Test For Echo (1996)

1.Test for Echo
3.Half the World
4.The Color of Right
5.Time and Motion
7.Dog Years
11.Carve Away the Stone


Whether or not the band was consciously aware of it, they were following a bit of a pattern with their album releases for the past ten years. They would go into the studio with a brand new producer, some brand new ideas and record an album with a brand new sound that would be, for the most part successful. Then, on the next record, they would use the same producer, and the same sound to try to replicate its predecessor. Sadly, each time they failed to match the magic of the prior record. Hold Your Fire wasn't as good as Power Windows, and Roll the Bones didn't measure up to Presto. Sadly, the same misfire occurs with this record, as it sounds as though it's trying to copy the last record, Counterparts.

Listening to all of these songs along with the cuts from the last album reveals almost nothing diverse or unique. It's just that, sadly, these songs aren't as good overall. In fact, some of these tracks are just downright awful. Fortunately, you don't say that often about Rush music. The very first track (and, oddly, the first single) is the title cut, and it's one of those "medium" Rush songs that doesn't really rock at all. Lyrically, we hear Geddy repeat a bunch of words that "rhyme" with "Echo". Slow-mo, vertigo, what-a-show, etc. It gets monotonous after the second "Here we go". Other tracks, such as Time and Motion and Dog Years are too heavy, and it sounds like the band has forgotten to write a catchy melody or a groovable riff. Speaking of Dog Years, this should win the award for the worst lyrics ever penned by Neil Peart. What was he thinking? The less said the better. I won't go into details. If you really want more info, Google it.

There are times when things do seem to work on most cylinders, such as Half the World and Color of Right, but although they sound pretty good, they lack something that makes good songs great, and many times it just sounds as though the guys are just going through the motions.

Not all is doom and gloom. There are a handful of great tracks on this record – but only a handful. Resist is one of those "slower" Rush songs that makes up for in passion where it lacks in aggressiveness. This would be Rush's only "unplugged" song in concert for a couple of tours. They prove that they can write a catchy danceable tune, once again, with Totem. This is another one of those latter day Rush tunes that I wish they would resurrect as part of a set list. Limbo is the (now standard) instrumental piece. I don't think Rush has ever released a subpar instrumental, and this one doesn't disappoint either. It sounds just like every other Rush instrumental, yet also sounds nothing like any other Rush instrumental. If that makes sense. I also have a fondness for Virtuality, even though the lyrics are kind of silly. It's sorta Neil's "angry" response to the (then) new internet thing.

One of the most lackluster releases of their career. You almost wish they would have taken only three of four of these songs and put them on Counterparts (replacing three or four of the weaker tracks), and they could have made one killer record. Not surprisingly, almost two decades later (yes, it's been that long), we never hear anything from this album performed at any shows.

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