“Snakes And Arrows” by Rush

Artist: Rush
Title: “Snakes And Arrows”
Label: Atlantic Records
Release Date: 5/1/2007
Genre: Progressive Rock
Rating: 4/5

It’s been about five years since Rush last delivered original material with “Vapor Trails” and early reports from the studio had outlined that the new release would be more of a return to the bands storied past. With “Snakes & Arrows” Rush clearly shows that they able to offer a slight return but one that looks to the future just as much as it recollects the past. To get the initial comments out of the way on this release the “return to form” would not go as far back as “Hemispheres” like some had anticipated and why should it since that level of Progressive Rock would not be as easy to replicate and sell effectively in today’s world. Instead we have an album that brought to my mind images of the colors they experimented with on both “Presto” and “Counterparts”, two of my favorites from the Rush middle years. The album launches off with “Far Cry” which is a track that I think will become a concert staple that becomes far more powerful than that of the openers from “Vapor Trails” or “Test For Echo”. Unlike many critics I did not mind “VT” all that much but do agree that “TFE” was a bit of a letdown when it came down to it. On “S&A” there is a certain freshness that I think will instantly capture the hearts and most specifically the ears of all their legions of fans right away as the production here is a tight one that ebbs and flows like the Rush of old. There is a ton of excellent melody put forward as Geddy hits his trademark high notes and soft subtle ones as often as necessary. Alex Liefson is to be commended on the number of different guitar elements he introduces here as we find traditional guitars, mandolins as well as the electric ones and with the sound production courtesy of Nick Raskulinecz you can hear every single one of them as they are introduced in the music. Lyrically this is perhaps the strongest that we have found from the band in years and Professor Neil Peart certainly dished out some ideas that will make reading along with the music a pleasant experience once again. His drumming as always is tasty and most effective and the fills he delivers will strike you as “just perfect” for each scenario that you find on this musical journey. It would be safe to say that this is the best Rush has sounded in the past decade of releases.

There are many highlights on this release and among them are “Workin’ Them Angels” and “Faithless” which work on so many levels in both lyrical and musical content. Rush seems to be aiming at making one look deeper inside themselves as opposed to setting up any political agenda. The guys also make sure to deliver a few notable instrumentals and with “The Main Monkey Business” we hear something that could very well be a number that came from the time that “Roll The Bones” was released. It’s a brooding and atmospheric tune that I liked very much. Of the remaining two instrumentals “Hope” is a strong guitar led piece while “Malignant” Narcissism” finds them at their funkiest and perhaps most experimental on the album. Overall there isn’t a down or boring moment on the whole release and the 24 page color booklet offers you the lyrics and images, but no photos of the guys except for the final page. With “Snakes & Arrows” I think we all shall find a Rush that is prepared to take us into the next decade of their career with the banners raised high. This intelligent and incredible piece of music is a welcome battle cry and proves that even after thirty years of musical productivity that there are still fresh ideas to bring to our attention.

Track Listing:
1. Far Cry
2. Armor And Sword
3. Workin’ Them Angels
4. The Larger Bowl
5. Spindrift
6. The Main Monkey Business
7. The Way The Wind Blows
8. Hope
9. Faithless
10. Bravest Place
11. Good News First
12. Malignant Narcissism
13. We Hold On

Official Website: www.rush.com

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