Clockwork Angels
RUSH

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RUSH - Clockwork Angels cover
4.00 | 47 ratings | 11 reviews
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Album · 2012

Filed under Hard Rock

Tracklist

1. Caravan (5:40)
2. BU2B (5:10)
3. Clockwork Angels (7:31)
4. The Anarchist (6:52)
5. Carnies (4:52)
6. Halo Effect (3:14)
7. Seven Cities of Gold (6:32)
8. The Wreckers (5:01)
9. Headlong Flight (7:20)
10. BU2B2 (1:28)
11. Wish Them Well (5:25)
12. The Garden (6:59)

Total Time: 66:40

Line-up/Musicians

- Geddy Lee / bass guitar, keyboards, bass pedals, vocals
- Alex Lifeson / guitars, keyboards
- Neil Peart / drums, cymbals, tambourine

with
- Jason Sniderman / piano (track 12)
- David Campbell / string arrangements (tracks 4, 6, 8, 10, 12)

About this release

Type: Studio album
Release date: June 12, 2012
Record label: Anthem/Roadrunner
Producers: Rush and Nick Raskulinecz

Thanks to Pekka for the addition and tupan for the updates

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RUSH CLOCKWORK ANGELS reviews

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Unitron
Rush-Clockwork Angels

It honestly surprises me that Rush hadn't released a concept album until this point. Rush's first concept album 'Clockwork Angels' was well received by critics, and it is Rush's highest rated post-Moving Pictures release here on the MMA. If you are interested in the concept of this album, Neil Peart wrote a book about the concept of this album and I recommended it if you enjoy this album.

The music and lyrics on this album really tell a story. The concept, even though explained in a book, is best heard from the music itself. All the songs connect, yet it's not an album you have to listen to all the way through. All the songs stand well on their own, concept or not. There are songs about virtually all parts of life, 'Caravan', the hard rocking opener seems to be about curiosity. 'BU2B' is about believing and understanding, 'Halo Effect' is about having romantic interest, and there are many other themes the song have and there are just too many to all describe.

The music is very unique, and has wide range of eclectic styles. The songs 'Caravan' and 'Headlong Flight' are heavy rockers, with Lee performing some of his best vocal and bass work. The title track brings back Rush's progressive rock of old, and songs like 'BU2B2' and 'The Garden' are beautiful classical music-influenced pieces. Not without some darkness, 'Clockwork Angels' has a couple menacing songs like 'The Anarchist' and 'The Wreckers' both having dark riffing and a dark atmosphere. Speaking of 'The Wreckers', this song has a unique dark classical-infused bridge with the lyrics changing drastically from the start of the song.

Overall, I think this is essential to any Rush fan's collection. Not only is it Rush's first concept album, but it has such a wide variety of styles and fuses them together in a way that Rush hasn't done in quite a while. This album shows that Rush is still going strong after forty years of rocking.

Hope you found this review helpful.



siLLy puPPy
As the clock strikes 21:12 what does it mean? Is it time for the world to transform into a paradise? Nope. Does the end of the Mayan calendar mean death and destruction to all? Didn't work out that way either. I guess we'll have to settle for the best RUSH album in a very long time. There were signs of the band finally hitting their stride on their long quest of reinventing themselves with a form of alternative rock on the last album, but on this album that comes into a satisfying realization. From the very first track you can tell that this album is different. It takes the alternative sounds that the band had been developing for the last 20 years or so and finally finds a perfect balance between a few familiar sounds from the past but mostly from a new approach to songwriting. On this album there is also a string section which although it's a nice addition is in no way critical to the overall sound.

Make no mistakes, this isn't RUSH trying to capture their past. This is a new RUSH. One that took a little too long to emerge, but emerge they have and hopefully here to stay. I for one am tired of the one step ahead and two back approach that dominated the 90s and 00s. From the exquisitely written track “Caravan” to the very final track “The Garden” this is an album that not only kept my attention upon first listen but holds up to the scrutiny of repeated ones as well. Although this is a very welcome comeback I like to keep it in perspective that this still falls short of the true masterpieces in their discography. But a very good album is a welcome sign for a band that was seeming more and more ready to be put to pasture. Should I get my hopes up for another decent follow-up? Guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Warthur
The clock on the front cover gives the time as 21:12, but this is no 1976-flavoured throwback project; rather, Clockwork Angels captures Rush in the act of playing contemporary-sounding progressive rock which sounds distinctively Rush-like without trying overly hard to recapture any specific previous phase of their career, or for that matter trying to fit in too much with what's currently going on in the genre. Hitting a sweet spot in which they are able to take into account new musical developments and styles without being constrained by them, and with David Campbell's string arrangements lending some cinematic gravitas to proceedings here and there, this isn't a top-notch Rush classic that will redefine how people see prog, but it is a really solid album and the best I've heard of theirs since Grace Under Pressure.
bonnek
After quite some time with this album my initial disappointment has lost its sharpest edges, which puts me in the mood for a friendly bit of criticism towards the band that used to be my entire world in my teenager years and that has stayed with me as a trusty companion for more then 25 years since.

'Caravan' and 'BU2B' open this long expected album and they are easily amongst the best the album has to offer. When these songs were released 3 years ago (already!) it made me hope that another strong album was ahead. Turns out they are by far the best the album has to offer. 'Caravan' is an instant classic, and also 'BU2B' is enjoyable but is symptomatic for the main weakness that troubles the album. It starts with a decent and catchy bluesy riff from Lifeson, of the kind we haven't heard much since the debut, but as soon as the vocals kick in the band wanders off in an onslaught of Rush-clichés, producing the type of songs and melodies that rubbed me the wrong way ever since 'Hold Your Fire' and especially on 'Presto' and Roll the Bones'.

