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Solid and Underrated - 78%

DawnoftheShred, December 9th, 2006

Roll the Bones is a strange Rush album, mixing the synth driven elements of the band's 80's material with some newer elements, most notable in the Getty's vocal melodies and some of the song organization. Like Presto, this isn't a progressive rock album so much as it is a more pop-oriented album, but it still makes for a good listen now and again.

Alex Lifeson continues to play a decisive role in band's post-Hold Your Fire sound. His rhythm work here is well crafted and his solos are fiery and passionate. The main focal point on any Rush album is still Geddy Lee, of course. His vocals don't go as high as they used to, but he still sings better than his contemporaries. His bass work is always relevant and continues to be a driving force in every song. I think Neal Peart's drumming has gotten even better since the previous albums, with even more progressivism audible in his very dynamic playing. Like most Rush albums, the instrumentation is spot on.

Where this album excels over the last few is the songwriting. The first plus is having Lifeson back in the mix, both figuratively and literally. It's nice to hear his guitar playing throughout rather than occasionally. The synths still play a big role, but have been toned down to allow a more even sound. The lyrics are generally memorable, except that notorious hip-hop part in the title track. Seriously, who the fuck came up with that section. That song would be the coolest track on the album (the synths are awesome and the chorus is quite catchy. Most of the songs are similar in mood, not quite up-tempo, but not dragging along either. "Where's My Thing" is the first instrumental written since "YYZ," and it's quite worthy of the band's reputation. Otherwise, nothing that really stands out as exceptional or unbearable.

And that's the only real problem with this album; that none of the individual songs are particularly mind-blowing. Rather than featuring some classics, what you get with Roll the Bones is a set of decent songs that show that Rush hasn't died off yet and isn't planning on it. Far from their best album (it's not even Presto-quality), it still makes for a welcome addition to any fan's collection.