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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.