'Clockwork Angels' has the advantage of a thick and heavy - if somewhat monotonous - sound that makes it more likeable then the late 80s albums, however, compared to their last 2 albums, the songs are simply too average for Rush standards, especially the middle section of the album, where a cheesy song like 'Halo Effect' and the way too long and repetitive 'Seven Cities' and 'Wreckers' are nothing better then 'Presto'-Rush stuff. Not my thing. On too many occasions, Geddy Lee is trying in vain to come up with a vocal melody that he hasn't sung countless times before, and the severely limited range of his voice doesn't help.

'Headlong Flight' continues the more pleasant rock vibe of the opening songs, but in the end it comes off as an unnecessary 'Bastille Day' remake. The odd 'BU2B2' and the mainstream radio rock of 'Wish Them Well' don't speak to me at all. 'The Garden' is better, for a ballad at least.

Conclusion, a decent melodic heavy blues-rock album that will please a lot of fans but it's one that stays far below the magical tunes they created up until 'Power Windows'. It's also a notch below the somewhat similar grunge-blues-rock of 'Counterparts' and 'Vapor Trails'. Adding that all up it features somewhere around position 15 out of 19 albums. Despite a couple of strong moments, that will be 2.5 stars overall.
Phonebook Eater
7/10

Some Talent Never Dies.

“Clockwork Angels” is the nineteenth album by legendary Canadian act Rush, one of the greater Progressive Rock/Hard Rock bands of the late seventies to early eighties. Albums such as “Permanent Waves”, “A Farewell To Kings”, “Hemispheres”, and especially “Moving Pictures” have sculpted the history of the genre, in one way or the other. The band continued making music during the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s, and never made a terrible album since, although they became more and more generic with time passing, as they tended to be heavily influenced by the current music styles of the time. The last album before “Clockwork”, 2006’s “Snakes and Arrows”, was a pretty successful attempt to gain a new sound of their own, with a lot of Hard Rock influences. This 2012 album pretty much takes off where the previous album did.

“Clockwork Angels” is quite the simple, straightforward album, no fillers, no killers. It’s an album composed of Songs with capital S, meaning that that attention for album flow that was felt in their old classics is pretty much gone, in favor of a greater focus on songwriting skills. Of course, the songs don’t go anywhere near the levels of the classics, but they still accomplish to be catchy and fun.

Here we have a band that has arrived to a point where they don’t care anymore that much to craft an album that could be a potential game-changer; they just want to have fun, and you can tell by listening to “Clockwork Angels”, this is just something they did out of their personal need, to get some music out of their system, no matter what the actual results would be. But since we are talking about some of the most talented musicians alive, this results is very satisfying nevertheless.

Rush manage to write quite the catchy tunes on this album, like the opener “Caravan”, the title track, “The Wreckers”, or the more ballad tunes like the beautiful closer “The Garden” or “Halo Effect”. The rest of the songs are pleasant, and miraculously, not even one goes close to being a bad song. Sometimes, simplicity is the way to go.
UMUR
"Clockwork Angels" is the 19th full-length studio album by Canadian hard rock/progressive rock act Rush. The album was released through Anthem/Roadrunner Records in June 2012. A new Rush album is always met with high expectations. While there have been a few more mediocre releases along the way most of the band´s output are highly regarded by fans and critics alike. They´ve made quite a few stylistic changes to their music over the years and have been through various "phases", but they´ve always sounded unmistakably like themselves. Rush have always followed their own path and that hasn´t changed with "Clockwork Angels".

The music on the album is the umistakable sound of Rush. Geddy Lee´s busy basswork and distinct sounding high pitched vocals, Neil Peart´s incredibly tight and adventurous drumming and Alex Lifeson´s powerful but also atmosperic guitar playing. It´s all there and accounted for. The core elements in the music are spiced up by a very tasteful use of keyboards, which add another dimension to the tracks where they appear. Stylistically "Clockwork Angels" borrows from both the late seventies progressive rock era of the band´s sound and the synth heavy mid-eighties era. But the sound is probably best described as a combination of the sharper hard rocking tracks from "Presto (1989)" and "Roll the Bones (1991)" and the warmer more "alternative" sound of "Counterparts (1993)" and "Test for Echo (1996)". The whole thing is packed in a powerful and sharp sound production that really suits the music well. I´d especially like to mention the snare drum sound which is much sharper than has been the case on the last couple of releases and it provides the music with some edge.

There are several highlights on the album, but especially the first four tracks and album closer "The Garden" stand out to me. There are a couple of tracks on the album (like "The Wreckers") which don´t quite reach the high quality level of the best tracks on the album, but "Clockwork Angels" is overall a very consistent release. What´s more important though is that the music on "Clockwork Angels" is the sound of vital band which still have a lot to offer. If I didn´t know better, I´d told you that you were lying if you had told me that all three guys in the band were born in 1952/1953. Check out the ultra heavy main riff in "BU2B" and tell me you don´t hear youthful energy! A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
arcane-beautiful
Rush...that is all I have to say.

Now after their last album, which in my opinion was their best album since the early 80's, I really was excited to hear what Rush were gonna do next. It's been a bit of a wait...but at least the band kept us entertained with tours, DVDs and such.

So...after a long wait...how is the album.

Yea it's a great album. To be honest, it's an album that will take a few listens to really allow me to enjoy it further, but after the first listen, I'm enjoying it more than I did with the first listen of Snakes & Arrows.

It's almost like with this album that the band went 'oh yea, we forgot...we are a prog band. Lets do more of that'. Now they haven't gone 100% back to there 70's days...but they do seem to have been influenced by everything they've done in there whole career and really have it culminate on this album.

The album...being a concept album is a rather odd and interesting one. The concept is about some guy and some journey, and its obviously about Neils life...kind of...in a nutshell.

