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3.88 | 57 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 2007

Filed under Hard Rock


1. Far Cry (5:18)
2. Armor And Sword (6:36)
3. Workin' Them Angels (4:46)
4. The Larger Bowl (4:07)
5. Spindrift (5:23)
6. The Main Monkey Business (6:01)
7. The Way The Wind Blows (6:28)
8. Hope (2:02)
9. Faithless (5:31)
10. Bravest Face (5:11)
11. Good News First (4:51)
12. Malignant Narcissism (2:16)
13. We Hold On (4:12)

Total Time: 62:48


- Geddy Lee / vocals, bass, mellotron and bass pedal
- Alex Lifeson / electric and acoustic guitars, twelve-string guitars, mandolin and bouzouki
- Neil Peart / drums and percussion

- Ben Mink / strings on "Faithless"

About this release

Studio album
May 1, 2007
Produced by Nick Raskulinecz and Rush

2007 - Anthem(Canada) CD: Digipak
2007 - Atlantic(US)(Europe) CD: Digipak
2007 - Warner(Australia)(Japan)(Brazil) CD
2007 - Atlantic(Europe) CD: bonus CD, Collector's edition
2007 - Atlantic(US) CD: enhanced, collector's edition
2007 - Atlantic(US) LP: 180 gram, gatefold, limited edition

On June 27, 2007 the album was released in an MVI (Music Video Interactive) format, limited to 25,000 copies. The album comes in a deluxe box, and includes the 13 songs on the album in hi-resolution audio, the entire album in 5.1 surround sound, a 40 minute video documentary on the making of the album, expanded 26-page booklet, wallpapers, buddy icons and an exclusive poster for those that register their MVI copy.

Thanks to Raff, Time Signature, progshine, cannon, Stooge, Pekka for the updates


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Rush-Snakes & Arrows

Following the darker mood and atmosphere of their previous album, Rush released their follow-up album five years later. With Rush taking long breaks in-between albums, expectations may get rather high. Don't expect the same thing as 'Vapor Trails' though, because Rush never remains the same with their recent releases.

The music differs from 'Vapor Trails', with Snakes & Arrows having more of a variety between heavy rocking tracks and softer acoustic moments. You have, as always, the heavy opener 'Far Cry' with driving guitar riffs, which is probably my favorite song on the album. From haunting yet still heavy tracks like 'Armour & Sword' and 'Faithless' to a great bluesy 'The Way the Wind Blows' and a great finale 'We Hold On', Snakes & Arrows never fails to captivate me.

Unlike other albums, 'Snakes & Arrows' is filled with unique instrumentals. You have an experimental jam 'The Main Monkey Business' with heavy guitar, nice acoustics, space-like sounds, and an ambient guitar solo. The 2nd instrumental 'Hope' is a short but sweet acoustic song. Nothing but acoustic guitar, it's a really unique folk-like song. The 3rd and final instrumental is 'Malignant Narcissism', a heavy track with strong bass. Hard for me not to tap my foot to this song, with the driving bass riffs.

The lyrics are dark, like the previous album. There is a less raw and dark sound to the songs though, making them feel a little more uplifting. Certain songs are in fact empowering, like the closer 'We Hold On' which gives the feeling of hope and is combined with great heavy guitar. The instrumentals, having no lyrics, have to let the music speak. The song 'Hope' is, not surprisingly, relaxing, but the other two are heavy and haunting.

If you are one of the people who didn't like the production on 'Vapor Trails', You'll enjoy the loud powerful production 'Snakes & Arrows' has. Production for me sets a certain atmosphere for an album, and that's why I enjoyed the production for 'Vapor Trails'. For 'Snakes & Arrows' the production fits with matching the powerful riffing, vocals, and drumming.

Overall, 'Snakes & Arrows' is another flawless album in my opinion. It's less raw then 'Vapor Trails', but it doesn't remove the rock and dark mood. It's certainly essential if you enjoy Rush's present century releases.

Hope you found this review helpful.
siLLy puPPy
The 18th album by RUSH has the honor of allowing me to listen to the entire thing without losing my interest by the time I get to the end. That is something that hasn't happened since “Grace Under Pressure.” Except for the all cover EP “Feedback” this was the first studio album after a lengthy silence. The refreshed sounds I expected to hear on “Vapor Trails” have finally come through on this one. Most of the songs are stronger. There's more originality and the all three members just seem like they're into it this time 'round.

