Rush – Clockwork Angels

Rush  - Clockwork Angels

The release of a new Rush album will mean one of three things to the majority of people when they hear about it:

1.  Who?
2.  Oh yeah, Rush – are they still going?
3.  OH MY GOD!!!  A NEW RUSH ALBUM!!!

With a career stretching back to 1974, the band have been a mainstay of the Prog-Rock world since the word Prog was first coined and have always been a band to polarise opinions in their music. They have come a long way since those revered concept albums of the late 70’s but they are back on form with their 20th studio album and have returned to the concept album format.

Those wary of an arduous Prog journey shouldn’t worry though as Clockwork Angels isn’t obviously a concept album, you could easily listen through without even realising it had a concept at all. The main theme stems from a steampunk background and according to drummer and lyricist, Neil Peart, takes inspiration from sources as random as Spanish expeditions into the mythical cities of gold and Cornish wreckers as featured in the classic book, Jamaica Inn by Daphne de Maurier.

The best summation I have read comes from long time friend of Neil Peart, sci-fi author Kevin J Anderson who is writing a novel based around the concept of the album:  In a young man’s quest to follow his dreams, he is caught between the grandiose forces of order and chaos. He travels across a lavish and colorful world of steampunk and alchemy, with lost cities, pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals, and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life.”

The band have worked with producer Nick Raskulinecz again for this album, cementing the relationship that was born out during Snakes and Arrows, their last studio album from 2007. Raskulinecz has worked with a number of heavy rock artists in the past and this can be heard in the big sound of the album. It doesn’t pull any punches and has a raw feel, probably due to it being recorded in an almost demo like and without multiple takes, avoiding it feeling too polished and retaining a lot of energy.  

That said, this is no shoddy effort and there is more going on than you first realise. This is an album that takes time to digest, each listen allowing you to pick out subtle strings in the background or some of the various noises that add to the steampunk feel of it.

Where the previous couple of Rush albums have been somewhat washy affairs, Clockwork Angels has much more purpose about it, picking up where the fantastic Counterparts of 1993 left off. The band seem to have taken all of the elements that make a good Rush album and combined them together; dystopian concept, big guitar riffs, growling bass and subtle but technically perfect drumlines.  

All three band members have long been recognised as leaders in each of their respective musical fields and this album showcases it perfectly without being overly showy. If there was ever an overlooked member of the band it would be guitarist, Alex Lifeson, but he has excelled on Clockwork Angels and delivers some real ‘hairs on the back of your neck’ moments in his solos and textured guitar parts.

This album has already sparked a lot of interest in the band, they seem to be getting a degree of recognition that has not been afforded to them by the mainstream press for many years, if ever. It seems almost cool to be a Rush fan!

The key to this album is how accessible it is, new listeners will appreciate the well crafted songs and enjoy hearing a rock power trio delivering to the highest level. You could argue that the last Muse album had more of a prog feel to it than Clockwork Angels does… no extended 3 part symphonies here.

Stand out track for me is ‘Seven Cities of Gold’, it might be it triggering the memory of the 80’s children’s programme that does it, but more likely the ridiculously filthy bass intro backed up a riff that satisfies in every way backed up by a strong chorus and catchy lyric you find yourself humming for hours after.  

The pace of the album is swift throughout without leaving you feeling breathless and ends with The Garden, a pretty song that rounds things off nicely. It opens with acoustic guitar, gentle strings and Geddy’s voice which has aged over the years and sounds like a well matured and rounded bottle of red wine.

My advice…. give it a go, listen with an open mind and you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

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We have a copy of the AWESOME fan-pack copy of the new Rush Album, Clockwork Angels to give away, just answer the following question to be in the draw

*** This competition is now closed – the winner is Catherine H from Allendale. Thanks to everyone who entered, more to come ***

Fan pack (pic below) includes the 12 track studio album alongside a specially created magazine with unseen behind-the-scenes content put together by Classic Rock. It will also feature brand new exclusive artwork from Rush’s longtime collaborator Hugh Syme (who also designed the Clockwork Angels artwork) and free gifts including a limited edition Clockwork Angels keyring & artwork poster.

rush fan pack

Phil is all about the music but with a particular fondness for anything loud, shouty or with songs longer than 10 minutes. When not writing reviews he can be found in Oxford playing bass guitar, reading anything he can get his hands on or walking his little dog Poppy. He can also be found on Twitter @peejaybe or blogging at www.consistentlyaverage.co.uk

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