Musically its a lot heavier, more rockier and can be quite technical at times, especially with bass and guitar. The drums are more attainable on this album and not as flashy.

Lyrically, it's not Neil's best to be honest. Some nice lyrical moments now and then, but at times he can really revel in clich's, and whenever your dealing with a personal concept type album, it's not exactly the best way to show how you're feeling and how you tell an interesting story.

But concept or no concept, the album is great. It does take a whilst for the album to get there and really grab your attention, but when it does, it's really worth the wait. I love the fact that the songs all flow together as well...which is what you usually find in concept albums. The concept isn't too in your face too, so you can enjoy it if you want, but you don't have to if you don't want to.

1. Caravan - One of the best ways to start off a Rush album...other than Tom Sawyer of course. A really hard rocker of a song with some pretty interesting riffs. Pretty cool chorus too. 10/10

2. BU2B - Some interesting dark moments in this song, but it does deal with the topic of belief...and that is dark...I think. This song is surprisingly heavy too. 9/10

3. Clockwork Angels - The longest Rush song...in a while. Love the changes throughout. A quite diverse song too. 9/10

4. The Anarchist - This song is one the more interesting songs instrumentally speaking, but I find it hard to find any real hooks in the song. 8/10

5. Carnies - Some really kick ass riffs and some surprising vocal moments from Geddy. Also, I think this is quite a weird name for a song. 8/10

6. Halo Effect - An almost ballad like song. Love the acoustic bits in the song. A nice chorus too. 9/10

7. 7 Cities Of Gold - One of the best songs on the album. The riff in this song is definitely one of the best Rush riffs I've heard in a long time. Probably Geddy's best vocal moment on the album. 10/10

8. The Wreckers - One of the best chorus' on the album and probably one of the catchiest too. 10/10

9. Headlong Flight - For some odd reason, this song gives me the same impression that Xanadu does. Now the songs are very different, but for some reason, I made the comparison in my head. This song feels like I've known this song for a very long time...basically...it's that good of a song. 10/10

10. BU2B2 - More of an interlude...bla bla bla. 7/10

11. Wish Them Well - A nice little song. Good enough chorus and pretty standard Rush moment. 8/10

12. The Garden - One of the best ways to end a Rush album. One of their most interesting songs I've heard. A beautifully arranged song. Love the use of strings and piano.

CONCLUSION: It's not Rush's best...but it's still Rush. This album has proven that Rush aren't aged rockers and that they can still make some of the best music in prog today. All hail the godfathers of prog!

8.2/10
AtomicCrimsonRush
Rush embark on uncharted territories with a concept album of immeasurable depth and a consistent spirit of excellence.

The long awaited new Rush album is finally here as promised on June 12, a date that became indelible in the hearts of all Rush fans. "Clockwork Angles" was a title that teased Rushaholics for a long time since the release of the first single, 'Caravan'. The picture sleeve of the single depicted the intricate decorative clock and I had thought this would be the cover of the album, however the cover design was released, and I could not help but feel a twinge of disappointment that it was such a simple design, having been used to some more dynamic art on previous album covers over the years. I have since grown used to seeing that iconic red cover with the medieval clock in the swirling turbulent clouds. The simplistic design is memorable and indeed all the artwork in the booklet is incredibly provocative, capturing a steampunk future with dreamy scapes and structures, illustrated by Hugh Syme. There are some breathtaking designs including a spacey look at a blue world with clouds and that giant clock ticking ominously above. Some of the art reminds me of the future fantasy worlds of Myst, such as the beige colour painting of art deco sailing ships in the air over an enormous clock face and there are details of steam emanating from the wheels and cogs of progress. It is a place of dreams and fantasies with characters wandering around such as the peddler in a darkened forest, there is a shipwreck graveyard in stormy seas, two hands reaching for a mystical clock object, sun dials, mysterious enchanted worlds and the everpresent watchmaker icons. Beautifully realised, the art captures the feel of the album and transports us into the world of the protagonist's journey.

The musicianship is brilliant on this album; Peart has stated in interviews that he intended it "to be my highest achievement lyrically and drumming wise" (from website rushisaband Excerpts- from-Classic-Rocks-Prog-magazine-Rush-feature). He further went on to say that he took a new approach to writing and recording; "I played through each song just a few times on my own, checking out patterns and fills that might work" then he called on Nick who became his conductor, "and I was his orchestra". Peart would attack the drums in order to respond "to his enthusiasm, and his suggestions between takes, and together we would hammer out the basic architecture of the part (with) half-time bridges, and double-time outros" therefore there was no need for counting, or endless repetition.

The concept is strong and takes some comprehensive power to interpret it but the liner notes clearly outline a very intricate and compelling tale that is also told within Peart's thoughtful lyrics. The concept is based on the work of Peart's friend, science fiction novelist extraordinaire Kevin J Anderson, who announced that he would write the "Clockwork Angels" novel and he related many of the concepts of the novel, involving the forces of order and chaos that inflict themselves upon a young traveller, who dreams of travelling to a steampunk alchemist world of hidden cities. It is a world of piracy, carnivalesque settings and colourful characters such as The Watchmaker, who imposes precision on the lives of the inhabitants, and the evil Anarchist who desires that precision to be turned to chaos.

