by Rev. Walter Beck
Five years after Snakes & Arrows and two years after the release of the single “Caravan”, Rush finally returns in full form with Clockwork Angels. Following in a similar vein of their immortal concept LP 2112, Clockwork Angels paints a vivid picture of rogues, outlaws and a dreamer destroyed by a savage dystopia. It touches on subjects ranging from god to the deplorable nature of man, all with Rush’s poetic lyrics and excellent contemporary prog rock.
The album leads with “Caravan”, the single first released back in June 2010, with its hypnotic rhythms courtesy of Geddy Lee and Neil Peart and catchy refrains. This is one hell of a way to kick off an album and this track is destined to be a live staple for many tours to come.
The biggest thing I noticed with this album compared to some of their previous work was an overall “heavier” sound, this is an album about chaos and nowhere better is that chaos expressed than through the overdriven and squealing solos of guitarist Alex Lifeson and the driving and often syncopated rhythms of bassist Geddy Lee and drummer Neil Peart. And yes, Peart is in fine form with his skills behind the stool, drummers will be delighted to hear the master of prog working around his beast of a kit with artistic precision.
The title track “Clockwork Angels”, the longest cut on the album, is one of the strongest; with its soft and hard dynamic, mixing lighter passages with the heaviness of the overall album. The title track describes the masters of all this chaos, the “clockwork angels” and their plans and mischief are perfectly described in the musical sounds as well as Geddy Lee’s high-pitched powerful vocals.
Speaking of musical chaos, the intro on “Carnies” is stunning, a distant sounding noise before Alex jumps into a heavy, bluesy riff that sounds like the beginning of “Working Man” on steroids. The bluesy feel is quickly morphed into the free-flowing prog that’s Rush’s signature sound, but still with that crunchy heaviness.
The album closes on a bit more of a lighter, almost symphonic note with the final cut “The Garden”. Accompanied by keyboards and lush acoustic instrumentals, Geddy Lee’s vocals end the record in a deep and satisfying way.
While it won’t enter the pantheon of such albums as 2112 or Moving Pictures, Rush should be extremely proud of Clockwork Angels. It’s powerful, heavy, melodic and a treat for fans. This is easily one of their strongest albums in years and strongly recommended for any fan.