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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Rush

2112

Review by Gary Hill

Where Rush's previous album, Caress of Steel first showed prog tendencies (arguably Fly By Night's Bytor and the Snow Dog was the first such hint) it leaned more to extremely progressive metal. This album is probably the one where they reversed that label to become metallic progressive rock. The centerpiece of the album is the multi-part title epic, a bleak story of a dark and oppressive future world. The rest of the disc, though, has a mix of strong and mediocre material. Still that title piece alone is worth the price of admission.

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Track by Track Review
2112
This epic is divided into multiple sections. Please note that I have somewhat guessed at the breakdown between the segments here, so the divisions may not be entirely accurate. The song tells a tale of a futuristic world run by Priests and computers. It is apparently a dreary, colorless totalitarian world. One can get a truer sense of the meaning of the story by reading the actual document that was the basis for the song. That is the book Anthem by Ayn Rand. In that book, the hero discovers a symbol of the world that was before, a light. Peart in constructing his lyrical vision substituted a guitar, but the symbolism and overall story remain true to the source.
2112: Overture
The first segment, Overture, begins with spacey sounds of whooshing keys, which eventually give way to a crunchy melody. This segment goes through quite a few changes before ending to give way to the next movement. During those changes it shifts to a crunchy, oh so tasty riff and contains some of Alex Lifeson's most awesome guitar stylings. This ends with explosions and a gentle Geddy vocal of "and the meek shall inherit the Earth".
2112: The Temples of Syrinx
Screaming in, the first true verse of the piece introduces the villains (hiss) of the piece, the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx. This a strong cruncher.
2112: Discovery
Beginning with the sounds of someone learning their way over a guitar fretboard, the lyrics of this mellow movement reflect this - that "strange device" being the discovery of the title. As this carries on our hero realizes that this is a wondrous item, which will revolutionize his society. Also as the piece develops his guitar skills increase exponentially.
2112: Presentation
The narrator brings his discovery before the Priests of the Temple in this segment, a melodic and hopeful feeling one. The Priests however tell him, "Yes, we know, it's nothing new, it's just a waste of time". They advise him to "forget about your silly whim, it doesn't fit the plan". This explodes into fast paced hard-edged fury that carries through to the next movement.
2112: Oracle - The Dream
Going home disillusioned and depressed, he dreams of an oracle that teaches him a lot of the history of man, lost technologies and shattered visions.
2112: Soliloquy
As our broken hero recovers from his dream, he realizes that his vision cannot be made real, and says, "I don't think I can carry on, this cold and empty life". Although he succumbs to his depression and hopelessness, this movement is incredibly powerful, both lyrically and musically.
2112: Grand Finale
This hard rocking section reaffirms the control of the power brokers of humanity. This is basically an instrumental movement that ends in chaos and a voice announcing "Attention all planets of the solar federation, We have assumed control."
A Passage to Bangkok
This heavily drug influenced cut is a solid rocker that works well. Unfortunately after the majesty of the previous masterpiece, pretty much anything will pale in comparison.
The Twilight Zone
This is kind of an odd little cut. It's not bad, but just doesn't seem to live up to what it could be, and the lyrics come across as quite trite.
Lessons
More or less a straightforward mid rocker, this one is pretty solid, and has a little like they go all the way back to the Fly By Night album. The chorus rocks out quite hard in a nice contrast.
Tears
This sedate ballad comes close to going over the top, but doesn't. It is a very pretty and touching number that is a highlight.
Something For Nothing
What a strong way to end the album! This starts with a fairly mellow riff that makes up the verse of the song. This is oh so tasty and full of tentative energy. As the verse ends the cut jumps up toward the metallic fury that was hinted at in a short burst earlier. This is a killer fast paced rocker that is extremely strong.
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