RUSH — Permanent Waves (review)

RUSH — Permanent Waves album cover Album · 1980 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Sleepwalker
Permanent Waves is a huge leap forward from Rush’s previous album, Hemispheres. In my opinion, this is Rush’s masterpiece. It’s really easy to hear the progress in the sound of different Rush albums. The synthesizer has a much bigger role than ever before, and its role will be even bigger on following albums. Musically this album is incredible. Alex throws some crunchy riffs and as a bassist myself it’s undeniable that Geddy Lee’s incredible bass playing is a very important factor for Rush’s distinctive sound.

The album kicks off with a striking intro of “The Spirit Of radio”. This song is quite radio friendly, but a stunning piece nevertheless. The song features some groovy riffs, making it a very catchy piece. Another radio friendly track follows. “Freewill” is among Rush’s very best. It features some catchy riffs and great lyrics. Don’t let its radio friendliness fool you though, as the song is very complicated. In this stage of their career Rush relies less on epic tracks and more on shorter pieces, unlike on previous albums. Permanent Waves features two epic tracks though. The first of them is “Jacob’s Ladder”, an astounding piece of music. The song starts with a march-like rythm with some vocals on top. The vocals are scarce in this song, as it relies mainly on incredible instrumentation. After some ominous and heavy riffs, the songs takes a softer direction, only to slowly build up to a wonderful climax.

The next song, “Entre Nous” was oddly issued as a single. In my opinion songs like “Freewill” would be much better candidates for this. Nevertheless, “Entre Nous” is a very good song, though probably the least interesting of the album. Next is a ballad called “Different Strings”. The song is very mezmerizing and peaceful sounding. There is a melancholic undertone though. A fading guitar solo takes the listener to the sound of streaming water. An ambient guitar comes in and the absolute epic of this album starts. “Natural Science” is most definitely the most epic piece on the album. The song takes the listener through various parts and themes. From a soaring acoustic guitar introduction the song moves to what might very well be Rush’s heaviest thing so far. This middle section of the song has been incredible important for inspiring the sound of several future prog metal bands. The third part of the song is much less agressive than the middle section, and takes us to the sounds of streaming water again, just to close the album in a brilliant way.

Every time I listen to this album it’s a wonderful experience. This truly is the absolute highlight in Rush’s career. This masterpiece deserves five stars, and absolutely nothing less!
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