The album was inspired by various sources: a Buddhist game called “Leela,” a game called “Snakes And Ladders” and Hamlet's quote “slings and arrows.” Even stranger yet was the decision to write the entire album acoustically and then add the electronic sounds later. The band has stated that the theme of the album is based on Neil Peart's motorcycle ride after the tragedies he endured years before, which makes me wonder why “Vapor Trails” wasn't this album. Guess it takes some time to process such horrific events.

After the first listen I really loved this album, but after repeated listenings some of the songs just sound stale. A very strong comeback but unfortunately this album can't compare to any pre-Power Windows era RUSH. Like all their recent albums this one could have used a healthy editing and a few weaker tracks dropped, but despite it all a very welcome new sound that actually works. A much needed replenishing of some musical mojo here.
Returning to Snakes and Arrows.

I bought "Snakes and Arrows" on its release after a massive build up and way too much hype and I wanted to hear something heavy and proggish and full of brilliant musicianship. I was very disappointed at the time. On the initial listen I think only about 3 songs jumped out and the rest just washed over me. I played it again and that sinking feeling followed; what a poor excuse for an album. The album came in a blaze of mass hype and disappeared from conversation without fanfare. Most Rush fans at the time wanted to forget it existed and it is easy to understand why. I spoke to some Rush fanatics recently at a prog concert and they all agreed that it was not Rush's finest hour, though some wanted to defend it but could not give a shred of evidence why it deserved to be given more than the average 3 stars. The Rush power trio had gone mellow and were treading on a more radio friendly sound akin to their 80s years. I think we Rushaholics just expected something awesome rather than merely good. Adequate is not enough when it comes to brilliant musicians such as Rush. However, I experienced this new Rush in the same way I would experience, say, an Oasis album or U2; nice to listen to on a cold afternoon but not blowing up my skirt tails. It is a real shame, as Rush are capable of brilliance such as "Moving Pictures", or "Signals".

The weird thing is that I left this album alone for at least 4 years without returning to it. It sat isolated and dejected in my CD tower while "Moving Pictures", "A Farewell to Kings" and "Hemispheres" received a veritable work out. Heck, even "Counterparts" has troubled my CD player more than "Snakes and Arrows". So what is the problem here? I put it down to the forgettable songs and overall lack in quality prog. I could not even point toward any prog on S&A unless you can call some of the instrumentals borderline prog. So it was with a certain degree of trepidation that I returned to this album for the purpose of a review that I have been putting off for about 4 years. I have just listened to some 80s Rush albums as well as "Caress of Steel" so I guess I better review this and get it over with before the arrival of 2012's "Clockwork Angels".

What has to be understood when approaching Rush is that they seem to have gone through three phases in their lengthy career. The best phase was the full blown prog phase that lasted for ten wonderful albums. Here we can expect lengthy complex compositons with a plethora of time sig changes, narrations, blistering lead solos, high register aggressive vocals, inventive power drumming and conceptual themes that range from Necromancers to Princes at battle on some mystical fantasy quest. The science fiction themes of Cygnus X permeate the albums and often wholes sides of vinyl are swallowed up by massive multi movement suites such as '2112'. 1974 to 1984 are the best albums of Rush with 10 awesome albums that I could listen to any day of the week.

The next phase was the dreaded 80s and everything became thin and crystal clean drenched in synthesizers and radio friendly AOR. The melodies overpower the lyrics that are focussed on searching for meaning. Lee's vocals are processed, Lifeson's guitars are jangly and crisp with too much treble, and indeed Peart opts for electronic percussion at times. 'Power Windows", "Presto", and "Roll the Bones" are the worst the band has produced. Yes, they have a few decent songs but are inconsistent to the point of delirium; full of filler material and totally dated.

After this the only way to go was up and Rush go back to the heaviness of their early years without the lengthy song structures and prog textures. Rush have aged and the music has likewise matured into solid rock without the flashy solos and concepts. In 1994 "Counterparts" was one of the best albums and was a true return to form, and it was followed by inferior material again with "Test For Echo" and "Vapor Trails". This is why we all wanted something great from Rush with "Snakes and Arrows".

