Although Rush was formed in 1968, it wasn't until 1976's 2112; the band's fourth album, that they defined their progressive rock style they would become famous for. The album would be come gold on November 16, 1976. Now, over 30 years later, Rush has released their 18th album, Snakes And Arrows on Anthem/Atlantic Records.
The CD contains 13 tracks whose listing can be found below. Rush is made up of the legendary trio of Geddy Lee on vocals, bass and mellotron; Alex Lifeson on guitars, mandola, mandolin and bouzouki (a Greek long-necked lute); and Neil Peart on drums, percussion, and tambourine. All songs were composed by Lee and Lifeson with lyrics by Peart with the exception of Hope which was written by Lerxst Lifeson (Alex Lifeson) all by his own self!
What I found as I listened to this CD is how mature this band is within the culture of their style. At heart, they are an instrumental band in that they really focus on the composition of their music. They have a very complex system of integrating their instruments together to create a powerful wall of sound. The lyrics, which are sometimes simple, sometimes profound, act as a thread that ties the whole package together.
Take for example the first track, "Far Cry", it is a swirling sound that plays against a driving bass line. The lyrics are not complex, but they work as conduit bringing the song back to a home base allowing the instruments to take off on their own threads.
"Armor and Sword" begins as an acoustic tome with the lines: "The snakes and arrows a child is heir to/ Are enough to leave a thousand cuts/ We build our defenses, a place of safety / And leave the darker places unexplored."
Clearly a song about life and how the things that happen to us can make us put up defenses to protect ourselves and can also cause us harm. Here the music revolves around the words and it is the words that drive the song from its acoustic tone to the hard driving finish.
"Workin' Them Angels", is a typical Rush song, transitioning from tones and sounds; from hard guitars to mandolins. This is more of a transition song. "The Larger Bowl" is another song that begins with acoustic and forms around the lyrics and builds to a catchy refrain that ties the song together.
"Spindrift" is a compositional song that the simple lyrics try to tie the song together. This is probably my least favorite song on the CD. "The Main Monkey Business" is a 6 minute instrumental that focuses on the musical talent of Rush.
While I like many of the tunes prior to this point, the rest of this CD is great! "The Way the Wind Blows" starts off with a bluesy feel; it quickly grows into a driving beat. This is the only attempt at a "political" statement, but at that is very minor in its statement. I love some of the intonations that Lee does with his voice on this one and the way it mixes with the blues lines from Lifeson.
"Hope" is a nice little ditty that at 2 minutes is truly a transitional piece for guitar. "Faithless" is one of those songs that balances composition with lyrics and harkens back to some of the old Rush circa 2112. "Bravest Face" is another one that combines a catchy tune with, Lee doing some funky vocalizations and lyrics that tie it all together.
"Good News First" is a slow driving tune that builds throughout the song with a catchy middle eight. "Malignant Narcissism" is another instrumental that drives on with the bass line playing off the guitar. A 2 minute transitional that works. "We Hold On", the final track that blends lyrics with instrumentals that not only is classic Rush, but may be a classic in and of it self.
Yes, I like this album! My first take was that the second half was better than the first half, but after three times through, there are no songs that I would remove and only with Spindrift; the worst that I can say about it, is that I don't always notice it when it is on. This album is worth the time and you will find many of the tunes remaining in your head long after the music's done.
Snakes and Arrows' song listing:
Armor And Sword
Workin' Them Angels
The Larger Bowl
The Main Monkey Business
The Way The Wind Blows
Good News First
We Hold On