Rush ‘Clockwork Angels’ Review

Rush is without a doubt one of my favorite bands of all time.   Almost everything they wrote from the 70′s, 80′s and early 90′s is superb.  As they grew older they started to be really inconsistent with the quality of their music.   The last time I really enjoyed a new Rush album was more than a decade ago with their interesting yet limited effort Test for Echo.   All their efforts since then have been subpar, from the recording to the composition quality.  There isn’t anything in their recent work that suggest they grew old gracefully, at least at creating new music.    So, I must admit I wasn’t terrible excited to hear new work by one of my favorite bands of all time, but yet for some reason I found myself awaiting it with great hope after listening to Headlong Flight,  the albums first single.   Today I give you my review.

The album starts out with a very intense musically challenging song in Caravan.   It has a catchy riff, somewhat straight forward but complex enough to interest me.   Geddy Lee shines with his bass work, something I haven’t been able to say for a while, while his voice leaves a lot to be desired.  He is old and you can tell (this is one of my complaints when seeing them live, he doesn’t sound the same).  BU2B is a heavy song that borrows a lot from their recent line of work.  Another catchy agressive riff with good musicality and better than average melodies.

As we get to the title track things start to get better.  Music reminded me of early 90′s Rush.   Agressive riffs with great drum play. I love a good nice clean guitar and Rush has managed to deliver consistently even today after all these years.   Love the work by Neil Peart with Clockwork Angels as his drum finesse is showcased once again.  This is a very interesting song as Geddy Lee once again shows us while he might be the most important element in this band.      With Anarchist we get some pretty familiar sounds with the guitar yet some of the best music of the album so far.    This is exactly what I was hoping to hear from Rush.  I greatly underrate Lee’s bass work sometimes but in this album he continues to be the premier player as he makes this song stand out.   Of course, Alex Lifeson is doing some brilliant rhythm guitar playing.  I just love the way he plays, as a matter of fact I’m not a big fan of his solos, but in this song he does one that caught my ear.

Carnies continues on without notice with some connecting circus songs only to come back to one heavy metal riff not common with what we have known from Rush.   It’s kind of crazy listening to this kind of riff coming from a band with the background they have but yet it somewhat works.  Its a clever song that has a couple of very interesting moments worth a second listen.    Halo Effect is more of a power ballad that makes good use of Geddy’s vocal tone.   Even though I’m no fan of the new Lee’s voice, this song does a good job to make good use of it.   It is actually one of the better songs of the album, short, catchy, composed with class and to the point.  I love the clean guitar sounds with Lifeson giving his best.

I love the way Seven Cities of Gold starts as once again Geddy uses his great bass playing to make the best out of a song.   His bass riff turns in to a guitar reminiscent of Test for Echo, and that is a good thing.    This is the best i’ve heard from Rush in years and I’m really happy about it.  I can’t wait to listen to this song live.     As we continue listening, The Wrecker is another song in which Lifeson goes out with a great clean guitar sound backed by superb bass lines.  I love the melodic line lyrically speaking, the main bridge to the chorus reminded me of the late 80′s Rush which is also a good thing.    Headlong Flight is a great song that has a lot of musical genius in to it.   A catchy song with the Rush staple in it that will work very well to promote the band to new fans as well as the old prog crowd.   I’m one of the older newer fans (early 90′s) and loved this song.

BU2B2 is a little bridge towards Wish Them Well which strangely reminded me of 80′s hear metal for a moment.  But no, its not that at all as it then goes to a more familiar style which we have all grown to love throughout the years.   Rush!   This is another of the highlights of the album.    Once again Lifeson gives us great riffs coupled with Geddy Lee’s awesome bass playing.   Finally we get The Garden a song that reminds me of Resist a classic modern Rush ballad that is as good as they’ve accomplished lately.   As I listened to this song I couldn’t help think that this might be the last good Rush album as they are surely up there in age.   This song is a perfect ending to an already good album.    Loved it.

Overall it’s not up to par with the classics, not even the last good Rush album, Test For Echo.  It is a good effort, but not a great one.  I think they probably had the success they were supposed to with their first 10 albums, and I understand that in order to survive for as many years as they have (40 or so) you have to constantly reinvent yourself.  There are only so many times you can do it, for some, you better continue with your old stuff as fans will rarely embrace new stuff as much as they do the classics.    Good job.

SCORE 7.3 out of 10.0

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15 thoughts on “Rush ‘Clockwork Angels’ Review

  1. More like 9/10 for me. I consider it a modern day classic and most Rush fans will tell you T4E is not even in the same league. Most Rush fans on the Rush Forum think it’s their best record since the 80′s.