I blew the dust off the cover, that I never was impressed with (I mean "Vapour Trails" and "Test For Echo" has more appeal than that illustration of a cartoon snake pit; Maybe that may make Indiana Jones cringe but it does nothing for me). The actual booklet boasts some fine artwork that is nice eye candy, but it is not Hipgnosis, is it? Anyway the CD cover creaked and finally I managed to wrench the CD out, it did not have a mark on it having had little disturbance over the years, and I placed it into the unfamiliar territory of an actual CD player.

It began and I was immediately greeted with 'Far Cry'. The guitars are quite heavy to me after hearing "Hold Your Fire" and "Power Windows". I really enjoyed the melody and Lee sounds terrific on vocals. Okay, it is not an instant classic but this is a decent song with some nice aggressive riffing and an atmospheric lead break that amounts to a lot of sustained string bending rather than the fret melting work of Lifeson on such awesome tracks as 'Bytor and The Snow Dog'.

After a solid start the next track is 'Armor and Sword' and again it is a very good riff heavy song that has grown on me. One of the primary reasons I have come to enjoy the album is for the insertion of a lot of these songs on the "Snakes and Arrows Live" DVD where the songs are given a new power, indeed feel invigorated with more passion on the live stage. The drums sound huge and powerful and the melody is driven with great riffs.

'Workin' Them Angels' is one of the tracks that I liked instantly hearing this back in 2007 and I still regard it highly, it sounds awesome live too. The infectious chorus is unforgettable and overall I am a fan of Lifeson's guitar work here. Interestingly the band have stated that the title of the track refers to a conversation that was overheard between two elderly people where the lady critiqued her husband's driving stating "he was workin' them angels", in other words had a charmed life as his driving had a lot to be desired. Well, it makes a catchy song title.

'The Larger Bowl' is not a bad song but it took a while to grow on me and once again I liked the live version better. The acoustics are given a workout here but the main drawcard is the melody of the chorus "some are blessed and some are cursed, such a lot of pain on the earth". I think the lyrics have a lot to say about suffering ad are better than the actual melody but this is sufficient for a listen.

So far the return to S&A for me has been quite a pleasant experience. Let's move on then to 'Spindrift'. I had no idea what this sounded like, had forgotten it completely, so it was nice to hear again. It begins with acoustic with a dark edged guitar lick sounding a bit disconcerting, but no complaints from me as I don't mind that. The lyrics are edgey and concern the loss of a relationship; "who cares what a fool believes, what am I supposed to say, where are the words to answer you, when you talk that way, a little closer to you, where is the wind that will get me." The lead break is restrained but okay to break up the verses. Again I don't mind this track at all and am quite surprised than the album is already better than the last few albums previous, apart from "Counterparts" which I adore.

There are three instrumentals on the album and they are all very well executed. The first is 'The Main Monkey Business' which is dominated by synths but they are not 80s sounding but quite effective here. The bassline is wandering and when the main theme begins I get chills as I remember it from the live performances. I absolutely love this track, and begin to wander why I was so disappointed when I first heard this album. It is strange, but I am by now under the impression that I may have held my expectations too high as this so far is far superior to any of the last few albums, excluding "Counterparts".

'The Way the Wind Blows' is the first mediocre moment for me but it is saved by some nice riffing. The lyrics let it down which are a little too self-conscious for my taste; "we can only blow the way the wind blows, we can only bow to the here and now or be broken down blow by blow". Fairy snuff. The lead break is very good and again lifts the track above what I had heard over previous years on Rush albums. However it is too long for its own good at 6 and a half minutes of repetitive choruses.

'Hope' follows with strong acoustic soloing from Lifeson. It is not 'Mood For A Day' but it is okay as a diversion from the loud dramatic rock to give our ears a rest.

'Faithless' is an optimistic track about non belief ("I don't have faith in faith, I believe in love and that's faith enough for me") but I have no interest in this. I focus on the music instead and it is okay but nothing special. The melody is nicely handled, especially the chorus, but really this is one of Rush's ordinary efforts, in the vein of most of "Presto".

