Review

RUSH Caress of Steel

Album · 1975 · Hard Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Modrigue
Rush' first attempts at epics

Not often cited by fans, "Caress of Steel" is the first RUSH album to feature a 20 minutes long epic and to clearly exposes the band's entrance in the progressive world, already well occupied by their British elders. Composed only a few months after the release of "Fly By Night", this third studio opus was a bit experimental and risky for the Canadians. Still based on catchy hard rock and slightly on early heavy metal, the songs become more complex by incorporating more and more rhythm changes, however the result is not well mastered yet.

One word about the cover art: for the first time, it was conceived by artist Hugh Syme. Since then, he designed the covers of all the band's albums. The line-up is not the only stable thing in RUSH's universe...

As you may guess, the French revolution is the theme of "Bastille Day", the "Caress of Steel" referring to the guillotine. As "Anthem" from the previous record, this track is a powerful and aggressive opener, with a fast riff quite devastating for the time. This song will become a concert favorite. "I Think I'm Going Bald" is a heavy rock'n'roll with some cool variations and sonorities, as a kind of AC/DC-meets-LED ZEPPELIN. Describing a place near Lake Ontario where Neil Peart used to go, "Lakeside Park" is a sweet romantic ballad with pretty acoustic guitar moments. Enjoyable. Inspired by Tolkien, the mini-epic "The Necromancer" offers various atmospheres. The beginning is a little floydian and resembles space rock, then turns into an oppressive ambiance. It also contains a heavy metal jam. Epic and not very common! The result is not extraordinary but remains pleasant.

Also based on heroic fantasy themes, the 20 minutes long suite "The Fountain Of Lamneth" was RUSH's most ambitious composition at the time. However, the overall lacks coherency, unity, and is still a bit immature. Starting with a soapy acoustic passage, it alternates cool riffing accelerations and soft pastoral pauses. This epic contains nice instrumental sections and even display glimpses of "2112" though, nonetheless the main problem here is that the flow is not mastered enough, resulting in abrupt transitions. After all, maybe "The Fountain Of Lamneth" was a necessary draft for the future heavy prog suites to come...

For sure, "Caress of Steel" is uneven and not well balanced, but contains good passages. If you enjoyed "Fly By Night", you'll enjoy this disc too. RUSH is just entering the progressive world at a time the Britishs has already vastly explored the genre. Therefore the album won't sell much and will cause the band to tour in bars, on the edge of bankruptcy.

So, is this the end for our Canadians? What new progressive musical ideas could they possibly offer in 1976, at a time punk was emerging?

Unless the musicians combine their punchy heavy / hard rock with the complexity of their rhythmical structures...
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Unitron wrote:
1 year ago
This is among my favorite Rush albums, seriously underrated.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
1 year ago
This one was a slow burner but it ultimately became a 4 star album for me. All the criticism is valid of course but there's some kind of gestation period for some of us when it unleashes all its magic

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