Listen to Rush's new single "Far Cry" at Rush.com
Snakes and Arrows
Rush has always been a band that acts its age.
When its members were young, their hypercomplex prog-rock epics and sci-fi lyrics reflected their boundless ambition and creativity. And now that they are older and more thoughtful, with lives shaped by tragedy as well as triumph, their 18th studio album mirrors that just as clearly.
Snakes and Arrows, for the most part, stays on the path established by 20021s Vapor Trails and their nostalgic 2004 covers EP Feedback. The songs are simple and direct. The arrangements and performances are economical and restrained. The lyrics are dark and topical, preoccupied with questions of faith and war and politics. The overall vibe is slow and mellow. The sound is warm and contemporary, thanks to co-producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters).
Fear not, fans: It's still a Rush album. Geddy Lee's bass clangs along below his nasal wail. Alex Lifeson reels off searing guitar licks and fiery solos. Neil Peart's drum fills sound like trigonometry. And at times, Dirk, Lerxst and Pratt still pack a powerful punch -- maybe even more powerful than before, since it's not cut with all the twisty-turny intricacy of old.
Even so, the leaner and meaner Snakes and Arrows does not sound quite like your dad's Rush albums.
Though it does sound like a Rush album your dad might like.
Far Cry 5:18
With its syncopated shots, low-slung bass groove, prime-number time shifts, wah-wah guitars and feedback solo, this opening single comes closest to classic Rush.
BEST LINE: "One day I feel I1m ahead of the wheel / And the next it's rolling over me."
Armor and Sword 6:36
Neil bashes out a slow-paced funk groove that gradually morphs from dreamy prog-folk to slow-grinding rock monolith -- driven by a power-chord riff on loan from 1975.
BEST LINE: "No one gets to their heaven without a fight."
Workin' Them Angels 4:46
Another midtempo grinder, with a nice rhythmic twist -- the time toggles back and forth between 3/4 and 4/4. Alex adds some pretty mandolin licks to the bridge.
BEST LINE: "History recedes in my rear-view mirror."
The Larger Bowl 4:07
Alex works the acoustic guitar on the verses, and pulls out the electric for the choruses and solo. Neil keeps it simple (for him, anyway) while Geddy weighs in on the imbalance of fortune.
BEST LINE: "Some of us live in a cloud of fear / Some live behind iron gates."
An ominous descending guitar riff straight from the Led Zep fake book fuels this grandly swirling rocker about being cast adrift in a relationship.
BEST LINE: "The spray that's torn away is an image of the way I feel."
The Main Monkey Business 6:01
The first and most elaborate of the disc's three instrumentals layers tom-tom-heavy beats and haunting synth melodies over a mix of 7/8 and 4/4 rhythms.
The Way the Wind Blows 6:28
Neil1s ominous military tattoos introduce a tense 6/8 electric blues flavoured with plenty of Cream. Outstanding.
BEST LINE: "Pray, and pass the ammunition."
Instrumental 2: Alex takes centre stage with a pretty, folksy interlude on 12-string acoustic.
A stabby guitar lick adds a hit of droning, Beefhearty psychedelia to this brooding endorsement of love over religion. Ben Mink adds some stirring strings.
BEST LINE: "I don't have faith in faith / I don't believe in belief."
Bravest Face 5:11
Another slow-burner that alternates acoustic-guitar verses with electrified choruses. Extra points for the groovy bridge and Alex's jazzy, piercing solo.
BEST LINE: "Though we might have precious little, it1s still precious."
Good News First 4:51
Churning guitars and a downbeat groove support a yearning, reverby vocal and romantic lyrics laced with political overtones.
BEST LINE: "The best we can agree on is it could have been worse."
Malignant Narcissism 2:16
The boys cut loose on the final, funky instrumental, with Alex working the whammy bar as Geddy unspools a rubbery bass line -- then trades solos with Neil.
We Hold On 4:12
Out with a bang -- a punchy, insistent little rocker with a rangy guitar lick and lyrics about perseverance.
BEST LINE: "Straining against a fate measured out in coffee breaks."