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Peart's debut with the band soars - 91%

Xeper, September 21st, 2003

The only reason I don't give this album a perfect score is that their following stuff is even better (and because of that stupid sound effect passage in the middle of By-Tor and the Snow Dog). From the opening unison salvo, you can hear where bands like Dream Theater draw tremendous influence from far as chops go, and you can also hear the infinite difference between previous drummer John Rutsey and current god Neil Peart, with his terrifically accented snare work. After the opening shredding, everything pauses and they go into this soaring riff in case there was any question about whether this band kicked ass or not. From there, it's a roller coaster of diverse & memorable riffs and solos from Mr. Lifeson, Peart's godly drumming and interesting lyrics, and Geddy's banshee wails and monster bass work (that's right, you can hear the bass in this band). The rhythmically unique "Beneath, Between and Behind" is one of my favorites, and that groovy riff in the middle with the whole open-closed hihat pattern will silence any naysayers who put down Neil as having no groove (or maybe he doesn't, I wouldn't know, but the band rocks pretty fucking well and grooves here). "Rivendell" is, as the name implies, about all things fantasy-related, and is actually a quiet acoustic number with some downright beautiful classical guitar work. Not a weak track on here, some terrific and revolutionary progressive rock/metal/whatever, and a good starting point for a band with a huge discography full of great albums.