Review

RUSH Permanent Waves

Album · 1980 · Hard Rock
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4/5 ·
Modrigue
A permanent shift towards the radio waves?

Stuck between the great "Hemispheres" and "Moving Pictures", "Permanent Waves" is RUSH's transition album from ambitious epic suites to more accessible songs. Released January 1st, 1980, this seventh studio opus makes the junction between their 70's neo-heavy-prog style and the more radio-friendly and electronic compositions the Canadians will develop in the 80's. Musically speaking, the synthesizers' presence is growing in the band's universe, and the trio slightly starts to incorporate elements from other genres, such as reggae. Furthermore, the lyrics become more oriented towards human nature, society and technology than fantasy and science-fiction. So, has RUSH abruptly left the progressive sphere? Don't worry seventies fans, this a transitional record, so there are still hard/heavy prog rock/metal pieces with complex rhythms structures, uncommon time signatures and changing atmospheres.

The hit single "The Spirit Of Radio" is powerful and evolving. Simply rocks! In the ending section, RUSH even made their first (slight) incursion in the reggae territory, a style that they will further explore in their next three albums. The hard catchy "Freewill" is also quite nice and contains cool spacey guitar soli. However, the highlight of the disc is undoubtedly the somber progressive "Jacob's Ladder". Referring a meteorological phenomena, this track features multiple time signatures, epic riffs, oppressive metal passages and a spacey interlude. Great!

On the contrary, "Entre Nous" ("Between Us" in English) is a much more conventional rock. Average and not very original, this is the weak song of the record. "Different Strings" is a kind of soft and melancholic ballad, with cover art designer Hugh Syme performing a piano solo. Enjoyable. The disc concludes with the 9 minutes "Natural Science", the longest track. Beginning with river and forest sound effects, this hard/heavy prog metal piece has a few futuristic moments. The ending, named "Permanent Waves", is quite heroic. A pleasant but somehow uneven mini-epic.

"Permanent Waves" is definitively a transitional album, as well as a short one. Despite songs not as remarkable as its predecessor's and its successor's, the quality and inspiration are nonetheless overall constant and the trio's hard/heavy prog rock/metal is still efficient. Even if more accessible, the music should please all fans of the late 70's period of RUSH. Once again, the multiple breaks and complex time signatures may have influenced an important number of progressive metal bands.

That's why there is finally no reason not to give it a listen!
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Unitron wrote:
1 year ago
Good review. I love Natural Science and Different Strings, two of my favorite Rush songs.

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