album reviews

Snakes & Arrows
Anthem/Atlantic (2007)

So much of Rush's recent output seemed to be looking backward: The Canadian power trio has recently released several live DVDs ("Rush in Rio," "R30," "Replay x 3") and touted its 2004 tour as a 30th anniversary tour. Even the group's last studio effort, "Feedback," was an EP of classic rock covers rather than original material. Luckily, the group chose not to rest on its laurels forever, and "Snakes & Arrows" revisits Rush's finest elements: Alex Lifeson's howling guitar, Neil Peart's pummeling percussion and Geddy Lee's stratospheric vocal melodies.

The return to form is apparent from the album's first song, "Far Cry," whose thunderous instrumental opening is reminiscent of the heavier moments on Rush's "2112." Peart continues to be the group's lyricist, and "Far Cry" alludes to his personal struggles (his wife and daughter died in the late 1990s): "One day I feel I'm on top of the world / and the next it's falling in on me / I can get back on."

The group still handles instrumentals with remarkable poise: "Malignant Narcissism" is an almost playful interchange between Lee's growling bass and Peart's nimble percussion. Most impressive, though, is the six-minute "The Main Monkey Business." The song starts out with an innocent acoustic guitar riff then delves into a darker, more intricate sound, complete with Lee's keyboards and Lifeson's driving guitar work. The song's expanding energy exposes the trio's organic interplay, showing that the group has not lost its innovative spirit in its many years together.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 22 June 2007, Page WE06
.: Snakes & Arrows on