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Neil Peart, Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson

Thu, Jun 8, 2023

Snakes & Arrows reviews, round 1

Sat, Apr 28, 2007@11:50AM | comments removed/disabled

The reviews for Snakes & Arrows are beginning to pour in and rather than post each individually, I thought I'd just lump them together in groups.

I'll start off with the one bad review in the bunch. This one is from the University of California at San Diego's The Guardian. The entire review can be read at this link. Here's an excerpt:

... This new venture kicks off with two relatively decent tracks - "Far Cry" and "Armor and Swords" - which, on a greater album, could serve as decent filler. From there, Rush descend into hollow religious insights, pun-filled political sleepers and lyrics cheesed in anti-Bush rhetoric that even Neil Young wouldn't touch (in "The Way the Wind Blows," singer Geddy Lee wants to know why we let our "child get left behind") - not to mention three, count them, three droning instrumentals. ...

Blah, blah, blah. Just another guy that doesn't get it. Let's forget that one and move on.

Reader whywhyzed provided me with this lukewarm review from the Sun UK newspapers. They gave it 3 out 5:

Much has been made of the cool Canadian music scene fronted by the likes of Arcade Fire and The Dears. But spare a thought for Rush, arena fillers for more than 30 years with their steadfastly naff prog-metal. There's no real change here yet you can't help admire their big, bold tunes and insane lyrics such as "pariah dogs and wandering madmen barking at strangers and speaking in tongues." If you see music as form of escapism to some Tolkienesque fantasy world, why not indulge in a spot of air guitar to this one in the privacy of your own home. Just don't let a) your partner, b) your friends or c) your dog catch you at it. CS

This editorial review from is a good one. I even forgive the reviewer for spelling Neil's name wrong. :) Here's the entire review:

A return to their former glory days, Snakes and Arrows shows this seminal prog rock band reclaiming some of the sonic territory that they'd lost over the past few years. It's not certain what contributed to this artistic rebirth, but Rush has crafted a historical and emotional odyssey that shows many both where they've been and where they're going--from the baroque soundscapes of "The Main Monkey Business," reminiscent of their earliest work to the seductive almost folkloric urgency of "The Way the Wind Blows," which is as dangerous, anxious, and prophetic as anything that Arcade Fire or Mars Volta is doing currently. Main Lyricist Neal Peart has spent the last decade getting over the death of his wife and daughter, and those tragic events have given his songwriting more depth and gravity as he explores the strengths and limitations of faith in both metaphoric and literal detail. While never didactic or ponderous, this disc is really an instruction manual for how one conducts themselves with grace and hope through unendurable pain and the vagaries of life. Gone is much of the shrillness of their earlier incarnations--Geddy Lee's trademark high pitch shrieks have mellowed considerably and Alex Lifesong's guitar playing has an assurance and freedom that can only come with age.
--Jaan Uhelszki also reviewed the album and - surprisingly enough - it's quite positive. Here's the whole thing:

Initial impression with these proggers' first album since 2002 is that the venerable trio from the Great White North is doing its best to keep up with complicated concept—metal bands like Mastodon the group's no doubt inspired. Closer inspection, though, reveals that most of the proceedings are fairly clean-cut and midtempo, with guitars only intermittently attaining heavy density (amidst the Cream-like blues-rock of the wartime statement "The Way the Wind Blows," for instance). Still, despite the lyrics' typically diverting barrage of paradoxical metaphors and philosophical bumper-stickers, and one commendable, down-to-earth homage to "factory town" life built on a Link Wray-reminiscent twang riff ("Workin' Them Angels"), three of the album's most notable tracks are instrumental: "The Main Monkey Business" (mythic with exotic world percussion), "Hope" (folksy, new age loveliness) and "Malignant Narcissism" (booty-shaking, jazz-funk fusion). Here and elsewhere, as usual, time changes will keep the customers satisfied. —Chuck Eddy

This next one is courtesy CameraEye from over at the Rush Tour Forum. It's a very positive and very detailed review from Hard Rock Haven. The entire review can be read at this link. The review starts off with this excerpt:

In life some things are best categorized as facts, one being that Rush is one of rock’s greatest bands of all time. The band has an undying will to exceed their previous performances whether it be live or in the studio. Fact! Lifeson, Lee and Peart are top of the bill performers live. Fact! Peart is a gifted songwriter whose lyrics are poetical and esoteric, create yet another focal point in the wave of musical expertise provided by the band and provide enjoyment for fans and listeners. Fact! You could go on and on. Are there any other bands like that? Might be, but like with white wine; you can have plain and simple white wine sweet and tasty served cold, or you could decide to have a sparkling Champaign tickling your senses. Rush however equals no less than Dom Perignon Rose! ...

Reviewer Edwin Van Hoof then goes on to review each song individually and ends with this:

... Snakes & Arrows is yet another gem that unlike the aforementioned Dom Perignon needs no aging. With the quality of song material at hand, one tends to wonder if there’s ever a point where the band runs out of ideas. Every single song is a hit, and even those few which need several spins and are tougher to digest, have all the key ingredients for a Rush classic song. On top of that the band has made a wise decision to bring in Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver) who delivers his finest work to date. The sound is multi layered, crystal clear, energetic and vibrant without lacking its tremendous (needed) power. For die hard fans as well as for fans of all genres in rock, this is a must have. And while you’re at it make sure to get your hands on the special edition in MVI format, which has to be an even better experience!

And lastly, reader mervwilliams just got the latest issue of Classic Rock magazine and tells me that there's a great review of Snakes & Arrows in it that ends with the quote, The masters are back, they have assumed control. Indeed. :)

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