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A great comeback, although not a return to form - 85%

Superreallycool, October 7th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Anthem Records (Digipak)

People on this site seem to be accepting of them, but most people that I know, even hardcore Rush fans, seem to be somewhat indifferent to the Rush albums recorded after Signals. Few hate them, but they seem to lack a real fan base. This is reflected by relatively poor sales of those albums. Fortunately, Rush made real comeback with 2002's Vapor Trails. The song One Little Victory was even included in the classic racing video game Need for Speed 2: Hot Pursuit. This is what got me into Rush in the first place, so who says video games are bad for you?!

First thing up, lyrics. Those familiar with early day Rush, may be surprised to find a lack of literature inspired lyrics. The lyrics here focus more on life issues and lyrics popular during the 90's. As to rather this was due to trends or as to what was happening in Neil Peart's life at the time I am not sure, but reasons aside I find the lyrics here to be among Rush's best. That being said, there are two types of people. Those who find Peart's lyrics intelligent, and those who find them pretentious. To be fair, both are equally true, but I find myself to quite enjoy Peart's lyrics most of the time. With that in mind however, you're going to have to find out for yourself which camp you fall under.

Musically, this album is a huge departure for Rush. It's their first album since 1972's Caress of Steel to not feature synthesizers, and it's their first since 1975's Fly by Night to be hard rock. Now, Rush hasn't dropped progressive altogether, but this is defiantly a more straight forward hard rock album than what Rush has made in a long time. The complex time signatures are all but absent here, and the songs are more simple than they have been in the past (although they are still plenty complicated). This album is far more accomplished than their earlier forays into the world of hard rock however, and it's a change I myself quite enjoy.

There has been a fair amount of controversy surrounding this album's production, controversy it 100% deserved. Rush was one of many bands to fall into the trap of the loudness war, something bands like ZZ Top and Metallica have recently fallen victim to. The album has the life compressed out of it, and the acoustic parts of the album are almost unlistenable. For those who don't know what compression is, compression is the process in which all parts of a song are made the same volume. What this means is, a whisper and a shout will be the same volume. You may still be able to understand that one vocal part is a whisper and another is a scream, but they will still be the same volume. This also often results in instruments sounding artificial. Obviously this is a huge issue. Fortunately, the band was willing to accept the fact that they messed up, and in 2013 they re-released the album and all the issues of the production are fixed here. This is one of the few times where a remaster was necessary and truly helped.

If you are a fan of hard rock, or a fan of Rush, this is a great album. While different, it still feels like a Rush album, and it is of good quality. If you do decide to get this, make sure to get the remastered version. If you can't tell, open it up and check the year it was made. The 2002 version isn't horrible, but really the 2013 remastered version is the way to go if you can get your hands on it instead.