RUSH — 2112 (review)

RUSH — 2112 album cover Album · 1976 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Warthur
By the time Rush came to record 2112, Caress of Steel had been a commercial and critical flop and the band fully expected it to be their last album. Kicking off with a side-long prog metal epic despite their advice of their label, the band suddenly and unexpectedly turned out to be quite good at this prog thing after all. The title track from this one blows away the false starts of Fly By Night and Caress of Steel with stellar performances from all concerned, tighter compositional structures in which there's always something interesting happening, and a plot which is unashamed of its nerdiness and which is still exciting to hear after a dozen listens. (Oh, come on, tell me you don't get a shiver down your spine when you hear the distorted voice declaring the Elder Race's conquest of the solar system at the end of the song.) So what if the plot might be a thinly-veiled Objectivist allegory (or, more likely, a swipe at the music press for not accepting Rush's musical vision) when it's so good to listen to?

The second side of the album provides a tight set of shorter songs which proves that the band had also got the knack of producing these as well. As goofy as the thinly-veiled weed worship of A Passage to Bangkok is, it's still one of the catchiest songs they've ever done, with its thunderous guitar solo by Lifeson being a particular highlight of the album, Lessons is enjoyably upbeat and manages a nice blend of acoustic and electric guitar lines, and Something for Nothing is a great barnstormer to close the album.

The album isn't quite perfect - The Twilight Zone lacks the boundless energy the rest of the songs have, and doesn't quite hit the spooky atmosphere it aims for (though it comes close), and Tears is a lacklustre, melancholic ballad which even the generously applied heaps of Mellotron can't save from being bland middle-of-the-road slop. But even with these roadbumps on the second side, the album is still an enduring classic and the first sign that Rush might be able to stick it out for the long term. Finally mastering the progressive metal style they'd been tinkering with for two albums, the band took their place at the spearhead of the nascent subgenre, and with 2112 they more than earned it.
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