The tale that has made its way onto this album is concentric around a farm boy who had an idyllic lifestyle with peace and stability but it became too much to take, and ultimately stifled his dreams of exploring what the world offers. It is set in the village of Barrel Arbor, where steamliners descend onto the rails on their way to the Winding Pinion River to Crown City. As the farmer watched these massive machines he longs to escape to live out his dreams. This is where 'Caravan' comes in, and after hearing it out of context for so long as the first single unleashed upon the world, it is so refreshing to hear it finally as the opener on the album. From the first time I heard it I was very taken with the song as it is a heavier Rush than that of recent years, and it sounded vibrant and dynamic with very thought provoking lyrics and excellent musicianship. It begins with atmospheric clanging bells and the sound of machines moving across the hemispheres. The familiar guitar sound of Alex Lifeson cranks up with that powerdriving riff. Then Neil Peart races around his drum kit, then maintains a steady rhythmic figure until a bassline begins, followed by the golden tones of Geddy Lee; this is Rush! The production and mixing of Nick Raskulinecz is exceptional capturing a crystalline sound with all musicians audible including the orchestrations. The melody of the song is certainly infectious, especially the way the chorus builds to the mantra of the album, "I can't stop thinking big." The interlude is grinding guitar and some accomplished fret work. A low key synth drone is heard in the background. The choppy time sig is repeated until a lead break with some incredible string bends to lift up the sound and then back to the chorus. The structure is effective and it is a great way to open proceedings. It is easy to be accustomed to the standard of excellence that Rush maintain from album to album, but occasionally an album simply stands out as being above the rest simply due to strong songwriting and powerful melodies that jam themselves into the brain. "Clockwork Angels" certainly qualifies in this regard.

A transition is heard leading into 'BU2B', another song not unknown as it was the B side of the single, but the new intro was a nice touch with reverb vocals and mystical undertones. It was never a song I was immediately taken with as a B side, but on the album it makes more sense, and tells the story admirably that introduces The Watchmaker, who is integral to the concept. This figure ruled from Crown City through the Regulators, and the alchemist-priests had provided coldfire in order for the power and light of this world to be possible.

'BU2B' (brought up to believe) concerns the whole concept of belief as a human condition; "the universe as a plan, We are only human, It's not ours to understand." The protagonist is expressing that the world in which he exists always has told the occupants to "Believe in what we're told, Until our final breath, While our loving Watchmaker, Loves us all to death." 'Clockwork Angels' is where the album becomes more than just great, as this is one of the most progressive songs from Rush for years. It is little wonder that Lifeson referred to it as an "epic song", "very dynamic" and a "multi-parted piece" (from website roaddrunnerrecords, article).

It begins with a Gregorian Monk chant, setting the scene and then a hovering synth and loud crashing guitars explode. The percussion builds up and it breaks to a pleasant clean guitar phrase and Lee's vocals. He sounds excellent and at times uses multi tracking on his vocals to enhance the tones. The bassline is pulsating along the metrical patterns of Peart. The lyrics follow the deepening storyline, that moves to the bustling city of Chronos Square, where the farmboy finds himself gazing in wonder at the huge formations of the Cathedral of the Timekeepers, massive sky towers, and the radiant Angels of Land, Sea, Sky and Light, with the iridescent floating globes. It is a surreal scene that is captured brilliantly in the artwork. The song is compelling with some dynamic time sig changes and mood shifts. It builds with many variations on the main themes, until the outbreak of the instrumental that is a hammering riff. The "synchronised and graceful" Clockwork Angels are the creatures that "promise every treasure, to the foolish and the wise, Goddesses of mystery, spirits in disguise, Every pleasure, we bow and close our eyes, Clockwork angels, promise every prize." There is a Biblical pretext based on Proverbs 3:5 "Lean not upon your own understanding". The people of this fantastical land worship and adore the Angels and celestial spiritual machinery. The song ends with a quiet whisper and it has been quite a journey with some complex structures with Rush at the top of their game.

'The Anarchist' follows with a terrific guitar riff and heavy rhythms. Lee's vocals are more forced and are full of conviction, with some moments that sound processed like a robotic announcer on a PA system. His register is high on verses such as, "In all your science of the mind, seeking blind through flesh and bone, Find the blood inside this stone, What I know, I've never shown; what I feel, I've always known, I plan my vengeance on my own, and I was always alone." Again it is a heavy song with a ton of distortion and loud musical soundscape. The interlude is a wonderful lead break with phase effects on guitar that soars heavenly. It is as good as anything I have heard on the best tracks of recent Rush albums. It definitely has a modern sound unlike the 70s years. The lyrics are from the point of view of The Anarchist who shuns the optimistic cry of the Pedlar, "What do you like" to which he replies, "Vengeance!"

The plot thickens and the next song 'The Carnies' augments the atmospheres with a strange intro of carnival sounds and distant voices. The amazing riff locks in and opens one of the metal tracks of the album. It feels heavier with the metal distortion and then the next section breaks into an electronic spacey soundscape. It is certainly one of the highlights of the album, but none of the songs thus far have been less than excellent respectively. It may be one of the strongest first halves of a Rush album since "Moving Pictures" and "Counterparts". The lead solo is again absolutely virtuoso as only Lifeson can be, with a different sound but an appropriate feeling to the steampunk theme. This song really grew on me and I love the melody and the overall chord structure, and especially the heavy riffing throughout.

The concept was inspired by Peart who was reading about circus settings in Robertson Davies' novels. The story continues that the farmer finds work at a carnival beneath the ever watching angels, where "Bodies spin in a clockwork dance, The smell of flint and steel, A wheel of fate, a game of chance." He sees the Anarchist holding a clockwork detonator, and he hurls it but the farmboy catches it just in time saving all the onlookers at the carnival. However, the "ticking box, in the hand of the innocent," causes the angry crowd to move "toward him with bad intent."

