This is a journey in sound.....
"IN A WORLD WHERE I FEEL SO SMALL, I CAN'T STOP THINKING BIG!" They are back & the band is Rush. Debuting in at #2 on Billboard & #1 in Canada is Rush's 20th Studio album CLOCKWORK ANGELS. The holy trinity from Canada are back. It's been 5 years since SNAKES & ARROWS was released & I feel CLOCKWORK ANGELS was well worth the wait.
Let's go back in time for a bit all the way back to 2010-2011. Rush was on tour, their Time Machine Tour. This was also the 30th anniversary of one of their defining albums MOVING PICTURES (which they played in its entirety live during this tour). Prior & during this tour Rush was already in the writing/recording mode. On June 1, 2010 Rush released two new songs; CARAVAN & BU2B (brought up to believe). These two new songs were heavy & pure Rush. Multiple time changes, solos & thought provoking lyrics. There was also something else. These two new songs seemed to be linked lyrically & not just two new isolated works. This gave to rise to rumors that were later confirmed to be correct that these two new songs were to be part of a total concept album. Even the stage set up reflected these new songs' lyrics; a Steampunk theme. On April 19, 2012 Rush also released the first 'official' single HEADLONG FLIGHT (more on all the songs later) At the conclusion of their Time Machine Tour the trio took a well deserved break then went back into the studio with SNAKES & ARROWS producer Nick Raskulinecz. The result is the singularity of this review.
Just recently released on June 12, 2012 CLOCKWORK ANGELS is a masterpiece & Rush absolutely demonstrates how they defy their years & mileage on it. An album, a concept prog album of the highest order. As one of my best friends said after he listened to it for the first time (and he is moderate Rush fan) CLOCKWORK ANGELS is like the best paintings ever created. Full of color, contrast & composition. As stated by drummer/lyricist Neil Peart stated: In a young man's quest to follow his dreams, he is caught between the grandiose forces of order and chaos. He travels across a lavish and colorful world of steampunk and alchemy, with lost cities, pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals, and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life. In fact CLOCKWORK ANGELS is also being written into a novel by science fiction novelist Kevin J. Anderson, a long time friend of Neil Peart, announced that he would be writing a novelization of Clockwork Angels due out in the fall.
The album's cover art displays the time 9:12 or 21:12, in reference to the band's album and song titled 2112. The cover art was illustrated by graphics artist and long-time Rush collaborator Hugh Syme. The CD cover art & the vinyl cover art does differ with the red background. The CD is the red cloud vortex & the vinyl version is rippled water drops.
The band; Geddy Lee- vocals, bass, keyboards. Alex Lifeson- guitars. Neil Peart- drums, lyrics.
The songs; 1. CARAVAN- slightly reworked from the single version. It begins our tale. In my opinion a perfect Rush song. 2. BU2B- also reworked from the single version. The song now has a brief haunting acoustic intro. The second heaviest song on the album. 3. CLOCKWORK ANGELS- the title track. It has multi movements within it. It reminds me of a mini 2112 or a mini Hemispheres. It's multi-layered & and serves as the pivot point for the album. It is a song that is fast/slow & light-heavy. It's also the first of three songs on the album that clocks in at 7 minutes or longer 4. THE ANACHRIST-it's catchy. Nice groove to it. Speaks of a dangerous man in a controlled dystopian society. 5. CARNIES- its heavy. It speaks of an exotic carnival that the main character visits on his journey. It reminds me of the carnival scene in the film A.I. 6. HALO EFFECT- its simply beautiful. An absolute instant Rush classic. It's also short coming in about 3:14 or so. Ahh the heartbreak of falling in love with the wrong woman. 7. SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD- our heroes adventure continues in search of a lost legend ala Indiana Jones perhaps or even Cormac McCarthy's The Road. It's got a vintage killer Geddy bass groove as an intro. It's a rocker. 8. THE WRECKERS- its about a shipwreck that turns even worse as false safety rears its ugly head. This song also possesses one of Peart's most poignant choruses he's ever written; "All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary Of a miracle too good to be true All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary Everything in life you thought you knew All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary 'Cause sometimes the target is you". 9. HEADLONG FLIGHT- the second official single from the album. It is without a doubt the heaviest song on the album & maybe the heaviest Rush has ever written. It is the second song on the album that is over the 7 minute mark. It is my favorite song on this album. 10. BU2B2- a bit of a reprise. A sequel song to the original arcing track BU2B. It's only about a minute and a half long. It's very ethereal. Different lyrics. Different arrangement. It's like a brief intermission before the crescendo. 11. WISH THEM WELL- another classic. A musical journey. Turn the other cheek & move on. It's both heavy & mellow. 12. THE GARDEN- it's spiritual. It's beautiful. It's hopeful yet mellon-collie. Its the third song at the 7 minute mark. The summation of the protagonists journey. A reflection upon his adventures & travels. I obviously have a first edition/pressing of CLOCKWORK ANGELS on vinyl. Double disc LP. 180 gram & black. As a totally Rush touch, on each side of the two LP's center stickers there are no song titles written, just the clock logo used for the album. Four different ones in fact. One set at 1:00. One set at 2:00. One set at 3:00. And one set at 4:00 (for sides 1-4).
In conclusion, I love this album. Granted Rush is my favorite band so I am probably going to be a bit biased in the favorable category towards then. Don't take my word for it. Read other reviews in print or online. This is a killer album. Maybe their best ever.
We all know at this point in Rush's career they have many more years behind them than they do in front of them. All three members are all pushing 60 years of age as of 2012. If Rush decide that their Clockwork Angels Tour is their last tour/album, (God for bid) then CLOCKWORK ANGELS is one hell of a way to go out & say thank you to all of their fans world-wide for 40 years of glory.
If CLOCKWORK ANGELS is your first introduction to Rush or your a die hard like I am then this is the album for you.
Spin this over & over & LIVE IT ALL AGAIN!!!