for the moment, I consider it like their best album. Call me crazy, but that's how it is. Its THAT good!
There's everything on this album; Melodic instrumental songs, Typical Rush songs, epic songs, rockers and dark songs. The music sound pretty much like Vapor Trails(The pre-chorus from Far Cry for exemple sound a lot like the pre-chorus from Earthshine in style, but hey, that's not a bad thing at all!) and Rush's 3 other albums before, but more melodic, catchy and original. There's 3 intrumental songs on this album and the one called 'The Main Monkey Business' is simply brillant. Its filled with great riffs and really nice melodies that actually sound kind of like Maiden's typical cool melodies. The other instrumental songs are also very good, but not long enough, sadly(less than 3 minutes). The bass work is really cool like always and Geddy still show his awesome skills. The guitar work is really good and it never sound the same, there's a lot of experimentation and different techniques. The solos are your typical Lifeson's solos that sound really nice. There's some really great heavy riffs in there, but also some beautiful acoustic parts and even some jazz/blues sounding riffs. The drumming is really technical like always and really enjoyable. I don't tend to care much for drums, but the drums on this album is very memorable and I can't wait to hear the songs from this album performed live. Each songs are very memoraable and I seriously would love every songs to be performed live. The lyrics are typical Rush lyrics...In other words, really great and intelligent lyrics. Like every Rush albums, this is a grower, so if you don't like it too much at first just give it some more try and you will notice how good it is. Personally, after the first listen I was already hooked, but we never know.
I highly recommend it! If you were disapointed by Vapor Trails like some people I know, don't worry, this album is 10 times better.
Best songs: The Main Monkey Business, Spindrift(Dark!!), The Way The Wind Blows(cool heavy verse and catchy overall), Faithless(memorable chorus), Bravest Face(memorable chorus part 2) and Workin' Them Angel(memorable chorus part 3).
Least memorable songs: The last 3, but they are still great... Just not as good as the 10 other songs which are simply very hard to beat.
I give it a rating of 100/100 because it just blew away! It always feels good when after years of music listenning experience you can still find some really good, original, memorable albums and that's what Snakes And Arrows is. A perfect album.