Release DetailsLABEL Atlantic Records
RELEASED ON 5/1/2007
Snakes & Arrows
posted on 5/2007 By:
Alright, so we’re a little late to the party on this one but here we are nevertheless. Fans of Rush are well aware of the band’s history and privy to the fact the Canadian three-piece has been hanging on by a loose thread over recent years when it comes to their studio work. No one can deny the band’s stature within music history or the fact that they still portray sheer dominance in a live setting, but that next great album has eluded them for quite some time. Snakes & Arrows – the band’s 18th full-length studio album in their storied career spanning nearly four decades – is an album that not only proves the band still has a substantial amount of fuel left in the tank but also hints at promising times ahead, as the grouping of Lee, Lifeson and Peart has clearly rediscovered the fire within and – depending on who you ask – haven’t sounded this good on record in nearly 20 plus years.
"Far Cry" is the first single on the record and is an upbeat number that clears up any doubt whether or not the band can still create a great song, as its catchy hooks immediately suck you in and have you yearning for more. "Armor and Sword" and "Workin’ Them Angels" – probably the two best tracks – follow things up with the former toning things down a tad with a lurching bridge that gets the head bobbing, while the latter fuses the sounds of the band’s early, early days with a darker vibe reminding me of the band’s work on side two of their 1981 multi-platinum release Moving Pictures. The acoustic driven "The Larger Bowl" surprisingly brings forth a warmer sounding feel considering the painful words it bestows upon the listener and contains one of many outstanding guitar solos throughout the entire recording. The album seems to take a bit of a lull when "Spindrift" comes to light, and the song just doesn’t live up to the powerful start of the record, but "The Main Monkey Business" – the first of three instrumentals on the album – gets things back on track with its slight psychedelic leanings at the start and yet another nod toward the days of old with its progressive guitar driven nature.
"The Way the Wind Blows" opens up with a bluesy intro which is reprised in the middle of the song, and although a softer number the impressive guitar solo and catchy chorus make the song work wonderfully. "Hope" is the second instrumental track on the album and is fully acoustical, and the music truly conveys feelings that mimic the song title, and "Faithless" is a piece that is driven more by the sung words than the music itself. It’s almost as if this track and the previous one are tied together, in that the former streams with feelings of optimism, while the latter deals with how much of a struggle it is to feel anything at all within the world as we know it today. Some of the more emotional singing can be found on "Bravest Face", as Lee’s performance is movingly strong and shows he hasn’t lost his flair, not to mention the wonderful interplay between his fabulous bass lines, Lifeson’s luminous guitar parts and Peart’s luster behind the kit. The musicianship this band portrays – and frankly always has – has never been in doubt and it is flawless throughout. "Good News First" is a track that has yet to grab my attention much, and it’s a shame that "Malignant Narcissism" wasn’t longer because it literally would have rivaled "YYZ", among others, as one of the best instrumental pieces ever put to tape by the group. "We Hold On" closes things out on a more upbeat and positive sounding note and sees a nice little jam take center stage in the middle of the track.
At the end of the day fans of the group will find some of the tracks hit or miss on the recording, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that those same fans will sense a true and honest return to form in the majority of the material. The sound is absolutely perfect on this record, and the overall consensus has been that this is the best album the band has done since the afore-mentioned Moving Pictures, and while I can agree with that to a certain degree, I’ll simply say it’s the most enjoyable for me since Grace Under Pressure. Absolutely a wonderful album and definitely a contender to make my year end list. Rush is back and haven’t sounded this good in a long, long time folks, and simply put...Snakes & Arrows belongs in your collection.
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