RUSH — Clockwork Angels (review)

RUSH — Clockwork Angels album cover Album · 2012 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
2.5/5 ·
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-clich├ęs, 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.
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