'Bravest Face' is next with a pouring out of acoustics over a layer of synths. Lyrically it centres on a worldview seen through the eyes of both blacks and whites respectively; a world with "a sunny point of view", and "a darker point of view." It goes on to state "we might have precious little but we're still precious", and potently "in the sweetest child there's a vicious streak, so you might as well put on your bravest face". Lee warns the listeners to be tolerant as the world is not going to get any brighter so we must take courage and remain prepared or the world may overwhelm us. I like this ideology as it makes sense and the poetic lyrics are cleverly expressed. The music is terrific and suits the theme perfectly and for me this is another highlight, though a bit of a sleeper track that rarely gets talked about and is not on the live setlist.

'Good News First' is the anti-optimistic view of the world, after the previous optimism; "you used to feel that way, the saddest words you could ever say, but I know you'll remember that day, and the most beautiful words I could ever say, some would say they never feared a thing, well I do, and I am afraid enough for both of us, time will do its worst so do me a favour and tell me the good news first." It has a raucous guitar intro with just a lot of hard strumming on an A chord. It settles into very gentle verses and a processed vocal effect. I had no idea what this song sounded like and I can see why as it's so forgettable with precious little to latch onto in the way of musicianship or any semblance of a melody. One saving grace is Lifeson's lead break which is inventive and soaring but too short. No wonder it is left off the S&A live setlist.

'Malignant Narcissism' is the last instrumental concentric on Lee's funky slapping bass work and some of Peart's inimitable drumming to accompany. The guitars are just a lot of down sweeps ringing out and some jangalanga strikes until we get to the feedback squeals. I must admit it is great to hear Lee busting out the bass and it sounds wonderful live and he has such a great time with the crowd.

'We Hold On' finishes the album on a positive rocking note. I love the lead squeals in the main riff. It is not memorable but not too bad as you are listening to it thanks to the heaviness of the track and Lee is very good on multilayered vocals.

So I get to the end of the album realising that it wasn't such a bad release after all. Still not up to the standard of the 70s and early 80s but nevertheless superior to the disappointment of "Vapor Trails", "Test For Echo", "Roll The Bones" and the late 80s albums. I cannot wait for the new Rush album June 2012 that is even more hyped than this release, and as long as it is as good as the first few songs on this consistently it will be a delight. S&A was well worth returning to and I have no problem with the new Rush sound here, as at least it is heavy and the lyrics mean something to me. I believe the band are yet to present their best of the post 2000 years on their next release but this is still excellent music.
Conor Fynes
'Snakes & Arrows' - Rush (6/10)

After a lengthy hiatus, Rush is finally back in full form, although not nearly to the glory of their former days. What we have here is a very well songwritten album, but an album that flows down the vein of a more modern-rock sound, instead of a more musically and compositionally complex style. However, while this album certainly doesn't have any form of 'immortal' quality about it, it's more or less solid.

'Snakes & Arrows' got a little bit old for me, rather quickly. The songs 'Armor and Sword' and 'The Main Monkey Business' are the only two great songs on here. 'Armor And Sword' is actually great to the point of being fantastic. It's probably the best song Rush has done in over two years. It's something of a mini- epic. The lyric 'no one gets to their heaven without a fight' has a resounding power to it. Despite what I said before about the modern-rock sound, this can easily be considered progressive rock. There are some strange rhythms in it, and it's a very solid composition. Unfortunately, thats the only bit of prog the listener gets on 'Snakes & Arrows.'

Geddy's voice has really matured, and although there isn't as much of a vocal range on him anymore, theres a more universally appealing sound to his voice, falling into a tenor range now, instead of the usual alto.

Unlike most 'new' non-prog albums, this album actually has a decent flow about it. It's not fantastic, and this can't by any stretch of the imagination be compared to 'Moving Pictures' or 'Hemispheres,' but what the hell, I'm happy to have Rush back anyways!
Sadly this is my last Rush review (for a while, at least until I get the rest of their albums, I only need about 7 of them, wow, and I thought I had a load of them), but what a way to go. This album I believe is the perfect mix between what they were doing in the early 80's and the 90's, which basically was making great music.

I really mean it, there is not one bad song on this album, each is as good as the last.

Apparently they should have another album out by next year, and if it's as good as this one, then U will be happy.

The artwork in this album is also amazing.

1. Far Cry - The closest these guys will get to their stuff from the early 80's. Amazing chorus and incredibly catchy. Just, overall an amazing song.

2. Armour & Sword - Wow, what song. Ok, this song also can be paired with early 80's Rush. Amazing chorus, beautiful vocal harmonies and kick ass riffs. Proves how much of an amazing band these guys are.

