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Rush - 'Clockwork Angels' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/3b/86/74/2472_RushClockworkAngels_1342112474.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 12, 2012    
 
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The finest Rush album for a long, long time.

Although it's been five long years since Rush released a full studio album - 2007's 'Snakes & Arrows' - 'Clockwork Angels' was preceded by the digital release of the opening two songs 'Caravan' and 'BU2B' in 2010, and their subsequent airing live on the 'Time Machine' tour and ensuing DVD. For long term Rush fans there was perhaps a worry that Messrs Lee, Lifeson & Peart were heading too far in a heavier direction and further away from the complex but accessible melodies they were known for, but thankfully the direct style of those two songs has proven to be but a small part of a varied whole.

Produced again by the band with whizz-kid Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains) the album kicks off with the two already available songs, the dark and upbeat duo benefitting greatly from a remix that brings a more organic live feel, but the biggest difference is in the clarity of the vocals. It's been a while since Rush did long multi-part songs and here we get two; the sublime title track which begins atmospherically and has some heavy and tuneful parts, several changes of pace, a superb Lifeson guitar solo and a simply monstrous Neil Peart drum barrage. Later on the album the single 'Headlong Flight' has some real throwback moments to 'Bastille Day', 'By-Tor...' and beyond, but still comes across as powerful, contemporary rock with phenomenal instrumentation an energetic live power-trio feel. Some of the songs run into each other to fit with the storyline concept and most are upbeat, like the simpler 'The Anarchist' with its vocal effects and amazing bass, or 'Carnies'; a real throwback with a 'Working Man'-style dirty riff and other snatches of ages past.

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The first really prominent orchestral part is on the beautiful 'Halo Effect', a song with a light, tuneful verse and punchy chorus, whilst the ensuing 'Seven Cities Of Gold' and 'The Wreckers' are as immediate as it gets with the former's catchy vocal lines and the latter's almost power-pop feel, light guitar parts and orchestral ending. The album ends in a most unexpected but very welcome way, with 'BU2B2' reprising the track with stirring orchestra and vocal, the old-school riffs and simple structure of 'Wish Them Well', and the simply incredible 'The Garden'. The latter is a magical closing track that's unlike anything Rush have done before, with acoustic guitar, orchestra and one of Geddy Lee's greatest heartfelt vocals, it's perhaps their own 'Silent Lucidity' and closes the album in fine style.

It's already been said by many journalists that 'Clockwork Angels' is the finest Rush album for a long, long time, and I can't disagree. It's brave, it's powerful, it has great depth and a lot of light and shade. I haven't even got into the lyrics and the concept behind it yet, but loving the music is a great start and it's an album I'll be playing loud and often. It really is that special!

Phil Ashcroft

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