If some of you feel that you have lost your bearings with Rush’s recent material, then now might be a good time to return to zero with this band.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Snakes And Arrows
LABEL: Anthem/Universal, Atlantic
SERIAL: 6682520122, 135484-2
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Canada
LINEUP: Geddy Lee – vocals, bass, pedals, keyboards * Alex Lifeson – guitars * Neil Peart – drums, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 Far Cry * 02 Armor And Sword * 03 Workin’ Them Angels * 04 The Larger Bowl * 05 Spindrift * 06 The Main Monkey Business * 07 The Way The Wind Blows * 08 Hope * 09 Faithless * 10 Bravest Face * 11 Good News First * 12 Malignant Narcissism * 13 We Hold On
WEBLINKS: Site Link
This is my first dabble with recent Rush material for a good while. Yes, I have a healthy CD collection of Rush albums, one of my fave trios ever, but I stopped short when I took a listen to their last effort ‘Vapor Trails’. That album didn’t move my mountain whatsoever, likewise for many other Rush fans too.
I guess when you’ve been in the game for thirty plus years, the task of coming up with new and interesting material gets harder by the year. However, healthy returns to form by The Who, Budgie, The Scorpions and more latterly The Police has seen some of the older brigade shining their torch again. Count Rush in with this lot. Always spanning the boundary of neo-technical and complexity, you won’t be short changed with ‘Snakes And Arrows’.
The title was based on the game of Snakes And Ladders. Not the current western form, but the original Buddhist version, which super-imposed the game over the fabric of life and consciousness. Wow, that’s real deep. Musically, it’s an overview of all the Rush elements bought together with thirty three years of joint experiences combined.
From the opening strains of ‘Far Cry’, you know you’re listening to a Rush album. All the signature trademarks are there. Though it takes time to get to the key parts, ‘Armour And Sword’ combines ‘Farewell To Kings’ like progression with ‘Presto’s modern-ness. Give it a few spins to understand it.
‘Workin’ Them Angels’ is a straight-forward offering with a pleasant chorus, and though ‘The Larger Bowl’ may sound equally simplistic, there’s lots going on under the hood. The lyric ‘such a lot of pain on the earth’ highlights the band’s concerns against war and the intrusion of politics.
Like the song-title, ‘Spindrift’ is set loose in a free-form musical test-tube. Hard to describe musically, but lyrically we’re dealing with relationship cast-off. The beautiful meandering of ‘The Way The Wind Blows’ reminisces guitar melodies from ‘Freewill’, but the acoustic wash removes any semblance of power to be found on that classic 1980 track.
‘Faithless’ is a track that asks the hard questions about ‘faith’. ‘I don’t have faith in faith, I don’t believe in belief..’ ‘Bravest Face’ is quite different musically, taking on some jazzy overtones and a sparse sound.
The band include three instrumentals: including ‘Malignant Narcissism’, a tight woven tapestry of ‘YYZ’ proportions, and ‘Hope’ which will please fans of Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin. But the coup de grace is undoubtedly the 6 minute wonder of ‘The Main Monkey Business’, for me, the best song on the album!
If some of you feel that you have lost your bearings with Rush’s recent material, then now might be a good time to return to zero with this band. A listen to ‘Snakes And Arrows’ wouldn’t be complete without Neil Peart’s PDF compendium, tracing all of the hours of in-studio and pre-release anecdotes in written form. You can find it on the Rush website.
As ‘Snakes And Arrows’ moves ahead into the 21st century, threads of the past are discarded while new fabric is woven. There’s plenty of references to religion and faith (or lack thereof) that will surely get the Christian-right oriented blogs a rockin’. And though die-hard Rush fans still pine for ‘Hemispheres Part II’, they should be safe in the knowledge that the band are still out there delivering the goods.
Armor And Sword (Live)