RUSH – Snakes & Arrows

RUSH - Snakes & Arrows
  • 9/10
    RUSH - Snakes & Arrows - 9/10


Atlantic Records
Release date: May 24, 2007

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Canadian Rock legends Rush have hardly been prolific on the album front, with the new album Snakes & Arrows being only their 2nd release in over a decade and their first since 2002’s Vapor Trails.

Vapor Trails had received a mixed response upon its release with many critical about its abrasive, overbearing edge, and harsh mix. Rush, however, have never been a band to deliver the same album twice. In fact, one of the joys of following Rush has been the expectation of what they would deliver next and to expect the unexpected. It is this vibrancy and ability to change that has kept the band fresh and kept an incredibly large fan base waiting for each new release with baited breath.

“Far Cry” opens the album, and one thing is clear right away: this is no Vapor Trails sound-a-like. On first listen, this could quite easily come from Permanent Waves -era Rush, built around a sharp, precise Lifeson riff and a punchy, bouncing bass line from Lee, and crisp, snappy drumming from Peart. While the verse has an almost Eastern slant to it, the chorus is prime time Rush laden with melody and a great hook. It’s easy to see why this was chosen as the album’s first single.

“Armor And Sword” sees Rush start in a more laid back mode before Lifeson’s riffs kick in midway through the verse. The chorus soars and shimmers before Lifeson delivers a wonderfully understated solo.

Throughout the 1970s and early 80s, Rush worked closely with producer Terry Brown before finally trying someone different with Peter Henderson for 1984’s Grace Under Pressure, and since then have worked with the likes of Peter Collins and Rupert Hine. This time Rush have decided to enlist Grammy award winning producer Nick Raskulinecz, who is noted for his work with Foo Fighters and Velvet Revolver. This step has paid off handsomely. Raskulinecz has succeeded in bringing forward those strengths that have made Rush such a great band. Lifeson’s hard-edged riffs form the center piece onto which the classic Rush melodies and intricate musical patterns twist and weave. Keyboards, which in the past have dominated at times, in this case enhance and decorate rather than smother. The balance is perfect and the overall sound is big and bold.

“The Larger Bowl” is a case in point. An acoustic verse leads into an up-tempo chorus that belies the tale of the varying fortunes of mankind, where some people are blessed with good luck while others are cursed. Lifeson’s solo here is pure magic, treading a similar melodic path as Blue Oyster Cult’s “Buck Dharma.” It’s short, sweet, and devastatingly effective.

No Rush album would be complete without a good instrumental. Snakes & Arrows has three. In any other band’s hands that might have been a daunting prospect, but Rush have always had the knack of knocking out a classy instrumental. Hemispheres had “La Villa Strangiato,” Moving Pictures had “YYZ,” and “Where’s My Thing” from Roll The Bones are prime examples.

Pick of the bunch has to be “The Main Monkey Business,” a compelling piece built around swirling keyboards, acoustic guitars, and even a mandolin or two before the towering riff kicks in. Peart in particular thrives as he spreads his wings and supplies his trademark fills and off-beat percussive accompaniments. This will surely be one to get the crowd to its feet on their forthcoming World Tour.

Where “The Main Monkey Business” hits hard, “Hope” soothes and comforts as Lifeson provides a short Zeppelin-inspired acoustic interlude.

One of the great strengths of Snakes & Arrows is the variety and depth of the material. Rush cover many bases… the more acoustic-based tracks such as the aforementioned “Hope,” or the harder-hitting songs like the “YYZ” delivery of “Malignant Narcissm.”

Even within songs themselves, Rush change tempos and moods at will without ever sounding disjointed. Few bands can do this successfully, but Rush are masters of their craft. “Workin’ Them Angels” and “Faithless” are prime examples as Rush journey through a kaleidoscope of styles and textures, all delivered with the customary pristine musicianship that is synonymous with the band.

No Rush album would be complete without the great artwork by Huge Syme, and he again produces a stunning montage of images both on the cover and throughout the excellent CD booklet. Who said creativity was dead?

It is incredible that this band has been together for well over 30 years, yet can still produce an album so vibrant and fresh and bristling with creativity. Where so many of their peers are content to tread the nostalgia circuit, Rush continue to grow and develop.

Whereas Vapor Trails baffled many, Snakes & Arrows will be the album to have longstanding Rush fans jumping for joy. It’s testament to Rush’s enduring appeal that Snakes & Arrows has entered the Billboard Album Charts at No. 3 and the UK Top 20 at No.13 on the week of its release.

This is certainly their best album since 1988’s Hold Your Fire, and for those who prefer Rush’s more Hard Rocking days, their best since the uber classic Moving Pictures. Snakes & Arrows is a resounding success.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.