After playing this album 3 times this evening, i am at a loss as how to start this review as it is utterly flawless and i kept forgetting to make notes . From a personal point of view, being a Rush fan for over 30 years, this is one of their musically heaviest albums ever and is now in my top 3 Rush albums along with Hemispheres and Farewell To Kings. Clockwork Angels is Rush’s 1st studio album release after Snakes And Arrows in 2007, and as good as that album was, Clockwork Angels walks all over it. Produced once again by Nick Raskulinecz, each of the 12 songs literally fly out of the speakers. Considering that Rush are always tagged under prog rock, this latest release should free them from that shackle. Rush are Rush and cannot be categorized and any band who try to emulate them are wasting their time. Clocking in ( no pun intended ), at 66 mins, it is a prime example of melody and muscle.
Clockwork Angels was first available as an exclusive fan pack edition via Classic Rock magazine on June 11th 2012 but the official UK album release is July 9th 2012 via Anthem/Roadrunner records. Already available in the US since June 12th 2012, Clockwork Angels went straight to #1 in the Canadian charts and #2 on the American billboard chart. The album cover, once again designed by Hugh Syme, depicts a clock showing the time at 9.12 or 21.12 on the 24hr setting. A nod to Rush’s studio album 2112 from 1976.
Rush have always made music for themselves, not bowed down to fan or record company pressure and Geddy Lee, Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson are certainly on top of their game on Clockwork Angels. The album is best heard through headphones to appreciate each band member’s contribution and when they lock into a groove, they are unstoppable. A noticeable change on the album is Geddy singing in a lower scale than usual giving the album some beautiful melodies.
Highlights are many but ones that standout are the main riff hammered in at the beginning of album opener Caravan with the gaps in the song giving Geddy’s bass lines to shine followed by a short, snappy guitar solo from Alex. The album’s title track’s angular riffing, pleading vocals and drum patterns by Neil Peart are nothing less than sheer genius! The Anarchist is driven along by vintage Rush guitar riffs, the one that kicks in after a minute is a fan’s dream along with the solo accompanied by a string section. Carnies has a riff reminiscent to Working Man and the chord structure of Halo Effect is similar to The Trees. Seven Cities Of Gold’s hard driving bass intro would be one that Lemmy would be proud of and a wailing guitar solo by Alex shows his dexterity to the fullest. Personal highlight of the album for me is the string drenched The Wreckers featuring a stunning chorus i have gone back to many times. First single lifted from the album, Headlong Flight, flies in with the band hammering away until the riff, akin to Bastille Day, comes in. Once again, Neil Peart puts an effortless performance in, a true drummer’s drummer! Clockwork Angels closes with the laid back acoustic guitar/strings and piano based The Garden with a haunting vocal by Geddy.
Even the most avid Rush fan cannot expect epics like 2112, Hemispheres, La Villa Strangiato and Cygnus X-1 again but 6 out of the 12 songs on Clockwork Angels tip the 6-7 minute mark, giving the band time to stretch out. Not bad for a 3 piece with a combined age of 178!!
Rush band line up :-
Geddy Lee- Bass/Synthesisers.
Alex Lifeson- Guitars.
Neil Peart- Drums/Percussion.
Clockwork Angels track listing :-
Seven Cities Of Gold.
Wish Them Well.
I award Clockwork Angels 10/10!!!!!!!!!!