Clockwork Angels (2012)

1. Caravan
2. BU2B
3. Clockwork Angels
4. The Anarchist
5. Carnies
6. Halo Effect
7. Seven Cities of Gold
8. The Wreckers
9. Headlong Flight
11.Wish Them Well
12.The Garden


Probably the most anticipated release by this band simply due to the fact that the guys released a single two years prior to the entire album. The reason? Apparently it was pretty simple – the guys only had two songs done, yet they wanted to go on tour. So fans were treated to a mere morsel with the songs Caravan and BU2B both on a single, and featured in the above mentioned tour.

When the entire album was released in June of 2012, it was the consensus of most that the wait was well worth it. You could almost argue that this is a perfect Rush album. Well maybe not perfectly perfect, but as close to perfect as one could get. As time goes on, don't be surprised if this record eclipses 1981's Moving Pictures as the band's very best. Yes, it is that good.

This is a full fledged concept album, which seem to be well received by the prog-rock crowd. It was actually their first one ever (2112 and Hemispheres were only one sided album epics). This really shouldn't matter. I'm not really even sure what the concept here actually is, and it almost seems as if Neil Peart was making up the story as he went along. Something about an individualistic kid who rebels against the powers that be (called 'The Watchmaker') that want him to conform to some idealistic notion. Our young hero rebels and finds himself on a bizarre journey with anarchists, carnies and cities of gold. If this sounds a bit familiar to the tale in 2112, it's probably not a coincidence. The band basically pay homage to the 36 year old record (check out the time on the clock on the album cover).

What does matter is the music, and this music is quite simply amazing. It's hard for me to specifically describe the music here, other than it's definitely Rush, and it's definitely good, solid, strong Rush. They rock very hard throughout, yet aren't afraid to slow the pace down a bit on some of the numbers. They team up with co-producer Nick Raskulinecz, who worked with them on the last studio release Snakes and Arrows. Even those that didn't like that album that much, did admit that the album had some great songs on it. So this is a similar sounding record as its predecessor, just with mostly excellent songs.

They do lay the production on a bit heavier than normal, some of the songs sound more crowded than usual with instrumentation, but the songs themselves never suffer. In a strange way, it's a bit reminiscent of 1985's Power Windows in terms of expanding creativity. In addition to some great, straight-ahead rockers such as The Anarchist and BU2B, they feature such diverse tracks as the ballad-like Halo Effect, complete with acoustic guitars, orchestral arrangement's, and lots of cool wind-like effects. I'm probably not doing too good of a job describing it, you really need to just listen to it. Same can be said of the album closer The Garden that is undoubtedly the most beautiful Rush song ever. This is a seven minute piece filled with all sorts of accompanying instruments that will probably be played at many a Rush fan's funeral. You know it's a good song when the seven minutes feels like it goes by in about four.

Same can be said for Headlong Flight which, in my opinion, is the Best. Rush. Song. Ever. This one is a rocker and in a strange way, almost sounds like one of the band's many instrumentals. Again, not really sure how to actually describe what I mean when I say that, but it's a piece that really doesn't need any lyrics, yet the lyrics that are there only make an awesome song even more awesome.

Wish Them Well is one of the more modest songs on the album, yet this one probably features the best lyrics in a Rush tune. No, there's nothing that complex nor poetic, just some beautiful sentiments. It works so well (pun partially intended) that it brings the track up several notches.

The only real complaint is the reprise of BU2B called BU2B2. It's a 90 second snippet that features Geddy singing (wailing, actually) over an acoustic guitar. A minor sin at 90 seconds. One wishes they would have left it off completely. Speaking of minor sins and BU2B, the guys add about a minute to the original song with an acoustic opening that really kills the atmosphere a bit. My recommendation would be to swap out the "album" version with the "single" version that came out two years prior.

It's always great to hear a band like Rush with such a lengthy history prove that their best years aren't necessarily behind them. This was a killer album. One can't help but wonder just how much life is left in the Rush machine with the guys now in their 60s, but one hopes that if there is more music in the band's future, that it will come close to the songs here in terms of quality. Even if not, fans can't really complain now that they have this masterpiece.

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