3. Workin' Them Angels - The chorus is very cheesy but very cathcy. I love the bouzouki solo. Overall a great song.

4. The Larger Bowl - For those that don't know, a pantoum is a poem, yes I googled what it meant. Pretty interesting song. I love the constant vocal harmonies. Pretty cool chorus.

5. Spindrift - Pretty dark for a Rush song. Amazing chorus. A very underlooked song in my opinion.

6. The Main Monkey Business - This song is very Porcupine Tree. Amazing atmospheric keyboards. An amazing instrumetal.

7. The Way The Wind Blows - Love the drum intro. Great chorus. Very melodic. The riffs in this song kick ass.

8. Hope - Amazing acoustic instrumental. Very beautifull.

9. Faithless - Amazing song with an amazing chorus and some amazing vocals from Geddy. Again, esoteric lyrics.

10. Bravest Face - Great chorus. Great lyrics. Again this song is a wee bit dark for Rush.

11. Good News First - The intro is pretty cool, sounds like Aphex Twin. I love the change from major to minor throughout the song. Amazing chorus. One of the best songs on the album.

12. Malignant Narcissism - The best instrumental on the album. Could easily match up to YYZ. Amazing basslines from Geddy. I love all the noisy bits. They do this song amazing live, with an amazing long drum solo from Neil. Short and sweet really.

13. We Hold On - Love the pinched harmonics in the song. Amazing chorus. Great way to end the album.

CONCLUSION: The best thing these guys have done since Moving Pictures.

Snakes & Arrows is the eightenth full-length studio album by Canadian progressive rock act Rush.

Throughout their long history Rush have always been able to renew themselves and it´s obvious to talk about several phases in their discography. Snakes & Arrows is an album that lies in continuation of the warm alternative rock sound that the band initiated on Counterparts (1993). There are several charming elements in this phase of Rush discography but for the first time I´m also sensing a creative standstill. Snakes & Arrows really isn´t that much different from what Rush have been doing in the last nearly 20 years and while I find Snakes & Arrows to be a good and solid album by Rush, I do hope that they will try and re-invent themselves on the next album. None of the songs on the album fail to generate some kind of enjoyment, but the standout tracks are few and far between. The instrumental The Main Monkey Business is one of those for me.

As always the musicianship and production are top notch.

Snakes & Arrows deserves a 3.5 star rating as I feel that it´s a good album that reaches excellence a couple of times, but unfortunately doesn´t stay on that level all the way through.
I've heard the single from the new album (at that time), 'Far Cry' just a month before the record come out, and to my surprise was a great track, after a record of covers, Feedback (which is fine), and several compilations and live albums, breaking its history to record a live album every 4 studio albuns, the band became active again with Snakes & Arrows, back and well. The album was recorded in just two months in New York in November and December, 2006. Snakes & Arrows have a high quality level, in the same line Vapor Trails (2002) bring to us, especially in their heavier guitars in some parts, which is very good, since Vapor Trails is also a great record. Geddy played some keyboards here, even though still shy, but that wasn't happened on Vapor Trails. I hope he played more on the album they're recording.

The album booklet is simply brilliant, Hugh Syme who works with the band since 1975 made an amazing work on the illustrations.

Listen carefully to the opening track 'Far Cry', which is strong and carries the Rush's signature of quality. 'Workin' Them Angel' the third track is a semi-existentialist ballad with great bass line and superb melody. 'The Larger Bowl' has a unplugged feel, which is a little explored part of the band, unfortunately.

Snakes & Arrows also has 3 instrumental tracks, which did not happened for some time in their discography, but unlike most bands who have their instrumental songs extremely annoying (and I do not like instrumental music, with rare exceptions) the band has always managed to compose instrumental tracks in such a way that we could all sing the melody together. In this one we have 'The Main Monkey Business" with its eastern feel,'Hope' a solo piece by Alex on guitar (superb) and 'Malignant Narcissism' with a great bass line.

'Bravest Face' is another highlight. 'Good News First' is a brick on your window. And to finish with style 'We Hold On'.

It's always great to see bands like Rush, who age with dignity in our musical world.

In 70's, 80's, 90's and althought a little 'unpresent' in 00, Rush's was always been a power in Rock history! Thanks God!

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