VARIOUS ARTISTS – Subdivisions: A Tribute To Rush

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Subdivisions: A Tribute To Rush


Mascot Records
Release date: March 15, 2005

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Let’s admit it: cover song tributes are not often very interesting. This is because of the following dilemma: if a cover song is close to the original, people say it lacks originality and if it’s far from the original, people say it lacks respect and tampers with the classics.

Subdivisions honors the legendary Canadian trio Rush, who still — after 30 years — manage to mesmerize their audience. The list of bands and musicians influenced by gentlemen Lee, Peart, and Lifeson is, perhaps, endless, but among them are the all-star musicians involved with this album.

The Music

There are plenty of tasty surprises in this exquisite box of chocolates! Apart from all of the songs being amongst the best from Rush, the interpretations are all very convincing, revealing the major impact Rush has had on these fine musicians. In fact, the slightly more modern arrangements and production makes this album a scholar example of the transition from Progressive Rock to Progressive Metal.

There is a sense, however, that certain vocal tracks lack some dynamics. “Tom Sawyer” and “Bastille Day” are perhaps the ones suffering the most. Furthermore, the bass is not always as present and defined as expected. Finally, the additional sequencer and synthesizer work (like in “Subdivisions” and “2112 Overture / The Temples Of Syrinx”) hardly adds anything to these classics.

But apart from that, the music is served with spirit, drive, groove, honesty, and respectful precision, evoking an all-together genuine and good feeling. The clever details of the original Rush compositions and arrangements is preserved. The same goes for the seemingly effortless instrumental and vocal handling, which is perhaps Rush’s biggest technical asset.

The Band

The band is mainly made up of Vinnie Moore (rhythm guitars), Stu Hamm (bass), Mike Mangini (drums), and keyboardists Robert Berry, Jeff Feldman, and Trent Gardner. They make up the impressive and convincing core, and create the perfect balance between respectful backing and mind-expanding innovativeness. The incredibly good vibe you get from this album is much to their credit!

Additional musicians are dominantly vocalists and guitar soloists. They all do mighty fine work, but worth mentioning in particular are Randy Jackson for outstanding vocal efforts in “Distant Early Warning,” “Subdivisions,” and “A Farewell To Kings,” and Daniel J. for a thrilling guitar solo in “Distant Early Warning.” Also, Sebastian Bach’s singing in “Lakeside Park” is simply spot on! That said, none of the performers leave any bad impression whatsoever, but the aforementioned lack of dynamics steals some of the zest from a couple of the singers.

The Verdict

Although sharing a new perspective on a number of Rush classics, Subdivisions remains inspired rather than inspiring. But in this lies perhaps the very essence of a successful tribute: capturing the inspiration communicated by the musicians in a profoundly respectful manner.

This album may not help in recruiting new Rush fans, but it’s for sure going to make all existing fans play through their precious collection once more. Or to quote Martin Popoff’s concluding words in the album’s introduction notes:

“As is the side effect of any worthy tribute, you’ll soon find yourself with the originals back in full rotation, arms flailing at air drums, that monumental and genre-defining ‘Tom Sawyer’ fill finally worked out for the amusement of the wife and kids.”

Songs: Distant Early Warning, Lakeside Park, Limelight, Subdivisions, Different Strings, Tom Sawyer, Bastille Day, A Farewell To Kings, The Spirit Of Radio, Didacts And Narpets, 2112 Overture / The Temples Of Syrinx
Featuring performances by: Sebastian Bach, Robert Berry, Dave Brooks, Dominic Cifarelli, Jeff Feldman, Stu Hamm, Daniel J., Randy Jackson, Andreas Kisser, Jani Lane, Mike Mangini, Vinnie Moore, Alex Skolnick, Jeff Stinco, Kip Winger


  • Frode Leirvik

    Frode was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Norway. His headbanging experience started when his brother-in-law gave him Deep Purple’s Fireball at the age of ten. Since then, he has also been a fan of and active in several other musical genres, resulting in a deep and profound interest in music. Some of his favorites, among all of those who have somehow managed to tap into the universal force of Progressive Music are (in no particular order): Thule, Dream Theater, King Crimson,Pink Floyd, Rush, Spock’s Beard, Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman, Ekseption, Focus, The Beatles, Deep Purple and Frank Zappa.

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