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Rush's back catalogue is a largely a maze of different niches and styles within the progressive rock field. From the classic rock approach of Rush and Fly by Night to the epic stylings of 2112 and A Farewell to Kings to the synth laden era of Signals and Power Windows to the more modern prog approach of Counterparts and Test for Echo, Rush has quite an impressive resume. Which part of Rush's catalogue does Vapor Trails finto then? Well the short answer is none.
Rush is known for having an amazing drummer and two very largely underrated players. The highlight of this album is definitely Neil's impressive drumming, but Alex and Geddy definitely shine on this album as well. Alex Lifeson has a knack for writing very memorable riffs that are not showy. His performance on this album is completely outstanding. A lot of really awesome riffs and even a couple of really well thought out solos. Geddy Lee, as usual, has impressive bass lines throughout the entire album. He definitely forges ahead and plays a lot of really memorable lines and fills. And his vocals are spot on! This is best vocal performance Geddy has done since "Grace Under Pressure". Neil Peart sounds as incredible as ever. My only qualm (and this is minor) is that since the late 80's until now he has been riding on the ride cymbal a little too much. He belts out a lot of really awesome fills and rhythms (listen to One Little Victory).
This Rush album is a different beast than anything else they have released to this point. It's full of energy and really is a hard rock album (and I haven't seen Rush this energized since "2112"). It seems Rush has forgotten or purposely left out many of their progressive tendencies and went for an all out rock album. This is by no means a drawback! It seems to make every song a little more easy to swallow and digest. Rush are definitely making a statement with this album, and that is "we're not your mom and dad's Rush anymore". While a lot of this album is hard rock, there are some nice ballads (such as "Ghost Rider"). Many people seem to knock on Geddy Lee for his vocals, but I think they definitely work on this album. The faster, more driving pace of many of the songs just fit his vocal style so well. And the ballads! Geddy just sounds great on those too!
The production is top notch. Every instrument shines through. No instrument undermines or tries to outdo another. Everything has the proper place in the mix and the vocals are just right as well. So no complaints there.
The only real drawback of this album, in my opinion, is the lack of an epic track (I know we haven't seen one of those in quite some time). But then again, with the style of this album, an epic track may not have worked out very well.
Rush definitely deserves applause for creating a memorable and uplifiting album (especially after the trials and tribulations of Neil Peart prior to this release). It's just an amazing album that has to be heard. I think that all fans of Rush and prog should check this out. If you're new to Rush, this may be a great starting point!