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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Snakes & Arrows reviews, round 5
2:44PM EST | comments (124) |

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.

San Antonio Express staff writer Robert Johnson gives this generally negative review of the album. Here's an excerpt:

... 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.

Related Posts:
[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]

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Comments

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#124 - Posted 5/11/07 @10:34AM by kmorse [contact]

Hey everyone. I wrote the brief review for the Denver Post. I'm not the #1 or #2 music writer there; I did it as a favor to the other guys, who were busy with other stuff and couldn't make the deadline -- or didn't want to listen to the CD.
To clear something up that wasn't all that clear in the review: On the whole, I like S&A better than a lot of Rush's recent material. When the editor tells me I've got six inches to fill, well, I'd rather tell a little about the album and less about what I think of it rather than offer my "thumbs up" or "thumbs down."
While I do read music reviews, they seldom sway my opinion much. I think that when reviewing a band like Rush, with such an extensive body of work, the most helpful things a reviewer can do is describe the music is a little hold it up against the rest of their other work and draw whatever comparisons and contrasts seem evident.
Of course, most reviewers are going to give their "thumbs up-thumbs down" views and that's their perogative. I just don't operated under the delusion that many people care about what I think.
#123 - Posted 5/11/07 @9:30AM by Ripper62 [contact]

Understanding that you are 37, I would think that you could identify with most if not all of the lyrical comments contained within this album. I truly feel that there ARE spiritual undertones in this album about hope and love and persistence. In my opinion, Neil is right on with his view through lyrical commentary of what is happening on OUR planet. Consider if you will, what you see and hear on the radio, on TV, and in the news paper. They focus on the negative. Maybe its because negative sells as so many people are so insecure about their own self awareness ( maybe lack of self esteem is a better way to put it) that they want to hear about other peoples problems so that they may feel better about themselves. I hope that's just a sick observation/thought on my part, because if that is true, we are truly f...ed. Anyway, I believe that the message here, if you need to find a message, is that we, as a race, are not treating each other with the love and respect that we should, and that you need to be secure in your own thoughts and beliefs, and hope the world snaps out of this current direction we are heading. Great album lyrically and musically.
#122 - Posted 5/10/07 @8:48PM by galloway45 [contact]

Someone asked earlier where I was from. I am in Greenville SC and I'm a 37 year old male. Seriosly, I wasn't trying to get everyone riled up, but I just can't stand the majority of this CD. I will admit though, that SOME of it is growing on me as they all usually do, but some of this album just plain sucks in my opinion. I made some comments about Neil's lyrics, but this really is only part of the problem I am having with new disc. I always find at least 5-6 songs on their new discs that I absolutely love and I can't do this with Snakes. The Main Monkey business is pretty damn good, but every thing else just drags to me. As I said before, it really seems forced and uncomfortable. They don't seem to be playing together very often. I'm obviously in the minority with my opinions, so I'll keep listening, but so far I have been very dissapointed. I haven't bought concert tickets yet for the first time in decades. As for Neil being an atheist, it may be a fact that he is and always has been, but I guess it has never been THIS evident to me before. Some of their previous work almost has spiritual undertones. At least in other works by Rush, you were left sometimes to decide for yourself what the lyrics meant, even if that was not what Peart intended. This time it's in your face and no denying what the message is. I do respect that, but really have a hard time connecting with these songs.
#121 - Posted 5/10/07 @6:05PM by skl183

I can turn down anything except something that's offered to me.

I can get along without complaining as long as I'm not uncomfortable.

I won't get discouraged as long as everything goes exactly like I
planned.

I can overlook anything except that which is blatantly wrong.

No wonder I'm so pissed off all the time.
#120 - Posted 5/10/07 @5:15PM by mrdriven [contact]

I emailed the San Antonio guy on his mixed review(his words)

Have you ever seen them live? I don't think you would talk about a lack of energy if you did.....

i have listened to the album numerous times and have no problem hearing Geddy Lee....

nitpicking by critics cause they can't do it is pathetic....

and here is what he responded...

Yes, I have seen them live and enjoyed the show immensely. I didn't say they've NEVER played with energy. Just not as much on this record, in my opinion. They're coming through town in August. Maybe the "Snakes & Arrows" tunes will sound better live. I hope so.
I thought Lee's voice was buried deep in the masses of guitars on many of the songs. That's not a criticism of Lee, but a suggestion that the production was a bit thick. There are other tunes in which you can hear him just fine.
I have no idea what you're getting at with your last line. Nitpicking would be giving the album a negative review for a couple of minor flaws. I gave it a mixed review based on an overall impression.
I like Rush. I've been listening to them for 30 years. They were going to get the benefit of the doubt. I had hoped to like the album more than I did. Obviously, a lot of thought, creativity and hard work went into making it, and I gave them credit for that in the review.

He says he gave it a mixed review.....i see the negatives... where are the positives to make it a "mixed" review....

this guy is FOS and should STFU
#119 - Posted 5/10/07 @1:03PM by Liverpool.78

Thanks Spin - I caught it. Hope to hear more from you later.

I'm just home from work. I saw on a magazine rack at lunchtime a magazine called Classic Rock. Didn't have chance to buy at the time but there is an article on Rush enclosed within. I'll purchase later and let everyone know what's said.

Later

Liver.

WRABRODR - a Labrador owned by Elmer Fudd.
#118 - Posted 5/10/07 @12:54PM by Spindrifter [contact]

A big wave of the hand to SF and Liver!

Liver, I sent cha an e bottle last night while you were tucked away in bed and counting the sheep hop over ya! Just need to run to the store for a few things and my mission will be started!

'ROLABRAT' The first title that was replaced by 'Roll The Bones'
#117 - Posted 5/10/07 @12:50PM by Spindrifter [contact]

'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."

Does Roger Friedman have big hair and a fake falsetto? Or does the lad wear a shaggy wig? Thats so groovey babe!

Did he actually call Rush as 'Heavy Metal'?

A fake falsetto.... Hmm, I dont know guys. Maybe Ged has the remaining guy from Milli Vanelli (dont know how to spell his last name) helping out.... Will it be revealed after all of these years? Stay tuned to next weeks Enquire!

Never thought that I'd see the day that 'Journey, Poison, shoulder pads and perms' would be used in one sentence!

Guess that since 'Time Stand Still' was listed as one of the forgotten metal tunes that it ranks Rush as Heavy Metal.

Hmm, so then Journey, Poison, shoulder pads and a perm would be what? Speed metal????
#116 - Posted 5/10/07 @12:24PM by SF in Prague [contact]

Jerry Boone kicks ass and Michael Senyo is one lucky dude! Though it seems like the generation gap is being passed en masse by volumes of Rush fans who are passing the torch or baton or wacky tabacky to their offspring! Kewl!
#115 - Posted 5/10/07 @12:09PM by hermy [contact]

I think at this point Alex would take "hair band" as a compliment. I don't even know where the "fake" comment would even come from concerning Ged. What a Butt Munch. Although just don't ask Geddy to rap again and slow it down.

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