'Halo Effect' is the first time the band are able to settle into a serene tranquil atmosphere. An angelic howl, and wind blowing lead to acoustics and gentle vocals that whisper on the wind. Lee sounds flawless and emotional on this ballad that has really grown on me finally. It builds like a power ballad but this is not 'Closer to the Heart; the sound is modernist and has a heartfelt feeling. The sound reflects the story that involves the protagonist falling in love with a carnival performer, acrobat dancer. He pursues her, and then after a fling she rejects and holds contempt towards him. It is an illusionary lover, "A goddess, with wings on her heels", but the real girl was not "the ideal, that I wanted to see." The song is very thoughtful and has a lovely melodic style. The dreaminess of the song works well to break up the intensity of previous heavier tracks. I look forward to hearing this song now on every listen.

'Seven Cities of Gold' is another masterful track opening with powerful bassline and dark lead guitar string bends that echo and slice with serrations on a knife edge. The 'Working Man' style riff soon cranks up that drives this powerhouse track. The riff reminds me of vintage 70s Rush which is a sheer delight. It has a sensational chorus that builds with innovative chord changes. The time sig even has a progressive feel that skips a beat here and there. The lead solo is more of the guitar serrations and high pitched string bends, that add to an ominous atmosphere. It has an infectious melody and again is one that is bound to grow on the listener. Peart explains, "I'd read a lot of history from the south-western part of the US and that figured into the story of the explorer Coronado, who kept going out into the desert to find the fabled cities of gold" (from Classic Rock). The plot of the album gets into the historical legendary story that fascinates the protagonist. The Legend is that there was a land hiding the seven cities of gold and the only way to them was on the steamliners across the Western Sea. The protagonist bravely crossed to Poseidon, a port city, to work on the steamliners serving the alchemy mines, and onto Redrock Desert with its stone monuments. The traveller eventually set out on a quest to find the infamous city of gold, Cibola. These legends were part of the man's dreams as the lyrics tell; "Glowing in my dreams, like hallucinations, Glitter in the sun like a revelation, Distant as a comet or a constellation."

The lyrics of this song are superb with mystical imagery such as the desolate landscapes of the fantasy world; "Canyons and cactus, Endless and trackless, Searching through grim eternity, Sculptured by prehistoric sea." Overall, a wonderful track with esoteric imagery conjuring up the Rushian scapes and mystique of "2112", where any minute one might expect to see the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx turn up on the scene. Dare I say that this is one of the most brilliant tracks of Rush for decades.

'The Wreckers' was once one of the weaker efforts of the album, though I always thought still had a nice rocking energy. It was not initially as captivating as the other songs thus far so it was one of the more pedestrian songs for me even after many listens. However, this too grew on me eventually and after my 9th listen I finally succumbed to its wonderful chorus melodies and sweeping orchestrations. The storyline is more compelling though concerning a narrow escape from the frozen dessert with the protagonist making his way half dead to Poseidon aboard a ship. A storm breaks out but a beacon of light helps navigate them from danger; "a ghostly light, Appears through the driving rain, Salvation in human chain." Unfortunately, the preternatural signal is false to lure seafarers to crash on the rocks. Once the wreck occurred the crew would be plundered of their cargo; these were The Wreckers. Peart explains his inspiration; "The Wreckers was actually from Daphne Du Maurier, that's been in my mind for 30 years. I guess it's an episode in Jamaica Inn. So all of that coalesced into the character and the history of the story, the whole concept."

The lyrics state the warning in a cryptic manner; "All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary, Of a miracle too good to be true, All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary, Everything in life you thought you knew." Of course if you were unaware of the concept story you could interpret these words as part of coping with the trials of life, something that Peart is very familiar with having lost his wife and daughter in recent times in the same year.

The next track is an instant masterpiece, one that I have heard many times prior to this release being the second and far more superior single of the album. 'Headlong Flight' has a glorious riff and melodic line. Lee's wandering bassline is outstanding and the percussion is Peart at his most frenetic as he chases his cymbals and skins around like a maniac. The main riff is lifted from the glory of 'Bastille Day' and that has caused some controversy among fans, but for me there is nothing wrong with returning to the vintage sound if it works and is reinvented to provide something very special. Peart has actually stated that he hopes that song will be in their setlist for live performances indefinitely; "What was it that Oscar Wilde said: self-plagiarism is style?" He believes that "We certainly do a few tongue-in-cheek nods to 'Bastille Day' in 'Headlong Flight' - that's deliberate," so when we fans recognise it, that is a compliment to the band who want us to do precisely that.

The speed of the track is quite breathtaking and Lee sounds absolutely full of passion and drive; "All the journeys of this great adventure, It didn't always feel that way, I wouldn't trade them because I made them, The best I could, and that's enough to say." The song builds to the chorus that changes time sig into a beautiful melodic moderate feel. As soon as I heard the melody of the chorus and the lyrics I was mesmirised; as chills went down the spine, when Lee sings; "I have stoked the fire on the big steel wheels, Steered the airship right across the stars, I learned to fight, I learned to love, I learned to feel, Oh I wish that I could live it all again." Amidst that fantastic melody hides a story of airships, turning cogs and wheels and machinery that now makes perfect sense amidst the rest of the conceptual material. The song has even more power on the album and comes in at the perfect moment when things were beginning to become too easy on the ears. The frenetic pace and intensity of this track makes this stand out as a magical moment of the album. The way the song changes seamlessly from a fast tempo to the half time feel is a master touch. This is Rush at their most adventurous and heaviest after a long hiatus and 20 albums. The lyrics are poetic beauty put to music that resonate so powerfully in my spirit.

Lee's high register vocals are everpresent and he has not sounded this good for years. In the half time section there is an instrumental that has some fast Peart drum fills and deliciously delirious axework from Lifeson. The band are in full flight and one can tell they are enjoying their golden years rocking as hard as ever; you have to be inspired by their energy and commitment to excel. Lifeson incorporates wah-wah pedals, with hyper fast picking and is like a tiger loosed from its cage; a far cry from his lead work on the past few albums.

