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...And the Saviours of Prog Were Born - 94%

DawnoftheShred, June 2nd, 2007

This is the album that defined the path that Rush would take in the decade to come. Adopting soon-to-be-drum-legend Neal Peart as percussionist and lyricist, Rush blended a fine progressive edge and memorable lyrics to their otherwise carefree 70's hard-rockin' sound and proceeded to alter the course of history. Fly by Night, though only a shadow of what would follow it, still stands as one of the band's defining albums and an easy favorite for fans of 70's classic rock and progressive.

Most Rush fans are familiar with the easily recognizable though admittedly straightforward title track, but this album is considerably more diverse and intricate than that. Peart's influence is immediately apparent in the first minutes of "Anthem," a complex and catchy tribute to the novel of the same name. Listen to this after say, "Working Man," and hear the sheer difference in playing style from debut drummer John Rutsey. This is still Zep-influenced 70's rock for sure, but deeper and far more focused musically and lyrically. As good as Peart's drumming is, it is his lyrics that complement this the best, weaving tales of fantasy and personal reflection as a master poet would. Tales that are expertly sung by Lee and fantastically accompanied by Lifeson's much-improved guitarwork.

The song structures are just as diverse as the lyrics. The album starts off in typical Rush fashion with a few quick rockers that are just a tad too complex to be confused with songs off their self-titled debut. "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" is their first attempt at an epic and a good one at that, interplaying instruments, mood, and subtlety as potently as they would on A Farewell to Kings. Then there is the classic title track, which I'm happy to say still gets occasional radio airplay. The final tracks of the album shift towards the mellower end, letting Getty Lee show off his expressive side and Alex Lifeson show off some fantastic clean tones. All in all, it's as consistent as it is varied, with the only hints of cheese manifesting themselves in the 'battle' section of "By-Tor" in the form of some really weird vocal/sound effects (these are annoying as hell, though only amounting for a small portion of the total track).

Like much of Rush's output, this is to be recommended, with the added weight of it being among their best works. Enjoy.