Prog rock has the ability to polarise music lovers everywhere. Some people worship it, others want it killed with fire. However, whether you love it or loathe it, there’s no denying the talent and dedication of the band Rush. Born out of the embers of the dying prog scene in the late 70s, the Canadian three piece adopted new sounds during the 80s such as synthsisers and drum machines to keep their sound as fresh as they could.
This led to the band acquiring some serious lasting power throughout the two decades that followed and to put that in some record perspective, this will be their twentieth studio album. ‘Clockwork Angels’ is the twentieth offering and if you are a fan and were expecting more prog than rock, you may be disappointed. With hints of Nickelback and Mastadon coursing through the record, the trio certainly show their versatility and the reason why so many fans lap up every offering they release.
Like all good prog rock records, ‘Clockwork Angels’ has a narrative apparently about a young man’s journey through a steampunk future full of magic and wonder. This may sound a little soft, but don’t let the subject overrule the evidence. ‘Halo Effect’ will please the ballad lovers as guitarist Alex Lifeson‘s twinkling acoustic work fills in the gaps between bassists Geddy Lee‘s chunky riffs. ‘Seven Cities Of Gold’ is probably the most satisfying rock track on the album, with riffs so thick you can almost bite down on them; lay Lee‘s funk ridden voice over the top and you have an almost perfect rock recipe.
This is a supremely polished album with sounds clear enough to upset a few Rush ‘lifers’, they may feel the overly produced sound has reduced the band’s natural charisma. However, this is just the sound of the here and now. No one wants to listen to an album from a band who have been making music for the best part of thirty years that sounds like it was recorded in a shed. For the casual listener, ‘Clockwork Angels’ will be wasted as they will totally breeze over the most integral part of the record: the story telling.
If you do happen to miss out on the story Rush are trying to tell, overall ‘Clockwork Angels’ is an excellent rock album and a great achievement for the band. It’s amazing how they can still make such relevant music decades after they formed. It’s certainly not genre changing, but it’s a solid record none the less.
Written by Steven Potter