The words could be taken in any way you want outside of the actual storyline; "Some days were dark, I wish that I could live it all again, Some nights were bright, I wish that I could live it all again." The highs and lows of life are captured perfectly here. In context of the album, the protagonist is thinking over all the great adventures and quotes the great alchemist, Friedrich Gruber, "I wish I could do it all again." He has steered the great airships across the stars and travelled to cities of gold, so he fondly remembers the adventures without regrets; one of the most optimistic moments of the album.

The pedlar returns and asks "what do you lack" again and the protagonist considers how he was "brought up to believe", and "no philosophy consoles me in a clockwork universe". The tone turns to a pessimism with the man pondering over the pedlar's words, so he loses faith in higher powers, remembers the pain, dwells on the illusion of love. He holds onto the belief that love conquers over all the rejection of the past because that is the way he was brought up; to believe. This song is a melancholy short passage of orchestral music, consisting of symphonic strings, conducted by David Campbell. The strings have also appeared on 'Halo Effect', 'The Anarchist', and 'The Wreckers', but on 'BU2B2' they are prominent and quite daring. The lyrics are downbeat and gloomy; "Belief has failed me now, the bright glow of optimism has failed me somehow, life goes from bad to worse." This may not appeal to many, it is easily the worst track of the album, but as a diversion for the album as a whole it works, and I count it as more of a transition into the next masterful track. If taken out of context this track is a morbid downbeat filler, but I still love the way it transforms the atmosphere after the bright vibrant uptempo rock of previous tracks. It is the diversity that makes the impact rather than taken on its own. This is a veritable fish out of water but the album would not be complete without these oddball moments and transitions.

'Wish Them Well' is another outstanding track that grabbed me the first time I heard it. The loud guitar and pounding drum is augmented by very melodic vocals that are back to a more hopeful resonance; "All that you can do is wish them well." The hook is catchy and it leads to some wonderful verses. I especially love the multi tracked harmonies on the section; "Thank your stars you're not that way, Turn your back and walk away, Don't even pause and ask them why, Turn around and say goodbye." I grew to love this song over a few listens, it just jumps out at me and prepares for the epic to end the album. The lead break is stellar playing with emotive bending, speed picking and arpeggios. There is a strong harmony in the refrain too, and the words impact my spirit; "The ones who've done you wrong, The ones who pretended to be so strong, The grudges you've held for so long, It's not worth singing that same sad song." This is about dealing with our demons that is essential to our wellbeing, and Rush have a lot to say about how we must learn to move on even when we are going through trials, "just wish them well."

In context of the storyline, the protagonist has come to terms with his life, even after feeling victimised and defeated. He reasons that it is not worth holding grudges as it is just burning him up like coals on his heart. The best response is to avoid the ones that hurt him and simply wish them well. Now I can relate to this in my own personal journey. Peart has really hit the nail on the head here and it is spiritually uplifting to hear this song with these thoughts in mind. I have seen how people have become scarred over the words of others and hurtful actions and it is all because they hold onto grudges and refuse to let go. It is only when we choose to let go that we can truly be free from condemnation and the curse of rejection. It is a choice and if we remember that we can choose to not allow the defamation of others to scar our character. Thank you, Rush for reminding us of these valuable important lessons.

The lessons continue and culminate in the next wonderful epic song 'The Garden'. It begins with tranquil beautiful acoustics and a violin, and ends with a sweeping majestic orchestral soundscape and soaring melodies that are soothing to the soul. The music includes a gorgeous piano interlude by Jason Sniderman. The lyrics are some of Rush's most powerful and uplifting to the spirit. The protagonist muses on his life and finds that ray of hope he had been searching for; "The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect, So hard to earn, so easily burned, In the fullness of time, A garden to nurture and protect". The hopeful lyrics o a metaphorical garden are reflected in the way that the music builds to a crescendo and it really feels like the ending of an epic journey. There is a sadness in the atmosphere but it is a relaxing beautiful mood generated. There is a hint of remorse that the journey is over but the protagonist, who has experienced a bildungsroman quest, has learnt all the valuable lessons of life and nothing more needs to be said; his life is complete having learned that the measure of love and respect is integral. "The arrow flies while you breathe, the hours tick away, the cells tick away, The Watchmaker has time up his sleeve," continues the lyrics, stating the case for all of us who only have so much time in which to make life count so we must make the most of it before time runs out. These are simplistic ideas but they are conveyed with poetic resonance and it all ends on this ray of hope; "The future disappears into memory, With only a moment between, Forever dwells in that moment, Hope is what remains to be seen." The album concludes on this hope with sweeping symphonic soundscapes that pour out of the speakers, embedding the album upon our conscious. At the end of the album on every listen I feel the same way; emotionally uplifted and with hope in my spirit - not something I can say for the last few Rush albums.

This is an unforgettable album that took some time to grow on me but once it became engrained in my spirit I was totally captivated under its powerful hold. It could easily pass by without fanfare on a casual listen by the average music listener disinterested in understanding the concept or the lyrics. Furthermore, if one does not relate to the lyrics and interprets them as just some fantasy world out of reach, it is possible that this could become rather incomprehensible. The lyrics are deep, perhaps as deep as anything Peart has written, but he has a lot to say about the emotional rollercoaster of existence, faith, love, respect, freedom, resilience, defeat and the purpose of our lives. None of this comes off as convoluted or pretentious in any way; there is a definite conviction in this work and it is trying to say something important to us that we can take with us into our own circumstances. The music itself is a mesmirising virtuoso augmentation and this is embellished with symphony orchestra strings and ethereal atmospherics. It transports us directly into the fantasy worlds and becomes a full sensory experience; aurally with the music and visually tangible thanks to the artwork, liner notes with story lines, and of course the lyrics.

