UPDATE - 5/9@8:33PM: This is awesome. The Fox story got linked at Fark.com and given the dumbass tag. :) The reader comments are great. Thanks to jon for the heads up.
After yesterday's Snakes & Arrows round 4 post I got wind of several more reviews; enough for round 5 in fact. But before I get to the reviews I'd like to mention this Fox411 column from Roger Friedman. About every other email I've received today has been regarding this. Friedman mentions Rush and Snakes & Arrows in a very condescending manner:
Rush is back. The big hair, fake falsetto heavy metal group that made the 1980s so irrelevant musically sold 84,000 copies for Atlantic Records last week with a new album called "Snakes & Arrows." Never underestimate the low standards of the buying public, I guess. Journey, Poison, shoulder pads and perms shouldn't be too far behind at this rate.
There's not much to really say about trash like this. So let's get on with the reviews.
... The band's 18th studio album is a densely layered, painstakingly crafted work that sounds like it took the whole five years to assemble. The 13 cuts, which include three instrumentals, are piled high with Alex Lifeson's guitars — so high, bassist/singer Geddy Lee at times can barely be heard.
The complex arrangements caress and underscore another set of drummer Neil Peart's mystical/spiritual/apocalyptic lyrics. But the artistry doesn't translate into much excitement; the songs are too much alike and run together. An occasional jagged riff threatens to break through the smooth surfaces, but it quickly fades away. Is it too much to ask a rock 'n' roll band to play with some energy?
There was a short review in The Denver Post a couple days ago. No rating is given and it's tough to gauge the reviewer's overall opinion, but it sounds more positive than negative. I'll let you be the judge. Here's the review:
Prerelease word on Rush's new CD was that it would be a "throwback." Some expected - or feared - a return to the sci-fi of "2112" or the philosophizing of "Permanent Waves,"
"Snakes and Arrows" harkens back not to the ambition - or pretension - of those 1970s efforts but to 1989's and 1991's "Presto" and "Roll the Bones." Acoustic guitars provide the texture instead of keyboards. Neal Peart's lyrics are literate and probing, but the melodies often sound forced. Geddy Lee's voice stays in the lower register.
"Far Cry," the opening track and one of the strongest, serves notice that this is a guitar-driven album. Acoustic guitars dominate "The Larger Bowl," which would have sounded at home on "Presto" or "Bones."
Three instrumentals - "The Main Monkey Business," "Hope," and "Malignant Narcissism" - break up Peart's bleak lyrical landscape. "Hope," guitarist Alex Lifeson's acoustic showcase, is the album's most pleasant surprise. - Keith Morse
This next review from LiveDaily contributor Jon Voket has no rating given although one isn't really needed; it's fairly obvious that he likes it. The full review can be read at this link and here's an excerpt:
... If long-time fans have fallen from the fold as a result of lackluster output during the past decade, it's time to get religion again. "Snakes & Arrows" has all the musical ingredients that Rush devotees have been craving, and a lyrical bite signaling a new direction--a renaissance, if you will--for this tried and triumphant power trio from the Great White North.
The Austin American Statesman's Rob Palladino gives Snakes & Arrows a solid 4-star review. Here's an excerpt:
... the Canadian trio has seemingly thrown in all the finest moments from its lengthy career into "Snakes & Arrows." The result could be theband's finest moment. From thunderous opener "Far Cry," to lush, masterly rocker "Armor & Sword," and from the haunting guitar-play of "Bravest Face" to insane instrumental "The Main Monkey Business," "Snakes & Arrows" is a rare combination of well-written songs and warm, clear production. As with any Rush album, drummer/lyricist Neil Peart has more than a passing influence on proceedings. Past albums have had lyrical themes and "Snakes & Arrows" is no exception, as Peart writes of his distaste for organized religion. ... It all comes across as a tad over-emotive lyrically, and feels like Peart is overreaching in an effort to make a point. Despite this, "Snakes & Arrows" is an album of enormous musical muscle and song-writing creativity with a shimmering intimate subtlety.
And finally, a couple weeks ago I linked the first few batch of user reviews posted at progarchives.com. Since then there have been several more reviews submitted. You can check them out at this link. So far the average review is a little over 3.5 out of 5.
[Snakes & Arrows reviews, round 4]
[Snakes & Arrows reviews, round 3]
[Snakes & Arrows reviews, round 2]
[Snakes & Arrows review at AllMusic.com]
[Snakes & Arrows review in Toronto Sun]
[Snakes & Arrows reviews, round 1]
[Another Snakes & Arrows review]
[Snakes & Arrows review]