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Ha! More like "Caress of Boobs"!! - 93%

enigmatech, March 1st, 2011

Here it is, folks. The first ever "progressive metal" record, and consequently, one of the greatest. Listening to this album is like being granted a free passport to boob land, finding a 100 dollar bill in the parking lot of your local Wendy's, smoking crack cocaine, fucking Jocelin Donahue (star of "House of the Devil", if you were wondering), and listening to Pestilence's "Testimony of the Ancients" all in the same night. Yeah, and it's still not their best album!

If you've ever listened to Rush's first two albums (1974's "Rush" and 1975's "Fly By Night"), then you'll probably be aware of how they were oozing with a strong, happy, confident spirit still unmatched in the progressive rock genre (the band 3 came very close with "The End is Begun" in 2007, but still, close but no cigar). Well, "Caress of Steel", also released in '75, features this spirit as well, but featuring elements which perfectly foreshadow what was to come with the band's legandary opus, "2112" (released in 1976). The music could best be described as a fusion of speed metal and prog rock, with influence from punk, jazz, ambient, blues, and who knows what else shining through.

The opening three numbers serve as the first "half" of the album, all being more upbeat, happier tracks in the vein of the previous albums, and all three are absolutly stunningly awesome. Alex Lifeson's riffs and solos are generally the focus of these tracks, and because of this, some of his greatest ideas are to be heard (the solo 1:35 into "Lakeside Park", for instance is extremly memorable and adds alot to the overall atmosphere of the track). This is not to say, though, that Geddy Lee and Neil Peart don't shine. Geddy's vocals are amazing as always, while his bass playing is more technical than in the past. Neil Peart, as one of the best drummers out there, will obviously shine in any instance, but I'll refrain from really talking about him very much until I cover his well, his thing...Anyway, the aforementioned "spirit" plays a bigger part during this part, with "I Think I'm Going Bald" appearing (on the outside, at least ;D) like a perfect fit for their debut, with some chunkier, heavier riffs showing through, though there is a stronger progressive influence at play than before. As well, let's not forget the speed metal number found in "Bastille Day", which remains to this day one of (but not the) greatest tracks on the album. This is often considered one of the band's signature songs, and there's no question why. It's the perfect opener for the album, featuring a fuckload of energy and some of Geddy Lee's best basslines (seriously, that chorus has some killer bass)!

The second half consists of two epic tracks, "The Necromancer" and "The Fountain of Lamneth". This is where the whole band really begins to shine, with each member working together to create some of the best music imaginable. "The Necromancer" is certainly darker and more ominous than anything the band had created up to this point, and it really shows how strongly the band has matured. Neil and Geddy provide the rhythm much more often here, while Alex Lifeson shreds away some of the best solos of his career (that I'm aware of). I mean, just listen to that solo about 10:28 in...holy fuck, that's how it's done folks. That's all I have to say about that.

Now we're onto the greatest song on the album, and likely one of Rush's best tracks, "The Fountain of Lamneth", which lasts 19:58. Were Rush normal human beings, this song would normally be the result of a band creating a time machine and going into the future, stealing the best ideas they would ever make, then coming back and recording what they find. But we all know that this is not the case, so the most I can say is that it's truly magnificent. The emphasis on contributions from all members is emphasised even moreso here than on "The Necromancer", with Alex Lifeson delivering some truly magnificent riffs (i.e. 13:42), Geddy Lee supplying the killer basslines and some amazing vocals, and Neil Peart being, well, Neil Peart, and giving us one of the most insane drum solos he's ever done about four minutes in (and considering how good of a drummer he is, that's saying alot!!). I don't want to ruin anything for you, but please realize that while the length may seem a bit excessive, every second is essential and just as important as the last (even the little bits of silence between the parts add alot of suspense for someone like me). If you're a fan of "Rivendell" from "Fly By Night", you'll find there's a little treat waiting for you about halfway through.

Well, I probably shouldn't go any deeper into how great this album truly is, I'll leave that to you. I'd suggest this to fans of Rush in general, especially people who dig the first two albums the most! Buy it today or miss out on some of the best progressive metal ever released.