In conclusion of this review (that unwittingly became an essay, written over a weekend while I listened 9 times...) this is Rush back to their absolute best after some rather forgettable albums and straight forward rock releases. "Clockwork Angels" is almost the perfect concept album, where everything works to become a coherent whole with masterful song structures and music literally dripping with innovation. It has been a long time since I have heard a masterpiece album from Rush; I would have to go back to 1981's "Moving Pictures" to find a 5 star album in my opinion. However folks, finally Rush have produced a masterpiece with their new inimitable mature sound. It is far superior to anything from the catalogue of albums from 1985 - 1991. It is marginally better than "Counterparts", that had a weaker second half after a brilliant first half.

The difference with "Clockwork Angels" is that the whole album is consistent in terms of strong musicianship and infectious melodies with powerhouse lyrical content, and that is not something I can say for the rather patchy material of "Test For Echo" or Vapor Trails". And again it is better than "Snakes and Arrows" that had some ordinary tracks marring an otherwise excellent album. To state that this new album measures up to the glory days of "A Farewell to Kings", "Hemispheres", "Permanent Waves" or "Moving Pictures" is perhaps stretching the credibility too far. However, this is still the best Rush album for decades and deserves accolades and high recommendation, therefore ultimately a bonafide masterpiece status for all the reasons stated. I did not expect it to stand up to my rather high expectations, we Rush fans are rather demanding, but I am absolutely delighted to announce that this album is a tour de force that lives up to the hype, and is an exceptional treasure from start to end. So far, I hail it as album of the year!
Kingcrimsonprog
2012’s Clockwork Angels is the new concept album from the legendary Canadian band Rush. It is the band’s nineteenth studio album of original material (twentieth if you count the covers album Feedback) and follows up their last two albums in bringing out the more Hard Rock/Metal aspects of their sound. It takes Snakes And Arrows’ variety and Vapor Trails’ power and combines them into a very strong album indeed, one that isn’t ever dull or plodding. It can be bought now as a digital download, now in a special fan pack edition of Classic Rock Magazine that comes with a Keychain, Poster and links to online bonus content or later on its own in either CD or Vinyl format. The story that it tells is also available separately as a novel.

If you have already heard ‘Caravan’ and ‘BU2B,’ which were released a full two years earlier than the record was, then you should have some idea of this album’s musical direction already. The songs have since been re-recorded to fit in better with the rest of the album though, so even if you’ve played them to death already, you won’t feel cheated that they are part of the album.

Despite concentrating on the band’s heavier side, the album is still very dynamic and varied. Sometimes things will be melodic and sweet, sometimes there are synths and keys in there, sometimes you’ll hear little touches that remind you of Hemispheres and A Farewell To Kings and then of course sometimes you’ll hear more of the direction from Snakes And Arrows’ and Vapor Trails’ heavier moments. The opening to ‘Carnies’ even has a big fat riff that could almost fit on a Monster Magnet or Down album.

Each song on Clockwork Angels contains a lot of different parts; you could hear a funk-like break down in one track, an acoustic intro in another, some proggy feedback scrapes in another and straight rock beats in yet another, or you could hear all of that and more within one single track.

Highlights include the closing track ‘The Garden’ which opens with acoustic guitars and has a grand orchestral feel in places, as well as the amazing single ‘Headlong Flight’, which mixes variety with focused hard rocking (similar in a way to ‘Far Cry’ off the last album but with more parts packed into it) and the fun track ‘The Anarchist’ that really takes off in a neat passage that revolves around tom-rolling.

As a general rule, I always find that the best Rush songs are the ones where a lot of time has passed without you knowing it, for example a five-minute track that feels like it is only two-and-a-half minutes long; and the worst ones were the ones where a lot of time passes without enough ideas used to justify the song lasting as long as it actually does, for example a six-minute track that could have worked a lot better as a three minute song.

The best thing about the whole Clockwork Angels album for me personally, is that every song justifies its own length. When this plus is added to the superb musical direction (I prefer the band’s heavier side personally), the superb production and the as-always superb musical and vocal talent on display, it makes for an absolutely captivating record that hits hard on first listen and has a lot more to offer on subsequent spins as well.

Then on top of that, you have the interesting steam-punk story to get to grips with across each early listen, which just adds yet further intrigue and replay value. It would be tempting to say that this is almost guaranteed to be loved by any Rush fan, but then you have to consider that their audience is so wide and diverse and their catalogue is so varied that pleasing any one type of fan may cost another type of fan to loose interest.

If you are an early-prog or synth-pop fan first, and a Rush fan second however, if you hated Vapor Trails and the heavier parts of Snakes And Arrows and are generally the type of person who hates all Metal, then Clockwork Angels may not be for you. I can see how it may be leaning a little heavily on one aspect of their sound and that maybe that’s the one part of Rush’s style that you don’t personally enjoy. Maybe even the conceptual nature of the record or the variety within each track isn’t enough to save it for you, if you simply don’t like Rush when they get all loud and distorted. If this describes you, then my advice would be that maybe you ought to give this one a miss.

Otherwise however, this is a pretty essential album and no matter the size of your Rush collection, this should probably be a part of it.

In summary; Clockwork Angels is a strong and fresh album, it is energetic, entertaining and focused, it is heavy rather often and has enough ideas per song to justify each song’s length. It just sounds vital and has enough depth to reward repeat listens. Overall, its a pretty top-notch release and it’s definitely something you should consider getting if you like Rush, especially if you like their heavier side.