    • I agree. It’s almost silly good. Test For Echo reaches Clockwork Angels to it’s knees on it’s brightest moments. One of Rush’s best records, for sure. A great – GREAT surprise after more than 20 years of disappointments.

  2. Pingback: Rush – Clockwork Angels – Jun 2012 « Galactic Jukebox

  3. yep 9/10; personally it trumps test for echo easy and rivals the work, to way back in the eighties – power windows +. This is a great album, with very strong material throughout. Its one of rush’s top 5 albums, an amazing accomplishment, at this stage in their career.

    • I dont think it cracks the top 5. My personal tenwould be: 1.-Moving Pictures 2.-2112 3.-Hemisphires 4.-A farewell to kings 5.-Permanent Waves 6.-Grace under pressure 7.-Counterparts 8.-Roll the bones 9.-Clockwork Anges 10.-Power Windows

      • Interesting selection.

        At this moment I would put Clockwork Angels roughly on par with Signals. Headlong Flight is a real winner.
        As a fan since 1978 it’s easy to see this new effort in the context in which it was created. Rush has always been a band willing to try different things.

        For example:

        RUSH: Standard Zeppelin-like rock. They did it very well too, it’s a very good album

        Fly By Night: Pearts influence begins to be felt. The arrangements became more complex.

        Caress of Steel: Rush taking complexity and story-telling to a new level. Unlike previous efforts.

        2112: The ultimate refinement of the “epic” song approach.

        Just within their first 4 albums we see a growth and willingness to embrace change that is not found too often.
        Look at Hemispheres to Permanent Waves to Moving Pictures. Talk about expanding horizons.
        Some of their efforts appeal more than others, it’s just preference.

        Anyway, my top ten:

        1. Hemispheres
        2. 2112
        3. RUSH
        4. A Farewell to Kings
        5. Permanent Waves
        6. Moving Pictures
        7. Counterparts
        8. Snakes and Arrows
        9. Signals
        10. Grace Under Pressure.

        I’m still digesting Clockwork Angels, my opinion is evolving. So far, so good though.

    • It’s to early to tell, but I really think it can break into my top 5 as well. It’s interesting how different people have such strong feelings about completely different albums. My top 5 is: A Show Of Hands, Power Windows, Grace Under Pressure, Permanent Waves and Presto.

  4. Wow how can u describe Vapor Trails as a bad album? It was easily one of the groups best albums instrumentally and lyrically. Test For Echo only had 2 remarkable songs and is usually considered one of the bands worst. This album is incredible also. Rush still has it.

    • I consider Test for Echo a better than average album. Just that. A couple of great songs with a bunch of average to good songs. Vapor Trails and Snakes & Arrows are average albums at best in MY book. Clockwork Angels is a better album than any of these three by a mile. I compare it with the best they’ve done but it still falls short. Time will tell how C.A. will be viewed as. Right now i’m enjoying it very much. Love Caravan.

  5. I’ve been a fan of the band for 27 years now. Kinda funny when I consider how pissed off I used to be when their videos were showing up on MTV. But a friend persuaded me to buy Moving Pictures and I’ve been a fan ever since. Many “new” albums have come and gone since then but none have delivered so many “goosebump moments” as this album. The problem with Rush is that their albums are so utterly complex that it takes time to peel away the complexity. What you love on the first 5-10 spins might grow old weeks later and suddenly the song you hated the most is your favorite.

    All that being said, I’ve been listening to the album pretty much non-stop since 5:00 am and it’s close to 9 pm now. I’ll still go out on a limb and proclaim this is their most ambitious effort since Moving Pictures and Nick R. is Rush’s new Terry Brown. Don’t agree with my opinion, well … you’re a Rush fan, I expect you to be critical.

    • Thanks for the reply. That is exactly how I feel about this band. The albums usually take time to get. This album is very very good. Im a musician myself and am very critical of the way musicians make their music. Rush is one of my all time favorite bands and love almost every single note of music they’ve made. I just dont want that favoritsm to take over my review and because of my over excitment give it a better review that i should’ve. As of now its getting better with each spin!

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  7. Wow, i felt totally different listening to this album. I am happy with Geddy’s voice. i loved some of his early high pitched stuff, but his current voice has an emotional quality to it that I really like.

    This album has so much musical nuance to it. I have listened to it prolly a hundred times by now. I put it in third place for favorite albums, after 2112 and Moving Pictures. MP is the album that introduced me to Rush.

    Man, if you have not listened closely to Snakes and Arrows, I suggest you go back and do it. That is another album with tons of musical nuance.

    My favorite song off of Clockwork Angels is Headlong Flight. My second favorite is Seven Cities of Gold. I had my wife cracking up when I danced to Seven Cities of Gold for her. I think, to properly dance to that song, one would need five legs.

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