Members reviews

kluseba
Rush have been around for over four decades now and are still out there to fascinate several generations of progressive rock fans with new world tours and charismatic outputs. Many other heroes have gone a long time ago like Genesis or Pink Floyd, others have gone through weirdest changes and live from their past status such as King Crimson or Yes and a couple of great bands like Pendragon or Spock's Beard have never gone beyond the status of underground heroes that have more recently influenced progressive rock bands but never reached out for a wide spread commercial success. RUSH simply are the kings of progressive metal and have not written amazing records throughout their whole career and always tried out new things. Any cultivated rock or metal music fan should know Rush without the glimpse of a doubt. One can cite the epic conceptual masterpieces "2112" from 1976 as well as the critically acclaimed "Moving Pictures" in 1981 but also more recent stuff like the last output "Snakes & Arrows" from 2007. The brand new "Clockwork Angels" must not hide behind these records and is another highlight in the band's brilliant discography. I would even go as far to say that it's among my very favourite Rush outputs ever right now but of course it hasn't passed the test of time yet.

Even though I really adore this band, I must admit that their earlier works are not always easy to digest. The album structures are generally complex and often mix catchy, commercial and memorable short tracks on one side with rather experimental epics with a focus on instrumental passages on the other side. Many changes of style from hard rock beginnings over progressive experiments to shorter mainstream attempts divide the band's discography into different eras that are not always adored by every fan. The high pitched and somewhat feminine vocals of Geddy Lee have always been charismatic but kept the band from gaining a definite mainstream status and I must admit that I couldn't listen to them all day long.

"Clockwork Angels" is in my opinion the band's most accessible record and I mean this in a good way. The record feels so effortless, honest and powerful that it always outs a smile upon my face. The band perfectly mixes complex structures and diversified fresh song ideas with loads of catchy parts and addicting melodies you won't get out of your mind from the first try on. I immediately fell in love with this record and it hit very quickly. On the other side, each song offers many perfectly arranged details to discover over and over again and the somewhat autobiographic, emotional and philosophical lyrics of this conceptual masterpiece are more than ever worth to be examined a little bit closer. The lovely booklet may help you to take some time and get into the excellent lyrical attempts on this stunning record. I have also to underline that Geddy Lee's vocals on this record are simply amazing. They sound not as strained as they were in the past but surprisingly down to earth, mature and warm without losing their uniqueness. Usually, vocalists get worse as time passes by but with his fifty-eight years, he is at the definite zenith of his career and sounds better than ever to my ears. For all those that have somehow disliked his vocals, you should definitely give this record a spin as they are much easier to approach as they were in the past days. Not only the vocals have improved but also the already excellent msuical skills of the band. Add a top notch production to this and you might realize that there's not much left to criticize on this album.

Musically, the short three minute tracks are as detailed, harmonic and precise as the seven minute epics. The band varies from amazing calm souns with space elements, decently soft sring passages, chilling acoustic guitar tones, peacefully pumping bass guitar lines and a varied kit of drum techniques in one single perfect song such as "Halo Effect" on one side to one of the heaviest songs ever written by this band with "Headlong Flight", a nostalgic anthem with a wild middle part where evry instrument has its time to shine even though the whole things remains coherently connected by a killer chorus that other progressive rock bands wouldn't write in their whole career. This album really offers anything you've ever liked about the band. There are highly experimental middle parts in complex masterpieces such as the diversified title track "Clockwork Angels" or the heavier pumping "Seven Cities Of Gold". New things as the circus ambiance in the beginning of the diversified grower "Carnies" can be heard every now and then if you listen this record attentionally with your headphones on. There are also many potential hit singles that remind me of intelligent rock and pop music from the seventies and eighties as in the airy "The Wreckers" or the very warm "Wish Them Well" that has a melodramatic but also very positive message. T hese songs sound not nostalgic but so fresh as if they were done by some thirty year old musicians. RUSH are definitely still hungry and have a lot to say. In their whole career, they haven't written a twisted and emotionally driven top notch ballad as the closing "The Garden" that sends shivers down my spine and almost brings me to tears each time I listen to it.

In the end, Rush deliver once again another highlight of their career on this intense record that iis already on a close run to become my favourite record of the year. Anybody who likes progressive music should call this record his own. It might one day be as essential as a "In The Court Of The Crimson King", "Darkside Of The Moon" or "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" and should be seen as a modern classic of progressive rock that underlines in the best manners that this genre isn't dead yet at all.
rdtprog
This CD starts with the first 2 singles; "Caravan" and "BU2B", who are two strong tracks. Then the title track "Clockkwork Angels" is even better with his catchy melody. Then it's followed by some tracks that shows some interesting moments, but the songwriting is not as strong as the first three tracks.We have to wait for the song "The Wreckers" to see some more inspiring music, where the band is more focused on developing their ideas, instead of following their instincts. "Headlong Flight" is the third single and is another heavy song that is very enjoyable. "Wish them Well" is the weakest tracks of the CD. And the standout track is at the end, with "The Garden", showing the band going in a different direction, with a powerful ballad with classical arrangements, a nice piano break that is the entry to the beautiful Alex's guitar solo. The lyrics are really perfect here, matching the music very well, to release all the emotions.

The musicianship on this CD is flawless, no surprise coming from this old band. But i really think that Geddy Lee is stealing the show with his bass sound throughout this CD. His sound was high in the mix , so we can appreciate all the nuances of his playing. As for the influences of the music with previous material, all this being purely accidental, and subjective, i would say that this is a logic evolution of Snakes and Arrows in terms of music style, but very different on the composition level. But it's obvious that the band sound is closer to their hard rock style of Fly By Night and 2112, then the sound of their progressive era after those 2 CDS. The band is now making heavy prog that as more to do with hard rock then prog, which is like they were returning to their roots since the "Counterparts"'s CD

In conclusion, Clockwork Angels is a little stronger then Snakes and Arrows, but there also some inconsistency in the quality level of compositions in the middle of the CD. It's a solid work, but this is not your classic "Moving Pictures".

3.8 STARS

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